Fashion Trends

Clogs, Uggs, and Ugly (but Cool) Footwear.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image via Alice Pilate.

Mr. Magpie took one look at my Ugg ultra-minis and said, “I guess ugly shoes are ‘in’ this year.” Haha! I don’t blame him. To the male eye, they are stubby, bulbous affairs and a far cry from my usual aspirations toward the ultra-feminine. I feel I should publicly let him off the hook here, though, because he routinely encourages me to wear whatever I want, and praises me for it, and he meant this not injuriously but as a matter-of-fact observation.

When I was little, my Dad referred to any shoe he found ugly as “a clog.” It could be a pump, a boot, a sandal — if he didn’t like it, he’d call it “a clog.” The first time I heard him exercise this willful solecism, he was looking at my seventh grade Steve Madden slides — the black, chunky, platform ones with the stretchy band of fabric over the toes that I’m sure many of you owned — and I couldn’t begrudge him the comment because, well, they were ugly. But they were also very cool.

All to say: since the late 90s, fashion has been deep in clog territory, but with particular pronouncement over the past few years. I think there is a conceptual element to this: as with the movement away from figure-hugging skinnies and slim-fit pants to loose, baggy, barrel-style jeans, the youth are saying: “Who cares about looking thin / feminine / the smallest version of yourself”? Fashion doesn’t need to be about figure flattery, or gender at all for that matter. I think the ugly footwear that is currently trending are an outpost of that ethos.

This year, I’ve purchased three “ugly shoes”: the aforementioned Ugg ultra minis, shearling Birks, and Ugg Tazz slippers. I mainly confine these to the house / carpool runs / walking the dog around the neighborhood because I’m not typically a “dress down” girl (I got that from my mama), but I have to say that I’ve pinned and saved countless photos of chic peas wearing theirs all over the place with great panache. And, like, my own children wear Gap Kids versions of the Boston Birkenstocks ultra-chic Alice Pilate is wearing above. So I’m bought in. My perspective is, as always, to have fun with fashion, to view it as another avenue for play, and to never take myself (or my clothing) too seriously. There is a great quote by Herman Hesse that I have saved in my study: “Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh about the rest.” Clogs and their derision by my father fall into the latter category.

As a bonus, the ugly shoes that are currently en vogue are also wonderfully comfortable. Won’t you join me in clog world? These Tazz slippers (seen below) are it. If you’re looking for socks to layer with, consider these ribbed ones from Stems, these cashmeres, or these cozy ones from Falke, which a Magpie turned me onto, and which I now own in a few colors.



Corollaries to this trend: the socks-with-shoes vibe. What does this project? I find it looks very cool but can’t put my finger on the effect. Sort of school-girl-dress-up vibe? What Cher from Clueless might wear? If you’re into it, an approachable on-ramp: these socks (which so many cool girls on Insta have raved about) with a chunky loafer.

Image via SA SALOME


If you’re looking for more statement footwear for the season, you might enjoy my post on micro-trends in ballet flats. Lots of mesh trending!

In the dressier category, I’m still loving the heft and drama of a platform sandal, worn with or without tights. (I wear these Gucci logo tights a few times a season and LOVE the way they look with black platform sandals or pointed toe pumps. I bought them a few years ago and they always create such a splash/statement — they elevate/edge-up any LBD. Otherwise, I’m still a stalwart Spanx black tights girl. I like the compression. But I hear Wolford Denier 80 Matte Black tights are the best in the biz.)

A few pairs of platforms I’m obsessed with:








P.S. Five quick lists. (Thanks for all your positive feedback on this post style — aiming to bring back this week.)

P.P.S. On seeing our children as whole.

P.P.P.S. Do you believe in shortcuts in life?

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14 thoughts on “Clogs, Uggs, and Ugly (but Cool) Footwear.

  1. Lifelong ugly-shoe wearer here — or at least since fifth grade, when I BEGGED for (and received) chunky Dr Martens oxfords for Christmas … in navy! That’s still family lore, as my mom had to special order them from Nordstrom in Seattle. Hahaha! I also had a pair of Adidas around the same time (similar to the Sambarose style, in tan suede with black stripes) and my mom would always comment on how ugly they were (lol!) but always indulged my fashion whims, which I appreciate so deeply.

    I don’t currently have any Uggs, but I have a healthy Birkenstock collection, and generally favor chunky/more masculine footwear as I feel it’s more flattering and cooler in most scenarios, at least for me! Also, I wanted to say that I am actually currently wearing the white lettuce-edge socks from Amazon and they are really nice! Soft & I like that you can fold down the top inch or leave it up, depending on your shoe choice. I had a similar set, also from Amazon, about a year ago and they were made of an inferior fabric blend that got dingy & less soft quickly — but I am happy to report that the ones you linked are really good!


    1. I love this — bravo you! You definitely have a fashion perspective, and have honed it since fifth grade!! I love a woman who knows herself. This conversation also reminded me that Courtney Grow (Instagram queen) once said that when she gets dressed, she wears the opposite accessory of what’s expected. Like, if she’s wearing something polished that suggests a classic ballet flat or mule, she’ll pair with a sneaker or chunky clog. I thought that was an interesting styling tip / perspective.


      1. Forgot to respond in a timely manner (oops!) but I very much appreciate that philosophy! It also reminds me of the “wrong shoe theory” that has been floating around social media … I think attributed to Allison Bornstein? Definitely an interesting thought for styling!


  2. The socks with shoes/slippers gives me “cool girl who just finished a soccer game and is wearing socks with Adidas slides” vibes! xo

  3. My Ugg minis just came yesterday. My first thought when I put them on – they are so unattractive, I don’t know if I want to keep them – but then I wore them and can’t take them off, so comfy and practical. Jen, perfect timing with this post, I’m keeping them!

    1. Oh yay!! I love them. They are so comfortable but also have a current “cool girl” vibe to them that I don’t hate!


  4. I loved this post! I ordered the UGG ultra minis and they are supposed to be here tomorrow! I also have the Birk Bostons and I loved seeing the styling inspiration. I am loving this “ugly” shoe movement!

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