We all know what clogs are, right? The wooden shoes that Dutch people traditionally wore, often painted, sometimes used for strangely erotic, hypnotizing dance routines? WRONG. Clogs are heel modieus, mijn vriend! They’re the chosen footwear of cool people, celebrities, and adults trying to hide the fact they still don’t know how to tie shoes. With a history dating back nearly as far as the trend of wearing socks with sandals (“calceus” shoes were wooden-soled shoes from the Roman Empire), folks have been wearing wood-bottomed shoes since the early 13th century. While at first they were a shoe for peasants, by the 14th century, clogs became the fashionable footwear of choice for all swaggy Dutch people (and started hitting the medieval trend circuit in other surrounding European countries), and they have been dazzling us ever since.
The cultural thirst for clogs spikes every decade or so. In the 70s, they were all the rage, in platform styles for men and women. In the 80s, clogs transformed into the wildly popular wedge shoe trend, the Kork-Ease fad, and then slowly meandered their way through the mainstream. Rubberized clogs graced nearly every restaurant kitchen, and blessed countless medical workers with comfortable footwear options until the 20-year trend cycle picked them back up around 2010, after exploding onto the runway in both Chanel and Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer collections that year, and were forever cemented into the zeitgeist.
We’ve made it through so many iterations of mule, clog, and slide that you may not have even noticed that pair of Merrell jungle slides lurking in the back of your dad’s closet. See, you’re no stranger to the shoe of all shoes, the uniform of Park Slope moms, celebrity chefs, Sarah Jessica Parker, and even Zaddy Goldblum. The real beauty of any clog or clog-adjacent style is a) the incredible comfort, and b) the effortless air that surrounds them. If the year 2020 gave us anything, it was the realization that we’re all a little more cool, calm, and collected when we're not shoving our bodies (and feet) into restrictive garments. (That’s one of the reasons why many doctors and nurses wear clogs every single day.)
Whether you identify as a fashionista, Nolita fit lord, or even a Pacific Northwest lumbersexual, there’s a style of slip-on clog for absolutely everyone. Here are a few of our absolute favorite styles at every price point—from pairs under a hundo to big $$$, designer names.
Slowly lower yourself into the clog-pool with a classic style that goes with everything, and will (actually) leave your feet feeling less terrible after a long day of standing or walking. Dansko, which means “Danish shoe,” started importing clogs from Europe in the 90s, and has been making the traditional comfort shoe, worn by countless professionals and style icons alike, ever since.
We would be remiss if we were to deliver an entire diatribe on the enigma of clog-dom without mentioning an independent brand that played a huge role in making it a fashion mainstay—No.6. The designs of owner and former stylist Karin Bereson can be spotted on stylish people everywhere, from Soho to Minneapolis, and even adorn the feet of A-list celebrities (Julianne Moore and Scarlett Johansson, to name a few). While they offer endless combinations of fabrics and heel heights, these classic Old Schools, in supple bourbon leather, are the perfect shoe to carry you through the summer and into fall.
A Birkenstock for every mood
Though not made of wood, the insanely popular Birkenstock Boston is what we will call the “true neutral” of clog styles. It’s insanely comfortable, low to the ground, and easy to simply step into and go. There’s also a shearling-lined version for shuffling to the corner store all winter long—but for summer, you can’t go wrong with a classic suede pair. If you plan on doing a lot of poolside lounging, the polyurethane Super-Birkis are non-slip and come in nine colorways.
The everybody, everywhere clog
If you thought the most divisive shoe of the last quarter century wasn’t going to be on our list, you’re wrong. We are huge Croc fans over here at Rec Room, squeezing in absolutely any opportunity to discuss the many iterations of the ubiquitous footwear, for better or worse, that ignite our fires, cushion our tootsies, and make us question our sanity. We will forever stan Crocs, and these two are our absolute favorites (for the time being). You can’t go wrong with Realtree camo—it’s a non-boring neutral with a high-contrast, neon-orange adjustable turbo heel strap for sport mode. I’m pretty sure nothing more needs to be said about an all-over glitter platform croc—get the Balenciaga lewk for less.
For gorp-core, outdoorsy types
Whether you’re into hiking to hidden waterfalls, urban spelunking, or just waiting in line outside Aimé Leon Dore on the weekend, you can’t go wrong with one of these styles that are so out, they're in. Merrell, the leader in hiking garb, recently re-released its iconic Hydro Moc style with BLOOM, a high-performance foam made of 10% algae biomass, which transforms green water into clean water during the manufacturing process. To top it off, they’re unisex and come in a bunch of funky swirling colorways for stunting on the entire white-water rafting crew.
The best designer clogs for men
You’re no rube—you’ve been on the mule trend since before TikTok was merely an idea. However, you’ve worn out your Birks and you’re ready to level up. In that case, allow us to direct you to Couture Clog City, where Bottega Veneta is having a moment. The fashion house is experiencing a big-time resurgence, with a tornado of hype surrounding its recent collections of footwear and accessories. The ultra-light weight Rubber Flash mules come in three splendid color varieties: Tangerine, Chalk, and Fondant, all of which make us want to take a huge bite. Don’t they look scrumptious?
Another luxury brand jumping on the rubber clog bandwagon is Prada, which just released a streamlined version with its triangle logo front and center. The chunky-soled, foam-rubber mules come in three very bright hues, plus white and black for more formal clog occasions.
If you’re someone who likes luxury goods, but absolutely despises the logo-mania craze and dropping entire paychecks at Grailed, then Fear of God’s understated California Slip-On Loafers may be just your speed. These ultra-sleek slides come in five muted colors, such as cement and almond, and are a minimalist’s wet dream.
The best designer clogs for women
While a good deal of men’s designer mules on the market are made of high-performance materials (and give off a Fifth Element vibe), women’s styles tend to lean more toward the natural, art-teacher-vibe part of the spectrum. We see a ton of classic, wooden soles; wool, shearling, and other natural materials; and a penchant for platforms. The it-girl shoe of the moment is the instantly recognizable bubble clogs from Simon Miller. Features like the extra-chunky platform and bulbous shape don’t take themselves too seriously, and they’re available in a variety of funky color and fabric options—from vegan kiwi-colored leather to fluffy plaid wool.
Chloé has been making a version of its classic riveted-clog style for several seasons now. The brand’s ethereal, alpine-maiden look has returned time and again because of its understated yet interesting design. This supple suede and embroidered lambswool style is equally stylish and comfortable.
For the gals who want to jump on the wellie shoe trend, don’t fret—Gucci’s got you covered. These pistachio-green clodhoppers are ideal for bonfires and keg parties, because they don’t stain, can tolerate getting wet, and kick right off when you get to the sand.
Go and do yourself—and your barking dogs—a favor and treat them to some cool, comfy clogs.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.