How to Wear Clogs Without Looking Like a Folk Dancer or Swedish Farmer

Clogs have evolved.
Publish date:
August 26, 2014
shoppables, shoes, how to wear, clogs

The look my boyfriend gave me when I told him I had bought a pair of clogs was unlike any look he’d ever given me. He’s put up with me wearing black lipstick, high-waisted shorts, grandpa sweaters, and various other trends that guys supposedly hate -– but at the sound of the word “clogs,” he made a face like I’d just said I was going to slather myself in dog crap as a new beauty treatment.

“They’re not ugly,” I assured him. “They’re cute, fashion-y ones.” He didn’t look convinced.

He’s not alone in that. When most people hear talk of clogs, they think of 1970s hippies, Swedish folk dancers, or nurses and cooks who turn to their Danskos for all-day comfort.

Luckily, clogs have evolved. There are some truly adorable ones on the market now, in high-heeled silhouettes that look nothing like the flat, clunky clogs that give the style a bad rap.

Swedish Hasbeens makes sky-high peeptoes and twee pastel wedges. Sven makes golden mary-jane heels and clogs with adorable little bows on the toe. Lotta From Stockholm -– my personal favorite for their slightly less shocking prices -– makes slingbacks, the ideal shoes for your next 4th of July party, and even clog boots.

As you can see, they’re available in about a zillion different colors and styles. I recommend getting a pair with the highest heel you can find on a clog, which won’t be very high –- even Swedish Hasbeens’ “sky high” style is only 3.9 inches with a 1-inch platform. The higher the heel, the less frumpy or folksy you’re likely to look.

As for color, I’d go with something relatively neutral, like black, tan, or navy. Just as with any kind of “novelty” shoe style, clogs can look a little tacky in bright hues.

Your lifestyle and the climate of where you live will dictate whether you choose closed-toe, open-toe, or peeptoe. I think closed-toe is the most versatile because it can be worn all through spring, summer, and fall, and you can even wear them with socks if you’re into that. But if you’re just looking for a hella cute summertime sandal, there are some gorgeous sandal-clog styles available.

The style I chose for myself is the Highwood T-bar Lotta clog in navy. I went with the T-bar because it seemed like it would hold my foot more securely, and it does. One of my biggest complaints with heels is that they tend to slip off my feet mid-step sometimes, even if they seem to fit perfectly, but I don’t have that problem with these.

They’re also crazy comfortable, and I say that as someone who’s been known to whine, groan, and hobble around if I have to wear heels for more than an hour at a time. You would think standing on a block of wood wouldn’t feel too great, but somehow these clogs are magic and they’re the most comfortable heels I’ve ever owned. As you might expect, it takes some time to get accustomed to walking in shoes that don't flex along with your feet, but after a couple blocks' practice, I had picked it up no problem.

Sold? Not yet? That’s okay, I get it. Today I’m going to show you how I style my clogs without looking like I just time-traveled here from 13th-century Denmark. Trust me, it’s doable.

Girly and Pretty

I would wear this on a date, because it’s the kind of outfit that makes me feel polished, pretty and put-together. I love feeling fancy and feminine without needing to subject myself to agonizing shoes, and these surprisingly comfy clogs help with that.

Clogs can veer into frumpy territory pretty easily if they’re worn with anything too stuffy or modest, so I’m skipping tights and going with a low-cut dress that matches the shoes without screaming “LOOK, I MATCH.” The cardigan adds some interest and also makes the outfit a touch more slouchy and laid-back, which I dig.

Though this look is casual enough for school or a lunch date, it could also be dressed up easily for a fancier night out. To make it dressy, I’d add some pretty jewelry, button up the cardigan for a more structured-looking waist, and throw on some tights in case it got chillier at night. Bam! Instant classy-lady ensemble.

Laid-Back and Casual

I love wearing my clogs on lazy days because the heel is just enough to elevate a loungin’ outfit from “supine slob” to “slightly more elegant supine slob.” It’s hard to feel completely useless and unproductive when you’re wearing a heeled shoe, even if the rest of your outfit makes you look and feel like a grade-A ragamuffin.

Jeans pair well with my clogs because they’re navy, but really, what color doesn’t go with jeans? I’ve tucked in my shirt for a cleaner look (and to show off my sweet belt). Now I’m ready to go hang out at Starbucks with my laptop, or just bum around at home.

Conservative and Work-Appropriate

I'm a student who works from home so basically all my knowledge of acceptable work clothing comes from "What Not to Wear" and "9 to 5." I don't think I've seen clogs in either of those, but I still think they can be work-appropriate, so long as you get a closed-toe pair in a fairly somber color.

Tights or pantyhose make the shoes seem less in-your-face about the fact that they’re clogs. A pretty-colored top and simple jewelry draw the eye upward so no one will examine your wooden soles too closely. In this styling, the clogs take on the role of sensible pumps -- with the added bonus that they enable me to stand or walk for hours at a time without pain, unlike any of the actual "sensible pumps" in my collection.

What do you think? Would you ever wear clogs? Or do they just have too many Swedish/folksy/fugly connotations for you to consider them?