U-G-L-Y You Ain’t Got No Alibi, You UGLY! Shoes. Or ARE They...?

Thanks to Daphne & Celeste for that – how many other mid-90s Britpop anthems can I shoehorn into headlines?
Publish date:
August 19, 2013

Oh fashion, what are you like? The constant pursuit of the new and an obsession with contrast - the juxtaposition of paradoxical elements - has brought us to this: the fugly sandal.

It all started with Celine and Christopher Kane - well, perhaps it's more accurate to say this most recent vogue for clunky, frumpy footwear started with those designers, but the roots go back - as with most things right now - to the '90s and Kate Moss in her Birks.

In the same camp of sturdy, European orthopaedic sandals (oh, how sexy) falls Dr Scholl and Swedish Hasbeens, both brands beloved by hipsters back in the ‘90s and again today. I owned a pair of Dr Scholl wooden-soled mules with a white leather strap across the front when I was a trendy (ahem) teen but I always felt as if I was about to fall off them to my doom, or a twisted ankle at least.

I got on better with the white leather granny sandals I purchased in the sale in Clarks in 1996 – everyone laughed at them, but I didn’t care, they were ridiculously comfortable and I thought contrasted prettily with little summer dresses and skirts. I think my instincts were right – this is the best way to style a fugly sandal.

To wear it well, you can't go anywhere near any clothes that are remotely dowdy - everything needs to look cool, clean, sporty, minimal - pure white, black, no fuss, simple shapes. And either a bit sexy - short, tight, some skin - or super-feminine.

Is it cynical of me to feel that this is probably one of those style-blogger-only trends worn exclusively by mid-20s hipster girls living in Dalston or Brooklyn? Possibly... I have it on good authority that the employees of the most stylish fashion mags in London are exclusively wearing wide, flat sandals this summer – mostly in white.


I just... ugh, no, sorry, I really can't get on board with any of these sandals. They're just not me. But that's not to say someone else wouldn't look awesome in them - with the right attitude and outfit, they could make a cool statement. But I like my shoes to be things of beauty - objects I can admire both on my feet and in the box, that make me look tall and elegant. So count me out of this particular silly season trend I'm afraid.

I suppose the A/W equivalent of the fugly summer sandal would be something clunky and awkward-looking like a chunky loafer, or a DM shoe (both of which I love, but sadly don’t have sufficiently Bambi-like legs to carry off, looking regrettably like a 1950s gym mistress in any shoe too solid) or maybe even the repellent Jeffrey Campbell Litas, which George wrote a defence of here.

Miu Miu had some crackers last autumn and Prada are continuing in the same vein this coming season. It does make you wonder why ‘beautiful’ shoes seem to have fallen out of favour. Of course, they haven’t really – for every Bay City Rollers-esque clodhopper, you’ll find a neat pointy-toed kitten heel. At least we ought to be grateful for the fact that the fad for tacky platforms is over.

So would you wear the fugly sandal? Are you already? Did you ever stop?