From peasant tops to flower crowns, it doesn't look like '70s inspired fashion is going anywhere this summer, and for me, nothing screams '70s quite like wooden clogs, the seemingly frumpy footwear that's become quite hip in recent years. I promise that it is totally possible to look cool while wearing clogs, and a good pair of retro-inspired platforms can add a nice Boho touch to even the simplest outfit. (Just look at clog-clad Kate Moss.)
Most high-quality clogs are made with a leather (or vegan leather) upper and a real wooden platform, and many brands have retro-style sandals that use the same materials but are a little less aggressive than a true clog. My go-to brand is Swedish Hasbeens, which has a huge variety of sandals and clogs in an array of colors, but there are plenty of other companies out there making shoes with wooden platforms, from Jeffrey Campbell to the design company funkis.
Using real wood for the shoes' platforms gives them a retro flair, but it also creates some complications because wood, especially natural wood, is not as forgiving of a material as rubber. You can't just throw them around or jump into puddles without seriously damaging them, and shoes with real wooden platforms require a little bit of extra attention than your running shoes or even other platform heels, especially if you want them to last longer than a season. (If your clogs have a synthetic platform, then none of this really applies.)
If you want to get in on this trend, don't let caring for your wooden platforms intimidate you. Once you know what you're doing, it's not too challenging, so here are nine tips for taking care of your wooden shoes so that you can get the most wear out of them with as little damage as possible:
1. Break Them In Properly
Shoes with wooden soles are not forgiving footwear, so if you're prone to knee or hip pain, you might want to take a pass on this trend. For those who are ready to give it a shot, remember that the wooden soles don't have any shock absorption, so learning how to walk in them will take some time. Throw on a pair of socks and totter around your house in your new clogs for an afternoon so you can get comfortable with the way the shoes work. Stretching out the leather a little bit at the beginning will also help prevent blisters when you wear them without socks.
2. Check The Weather
Do not wear your wooden-soled shoes when it's raining. The quickest way to ruin your wooden-soled shoes is to douse them in water, so if there's even a hint of rain in the forecast, wear something else, and I cannot stress this enough because it's a mistake that I myself have made and then instantly regretted because they get incredibly uncomfortable and stretch out in weird ways. This is also why wooden-soled shoes are primarily summer shoes, at least in my wardrobe.
3. Let Them Dry Without Damaging Them
If your shoes do get wet, either from rain or just your own sweaty feet, don't put them on a radiator and don't put them in direct sunlight. Let them dry slowly, otherwise you run the risk of cracking the wood and ruining your shoes.
4. Get Some Super Glue...
Another hazard with shoes with a wooden platform is that pieces of wood might chip off if you kick a curb, so the first piece of advice to is to not kick any curbs. But barring that, invest in some super glue. If you can salvage the small piece of wood that's fallen off, you can easily stick it back on. (For the record, I've had my wooden shoes for two seasons, and this has never happened to me in any significant way. I think it takes a lot of force to actually get a clean chip on your shoes, but it does happen, according to the manufacturers.)
5. And Some Sandpaper
Try as you might to avoid scuffs on your natural wooden soles, they're pretty inevitable. If there's a mark you're dying to clean, take finely grained sandpaper and gently rub it out. When it comes to sandpaper, you can always sand more but never less, so start off with a small patch and work your way up to bigger ones.
6. Olive Oil Is Your Friend
An unpainted, unvarnished wooden sole can be treated with olive oil to make it slightly moisture-resistant and to help repel dirt. Just pour a spoonful of olive oil onto a paper towel and rub it into the wood. If you do go this route, note that the color of your soles will change, especially if your shoes are made of a light-colored natural wood.
7. Watch For Loose Nails
The leather upper that is attached to the wood is a series of metal nails or staples, and those nails will naturally loosen up as you wear them and as the leather stretches. Now, nails are sharp and sharp things will hurt you, so keep an eye out for loose nails so you don't have to get an emergency tetanus shot. If you do see a nail coming loose, either take the shoes to your friendly neighborhood cobbler or send them to the manufacturer.
8. Maintain The Rubber Sole
On the bottom of the wood is a rubber sole that both provides some traction and protects the bottom of the wood. If you see that rubber wearing down, take your shoes to the cobbler immediately and replace that rubber sole. Otherwise, you'll be walking directly on the wood, and that'll degrade it quickly.
9. Your Shoes Aren't Invincible
Shoes with wooden soles are still shoes, and no matter how hard you try to protect them, they will get dirty and stained and start showing their age. If you want to make them last, don't wear them every single day, even though I know that's hard when they look so cute, but ultimately, they're shoes that are meant to be worn and loved, so go forth with these tips and wear and love those clogs until you need (or just want) to get a new pair.