What is a clog, anyway?
There was a time when the word conjured only images of the old-timey, curved-and-carved Dutch shoes (called “klompen”) or the stilted “getas” of Japan — shoes that seem ancient, unwearable, almost tortuous as relics of fashion history. The clog is traditionally defined as a shoe made in part or completely from wood. The clunky, heavy material has been an integral part of the shoe’s very existence, sometimes serving as a protective outer shell of a shoe, as was in the case with many farmer shoes. Along with the geta and klomp, there have been the patten, German turnshoe, Belgian sabot, Spanish albarca, Swedish träsko, Indian paduka. The footwear may also have origins in Greek theatre and Roman military gear.
Today, a clog is often more about a specific shape that features both a signature rainbow-shaped arch on the sole and a cartoonish lip on the toe — wood is an optional feature. And one brand has practically taken over the style: Crocs. Since debuting a foam version of the traditional clompy footwear in the early 2000s (and selling more than 300 million pairs), the brand has redefined what clogs are, giving them an inherent comfort and ease that allures its wearers — and no more so than in the past year.
Plenty of designers have done their own take on the clog. But since Balenciaga’s homage to Crocs on the runway in 2017, fashion has been eyeing the style in a renewed way. The pandemic only reinforced the clog’s power, as fashion became more practical almost overnight. In 2020, Crocs donated more than 860,000 pairs to healthcare workers, an initiative it is continuing through this month.
Now, as the pandemic winds down in the U.S. and more people begin to venture further from their homes, the clog has taken on a new significance as the perfect transitional shoe for getting dressed again. It can be worn with literally anything, from jeans to dresses, sweatpants to leggings (and yes, scrubs). Just this week, Nicki Minaj proved that it can also be a sexy shoe, as the rapper donned a pair wearing nothing else, save for the Chanel jewelry that was pinned to the clogs as if they were Jibbitz charms.
Read on for a definitive list of the best clogs to shop.
12 Great Clogs to Buy Now
1. Rachel Comey Jibe sandal
The clog is practically built into the cult NYC designer’s design DNA and she currently has no less than 22 (yes, 22) clog options listed on her website. Comey’s Bose clog is an all-purpose style with just the right pitch and height, plus a closed toe that will take you through the fall, while the Jibe clog, shown here, has a lot of summertime swagger.
To buy: Rachel Comey Jibe clog, $450.
2. Hermès Carlotta mule
With the clog’s subtle allure, it was only a matter of time until the French luxury brand did its own high-end take on the shoe. In October 2020, Hermès sent the wooden footwear down the runway for spring ’21; now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the style available at one of its boutiques, it’s been sold out for months (and with an unofficial waitlist).
3. Dansko Professional clog
Horse trainers Mandy Cabot and Peter Kjellerup created their clog brand in 1990 in the quest for the perfect barn shoe, but the footwear quickly became a go-to for workers in nursing, culinary and agricultural settings — and the uses keep expanding. Dansko’s clog is also the only shoe on the list to receive the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association.
To buy: Dansko Professional clog, $135.
4. Fabrizio Viti Jean clog
Footwear designer Fabrizio Viti has a long resume in fashion, but lately his best known shoes have all been a variation of clogs, accented with his signature daisy motif. His Jean clog comes in an array of leathers but also in denim, printed gingham and even raffia, shown here.
5. Bottega Veneta Puddle sandal
Look out Crocs. In addition to holding the title of the hottest women’s shoe of the year so far, with its lug-sole boot (and before that, the square-toe mesh pump in 2019), the luxury “It” shoe brand has recently added a rubber clog with a back heel strap to its repertoire of Puddle boots. Like many of its shoe styles on the market today, the Puddle sandal is a unisex shoe.
To buy: Bottega Veneta Puddle sandal, $510.
6. Crocs Classic clog
A modern clog list would not be complete without Crocs, the brand that changed the very definition of the shoe. Its Classic clog is the style that Balenciaga riffed on back in 2017, adding a gigantic platform to it, and it continues to be the most popular throughout myriad Crocs collaborations and permanent collections.
To buy: Crocs Classic clog, $50.
7. No. 6 Liza Mid-Tread clog
Unofficially known as the official shoe of Brooklyn, No. 6’s clogs have a bona fide cult following, especially for its clog-boot hybrid styles, which feature a shearling lining that takes some of the shock out of the hard wood sole. For a spring alternative to the boot, try No. 6’s Liza clog, which is still shearling-lined, with a mid-height heel.
To buy: No. 6 Liza mid-tread clog, $315.
8. Dr. Scholl’s Original sandal
Yes, this sandal is technically a clog. While the notion of using clogs as, there is still something about the structure and carved wood molding of the insole of Dr. Scholl’s Original Sandal that feels a bit like a massage for the feet, even if it’s not for all-day, everyday wear.
9. Swedish Hasbeens Husband clog
Playing off the popularity of the Swedish träskor, which came into modern fashion in the ’70s, Swedish Hasbeens offers a modern take on its home country’s vintage clogs, done in bright colors and patterns. It’s popular Husband clog has a traditional shape, but it’s available in everything from brown suede to bright metallic turquoise.
To buy: Swedish Hasbeens Husband clog, $260.
10. The Chanel clog
It may not have the buzz of the Hermès clog, but the French luxury brand also has its own clog (and has dabbled in the style over the years). The current iteration has a smooth calfskin upper in a latte hue, with gold logo hardware and a tiered sole of wrapped leather and cork in lieu of wood.
11. Birkenstock Boston clog
The German spa shoe brand has always eschewed the traditional wooden sole of the clog, opting to do its own version in its signature cork footbed. Its Boston clog has long been a mainstay, but Birkenstock fans went particularly crazy for the style this winter, when the brand released a series done in a teddy shearling (they are long since sold out). This spring, keep the shearling lining in a classic suede version for an all-year indoor shoe.
12. FitFlop Pilar mule
The comfort shoe brand isn’t exactly known for making hip shoes, but it hit the mark with its Pilar mule, which takes a clog shape and lightens the load, swapping wood for a slip-resistant rubber and its CushX midsole technology, all of which make this shoe likely the most truly comfortable on the list.
To buy: FitFlop Pilar platform mule, $150.
13. Loeffler Randall Roberta clog
Designer Jessie Loeffler Randall has also hit a stride with her own clog this season. The Roberta clog has a perfect harmony of wood sole and soft suede upper, with just the right pitch and height, too, plus sleek nailhead detailing.
To buy: Loeffler Randall Roberta clog, $350.