Which Birkenstocks do they wear in Spain and Italy?

We got stopped walking towards the exit of New College, in Oxford. The porter could not believe we were not stray tourists. In Germany they spoke German to me before they spoke English. How do we dress if we want to fit in, be culturally invisible?

I do want to fit in, at least at this level. I want to be taken for a native. But I’m not willing to sacrifice comfort for it. I suppose this is a fatal flaw with the goal. That and there are some things about my appearance that are not so easily changed. Freckles, for one. My need of comfortable shoes for another.

In Madrid there were about three women on the August buses wearing sneakers. All the others had on sandals of some kind, mostly with very skinny straps. My sandals are Birkenstocks. There is only one kind I saw on other peole. Of that kind I saw three or four pairs on women that were clearly native.  It is the style that I bought a couple years ago in Italy. So, yes, this is Joan offering fashion advice. If you want to wear Birkenstocks in southern Europe and not be taken for a German or an American, get the kind in the picture. Then wear a very skimpy, colorful, thin dress with it.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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