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Those Clunky Clogs: A '70s Trend From The Dutch And The Swedes

Fads | August 23, 2018

Vogue, 1971: A model wearing a wooly ski jumpsuit by Anne Klein, Calderon belt with Famolare clogs and rabbit fur Gottesman gloves. (Photo by Gianni Penati/Condé Nast via Getty Images)

The wooden shoes known as clogs were essential '70s footwear in America -- even though they date back centuries, and were imported from the Netherlands via Scandinavia. The clunky sandals got a high-fashion make-over in the '70s and hit the streets of the United States with all the power of a full-fledged fad. Everyone wore clogs -- women, men, schoolgirls, top fashion models, celebrities. There was a style of clog for everyone. The chunky, clompy shoe trotted into American culture and became a mainstay of 1970s fashion

Walking On Wood

English actress and model Caroline Munro with fashion models Nikki Ross and Lula wearing smock style tunics, 13th February 1972. (Photo by McKeown/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The trademark of clogs was their wooden soles. The wood was carved to contour to the shape of the average foot, but unlike leather-soled shoes, they didn’t conform over time to fit the individual wearer. The wood just wasn’t malleable. There was often a leather or cloth lining or padding to cushion the bottom of the foot, so that made them slightly more comfortable. The open-heeled, slip-on shoe had a leather top. The top was closed-toes and extended over the entire top of the foot. When a few basic designed of clogs were an instant hit in the U.S., footwear designers developed more and more styles of clogs. These ranged from the traditional, simple leather top, to ornate designs and patterns, to different materials, such as cloth.

Clogs Were The Shoe Of The Peasants

The roots of clogs go back further than the seventies. Since the early 1300s, the wooden shoe has been the footwear of choice for the peasant workers of northern Europe, with the oldest surviving examples found in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. They were easy to slip on, durable and kept the wearer’s feet dry. Style was secondary for these utilitarian shoes. 

If you've been to Amsterdam, you've seen clogs all over the place -- the pointy-tipped wooden shoes sold to tourists. That's not the kind of clog that became must-have footwear. The clogs that caught on in the U.S. and elsewhere were Swedish clogs, which consist of a thich wooden sole with a mule or sandal-like top that is usually made of leather.

Clogs Were Paired With Bell Bottoms

The clunky clogs of the 1970s were worn by both men and women and were most often paired with bell-bottom jeans. The wide-legged pants and the boxy-soled shoes cut a groovy, uniquely '70s silhouette. But clogs were versatile, too. Girls and women wore them with the long, flowing peasant dresses and the full, cotton prairie skirts of the era. Clogs were most often worn without socks. 

Remember The Bastad, Connie, Sven, And Mia Clogs?

There were numerous brands of clogs that were big in the 1970s for their stylish and fashionable clogs. Who could forget the Connie Clogs, the Mia Clogs, the Sven Clog, and the Bastad Clogs? These brands and others helped to launch the clog shoe craze by offering a variety of cute, earthy clogs. Of course, it helped that they were well-marketed. Glossy photographs of the shoe style were featured in Seventeen and other high-profile magazines. 

'70s Celebrities Loved Their Clogs. So Did Men

Actor and singer Adam Faith loved wearing clogs.

Such a hot fashion item was, of course, embraced by entertainers and celebrities of the time. Singers and musicians, including Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon, enjoyed clogs, as did actresses like Eva-Marie Saint, Melissa Gilbert, and Jaclyn Smith. 

The clog style of shoe was just hippie enough for the edgy man to give them a try. The comfort and durability were attractive to male wearers as well as female users. The wooden heel was just tall enough to give them a commanding presence. Most shoe designers included a line of men’s clog shoes, along with their more feminine clogs. 

These Clogs Were Made For Dancing

Clogs, with their wooden heels, made a distinctive sound with you walked in them. That is one of the reasons why clog dancing was a traditional dance of many Scandinavian countries and cultures. With the rise in popularity of the clog shoe, came the awareness of clog dancing by people in the United States. They were intrigued and enamored by the unusual form of dance that included traditional costumes and shoes of Sweden and Holland. The widespread popularity of traditional clog dancing in the U.S. was a result of the popularity of clogs as a fashion accessory. 

Clogs Are Making A Comeback

Clogs never really went away completely, but they are making a comeback. People love the throwback to the groovy seventies era and clogs are one of the iconic fashion pieces of that time. You can find clogs in the stores today that have been designed with inspiration from 1970s clogs. Sadly, bell-bottoms have yet to make the comeback, but today’s clogs look stylish with straight-legged jeans, too. 

Tags: A Brief History Of... | Clogs | Fashion In The 1970s | The 1970s

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Karen Harris


Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.