I Wore Crocs for a Whole Week and It Was Actually Life-Affirming
I originally came up with the idea to wear Crocs everywhere for a week—work, dinner, gym—because I thought it would be funny. Because, well, they’re Crocs.
For the uninitiated, Crocs are clogs made of a proprietary foam called Croslite, which makes them uniquely comfortable, durable and something you would never want anyone who could pass as a cast member of Euphoria to catch you wearing. Commenting on their hideous appearance, Tim Gunn (the voice of reason in fashion) once said that the Croc is akin to a “plastic hoof.”
As someone who’s not even close to playing in the big leagues of “good dressers” among some real Sammy Sosas (forgive me, I stopped following baseball in 2002), I thought it’d be deeply ironic to sashay across my building’s fancy marble floor, smoosh into the elevator alongside the strappy summer sandals and teeny, trendy purses, and swish through the hallways, brushing shoulders with my stylish colleagues while wearing the sartorial equivalent of clown shoes.
You see, a Croc is but a humble shoe when it’s in a garden, a doctor’s office or a children’s playground. But juxtaposed next to Fashion—that’s the Anna Wintour version of the word, with an intimidating capital “F”—the unassuming Croc becomes grotesque, casting a shadow of ugliness on the world around it. Imagine Daniel Day-Lewis as Phantom Thread’s Reynolds Woodcock in his London townhouse. It’s 1953, and he’s dressed in an impeccable suit. He’s standing in his studio, needle in mouth, gaze on the hem of a custom silk wool gown to be worn by an elegant debutante. Weak winter light pours in from the windows and is softly diffused through the pleated drapes.
Now, pan down. He’s in Crocs.
Crocs are an assault on beauty. And what is more valuable than beauty in this short time we have on earth? Sure, my initial premise for this experiment was motivated by humor, but it was truly born and grown out of my belief—or what I thought was my belief—that Crocs are the antithesis of beauty. And therefore, they must be bad. Right?
Well, let’s take a look.
To bring this experiment to life, the good folks at Crocs sent me four pairs of their famous footwear: Crocband™ Platform Rainbow Clog ($49), two classic tie-dye styles ($45) and one Jibbitz bedecked pair of classic white Crocs ($45). Please be patient, we will get to the Jibbitz thing later. It should also be noted that I wanted these $90 biker Crocs sold exclusively at Barneys New York, but life is cruel and they were not available.
Now, the issue of the summer heat, subway travel and rubber shoes came up frequently in conversation when I mentioned this project to friends and family. Because my feet get sweaty, I explained to them, I would wear an ankle sock with the Croc during the commute, then remove said ankle sock once at my office. Thinking about this now, it’s adorable I thought taking my socks off would make the fashion choice more redeemable. What I would come to learn, is that there is no redemption when you dive into the rubbery world of Crocs.
Wearing Crocs everywhere will be hilarious because Crocs are ugly shoes. So, I will probably learn nothing about myself, but I will take some funny pictures.
I will not lie, on the first day I was a little nervous to wear Crocs to the office and totally obliterate my reputation with my coworkers, so I went with one of my subtler pairs: a pastel tie-dye version. Going with the don’t-look-at-me-it’s-not-like-I’m-wearing-Crocs-to-work vibe, I paired them with a casual shirt I nabbed from TJ Maxx and the Everlane jeans I wear basically every day.
Once in my fancy office building, I admittedly felt more self-conscious than usual. Like I was making a mockery of anyone who tried dressing nicely for work. When I stepped into the elevator with only one other woman I didn’t know, my heart started beating. I felt like she was looking at me. And it turned out, she was. But to my surprise, she said, “Those are so fun!” Sure, you might be thinking it was one of those compliments you blurt out because something is so hideous you reflexively yell, “I LOVE THAT PERM!!!” But in my bones, I felt her truth. Something passed between us, a little bolt of electricity from her to me assuring me that what I was doing, no matter how small, was a tiny act of revolution.
That said, the rest of the day was uneventful. Besides a few amiable “Crocs week!” shout-outs from coworkers, there were no balks or eye rolls. When I ventured to Soho to kill some time before dinner, no teens appeared to point and laugh at me. And when it downpoured as I speed-walked to a fancy pizza restaurant for dinner, my sanity stayed intact as my rubber shoes remained unaffected by the storm. Yes, they squeaked against my feet, but unlike my TJ Maxx shirt and Everlane jeans, they dried off remarkably fast.
Feeling a little more confident, I decided to go really for it. I paired my funkiest pair (they feature an impressive rainbow platform) with a vibrant dress I bought off of Instagram. The outfit read: A month late and dollar short for Pride.
On my way to work, I called my friend who lives in Israel and told her about the experiment. She responded, “Remember when everyone wore the same Crocs at our dads’ office?” I laughed, holding back a jolt of sickening realization. Déjà vu. I’d been here before. “That was me. I already did the Crocs thing,” I muttered.
Back in 2006 (also the year I combed an entire section of my hair across my acne-ridden forehead as if it were an effortless side bang) I worked at my dad’s dental practice for the summer. I’m not totally sure why—perhaps parts of the memory are still repressed—but I made it my mission to get everyone in the office to wear terrible, beige Crocs. Without any research, I sold the idea to my dad promsing, “If you get blood on them you can basically just soak them in a tub of bleach.” And that was when I got my first pair of Crocs.
“Yeah,” my friend said, “I don’t, like, find this ‘experiment’ surprising. I feel like you’re always in Crocs.”
Standing there in front of Penn Station, the worst, ugliest place in glamorous New York City, I realized that a dark cloak of shame had kept me from seeing my authentic myself. On top of the funky styles that the Crocs people had sent me, I had two more pairs of Crocs at home: The beige ones leftover from the dental office (still in pristine shape, 13 years later) and one I’d purchased for my husband way back when because—ONCE AGAIN—I thought it’d be funny! Over the years, these shoes have become the most coveted item of footwear in our household for dog walking, plant watering, emergency toilet paper buying, etc.
Who had I been kidding? I’m a Croc-head (contact my trademark lawyer, that phrase is mine).
In this headspace of radical acceptance, I decided to make my Crocs feel like Fashion. With my new Scotch and Soda blue top (purchased on sale, duh), Mignonne Gavigan flower earrings and Everlane jeans, I wore the most ridiculous looking of all the Crocs—the Jibbitz-covered ones with my name, a taco, hot dog and many other, uh, nouns, emblazoned across the top.
What are Jibbitz, you ask? Oft confused with giblets, the edible organs of poultry, Jibbitz are charms you can stick in the holes of your Crocs as a form of customization. They are totally whimsical, silly and, oh, were acquired by Crocs Inc. in 2006 for a cool, casual $10 million.
By this point, people in the office were saying things like, “Wait, I want a pair of those!” and “Great outfit!” When asked how my experiment was going, I responded honestly:
Not only was I getting positive feedback on my hooves (thank you very much, Mr. Gunn), but my body was also responding positively. I usually have tremendous foot pain caused from my severe flat feet. Even though I usually wear sneakers to work (love me some Air Max 97s), the narrow toe box of my beloved Nikes winds up making my situation worse, causing more foot and knee pain.
In all my time wearing Crocs, and walking an average of 10,000 steps a day, I actually felt like I was walking on clouds. It is not hyperbole when I say my feet weren’t sore once and my knee didn’t hurt at all. Magic? No, just the magic of Crocs, if you ask me.
By Thursday, I felt like a new me. Dara “Crocs” Katz. Without thinking twice, I paired the very bright tie-dye style with a long blouse and jean shorts to really show off the shoe. The overall look read: Camp Counselor Takes an Office Job. I felt easy, breezy and I was not in my head about anything.
This state of mind wound up being particularly helpful when Inside Edition rolled by my office to interview me. Oh, right, so Crocs Week also happened to coincide with My Husband Found an In-N-Out Burger Week, a viral Instagram post that amazingly made national news and led me to the distinct opportunity of representing the Crocs community on national television. It was an honor to wear the best, most comfortable shoe ever cobbled together from proprietary plastic on a show that mostly highlights Jet Ski deaths. Unfortunately, the Inside Edition editors ultimately cut everything I said, so I just appeared on TV looking like a really supportive wife. Thought the camera doesn’t pan to my Crocs once, I know in my heart they were there supporting my feet as I, in turn, supported my hamburger-finding husband.
When planning this experiment, I completely forgot that I’d have to wear them while traveling to a wedding in St. Louis. With my head in a Crocs cloud, I asked my husband if he thought I could wear Crocs to the rehearsal dinner, expecting the answer to be a resounding "yes." But the look of disappointment in his eyes was instantly telling: I had taken this Crocs thing too far. Like Icarus and the sun, bringing Crocs to the functions of a wedding would be the end of me.
But then he said, “Well, unless you wear the rainbow platform ones.”
After careful consideration, I did not wind up wearing any form of Croc to the wedding weekend events because I didn’t dare ruin someone else’s holy matrimony with my footwear choice.
I did, however, wear my pastel tie-dye pair on the plane. Reader, if you ever forget to input your TSA precheck status on your ticket and have to take off your shoes, Crocs are the gold standard.
Perhaps my methodology for this experiment wasn’t perfect, but my findings are unimpeachable: Crocs are the best shoe ever. They are ironic. They are fun. They are comfortable. You can decorate them if you feel like it. You can dump them in a bucket of bleach (again, I might be making this up) if you get blood on them.
To live may be to suffer, and yet with Crocs, I underwent a true life transformation. Why should I be hindered by foot pain during this short time on earth when I can say yes to comfort! Yes to fun! Yes to Croslite!!!! Why say no to Jibbitz when I can say, "Give me $10 million worth?!?!"
When Nietzsche wrote about the idea of loving your fate whether it’s good, bad or ugly, I can’t help but think the philosopher foresaw the creation of a proprietary foam shoe empire and penned:
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly.
To love something not for its beauty but for its ugliness is to fall in love with Crocs. My fate has become tied to a rubber shoe, and I’ve never felt happier to be alive.