Oct 14, 2011 12:00AM

Top 5: On-Trend Ugly Shoes

Socks-n-sandals, Birkenstocks, flatforms and more.

We love shoes, but we're not about to sacrifice a toe or two in the name of fashion. Don't get us wrong - there's a line to be drawn between wedges and Crocs, but we're partial to what Imogen Fox calls the "rebel shoe": one so practical and defiantly ugly that somehow it attains cool status. More typically associated with river-rafting potheads, German campers and grandpas, here are five ugly shoes that for better or worse run rife in the trendy stomping ground that is downtown Manhattan.

1. Socks and sandals

The socks-and-sandal combo is one of the biggest fashion crimes out. But lately the look has been seen everywhere from Teen Vogue editorials, to the runways of Rochas and Burberry, to the smugly left-of-field feet of Chloe Sevigny and Florence Welch. Of course, it takes a certain amount of youthful insouciance to make it work - and who better a socks-and-sandal poster girl than Alexa Chung? Much like Karl Lagerfeld's predilection for leather gloves and rings ever since his mother told him he had ugly hands, it was Chung's own insecurities that made her a socks-and-sandal enthusiast. Last year she told the New York Times: "I don't like my feet, so with open-toe sandals, I often put socks on to mask the horrendousness." Oh Alexa, we're sure you have lovely feet, everything about you is lovely, and your aversion to public podiatric exposure is a measure of modesty we wholeheartedly support.

2. Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks, or "birkies" as they are affectionately known, have seen a resurgence in popularity ever since Ashley Olsen was photographed out and about in her pair of the squat German sandals - worn with, amongst other things, a $39,000 backpack. If that wasn't enough of an endorsement, Kate Moss made Birkenstocks synonymous with gangly, gap-toothed elegance in that Corinne-Day-shot editorial for The Face. Heidi Klum loves birkies so much that she designed her own range. Our pick? The "Wall of Kiss" - it's not only ugly, it's also a homage to Klum's singer/songwriter husband SEAL.

Ashley Olsen rockin' her Birkenstock Gizehs

3. RM Williams boots

Since the 1930's, when iconic Aussie cobbler Reginald Murray Williams first took up trade, RM Williams boots have been something of a "must have fashion item" for outdoor horsey types. Antipodium putting blunnies on the runway in a collection that was equal parts rugged and feminine has overseen the rural-urban migration of Reg's stockman boots. They're now hitting the streets in unprecedented numbers, perfect for everything from a spot of shopping to a meeting with the president of the USA.

4. Flatforms

One of S/S11's most prolific, and questionable, runway trends was the flatform. With the likes of Prada (hello, Prada creepers on every street style blog, ever), Michael Kors, Phillip Lim 3.1, Vena Cava and Derek Lam all embracing the heavy sole, it was almost as though the Spice Girls never broke up (our inner pre-teen can only dream). Marrying the comfort of flat shoes with the height of heels, flatforms were a huge hit with the vertically-challenged in the 90s. According to our fashion clock, it's time for a revival. Haters gonna hate, but as far as we're concerned, the vaguely geriatric aesthetic only adds to the chunky charm.

5. New Balance sneakers

Thanks to Alexander Wang, we're used to seeing sportswear on the runway. And care of Adidas' high profile collabos with Stella McCartney, we're warming to the idea of "fashionable" yoga attire. But this is something else entirely - New Balance sneakers, the lad subculture staple, as the new "it" shoe? Cute girls like Molly Goddard and Stevie from Discotheque Confusion are teaming their outfits with joggers, while Maya Villiger of Turned Out fame has gone as far as to claim that she would have "nothing" without her New Balance sneakers. Sealing the deal is the Eastern European babe depicted below - next time we go to the gym, we're not bringing a change of clothes.