So, It Looks Like 'Ugly Shoes' Aren't Going Anywhere

Ugly Shoes
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Controversial, confusing, strange, and quirky — in 2021, this is essentially how we describe our favorite footwear. Between super soft UGG boots and colorful, embellished Crocs, we've become unable resist shopping 'ugly shoes.' Chunky soles and fuzzy details are now known as elements that will amp up the simplest of outfits, and while the world loves to hate — and hates to love! — these unexpected styles, new ones seem to be produced every single year.

In fact, the history of high-fashion 'ugly shoes' is nearly a decade long, possibly beginning with Celine's Birkenstock-like sandal from spring 2013's runway. Ahead, we've rounded up our favorite pairs from each season since then, proving that 'ugly shoes' seriously have staying power, and just keep getting better and bolder.

01 of 23

Givenchy, Spring 2022

Ugly Shoes
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No matter how hard we try, we can't escape clogs. For spring '22, you might want to trade in your classic wood pairs for this monochromatic, athletic-inspired version.

02 of 23

Ulla Johnson, Fall 2021

Ugly Shoes
Jonas Gustavsson

Perhaps it's because we lived through the ballet shoe trend of the aughts, but the ribbon ties combined with a rounded toe are giving us intense flashbacks to a questionable time for fashion.

03 of 23

Jason Wu, Spring 2021

Ugly Shoes
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Teva-style sandals are still a statement all on their own, but the mixed prints and extra bits of material took this trend to a whole new extreme.

04 of 23

Bottega Veneta, Fall 2020

Ugly Shoes
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Sure, they were bright green, super clunky, and kind of cartoonish, but Bottega Veneta's boots were also 100% biodegradable, instantly making them a must-have.

05 of 23

Simone Rocha, Spring 2020

Ugly Shoes
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The thick white soles of these silver Mary-Janes made it look as if this design was actually one shoe layered on top of another. However, our focus should have probably been on the addition of tube socks, since the sweet pairing became one of the hottest footwear trends of the year, babydoll shoes.

06 of 23

Christian Dior, Fall 2019

Ugly Shoes
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Between the kitten heel, the plaid print, or the sock-inspired ankle detail, this boot reminds us of an elegant Christmas stocking. All that's missing is a candy cane.

07 of 23

Dsquared2, Spring 2019

Ugly Shoes
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A sneaker? A sandal? A wedge? With Dsquared2's futuristic design, it's a 3-in-1 deal.

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Paco Rabanne, Fall 2018

Ugly Shoes
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Fluffy and bedazzled slides have nothing on this pom-pom shoe, which would surely steal the spotlight every time.

09 of 23

Christopher Kane, Fall 2018

Ugly Shoes
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Christopher Kane continues to produce our favorite 'questionable' footwear, attempting to combine unexpected elements such as chunky black sneakers, spring-like heels, and jewels.

10 of 23

Spring 2018, Balenciaga

Ugly Shoes
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You're either team Crocs or you're not, but the divisive nature of this shoe hasn't stop brands from putting their own unique twist on the clog, whether it's adding a platform or creating statement-making Jibbitz for decoration.

11 of 23

Loewe, Spring 2018

Ugly Shoes
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Fashion is always looking for a way to update the classic sneaker, but we're not quite sure if a long, curly, elf-like toe is it.

12 of 23

Coach, Fall 2017

Ugly Shoes
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Ready for something really out of this world? Feast your eyes on Coach's version of the Moon Boot, complete with metallic coloring and plaid laces.

13 of 23

Christopher Kane, Spring 2017

Christopher Kane, Spring 2017
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When did Crocs emerge as fashion's must-have shoe? It's possible it started with Christopher Kane's runway, where we spotted these marble-printed babies embellished with mineral stones.

14 of 23

Preen, Spring 2017

 Preen, Spring 2017
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In another high-fashion 'ugly shoe' collaboration, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi teamed up with UGG for Spring 2017, releasing black and white, bow-bedecked sandals (some were flatforms, others were just flat), They don't look anything like UGG's popular, comfy boots, but the news of this joint venture alone was enough to make this list.

15 of 23

Alexander Wang, Spring 2017

Alexander Wang, Spring 2017
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This leather-soled sandal, complete with a bulky, buckled ankle cuff, gave the average flip-flop a more fashion-forward twist.

*This shoe was originally highlighted in an earlier version of this story. Alexander Wang has since been accused of sexual assault and InStyle no longer supports the designer.

16 of 23

J. Crew, Spring 2016

J. Crew, Spring 2016
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Dr. Scholls took advantage of the ugly shoe trend and partnered with J. Crew on a collaboration full of chunky slides. Shoppers could take their pick from a variety of colors and seasonal gingham prints.

17 of 23

Marc Jacobs, Spring 2015

Marc Jacobs, Spring 2015
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What, exactly, made us fall in love with these clunky velvet-lined Dr. Scholls-look-alikes? Was it the velvet? Or that it hit a nostalgic note? It was probably all of the above.

18 of 23

Markus Lupfer, Spring 2015

Markus Lupfer, Spring 2015
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While they're arguably more nostalgic than 'ugly,' glitter jelly sandals got a grown-up makeover at Markus Lupfer's spring 2015 presentation. A blue pair included iridescent studs and gems, as well as a heeled silhouette.

19 of 23

Charlotte Ronson, Spring 2015

Charlotte Ronson, Spring 2015
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From a fashion POV, it's the minimalist version of the sporty sandal—velcro straps, no embellishment, a neutral color palette. To everyone else, they're Tevas.

20 of 23

Dior Haute Couture, Spring 2014

Dior Haute Couture, Spring 2014
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The prettiest sprinkling of floral sequins make these the chicest pair of Aqua Socks we've ever seen. It helps, too, that they're couture — and Dior.

21 of 23

Marc Jacobs, Spring 2014

Marc Jacobs, Spring 2014
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It was only a matter of time before Tevas got their time in the spotlight. Marc Jacobs riffed on the sporty sandal with rope-like straps, a rubbery sole, and a Victorian-inspired goth gown as its fashion pairing.

22 of 23

Prada, Spring 2014

Prada, Spring 2014
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In an effort to elevate the 'ugliness' of a super chunky sandal, Miuccia Prada embellished the straps with fancy gem stones.

23 of 23

Celine, Spring 2013

Celine, Spring 2013
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Ah, quite possibly the 'ugly shoe' that started it all. Designer Phoebe Philo truly kicked off the ugly shoe trend when she debuted fur-cushioned Birkenstock-like sandals. Strange at first glance, yet completely irresistible.

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