Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Swedish Has Been

Let me introduce you to my Swedish Hasbeens.


Have you heard of them? No? They are the LEAST COMFORTABLE SHOES EVER.

Ever come across them on Pintertumblr or any fashion blog ever and thought, "Wow! They say they are handmade by elves in Sweden and, with their hefty price tag, they couldn't possibly be less than dreamlike to wear"? Seen a blogger wearing them and gone, "Well, this lady wouldn't LIE or EXAGGERATE about their comfort or wearability"?


Let me tell you. Everyone is WRONG. Whoever endorses these without a very clear asterisk that the shoes take forever to break in—and some people might not have the mental fortitude to do so—should be ridiculed and publicly shamed.

Here's the story.

I took the plunge and bought this completely innocent-looking pair a few years ago. Woven top, adjustable straps. "Self," I thought. "These are Cool Shoes. They are Worth It. They will last and pay you back in the long run with their versatility. Plus, they are made by Swedish elves."

When they arrived and I actually tried them on for the first time, I was staggered. Holy God. How can one pair of shoes be so uncomfortable? Why was the woven part digging into every conceivable part of my not-at-all-abnormal foot? Why did they sound like I was strangling hundreds of creaking floorboards with a leather noose every time I took a step?

I tried. I really did. I wore them—with socks—for weeks at the office. I hobbled until they stretched enough to be bearable on the street, and then I wore them over layers of bandaids on the subway. I've "broken in" shoes before. This was breaking ME.

After about a year, I put them away and called it quits. All those ADORABLE little bloggers were prancing around in these things, and here I was putting mine in the back of my closet and promising myself I'd eventually wear them with tights, or something. Every Google search for "swedish hasbeens jesus christ loud" or "swedish hasbeens why digging in ow" turned up nil. Why wasn't anyone talking about this? Was I weak?

Every time I pulled them out and tried them on, they sounded worse. I couldn't go two steps without wanting to die of embarrassment.

Then a few months ago, I fell in love with these babies. Could I do Swedish Hasbeens again? But look, these are slingbacks. Those won't be loud or hurt. And if I can wear them with tights and socks, they'll break in just fine. Plus, they were on sale.


Of course, they arrived and the straps were too loose. I was able to wobble around the office once or twice before my ankle buckled and I had to return to my flats. After a cobbler punched another hole tighter, they were… fine. They look good, for sure, but the dratted straps still slide down and the heels are just high enough to cause Problems if I wanted to actually walk anywhere.


Then last week, I had a stroke of brilliance about the stupid first pair. The shoes were stretched out enough (finally) to wear all day without breaking my foot or rubbing a thousand blisters everywhere. But the goddamn squeaking was impossible. Sooo, how do you fix squeaky leather? Either you wear it in or you oil it up. Lightbulb.

I lubed up my foot with lotion and then slowly and carefully rubbed it between each little braidy crossover and nook and creaky cranny. I added some Vaseline for good luck.


It actually worked. It really did. The squeaking was down to a dull roar. I could move around in public again.


The moral of the story: Swedish Hasbeens are hard to break in. In fact, if I weren't such a slave to the principle of the thing, I'm confident I would have eaten the cost and just thrown them out and never bought the second pair.

If you buy them a size down, as they recommend, the leather will scrape against your feet and pummel them into blisters and aching red parts until the straps eventually stretch out. If you buy them your actual size, the straps will be loose and you'll have to get them sorted out by a professional.

You basically can't win. I mean, I suppose I am currently winning, since I can proudly wear both pairs now. Was it worth it? Probably not. You've been warned.


Anonymous said...

Mine just came in today. I ordered my regular sandal size, and a size up, just in case. They both HURT. I never thought I had a wide foot, but these things are just digging into me. I've had these on in my house for about 5 minutes, and I just checked one of my toes to see if it was bleeding. I don't know if I have the patience you do! I think I better send these back... Thanks for posting your experience, I wondered if I was the only one.

JENNIFER N said...

Just came across your blog and this post and I so agree. I bought a pair last year and ended up throwing them out after a lot of pain. I even tried to stretch the leather by oiling up the leather and wearing them around the house with a bunch of pairs of big socks. So sad, because they're so cute.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD! Someone is finally talking about this. I bought Swedish Hasbeens Super High slip in clogs last spring. We're now going into winter and I still haven't broken them in. Last night, when I was putting olive oil on the leather, I decided to oil up my feet and slip on the shoes. Finally, they're SOMEWHAT bearable, but goddamnit, don't even think about walking anywhere in them. It's a constant clip-clop - you feel like a horse! I don't get the amazing reviews. I wear heels almost everyday and ordered these to be my comfy casual pair. I'm keeping them just to remind myself to be more discerning with my choice of footwear.

Red Boots said...

I have just been ogling a pair on the internet, and before buying I thought I'd google and see how the sizing runs. This was the first page I clicked on to and I just want to say a massive thank you the warning and for saving me a lot of money!! Blogger of the year - I think so!

Anonymous said...

agree, and I bought a different brand but same experience


Anna said...

Red Boots, there are a few comfortable ones, but they are few and far between. The t-strap ones are great, for example! Good luck.

Holly Jackson said...

THANK YOU for posting this! Now I know.

Anonymous said...

I am so bummed I didn't read this before I purchased mine. I wore them once last night to dinner, and i have blisters all over my feet. In places I never thought i could get blisters! I am trying the socks in the house method first. BOO!!!

potimor said...

Well Two days ....and now I wear them for a whole day without problems at all. I love Them!

mayarose98 said...

I recently discovered Swedish Hasbeens and my first thought was: Oh my these are gorgeous!
I really want a pair but I'm currently looking at all the designs and prices first.
When I read your post I was so glad someone had explained my wonder of, these look uncomfortable! Although it also saddened me.
Does it depend on the style of shoe and how do other people get by? I really want a pair but sadly not if they will put me through pain!

Anna said...

Maya, yes it does depend on the style. I tried on a friend's pair of t-straps that I love and covet. But when it comes to clogs, the only truly comfortable pair I have is from Nina Z. And I've heard great things about No 6, but those are at the top of the budget. Good luck!

Julie said...

I am debating keeping or returning a pair of "Zip it Victoria" in Bordeaux. They are beautiful shoes. So close to perfect, but so far away. I've done well with a variety of dansko styles. I have bunions, shoes are always a challenge for me. Hot damn, these Hasbeens are equal parts cute and hurt. I've read some other reviews that say these are substantial, quality leather, and as such are meant to be tight so they conform to your feet so as to fit like a glove. Is the intervening pain worth it? I have 30 days to decide....

Anonymous said...

Lotta from Stockholm makes very comfortable clogs. I have 3 pairs. Two sandals and one slip on. They are cheaper than Swedish Hasbeens too.

onehourgirl said...

Stuff them really tight with newspaper. If you soak the paper in rubbing alcohol it will stretch the leather faster but might transfer the ink yto the inside of the shoes and your feet will get stained with it. Mine took 3 days stuffed with the paper to be comfortable, the pain was excruciating out of the box, my feet went numb!! But after 3 days they are very comfortable

RW said...

The boots/ booties are infinitely better! No breaking in required!

jana said...

I recently bought the peep toes high... they're actually pretty comfortable. The top of the peep toe smushed my toes for a bit, but it didn't take long to break in. I was so impressed with them that I bought the Mimmi's... after ordering the same size, and realizing they are 2 sizes too small, I ordered 2 sizes up. Much better, but the top of the shoe digs in the top of my foot. Like the end, where the bow is. Does this happen to you? Do you have a trick for stretching them??

Amber Zaragoza said...

Hi Anna! I just wanted to say thank you for your frank and detailed experience with Hasbeens! I've been pining over them since about the time you wrote this, and I just haven't committed. Now I feel better about my indecision. You're the best, and I'm happy I found your blog.


Txell said...

Wow! Thanks a lot !
I bought recently some very similars to the black ones you have, but from another brand. Even if the leather doesn't look like is gonna hurt, it is very soft, I'm worried about the noise that does the wood it does when I step..yes, in fact like a horse!
Then another thing is that the sole is made of wood so is anything but flexible. How can you walk naturally with something that is not adapting to your steps??? I thing I will return them this weekend to the shop.

Thanks again!

Erin Brown said...

I have the exact same braided low in black! But I have to say I absolutely love them and had very little trouble breaking them in, even though I ordered the size down. The first week I had them I put a bit of olive oil on the leather before wearing them each day. If that isn't enough I'd recommend filling a zip-lock bag with water, putting it in the front of your sandal, and then placing your sandal in the freezer. This will stretch the leather without all the work. Honestly I love these shoes to death but maybe they're not for everyone.

Anonymous said...

my lacey mid height ones a blissfully comfy, honestly.

Anna said...

Clog Update:

Because I never learn, I have three more pairs of clogs, all different brands, and here's the lowdown! For reference, I wear a size 10 (which sometimes falls between 40 and 41).

Nina Z boots: Sized up. These were comfy from day one, but of course as boots they aren't tight at all. 10/10 would recommend anything from them.

Kerstin Adolphson woven sandals: I bought these on mega super sale in Paris, and they were really comfortable from the beginning, too. They do squeak like the Swedish Hasbeens, so I rub the woven top with lotion before I wear them.

No 6 Old Schools: I am going to write more about these later. They were definitely a splurge, but I knew I'd wear these over and over again. Sized up, but the inside "edges" are still a little tight. I wore them to work and got a blister, so now I'm stretching them out around the office. They are also GORGEOUS.

The Eggroll said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. i thought i was taking crazy pills with my painful hasbeens, and now i know that i am not alone. please, please, please update us on your experience with no.6 clogs. i am praying to little baby jesus that my chubby, wide feet will have finally found the clog made for them.

Anonymous said...

Love the look and concept of this brand ! I have the red jodhpurs stye boot in my normal size UK 5, these took about a week to break in, and the side gape a little too much for a sleek fit. But look great with jeans so suffer this. I foolishly went ahead and bought the sky high heart sandals in red also a size 5, oh my they took the skin off my toes so now me feet look like I have corns ! so painful. Tried again 2 weeks later with corn plasters and socks, still hurt so have retired them for the winter. I then purchased the black sky high zipped perforated boots in a size 5. I was so happy to receive them, but sadly I can only get one foot on as they just don't fit !! ( and even this foot feels like I have lockjaw !) I will try the wet paper with a shoe stretcher and or the wet and freeze method but a little weary as dot want to ruin the finish and or look ! any suggestions :)

Sadie Jane said...

Thank you for your honest review! I almost bought some at a local boutique over the weekend, but they were so expensive (even on sale). I've been wanting some for so long because of all the blogger pictures. Well. . . what I've figured out is so many bloggers are just schlepping things they've gotten for free. It doesn't seem possible that every single blogger could be so overjoyed with their Hasbeens, given the evidence these shoes are really painful. I appreciate your frank review and find your blog so refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Been looking at Hasbeen's for a few months and decided to take the plunge when Amazon lowered the price on the Fredricka sandal to $85! Just choose your Swedish Hasbeen size and style on, add it to your cart and then move it out to the "save it for later". The price will likely come down. In my case, it came down from $156 to $85. Got them in black and they are absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to break them in and start wearing them. However, while the left shoe feels fine right out of the box, the right shoe is cutting and pinching into the side of my foot. It almost feels like a size smaller than the left shoe, but I guess since they are handmade, no two pairs will be exactly alike.

Carolina Angarita said...

Thank you! I nearly bought a pair but decided to check reviews online first.. they don't look comfy so decided to do a bit of research beforehand. Needless to say, I'm not buying them! X x

Acton Bell said...

Thanks for the post. I have always been a huge fan of Wooden Swedish clogs. They are just very comfortable and provide ample support which is why I can wear them to office everyday.

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