Head to Toe

By Kimberly Mayer

When I told my book group in Seattle that we were thinking of moving to the San Juan Islands, their first reaction was “Oh no. Next time we see you you’ll be in Birkenstock sandals and socks.”

I’ve been on island seven years now and have made every effort to avoid this, until I caved, this spring, in Encinitas California. I caved with the sandals, not the socks.

It was a week that felt like summer, after a long winter and a longer still quarantine on island. The first day of summer wasn’t even upon us yet, and we had it, each in our own way.

In a cliffside cottage, remarkably sunny and most likely unstable, I experienced a summer that could be summarized in Brixton hats and Birkenstocks. That’s my take-away, anyway.

What kind of hippie was I, anyway, not to have worn Birkenstocks when they were first introduced into the US market in the 60’s?

“Why, ten-year-olds are coming in now asking for them, as well as all the aging boomers,” exclaimed the gentleman who helped me at Birkenstock of Encinitas. Clearly this brand is living a second life, much like I hope to be doing.

I don’t need to inform you of the shock absorption and arch support inherent in each shoe, because you already knew that. The first sandal ever with a deep and flexible footbed. And hats off to Birkenstock in 1988 for the use of environmentally friendly adhesives in production, thereby setting a new global standard.

Did someone mention hats? 

“It started with a hat,” noted David Stoddard. In 2004 out of a garage in Oceanside, CA, Stoddard and two partners founded Brixton, named after an English punk band. What they had found was that no one was doing hats at the time. Inspired by vintage newsboy caps, The Hooligan became the cap by musicians, for musicians. One year later the company was launched.

The old adage in business, “Find a need and fill it,” worked. Now Brixton has become street wear, and their first brick and mortar shop is in Encinitas across the Coast Highway from Birkenstock. Now people like me who can’t carry a tune can wander in and get fitted to a Brixton hat in a variety of styles, from rancher hats to fedoras, sun hats, snap caps, tiller hats, fiddler caps, and beanies. Tucked in the inner band of my straw Fender Paycheck Cowboy Hat I found two guitar picks which I cherish.

If there is no more to my summer than this, I’ve already had it. And if there is to be more, I’m all set. You could dress me like a paper doll with the hat and shoes permanently on, and just change the outfits. Whatever I’m doing, wherever I’m going, I’ll be sure to have my Brixton hat and Birkenstock sandals on this summer.


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2 responses to “Head to Toe

  1. Deborah Derrick

    How evocative, Kim! And I love matching the story with the paper doll cutouts. I never played with real dolls (did you?) but adored the ease of changing clothes on the paper ones.

    • The only doll I remember capturing my imagination for a (short) while was Betsy Wetsy–feeding her bottles and experiencing her wet, over and over… Otherwise, I’m with you on the paper dolls. More skill involved with scissors. And it wasn’t easy with the small blunt blade scissors they gave us as children.

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