Athletic shoes that won't cramp your style? It's possible.

By Hannah Hayes
Allbirds Shoes
Credit: @allbirds

There is a theory called The Uncanny Valley, which explains that the more a robot looks like a human the more it elicits "uncanny, or strangely familiar, feelings of eeriness and revulsion" to an actual human. The same could be said of that elusive "cute walking shoe." The more companies try to inch their athletic, functional performance shoes toward something fashionable and versatile, they end up anything but cute.

I used to believe this was true. Then I got my first pair of Allbirds. While these wool runners are past their honeymoon phase as a new, trendy option from a San Francisco Startup, the hype hasn't faded. While street style sneakers that look more like contemporary art pieces might also be having a moment, fans of Allbirds find these minimalistic shoes just as exciting due to their lack of bells and whistles.

It's that reason why I have packed them for almost all the trips I've taken this past year. I was wearing them while I kayaked over a 12-foot alligator in Lake Martin, Louisiana; I wore them for a day full of walking all over New Orleans uneven sidewalks; and they have become my footwear of choice for highway driving.

But the best part of Allbirds might be how their low-key vibe means they can pair with more outfits than most athletic shoes but are roughly 400 more times comfortable than canvas sneakers. I have even seen bonafide fashion magazine editors wear the cream-colored pair with a linen dress and other ladies of style wear their brightly colored ones with a denim dress and look just as equally put-together, but relaxed.

"But wool? Hannah, I don't want my feet to feel like my torso during Christmas sweater season," you say. The wool that Allbirds uses is not the scratchy, itchy kind you might be thinking. Instead, these shoes are ultra-soft and cozy while still being ultra breathable. I routinely wear mine without socks and they collect odor or moisture the same way my canvas shoes did.

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If you like me, once used to stuff three more pairs of shoes than you need in your suitcase, a pair of Allbirds might not only take a burden off your feet, but also your carry-on.