Posted on 01 August 2008 by joost
Ah, that quintessential footwear of the low countries. The wooden shoe, or as we say, klomp (clog) has been going out of style since the 1500s. Yet it is still worn today, albeit only by provincial folk and tourist entertainers.
Klompen come in super handy in wet, grassy lands with a risk of a cow stepping on your feet. Coincidentally, this is quite typical for Dutch soil. They are made from soft wood, typically willow, by hand. In ye olden days, klompen were the only shoe for country folk. You had your working clogs during the week and pretty clogs for Sundays. (More on Wikipedia.)
Quaintness aside, klompen can be a darned practical form of footwear. Indestructible (by bovine means at least), easy to wear, cool in summer and warm in winter. Walking in them takes a bit of practice, but can be learned by anyone. The secret is curling your toes when you take a step.
As one of the prototypical images of .nl (next to windmills and tulips), klompen are where tourists are. If you’ve ever visited this country, you have seen them. The klompen you have seen are not worn by anyone though–although definitely wearable, they are touristic oddities. Actual Nederlanders in need of klompen buy them in a local, usually nondescript, “ye olden klompen shoppe”.
Should you go for the genuine cloggie experience, observe a few ground rules. Typically, the more decorated a klomp is, the less it is worn. All-black klompen are mens, to be worn on a Sunday. To church. Lacquered klompen heavily decorated by flowers are womens, to be worn on a Sunday. To church. Klompen with faux laces (a print or painted on) can be worn by anyone. White-wash klompen too, but usually indoors. Finally, the unpainted and cheapest klompen are worn in the field minding livestock.