Shoe Review

We Try Dansko's New Translucent Clogs

Choose your socks carefully for these clear clogs—a Scandinavian-inspired cross between ’80s jellies and ’90s iMacs.

By Margaret Seiler March 17, 2023

“Are those Danskos? They’re finally cute!” exclaims my dentist, Esther Chung, after I get out of the chair and shuffle back into a pair of hot-pink-soled, orange-heeled, translucent yellow clogs. Soon Dr. Chung’s hygienist and receptionist are also in the doorway, clad head to toe in black scrub-like outfits and marveling at the pops of color on my feet.

My clothes aren’t quite as monochromatic as the dentist’s office attire, but in the weeks since I agreed to review a pair of the new clear line of clogs from the Danish-inspired, Pennsylvania-based shoe company, these shoes, with their slight ’90s iMac aesthetic, have been the brightest thing on me.

Close-up of translucent yellow clogs and socks printed with pizza and other foods, on a busy wooden boardwalk

The clear clogs survived a day of sightseeing in San Francisco, including a stop at Pier 39.

Image: Jane Engler

They’ve caught the eye not just of dentists but of flight attendants, restaurant servers, and the occasional skater boi. Combined with the food-themed set of Happy Socks a friend sent me as a birthday gift—in white, black, blue, and patterned with pizza slices, burgers, broccoli, and soda cups—they have brought joy to the world. The yellow-pink-orange combo might be the most joy-bringing of all, and it shows off socks better than the black version with a color pop of blue on the heel. There's also a more subdued blue-green-purple, and another with three different purples. Listed at $135, they're part of Dansko's "Professional" series, meant to be easy to clean and hold up to long shifts of standing, so they're often marketed to chefs, nurses, and teachers.

The colors and material call to mind the jellies trend from the 1980s, but these are far more comfortable and durable (and, a key in Portland, keep feet higher and drier in the rain) than anything my feet endured in that era (or during jelly shoes' ’90s revival).

A bit of moisture formed in the toe, but not enough for the shoes to feel damp.

My new (unwashed) socks might have contributed to the dark footprints in the clogs’ white footbeds after a few days of wear. The dark marks are fully covered by my feet, though, so the shoes still look fresh and new when they’re on, but the marks are a reminder of why shoes are, in general, opaque. The newness of the socks may also have contributed to the occasional bit of sock fuzz working its way out through the air holes that line the inner arch. When I wear socks that have had a wash or two, I find that happens less.  

Those air holes (which are high enough not to get flooded in a shallow puddle) aren’t enough to keep condensation from forming in the toe area, essentially fogging up the window, but it disappears fairly quickly after I kick off the clogs. I don’t wear them much barefoot, so I can’t report on what ecosystem may develop in that situation. For one thing, it’s winter, and socks are warm. It’s also entertaining to see the letters spelling out Smartwool across the toe through a shoe that looks like it belongs in a height-of-spring Easter basket.

We'll leave the barefoot look to this model. On our reviewer it just looked ... wrong.

But I don’t normally wear clogs without socks even if they aren’t clear and offer a view of the remnants of last summer’s nail polish on my big toenail or the corner of duct tape poking around from the bottom of my foot (my high-tech treatment plan for a plantar wart). Even if my feet were neat and tidy, though, bare feet showing through the clear clogs just looks wrong to me, a strange interruption, like a cutaway to an X-ray image on an anatomical diagram. Suddenly the shoes seem like a novelty, or a mistake, herring boxes without topses.

So I'll stick to my pizza socks, striped socks, socks with a sassy two-beat message on the ankle and foot (e.g., "I heard you ... and I DON'T CARE"). I find myself wanting to wipe the road dust from the slightly glossy TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) more often than I would opaque shoes—maybe so I can keep showing off the socks. When I passed a shoeshine stand at the airport, I thought of stopping to ask if I could get a going-over with some Windex.

Will they stay clear and shiny? I hope so. Will I eventually wear down the sole so much on the outer heel with my supinating gait that they'll become too wobbly to wear, as has happened with Danskos in the past? Probably. In the meantime, though, my feet will keep bringing joy to the world.