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how toTuesday, April 27, 2021

Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide


Tabi shoes: you either love them or hate them. Considering the fact that you’ve found your way to our Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide, we’re presuming that you’re a fan – so please allow us to welcome you to the club. 


First, we like to ensure that all members are well informed about the history behind the Maison Margiela Tabi boot, so here’s a little background information. (Don’t worry, you won’t be quizzed at the end.)


In 1988, Belgian designer Martin Margiela debuted his first collection, which featured the iconic Tabi boot. His inspiration? The traditional Japanese tabi sock and Jika-tabi shoes that separate the big toe from the other toes.


During the Japanese Muromachi period (circa the mid-1300s to mid-1500s), Tabi socks were often worn with zōri or geta shoes, which are essentially the original versions of flip flops (or thongs, if you’re Australian). The reason why it was mandatory to wear socks with such footwear is that the bare foot was considered to be erotic. Oh, how far we’ve come since the 16th century... 


During the early 20th century, the jika-tabi shoe emerged: a footwear silhouette that combined the tabi sock with a boot. The jika-tabi was the invention of Tokujirō Ishibashi, who utilized the new, uber-practical material the world was going crazy for at the time – rubber. The jika-tabi was adopted by countless workers – including farmers, gardeners and soldiers – who found the shoes flexible, protective and hard-wearing. 


Aforementioned, Martin Margiela embraced this traditional Japanese look for his debut collection, and ever since, the Tabi – now available as a mule, a pump, a loafer and more – has proven to be one of the most divisive shoes in fashion history. 


Now, you’re well acquainted with the shoe’s history, it’s time to introduce you to some of the most influential members of the Tabi club. Below, a collection of camel-toed creatives discuss their obsession with the avant-garde aesthetic, how they prefer to style the shoe, and everything you need to know about Maison Margiela Tabi sizing, fit, comfort and care.


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Joel Mcloughlin (@gallucks)

Fashion vlogger, blogger and designer based in London, UK


Over the years, I’ve changed my mind about Maison Margiela Tabi boots – I used to dislike them, but now they’re one of my favorite purchases ever. My Tabi boots are the white ankle boots that are often dubbed the ‘iconic pair’. The leather is incredibly supple, which gives the boot a luxurious feel, and the heel height is empowering: they definitely make you walk with more of a strut than a generic boot. I would say the split-toe takes a little time to get used to. At first, it felt pretty strange, but after a while, it just becomes second nature, and you start to wonder why all of your shoes don't feature a split toe. 


Styling: Today, I’ve decided to style my white Tabi boots with a cream ensemble for a monochrome look. I think the trick to styling the Tabi boot is to remember they’re a statement; therefore, what you want is for the rest of your outfit to be subtle. 


Sizing and fit: The Tabi boots fit me perfectly in my true size, so stick with what you know. Oh, and make sure you invest in a pair of split-toe socks to wear with them. 


Comfort: They’re actually a lot more comfortable than you would think, especially if you wear them with the split-toe socks that I mentioned above.


Care: As I’m sure you can imagine, wearing white boots in London is a disaster waiting to happen. Having said that, if you keep on top of the scruffs and marks and regularly wipe them with a damp cloth, they’ll stay in perfect condition.


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Collin Paris (@collinparis)

Fashion designer based in Zürich, Switzerland


Simply put, the Maison Margiela Tabi shoes are my dream shoes! They’re tremendously unique: inspired by traditional Japanese shoes, in which the big toe is split from the four smaller toes. I love how extravagant they are – they make me feel so happy each time I put them on my feet. The pair I’m wearing today are the white Tabi Bianchetto sneakers from the Maison Margiela x Reebok collaboration. 


Styling: The Maison Margiela x Reebok Tabi Bianchetto sneakers look stylish with everyday styles and flamboyant fits. Even if you wear these sneakers with the simplest outfit in your wardrobe, you’re still likely to draw attention (which, in my mind, is always a good thing). 


Sizing and fit: I strongly recommend sizing up when purchasing Tabi shoes, especially as one has to wear Tabi socks with them.


Comfort: These Tabi trainers are super-practical and comfortable, which is why I wear them almost every day – I even occasionally run in them! They’re great for both urban and rural environments, and they are never painful to wear. 


Care: As I tend to use my Tabi shoes for everyday wear, I clean them after every use with a brush and water – this keeps them spotless. Having said that, I avoid wearing them in bad weather due to the fact that they’re white. When I’m not wearing them I keep them in protective shoe bags to ensure they remain clean and undamaged. 


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Kailee McKenzie (@kaileemckenzie)

Fashion vlogger, content creator and designer based in New York, USA


I consider the Tabi a classic silhouette; at the moment, my favorite pair of shoes from the Maison Margiela collection are the black leather Tabi pumps. I love that the pumps are scarcer than other Tabi styles, which is one of the reasons I reach for them most days. They actually feature a smaller heel than my last Tabi pumps, which I think I prefer. 


Styling: Tabi pumps are appropriate for both casual and formal occasions. They’re one of the only pairs of heels that check all of my boxes – when I’m not wearing these, I’m wearing platform shoes or combat boots. Anyway, back to the Tabi boot. They work with everything from a tank top and wide-leg trousers to a bodysuit and skirt. In summer, I wear them often and all day, and in the winter I wear them with tights on mild evenings.


Sizing and fit: I always opt for my true size when purchasing Tabi pumps, but I usually size up when purchasing Tabi boots. I find that both styles are snug at first, but the leather eventually moulds to the shape of your feet. You don’t want them to feel loose; you want them to feel like a second skin. 


Comfort: Personally, I find Tabi shoes to be super comfortable, but I think they take a little getting used to for some people. The toe separation feels surprisingly natural, especially if you wear them with Tabi socks or tights. I would personally avoid wearing them barefoot because they start to feel a little sticky after a while.


Care: Shoe care is important! I will likely get my Tabis re-soled soon to extend their lifespan. I don’t like my shoes to look too new or polished, but they must last. Mine are covered and stuffed with tissue paper when I’m not wearing them – this helps to maintain their shape. I also have an all-natural leather cream from my cobbler that I use every once in a while. But I don’t mind a scuff here or there as I think it adds character. 


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Lily Tran (@lilytr4n_)

Marketing executive, graphic designer and content creator based in Melbourne, Australia


Maison Margiela Tabi shoes work seamlessly with my style – my favorite pair are the black Tabi kitten heels made from Italian leather. What do I love most about these Tabis? The details! I’m talking about the bow embellishment, the white stitching, the leather insole and the suede accents at the back of the heel. I personally prefer these over Tabi boots because they can work for all seasons. In winter, you can pair the kitten heels with trousers or stockings; in summer, you can wear them with skirts and dresses.


Styling: As I mentioned, Tabi kitten heels are very versatile. Today, I’ve decided to style them with a mini Pleats Please Issey Miyake top and skirt (I’m wearing the top backwards), an oversized Comme des Garçons Homme pinstripe blazer and a Telfar mini shopping bag. I love pairing masculine and feminine pieces together: the combination of the broad-shoulder suit jacket and softly pleated skirt and Tabi heel is flattering and balanced. 


Sizing and fit: If you’re going to purchase a pair of Tabi heels, I’d recommend opting for your true size – that’s unless you have wide feet. If you do have wide feet, I’d suggest going up half a size.


Comfort: At first, the leather can feel a little uncomfortable, but believe me when I say it will stretch and form to your foot over time. A few weeks into wearing them, you’ll be thankful for their snug fit as they won’t slip off whilst you’re walking. Additionally, the short and wide cylinder-shaped design of the heel is easy to walk in. 


Care: Before I wear my Tabi kitten heels, I always spray them with a silicone shoe protector – especially on the suede part of the heel. I also purchase thin insoles to protect the white leather insoles – I think this is important because I regularly wear them without socks. To help maintain the exterior leather, I use leather balm or polish. Protecting the boot's leather will reduce signs of aging (e.g. cracking, creasing and dullness) and will increase the shoe's lifespan. 


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Éloïse Gendry-Hearn (@eloisegendry)

Digital marketing SEO assistant at FARFETCH and fashion instagrammer based in London, UK


I've been obsessed with Maison Margiela’s iconic Tabi line for years; I’d even go so far as to say they’re my all-time favorite shoes. My black Tabi boots (the ones with the 8cm cylinder heels) were the first designer pair of shoes I bought for myself – they’ve proved to be a stellar investment. Because they’re so classic, I find myself constantly reaching for them, no matter the occasion. 


Styling: My Maison Margiela Tabi boots are my go-tos, and I honestly can’t think of an outfit they wouldn’t work with. Today, I’m wearing my favorite Aries T-shirt layered over a Marine Serre long-sleeve top and a pair of Saks Potts logo trousers. I also like to wear them with dressier pieces such as a Margiela bodysuit and a denim mini-skirt.


Sizing and fit: The Tabi boots fit true to size. I’m usually a UK 7.5, so I went for a EU41 in the boots and they fit really well. They are a little roomy, so I often wear them with two pairs of Tabi socks. That said, I own a pair of Tabi pumps that I wish I sized up on – they're very snug.


Comfort: The boots are very comfortable, which is one reason why I feel confident enough to wear them all the time. Initially, they rubbed my heel a little, but once you’ve worn them a couple of times, they become the perfect everyday shoe. I know some people may be a little concerned about the split toe design, but please believe that you get used to the feel almost instantly.


Care: In my opinion, they’re a very low-maintenance shoe. They’re sturdy and the leather is super durable, so, honestly, I don’t have to do an awful lot to look after them. If it rains whilst I’m wearing them, I usually dry them off with a cloth to make sure they’re free from watermarks.


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Venus Fabbricatore (@vecoolstyle)

Fashion stylist and personal shopper based in Mexico City, Mexico


I've been a huge fan of Maison Margiela Tabi shoes for such a long time. The first pair I owned were the Tabi Mary Jane pumps in white – they stole my heart as soon as I took them out of their box. The year I got them (2019), I wore them with different looks to Milan and Paris Fashion Week, and received compliments from many fashion insiders. Currently, my favorite pair of Tabis are the loafers.


Styling: The Maison Margiela Tabi loafers are perfect for my everyday life because they suit any style. I especially love their genderless look – it adds an element of cool no matter what you’re wearing. Today I’ve decided to go for an oversized look that consists of a Margiela blazer, translucent trousers and a simple white tank. It’s an easy outfit that’ll look great for any occasion. 


Sizing and fit: Both the pumps and the loafers fit perfectly if you select your true size. 


Comfort: So many people ask me if the Tabi shoes are comfortable, including strangers on the street. My answer is always yes! Tabi shoes are super comfortable, which is one of the main reasons why I collect them.


Care: The black leather of the Tabi moccasin is super easy to clean and maintain. I usually clean them with wipes after I’ve worn them.


Maison Margiela Tabi Shoes: Sizing, Fit and Styling Guide

Zoé Vya (@zoevya)

Artist and fashion designer based in Paris, France


Tabis are the world’s greatest shoes. I’m a little obsessed with Japanese culture, which is how I discovered the Maison Margiela shoe line. Now, I can’t help but collect them – I love how the Tabi design mixes modern and traditional influences.  


I own both Tabi boots and Tabi mules: the former is best suited for everyday life (e.g. for work, chilling with friends, coffee catch-ups etc.), and the latter is ideal for more special events, especially during the summer. Both shoes are conspicuous and make me feel so special. I’ve received endless compliments about both styles of Tabis – people love to tell me how chic and unique they are.


Styling: Tabis do look a little intimidating if you’ve never worn them before, but I have totally adopted them into my everyday style – so much so, I’m now called ‘the Tabi girl’ by my close friends. I’ve even persuaded my mother to start wearing them! Tabis work well with both basic and fancy outfits, adding a touch of originality to your look.


Sizing and fit: In my experience, sizing depends on the type of Tabi you’re looking for. I had to size down when it came to the Tabi boot because they felt big on my narrow feet. But I opted for my true size when purchasing the Tabi mule, and I’m happy to report that they fit and hold my feet perfectly. 


Comfort: I can honestly say that Tabi mules are the most comfortable heels I’ve ever worn. I find that the split-toe section at the front holds my foot and makes them extremely easy to walk in. For this reason, I can comfortably (and confidently) wear them all day. 


Care: Even though I wear my Tabi shoes a lot – they’re very precious to me. I avoid wearing them on rainy days, I clean them regularly, and I store them in their original box. The leather is very high quality so it doesn’t require much maintenance. I’ve recently found a cobbler in Paris who puts non-slip soles on the Tabis; I’m considering using his services as I want to keep my Tabis in good condition for as long as possible. 


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