Sneakers are arguably the most versatile and practical type of shoes. They can range from extremely cheap to sinfully expensive.
If you are looking for something special as a fashion statement, there are limited-edition releases that can cost from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars a pair. On the other hand, If you need one for everyday use or as a work shoe, you can get cheap ones that you will not feel bad about soiling.
A good pair of sneakers will go well with almost any outfit. It can turn a boring old suit into a hip, fun, semi-formal look. Sportswear or an athleisure type of outfit is often highlighted by the sneakers you wear with it. If your office has a relaxed dress code, you can even flex on your workmates with a pair of the newest basketball kicks or high fashion sneakers.
Whatever your budget or purpose may be, there is sure to be the right sneaker for you out there.
Finding The Right Outfit
Matching your sneakers with the right outfit is crucial in completing your look. While sneakers are very versatile and are typically easy to pair, choosing clothes can also go very wrong, very fast. One bad move can turn your trendy outfit into a tacky, unprepared getup. On the other hand, a good combination of clothes and sneakers can make you look like an A-list celebrity.
Sneakers come in all widths and heights. So knowing when to wear high-tops and when to opt for the more subtle low-tops is an important part of making your outfit.
Low-tops are your best option when it comes to shorts. Not only can you experiment with socks of different lengths, short shorts and low-top sneakers can also make you look taller and thinner. For pin-rolled jeans and khakis, you can stick with your low-tops or move up a little bit to mid-top sneakers.
How To Wear Sneakers For Men?
I’ve mentioned just some of the tips to keep in mind, but there’s a lot more to consider when choosing sneakers, so let’s get into it.
Comfortable to Wear
Comfort is, to most people, the most important factor in choosing shoes. Sneakers are often worn for the whole day and on all kinds of terrain. Your feet carry most of your body weight while walking, so you do not want to be wearing uncomfortable shoes for that long.
The older you get, the more important comfort will become compared to style. Teens have a much higher tolerance for thin, hard soles or less ventilated sneakers. They can usually last a whole day in school wearing the old type of Chucks that were just tough and tight. For older feet, however, new technology has done wonders. Most sneakers nowadays are typically very stylish without sacrificing comfort.
When buying a new pair of sneakers, make sure to try them on for a few minutes to see how comfortable you are walking in them. If you are buying online, try to find reviews about the pair and see how much other people like them.
Keep It Clean
Sneakers are used almost daily, so it is also important to know how to care for them. Not only do clean sneakers look brand new, but they will also last much longer. Taking care of your shoes can save you more money in the long run.
Consider the fabric of your sneaker for your after-care. Investing in a good shoe cleaner is also an easy way to maintain it. Most cleaners are relatively cheap and can extend your sneakers’ lifespan for a couple more years.
Be sure to brush mesh sneakers properly, and if your laces already look filthy, clean them by quickly soaking them in soap and water. Stay away from chemicals like bleach that could alter the color of your kicks. For an on-the-go solution, shoe cleaning wipes are great for keeping your sneakers squeaky clean all day.
Find Your Style
Discovering your own style is a process. It may take several tries or even years of trial and error before you find the right one for you. You can develop your own style as a combination of your looks, personality, preferences, and even philosophy.
Start by deciding whether to stick with your current wardrobe or do a complete makeover. If you choose to go with the clothes you already own, you should buy sneakers that blend well with them. There is no point in buying the newest releases or most popular models just because of the hype if they do not suit your style.
But if you decide to revamp your wardrobe entirely, you should then choose between building your outfits around your sneakers or vice-versa. For example, with new pairs of sneakers in the bag, you can start looking for clothes that match those shoes well. On the other hand, you can then pick out some footwear that complement your new wardrobe if you end up shopping for clothes first.
Also, the socks you pair your sneakers with will make or break your whole look. Tacky socks can make your look completely out of place, while the right pair of socks can stylishly improve your entire outfit.
Know the Occasion
There are few things worse than getting your whole outfit together, leaving the house with confidence, and then arriving at a party and realizing you are entirely underdressed or the opposite. Knowing the occasion is an important factor in choosing your sneakers for the day. If you are going to a casual event like a date or just simply hanging out with friends, you should wear your sneakers with your regular outfit. If your go-to outfit is streetwear, you can wear matching-colored sneakers.
If you are going to the office, low-tops and basic sneakers are usually a good choice. Your rare kicks can be reserved for a night at the club or a more formal setting. If you are going to the gym or playing sports, basketball sneakers or trainers can be the practical way to go.
For a day in the outdoors like hiking, going to the park, or exploring rough terrain, you may opt for your ‘beaters’. These are typically the cheapest, oldest, and most beaten-up sneakers you own. Beaters are reserved specifically for occasions wherein you might end up staining or even breaking them. These are usually pairs of trainers, running shoes, tennis shoes, or old basketball shoes.
Types of Sneakers
There are many different types of sneakers, and those numbers are constantly increasing. These categories are not set in stone, as some designers often cross multiple lines with their new models.
While we cannot possibly define every single category, we came up with a short, basic guide on the most common types of sneakers.
Running shoes might be the most common type of sneakers you will find in the streets. They are comfortable, reliable, and usually pretty affordable. Once you find the right running shoes for you, you can wear them every day for years.
Nike, Adidas, ASICS, HOKA, Mizuno, and Saucony are just some of the best running shoe brands in the market. The HOKA Rocket X is one of the best road running sneakers in the world. The Brooks Ghost 13 is very popular among joggers and CrossFit athletes. The ASICS Gel series is perfect for everyday use for people of all shapes, sizes, and ages. For cheaper good quality pairs, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus is always a good choice.
Running shoes are made for different purposes and have wide price ranges. The cheaper ones are typically designed for casual jogging, working out, or everyday use. For competitive runners and other professional sports, the running shoes required for that level of performance can get quite expensive.
Sportswear tends to be the go-to outfit people choose to match with their running shoes. Tracksuits, joggers, and athletic shorts are common bottoms. For more casual wear, jeans also look great with running shoes. You can wear them with polo shirts, t-shirts, or even hoodies. In terms of socks, you cannot go wrong with matching your colors with the rest of your outfit. The classic plain white socks are named classic for a reason too.
Basketball shoes are one of the original sneaker types. They have been around since the 1920s and are more popular than ever these days. Not only are basketball shoes sturdy enough for any terrain, but their combination of comfort and style also make them one of the best bang-for-your-buck buys.
While it is no longer considered a basketball sneaker today, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star was the first-ever sneaker created for use in the hardcourt. Invented in 1923 by Marquis Converse, this shoe became a worldwide phenomenon by the late 20s and was, for a time, the best-selling basketball shoe of all time.
Basketball sneakers can be categorized into high-tops, mid-tops, and low-tops. This is an important factor in deciding what to get as it affects your overall look. This type of sneaker is bulkier than most because of its extra padding and reinforced midsoles. You can wear them with jeans or suits, but they may not look as sleek with skinny jeans. A good pair of athletic shorts will work just fine.
Air Jordans are the most popular basketball sneakers because of their history and flamboyance. You cannot go wrong with the Air Jordan XIII, Jordan 1, or even any of their current releases. Even Hollywood’s most famous have sported Jordans to red carpet events and awards shows. Low-top models like the Nike Kobe series or Puma Clyde Hardwood are also very popular among sneakerheads.
When we talk about high-fashion sneakers, we don’t mean classic Jordans or even limited edition NBA player releases. While those can also go for thousands of dollars, they do not have the novelty that luxury brands have. We are talking about designer brands like Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Balenciaga. These luxury sneakers prioritize fashion over function, and their price points reflect that.
The Dior B23 High Top Oblique Sneaker is clearly inspired by the Chuck Taylor silhouette. It has the signature Dior pattern on its canvas upper and is covered by a mesh overlay. This luxury sneaker keeps a subtle profile, making it a versatile pair that you can wear with many different outfits. They can blend well with a regular everyday ensemble or accentuate your formal wear.
The Louis Vuitton LV Trainer also takes inspiration from a classic silhouette. Paying homage to the Air Jordan III, these luxury sneakers were also released in low-top, mid-top, and high-top variants. Made exclusively in Italy, these trainers are made with premium leather and have 106 separate components. The Louis Vuitton branding can be found on its front, sides, and midsole.
High-fashion sneakers are very expensive, so you might want to save them for special occasions. You would not want to stain them while eating fast food or stepping on a puddle in the streets. Semi-formal events are the perfect opportunity to flex your luxury sneakers. They can be worn with a suit, sportswear, streetwear, and almost any flamboyant outfit you can think of. These premium kicks will be the highlight of any outfit.
The category typically covers skate sneakers, tennis shoes, trainers, and any other common silhouette. These are the ones you wear every day to work or school. The Nike Cortez, Adidas Stan Smith, Vans Old Skool, Converse All Star, and Nike Air Max all belong to this category. When you think of sneakers, these are the silhouettes that usually come to mind.
The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star makes another appearance on our list because it is the quintessential sneaker. Some people believe this pair is iconic simply because it’s the oldest, but we think the Chuck’s longevity is a testament to its timeless style, versatility, and quality. For the last century, brands have been taking inspiration from this sneaker for their designs.
The Nike Cortez is another classic model that has dominated the sneaker game for decades. It made its debut in the 1972 Summer Olympics and catapulted Nike into global recognition. The multi-billion dollar company of today owes much of its success to the Cortez. It was also the first appearance of the signature Swoosh logo. Its appearance in the cult-classic film Forrest Gump gave the Cortez a massive resurgence in the mid 90s.
Basic sneakers are very versatile and can be worn with almost any everyday outfit. You can go for a casual, semi-professional, or sporty look with them. You can even emulate the Forrest Gump look by wearing a button-down shirt, khakis, and the red-white-blue Cortez.
High-top sneakers are most popular among basketball players, hip-hop artists, and rock stars. They are high enough to cover the ankle but can vary in thickness and material. High-tops can range from Chuck Taylor All Stars to Nike Hyperdunks to sneaker boots. They cover a wide range of functions but all share a similar height.
The Nike Blazer Mid is one of the more popular high-tops that have made a comeback in recent years. Another pioneer of Nike’s sneaker empire, the Blazers were originally released as basketball shoes. Today, however, they are more popular for skateboarding and casual use. Collaborations with luxury brands like Supreme, Comme des Garcons, and Off-White have brought this classic silhouette to new heights.
The Air Jordan 1 is known as the shoe that changed sneaker culture forever. Released by Nike in 1985 for a young Michael Jordan, nobody at the time had any inkling just how much of an impact those high-tops would have on the world. The Jordan 1 would end up with hundreds of colorways and collaborations over the years and Nike’s Jordan brand would go on to become a multi-billion dollar brand on its own.
High-top sneakers may take some getting used to for first-time owners, but the level of comfort and stability they provide makes sure you will be back for more. You can wear them with jeans, joggers, or even shorts in the summer. However, be careful not to wear baggy pants with them, as they may make you look bulky and unkempt.
Cleats are a type of sneakers that serve a specific purpose. These are sneakers with studs or spikes in their soles for proper traction on slippery surfaces like ice or grass. They are primarily used in sports such as football, soccer, golf, baseball, and hockey. Each sport or surface requires a different shape and make of studs.
The best-selling cleats in the world are generally soccer shoes. The Adidas Copa Mundial are classic soccer cleats that provide great stability, mobility, and comfort at a reasonable price point. It was released for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain and has been a fixture in professional soccer since.
The Nike Mercurial Vapor has become one of the most popular cleats in the world in recent years. Designed as lightweight shoes for maximum speed, the world’s top footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have endorsed and consistently worn this sneaker on the biggest stage.
Cleats serve a niche market, so you would not normally wear them on the streets. However, if you are an athlete or enjoy sports during the weekends, cleats are a great investment.
Slip-on sneakers are unique in that they break the mold of typical sneakers by having no shoelaces. They are very easy to wear as you simply need to slip them on, and you are good to go.
These kicks are perfect for children who struggle with tying their shoelaces or adults who simply want the extra convenience. The lack of laces also means one less component to have to clean.
Slip-ons were traditionally low-top sneakers as they are much easier to put on that way. But in recent years, brands like Balenciaga have released laceless high-tops like the Speed Stretch-Knit High Top Sneakers or the Champion XG Pro.
You can wear these sneakers with the usual jeans or shorts with a t-shirt or hoodie for a light casual look. Hidden socks are also a good choice to pair with slip-on low-top sneakers.
Trail sneakers can be considered a part of basic sneakers or running shoes, but I include a separate section to highlight their durability and versatility. These are basically running shoes that were designed for trail and hiking surfaces as opposed to road running.
The HOKA One One Evo Mafate 2 is on the expensive side of running shoes, but they are made to survive the toughest trails, so avid hikers will want to get a pair of these. The Saucony Peregrine 11 is a cheaper option but does not sacrifice quality or comfort. A pair of these can last regular runners a few years of good performance.
These sneakers are meant to withstand dirt, mud, water, and sharp rocks while on the run. They also tend to have more heel support to keep your feet safe on uneven surfaces. You can wear them just like running shoes and basic sneakers, so the usual sportswear or casual clothes should pair just as well.
The Best Pants For Sneakers
Stylish sneaker rotations are only as good as the pants that they are rocked with. There are no specific rules, but some sneaker trends in recent years have set the standard for the most fashion-forward sneaker and pants combinations.
For an everyday look, you can pair regular or slim-fit jeans with athletic sneakers. It’s a combination that you can’t go wrong with and can be worn pretty much for any casual occasion like meeting up with friends or just hanging out at the park. For a more classic look, you can try monochrome jeans and sneakers combos, such as black jeans with black sneakers or white jeans with black sneakers and vice versa.
Denim jeans are super versatile and go well with simple and iconic sneakers like Converse or Vans. Wide-leg jeans or trousers look great with chunky footwear. For sportswear enthusiasts, sweatpants and sneakers are a match made in heaven. Whether it’s in grey or black, cashmere or cotton, a trusty pair of Nike kicks would pop it off.
For the high fashion type of people, tailored trousers paired with cozy classics from brands such as Prada or Balenciaga are the way to go. Even “dad sneakers” from brands like New Balance or ASICS can pull it off while being more wallet-friendly.
Frequently Asked Question about Men’s Sneaker Fashion
What are the best ways to wear sneakers for men?
Basic sneakers like Chucks or canvas kicks are the most affordable and versatile sneakers and go well with denim, chinos, and even colorful shorts. They are best for casual occasions and can be paired with print t-shirts or even a blazer. On the other hand, classic 90s-inspired sneakers are great for streetwear. They can be paired with slim or tapered-denim and loose shirts like a hip-hop artist or a boy-next-door.
What are your tips for wearing sneakers stylishly?
For a cleaner look, you can opt to wear no-show socks for a clean look. When wearing high-tops, it’s best to wear socks that reach past the ankle to avoid blisters. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of color by wearing socks with cool patterns or bright colors to showcase some uniqueness.
How do you wear pants with sneakers?
To create a modern look, you can cuff off your jeans to show off your sneakers–it creates a modern silhouette that brings attention to your sneakers. However, don’t cuff it off more than twice, or the pants might end up looking bulky.
A Final Word From The Trending Man
Your sneaker game is always dictated by your own preferences of comfort level and style. These shoes are the most versatile footwear out there and can help you stand out in a crowd, for better or worse. Depending on how you plan to use them, you should also consider comfort, durability, versatility, style, and budget when buying a new pair. Having a good understanding of your current wardrobe and the look you want to achieve will help you pick the right sneakers for you.