3.28.2012

foundations: stylish sneakers

my all-purpose tourist outfit:
rag & bone utility jacket, isabel marant scarf, t-shirt, seven jeans, lumix camera, onitsuka tigers

'stylish sneaker' is not necessarily an oxymoron. they do get a bad rep unfortunately. how many times have you read "no jeans or sneakers" in a dress code memo? however, sneakers are probably the most underrated wardrobe staples - most of us have at least one pair in the back of the closet, but we don't give them nearly as much credit as they deserve.

lately, there have been murmurings around the style interwebs proclaiming the sneaker as the 'It Shoe' of the moment. kind of charming underneath all the hype. i mean, you don't have to go the way of a certain pair of sold-out wedge hi-tops (though i do think they're pretty rad...) to get your hands on a pair. i personally prefer the imminently affordable, time-tested old-school sneaker.

when i was packing last year, i brought two pairs of sneakers with me: leather hi-top chucks and my Onitsuka Tigers. the Tigers have definitely gotten more wear due to their easy slip-on style and sleek, low-top design. they are one of the few shoes i've found that have the simple stylishness of ballet flats with the comfort and ease of a sneaker, which is no small feat given how many pairs of hideous Frankenstein sneakers are now on the market.

the reality is, the chic woman needs at least one pair of sneakers in her closet, even if it's purely for functional gym purposes. (those can be as hideous and clunky as they need to be.)

then, there are the sneakers that need to be actually worn outside, where (god forbid) other people will see you wearing them with the rest of your regular outside clothes, and they also need to serve non-gym practical purposes. 

this is where it gets tricky, right? for instance, Tourist Sneakers for when you're going to be doing a lot of walking on your vacation. or Crappy Weather Sneakers for when you don't want to chance it with your ballet flats/nice lace-up oxfords/dress shoes. 

over the years, i keep coming back to a few classic pairs that can do no wrong. i am also definitely in the camp of Sneakers Should Cost in the Two-Digit Price Range.

here are my top picks:

1. Onitsuka Tigers - if they're good enough for Bruce Lee, they're good enough for me! i've worn mine all around Shanghai and traveling and they're holding up nicely. a lot more durable than they look, and super duper comfy. 

2. Converse Chucks - low-top, off-white or white canvas, perfect summer classic.
perfectly at ease when paired with a summer suit or with bare legs and denim shorts on a downtown stroll.

3. Bensimon slip-ons - French girl chic from city to beach. 
i like the completely pared-down minimalism of Bensimons. for some reason, every time i see a pair, i always think of a 20something girl studying abroad for the summer and wearing these sightseeing around Paris...

4. Feiyue - of course no chic sneaker list is complete without a shoutout to the Shanghai cult brand. Feiyues originated in the 1920s and became popular as a stylish leisure and martial arts (specifically wushu)/general athletic shoe. today they're still considered the go-to sneaker for shaolin monks and kung fu masters. a few years ago, the brand was purchased by a French company and some of the iconic styles re-designed with new artist collabs every season. i love the old Shanghai history of the shoe!

what's your stance on sneakers/trainers? do you have a favorite pair?

53 comments:

  1. I am living in my Lanvin black satin sneakers at the moment and I defy someone to say they are not stylish ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chucks all the way and I use my asics tigers for the gym :)

      Delete
    2. Ammu: your Lanvin sneakers sound divine! how are they holding up?

      Diana: oooh good to know the tigers are also gym-ready ;)

      Delete
  2. I don't know if it's my arches, or that my outfits are just not sneaker friendly, but I haven't been able to find a sneakers that were stylish AND would not be painful after just an hour's walking.

    If I my arches would just cooperate, though, the sneakers you listed above are just right up my alley.

    The ridiculous Isabel Marants, though. I still don't understand those. Uggggh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aww perhaps a sole insert would help? i think its witty what IM did with the sneaker-wedges, but the price...

      Delete
  3. Camper pelotas get my vote for tourist walking. I wore my last pair out (after 10 years of duty) after a 6 month trip to Italy. Now I need to replace them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i've always heard good things about campers. and what a hard-working pair of shoes you had!

      Delete
  4. I am 40 and a mom. I was recently shopping for Converse and told that any color other than black or grey looks "mom". I do like the grey but was considering the off white. Your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think the off white pair is a true classic and quite flattering too. not sure what that person who said they look 'mom' meant - unless they meant 'stylish chic mom' ;). the woman wearing them in Garance Dore's blog looks chic and i'm always inspired by that phtoo.

      Delete
    2. I think those might be the optic white instead of white. The white have kind a of a yellow tone to them. I'm worried the optic white will get really dirty really fast beyond the point of looking cool/broken in.

      Delete
    3. I must chime in here. I have had both the "yellow" white you speak of and the optic white. This sounds crazy but for some reason it was MUCH easier to keep the optic white ones looking clean-- the slightest dirt on the "yellow" white pair and they looked incredibly dingy even after a wash. Odd.

      Delete
    4. Anon: well i think it really depends on your style - obviously some people don't mind their Chucks getting beat-up and dirty!

      Sarge: thanks for the tip. i know blogger Lin from Out of the Bag loves her pair of white Chucks, and they look perfectly broken in. i think i like them better that way! :)

      Delete
  5. Yes! I prefer:
    Superga "Cotu" (Manrepeller does this one really well https://www.google.com/search?q=man+repeller+superga&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=BxdzT9fFOeXq0gGHqezpBQ&biw=1440&bih=699&sei=DRdzT52jG6210AH6qcW0AQ)

    Saucony "Bullet"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh yeah - hehe MR is pretty awesome. i do believe she's been on a sneaker kick as of late... :)

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. hmm i don't think i see the navy converse as often. that sounds like a very classic color tho ;)

      Delete
  7. I have these Nike Vintage Waffle Racers (exclusively from J.Crew) and I absolutely love them! They're unisex and come in a few colors--highly recommend for comfort and style.

    http://www.jcrew.com/mens_category/shoes/sneakers/PRDOVR~50307/50307.jsp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh neat- those remind me of vintagey Royal Tenebaums trainers :D

      Delete
  8. I love the Feiyue sneakers! Personally, I like to keep it simple. Keds or Converse. In either black or white. I like the look of Supergas too. I'm always tempted to get a pair of Bensimons, but to me, the quality of the shoe doesn't match up with the price point. As cute as they are, they look like they'll start to fall apart after a couple wears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For what it's worth, I have a pair of Bensimons that have lasted for quite a while and over some pretty tough terrain . . . love them!

      Delete
    2. That's good to know! Makes me think I'll give them a try!

      Delete
  9. I'm a converse girl through and through, although I did have a black pair of sneakers from Kawasaki a few years back that were incredibly comfortable. And of course there are the running shoes - mine are neon pink. If you're gonna run, you might as well be noticed, right? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. totally agree - i've been craving some neon pink in my wardrobe lately...

      Delete
  10. You know, Converse Chucks don't really work well for me--I have really flat feet, no arch. But I'm excited to try out some of these other styles. And, yes, I agree that the ideal sneaker shouldn't be out of the double-digit zone!

    I had some good look with the classic Adidas black suede/white stripes soccer-style sneaker (not truly a work out shoe, but comfortable for day-to-day walking).

    minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. adidas is def a classic too. i like the really simple old school logos before things got way out of hand...

      Delete
  11. My recent fav picks are the Converse All Star lite ox- i have them in black leather and off white.. ballet flat profile, simple converse styling and very delicate and comfortable on the foot.

    Recently been jonesing for the Gola quota- they are soft and deconstructed... i like how slouchy the high top looks too- even with a dress!

    http://www.endless.com/Gola-Quota/dp/B002UKPKUI
    http://www.zappos.com/converse-chuck-taylor-all-star-light-ox-optical-white

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. exactly! i like a low profile sneaker - makes it easier to pair with everything :) though the right hi-top can be just as flattering.

      Delete
  12. I haven't worn sneakers in ages, no "need" to anymore. But if I ever did go back it would be a black pair of those standard german military style adidas--the style that big names like margiela and dior homme copied--or pumas. Those were the last sneakers I owned and I remember them being very comfortable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah i always find it funny when designers copy the old school classics...and then hike up the price to the three digits :P do they really think people aren't going to figure out the original is better and cheaper? :)

      Delete
  13. i've been eyeing off a pair of thin-soled converse recently, because they appear to take the bulk out of trainers, a good thing.

    i must admid, converse and i go way back, i remember it was a staple uniform for indie kids in melbourne, the coloured converse and floral print dress look (i still love it). great for dancing in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. seriously Chucks have such a cool history all over the world. they're also really cushiony. still one of my favorite non-gym sneakers!

      Delete
  14. I really like how you wear your RB utility jacket. My RB leina jacket is more like a big cape on me. :p

    ReplyDelete
  15. I usually think of white Keds when I think of summer sneakers. They're the epitome of summer plimsoles for me. What are your thoughts on Keds? x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmm i used to have Keds when i was a kid, but i havent really looked at their styles since! definitely brings back childhood memories tho...

      Delete
  16. I have a pair of black suede Reefs with thick soles & cushiony arch supports - extremely comfortable. I think they may be "boarding" shoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ooh didn't know Reef made non-flip-flops. boarding shoes sounds like heaven for your feet after a long day!

      Delete
  17. I have wanted a pair of Superga sneakers ever since I saw them in the J. Peterman catalog in 5th grade... yes, THAT J. Peterman!

    http://www.zappos.com/superga-2750-cotu-classic-navy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. omg isn't that referenced in an ep of Seinfeld?? lol the Peterman catalog is something else ;)

      Delete
  18. I've been looking for a perfect pair of walking sneakers for my semester abroad. Thanks for the ideas, this post couldn't have been better timed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. cool - if you get some Bensimons you have to go sightseeing in Paris on my behalf ;)

      Delete
  19. Love all kind of sneaker: Adidas Gazelle and Stan Smith, Converse, Nike, of course the Marant and on and on... I don't wear them as much but they're still among my favorite laidback shoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm curious how you like the Marant sneaker wedges! :)

      Delete
  20. I love my Tigers - they're fantastic and last for ages, and so light weight and springy - definitely the perfect tourist shoe.

    I'm ultimately a Chucks girl though. Have been since I was 7 and it's hard to break a bond like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah...a lot of Chucks fans here. i love my Tigers as they're a bit more chic than my chucks - but they're both staples!

      Delete
  21. One pair for me : grey faguo shoes. I love them cause they pair easily with a dark denim or a light colour pant during spring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. agree - i love pairing a light shoe with a darker or bright pant in the warmer months. it looks so fresh!

      Delete
  22. I have two pairs of chucks (one in ecru canvas and one in navy) which I wear allllll of the time. I really want some of the white Jack Purcell converse but can't find them anywhere in my size. I love your Onitsuka Tigers - so sleek looking!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've never been one to wear sneakers/trainers, but I really like the loo of these - the entire outfit in fact - and I also have the little lumix camera, they're so nifty and cute! Sadly I have misplaced the charger for mine so it has been sitting unused for over a year.

    I also find that sneakers are the perfect choice if you are the type to do a lot of walking (I don't drive), like myself, and I have so often berated myself for not having invested in a pair. Until recently I have worn mostly skirts, so the option never seemed viable. But it may change..

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am surprised nobody mentioned keds' champions! I own two pairs (white and grey)and I always bring a pair with me when I am traveling abroad. They are very comfortable and they fit well with anything, which is great for a girl who wears mostly skirts and dresses like me.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I don't own any trainers and have recently considered purchasing a pair because I don't want to be too smart all the time. I dont think casual clothes suit me that much which is odd.. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE the look of the Bensimons slip ons; they're so stylish and beautiful! I don't know if they're comfortable though and I can only purchase them online as far as I know. Hmmm. I also love Chucks, but not on me unfortunately. They look lovely on you though; very chic. This is the first time that I've posted a comment but your blog is one of my favourites. I always really look forward to your next post so pleeease post again soon! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Hana - thanks for the sweet comment! please do comment more often - i love to hear from my readers :D

      i hope you find yourself a pair of sleek trainers - they're quite indispensable year-round!

      Delete
  26. i totally agree--sneakers are underrated and look effortlessly cool. my favorites are spring courts--i have three pairs of them and can walk around in miles in them! superga is second place.

    ReplyDelete

feel free to join in on the conversation! :-) FYI, comment moderation is ON, so it may take a little while before yours appears. house rules: comments that are spam, rude, or otherwise unrelated to the post will be deleted.