Photo: Denton Taylor

Platforms, pimped-up sneakers, furkenstocks; I’ve never been a fan of pantomime shoes. There’s nothing wrong with a little razzle dazzle, no one wants their basics to look basic, but keeping the silhouette sleek, simple and streamlined wins every time. And paying up to £700 for a pair of high-end designer trainers is ridiculous and revolting; to me, sneaker style should simply be a question of sport. I can stretch to a Liberty print Nike Air Max but when athletics shoes go from the playing field to the catwalk, you know where you can stick your overpriced kicks. And it’s not just the price that’s hideous, the latest pumped-up, dad shoe is plain ugly:

Louis Vuitton Archlight yours for £780


As a sporty kid I spent my life kicking around in trainers, and I still prefer this laid-back look. Whether they’re in fashion or not, to me, a pair of neutral sneakers teamed with a tailored jacket and slim or slouchy pants are an essential part of dressed-down daywear.

Jigsaw’s leather cross strap trainer

A couple of my friends wear Jigsaw’s Olivia cross strap trainers – and admittedly the snakeprint version has a rakish charm – but my latest purchase is the Adidas Originals Everyn shoe (also available in white and as a lace-up HERE).

Adidas Originals Everyn shoes


I’ve just spent a few days in France – not a dad shoe in sight but I did notice that the perenially classic Parisians are still wearing Stan Smiths. C’est chic.


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45 thoughts on “Sneaker Chic – why I’m not wearing dad shoes

  1. Absolutely agree Alyson, I live in my Keds, Stan Smiths and just plain sneakers. They go with almost everything and can dress down even the most elaborate dressy outfits.
    I do wear other shoes let me add but they too are mostly ankle boots or wedged sandals.
    You can completely change the theme/look of your outfit with shoes.
    Oh and I am 80 years old ( can’t believe it)

  2. I love wearing sneakers but I am unsure if I can go white and yet I admire them on others. What’s holding me back from just doing it? Dare I say age at 51 years…or that I always have worn a dark/black sneaker so white seems a little too bright…

  3. Well said ! What’s wrong with a humble pair of espadrilles that stand the test of time . I love a comfy shoe more than anyone but the ugly bulky DESIGNER trainers are a definite NO no and the price – obscene !

  4. Thank you Alyson – I also think these LV sneakers are really ugly. No Dad sneakers for me. I love Adidas Superstars, have them in white and with red details (CNY edition).

  5. Oh I do love a Stan Smith. I’ve recently bought a pair of lace up Everyns too. I also have a pair of khaki Nike Air Max but they’re very plain. That’s as “trainer” as I go. Except when I’m running 🙂

  6. Just bought a pair of cobalt blue stan smiths in a clearance sale. Hurrah for basics. Can’t bring myself to have white shoes or trainers, sadly, as my life (mainly mud and countryside-based) and white items just don’t mix.

  7. My ‘funny feet’ have caused endless problems for years. Dressed up I can get away with a pair of wedges but everyday it’s ‘sketchers’ which come in a variety of styles so get me through lots of different occasions….and sooo comfortable & go in the washer…

  8. I’m 71 and wearing white sneakers similar to Alyson’s at this moment. Lusting after a pair in silver! Love TMNA. Keeps me on my toes (no pun intended) and reminds me every day that the M&S Classic collection is not for me – despite Twiggy’s input.

  9. Love the Jigsaw sneakers, might need to get a pair. I agree with you about ugly sneakers, and the price…and,yet. I bought my daughter a pair of Gucci sneakers last autumn and she has worn them practically every day, and she loves them so.

  10. I really enjoy your blog. As a fellow north westerner lots you have to say rings true. I feel you also manage to get the right balance regarding being non-judgmental about peoples fashion choices – you are usually empowering rather than prescriptive or judgy. So I must admit to being shocked at this post! The priced tag on these trainers (which I agree are not the most attractive footwear choice) is not too dissimilar to some of the clothes or bags you have links to – so it feels a bit out of sync. For me sneakers and flat ‘trainers’ are not supportive enough – so a Nike Air Max Thea is better.

    1. Hi Wendy, I agree with you. Nike Air Max are probably the comfiest trainers I’ve ever worn. I would rather have proper sports shoes than an overpriced faddish pair that are technically inferior (and I’ve noticed that some of the designer styles seem to be a heavier weight). But there are certain things that I think are worth investing in: a beautifully tailored jacket, good quality leather shoes or a gorgeous leather bag, timeless items that are designed to last.

  11. I just ordered a pair of Adidas Gazelles in light gray/white suede. They look to be pretty versatile and not too showy. I’m 53.

    1. My Gazelles in that colourway are a basic in my wardrobe. More forgiving than plain white but brighten up a dark outfit — jeans; black wool trousers – in the same way.

  12. I love a sneaker and still trying to work out the best pair for the UK weather and my style. My latest purchase are these Rocket Dogs because they’re sparkly with a little colour but not over the top and dark. I like dark shoes and black pants. It’s just easier that way. No affiliation, just an honest bit of feedback. /Users/rosalynpage/Downloads/LK_08401_1024x1024@2x.jpg

  13. No sneakers for me, regardless of the style. Not my idea of attractive. Functional and comfy, okay, I can agree. . My Arche sandals are my preference for summer weather.

  14. Agree wholeheartedly and those LV sneakers are hideously ugly and ridiculously priced. I have been wearing an American brand called KSwiss which I think was originally a tennis company. There premium leather shoes have no branding, fabulous quality leather and we the various coupon which is ubiquitous to shopping in America cost me less than US$80.

  15. The dad trainers will never see my closet, regardless of which idiot designer put their label on them. I live at the beach (Marina del Rey) and I’m either wearing sandals or slip-on sneakers. I wouldn’t pay more than $150 for a pair and often spend less than 100 bucks. I’m an actual athlete so for actual “training” I purchase well made “trainers”, but I like stylish walking-around sneakers and am a fan of Vans. Steve Madden has some cute, inexpensive slip-ons too. I still love my Steve Madden leopard (cow hide) slip-ons even though I guess they trended-out a few years ago.

  16. Leave them to the fashion victims…….not stylish, not nice and look like they use an unacceptable amount of non recyclable materials!

  17. Thankyou for reassuring me that the styles of sneakers I liked the most where the ones that are most liked on your site. After trawling through the variety of designs earlier someone has given me the confidence to know I’m on the right track, 69 year old.

  18. Yup, for me it’s sneakers all the way, except for flat sandals or flat ankle boots. Since my academic sustainability job requires me to be off the sidewalk quite a bit, spring through fall I favor lightweight mesh trail runners, often in colors, often with dress casual clothes (b/c meetings with absurdly dressed-up administrators).

  19. OK I have a confession to make…I only recently realised the term “Dad shoes” doesn’t mean you’re wearing your actual Dad’s actual shoes.
    That’s just dumb to be fair, no wonder I was clueless, it’s a ridiculous terminology. I also think those shoes with a dress is just messed up. Fair enough if you’re experimenting in your twenties or making a statement or something, I don’t know, but 45 year olds wearing blinged up chunky trainers with a floral maxi dress is trying waaaay too hard to be down with the fashionista kids. 😉 #sorrynotsorry

  20. Recently bought a pair of bright red Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. Since my wardrobe is mostly black, white, navy and gray, they are the perfect “pop” of color.

  21. Although I wear sneakers/trainers to work out—and appreciate all they do, I just don’t like them with street wear. I agree they look chic with a riff on man-tailoring, but that is also not my style (think Audrey Hepburn as opposed to Katherine Hepburn). We must be true to ourselves.

  22. Alyson, you are sooo right about the appearance and price of those so called designer sneakers. I thought it was just me who found them ugly and over hyped when I looked at some well-known websites looking for some summer shoes.
    Admittedly, I have been guilty of purchasing some Lanvin sneakers years ago, but they were “normal” looking, comfortable and lasted for years.
    Nowadays thought, when all the designers seem to copy each other, I stick with the unpretentious and tried and tested brands that are more about comfort, and whose prices don’t go through the roof every year.

  23. Designers are selling us a bill of goods with the Dad sneaker. Hideous on everyone! Classic and classy wins the day.

  24. Having had numerous problems with my feet (mainly due to wearing stilettos back in the day!), I have been a fan of the FitFlop for a number of years and have a pair of their sneakers/trainers which have been very comfortable and in a nice pewter shade go well with the ‘preppy’ look, just invested in a new canvas navy pair which I am waiting for with baited breath. Favour comfort but still like to style up with a classy wedge now and again.

  25. Amen!!! I’m 35 and severely trend-conscious, but I can’t for the love of me understand, how can ugly sneakers like these be DESIRABLE. My god, in 3 years from now we’ll look back on these and think “WTF was wrong with the world?”. Ugh.

    I live in my dark tweed J. Crew x Vans slipons, or Converse Chucks all year round.

  26. Will someone please help me out? I’m from New York, and this is the first time I’ve heard the term “dad shoe”. I apologize for my ignorance, and would someone please tell me what it means?


      1. I probably should’ve added an explanation! Dad Shoes are the oversized, old school-style trainers that the fashion crowd are wearing. Like the kind of sneakers Larry David wears but these are by Dior, Balecnciaga et al and cost a fortune.

  27. Any thoughts about socks, Alyson??? Love a trainer, but struggle with achieving a clean line. I hate that faux ankle sock look of trainer socks that come up too high. Smacks too much of school days for me. But find most other sock types slip about randomly inside my shoe. And bare feet equals blisters.

  28. Ali, I’m 54 and I wear white trainers with everything. Love them! Look for chic not sporty, simple and good quality, is my advice, not cheapo ones. Go in shops, rather than online, wearing an outfit you would wear the trainers with, and just try them on. It’s the only way to know! Your feet will thank you.

  29. Another spot-on post, Alyson! Those are horrible. I wear trainers with everything – office wear, dresses, weekend wear, yoga pants – but for me they have to be plain not sporty, no branding or mixed colours, more of a fashion trainer but simple chic rather than high fashion. And they have to be good quality, as with white trainers you can really tell the cheap ones. I wear Jigsaw’s Ayda trainer in white. They are a little pricey at £98 but well worth it for quality and comfort, (Guttingly, they’re currently on sale for £39!). In summer I switch to Superga’s 2750 Cotrope rope-soled plimsoll in white (not the ugly flatform version, the simple one). Also chic, I think, and go with everything.

  30. The one that’s gets me is Golden Goose deluxe brand. £300 for deliberately scruffed up sneakers. Someone’s having a laugh! I live in slip ons in summer. Leather only to cope with the rain. I love Superga for everyday, Common Projects ( an OUTNET bargain) and Primury in white for smarter stuff. I have the Jigsaw snake print ones Alyson, they are indeed rakish!

  31. Alyson! Where did you get that aubergine jacket you re wearing in this photo? It is beautiful and looks amazing on you.

  32. Another Vans fan, plus Axel Arigato as a treat. Only a few years ago I would have worn sneakers just for weekends, now I wear them almost all the time (so a total reversal. My others shoes are also all flat. There is such a wide range available now! So good to see many others taking the same view. I’m 60, BTW. Love the outfit in that photo, Alyson.

  33. I second spot on opinion piece here Alyson. I’m in agreement about functional trainers which have now become a fashion thing. I walk a lot and go to the gym and park so want a comfortable shoe which works. Like you my trainers of old were always Nike Air Max, which best suited my high archs and large narrow feet. I do have some dark new balance trainers which are a bit boatlike in fit. When I thought I was taking up jogging before a knee injury I got some special trainers in a fancy running shoe shop in Florida which recorded gait etc. They are silver and turquoise and having left them in a box am now wearing them for general purposes and not sprinting. I’ve never been keen on big white shoes at any point and always chose black or dark ones. For non gym purposes I favour Ecco leather trainers. I have them in silver leather and pale grey suede with chartreuse laces and in a bluey purple suede from their more sporty line. I highly recommend them. Long wearing if sprayed with a water repellent. I use them as my urban walking shoes. Today I had on a pair of flowered with black suede trim Nike trainers bought in a Moscow shopping mall. Style and comfort in one and not seen elsewhere.

  34. Eeuek, the LV monstrosities and for fashion victims and people with too much money. Stan Smiths, Adidas and Converse work perfectly well for me and my ageing, widening foot. I actually think plain trainers/sneakers and even good old white plimmies make me feel younger than ‘proper’ lady shoes – trainers, ankle boots and brogues and that is me done on the footwear front. I too, have just returned from a week in Paris (my sixtieth birthday present) – I do admire the simplicity of french style and saw some fabulous older women to get inspiration from. (Question: WHY are they so bloody slim!!). Wandered around Galeries Layafette with birthday cash in my mitts and ended up in the Cos section!!!! Came away with a bagful of beauties – hah! all the way to Paris and got what I was looking for in Cos. Then sat outside Cafe de Flore hoping I would absorb existential intellect and some french chic!!!!

  35. About 20 years ago I bought a Liberty print shirt on a trip to London. About 10 (?) years ago I saw Converse Jack Purcell sneakers in the exact same print and colorway – I had to buy them. I can’t fit into the shirt now, but I still have it in my closet just because. At least I can still wear the sneakers.

  36. I love my trainers and love this article a lot. I live in Converse plimsols and Vans slip ons, and I plan to get more. I love your blog and hope to be inspired by what you wear, I usually wear a lot of black, skinny jeans turned up and tees with a biker jacker, but I’m adding in a few more dressed up bits, keep doing hat you do, I hope to get your books soon.

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