Growing up a few miles from the Nike World Headquarters means I’ve always had complicated feelings about athletic shoes. Portland’s casual attitude combined with Nike pride meant everyone wore sneakers everywhere, and I was always like, “Really, you guys? Dirty gym shoes at a formal wedding?” I vowed early on that I would only wear sneakers to the gym. But then recently, something strange happened. I started noticing cool sneakers out on the street. I was totally jealous of Amelia’s wedge sneakers. And before I knew it I had purchased my first pair of high tops (I went with the Adidas Roundhouse, shown above) and am eager to start a collection. Here are five tips and tricks for others looking to wade into the wild and crazy world of stylish sneakers…
1. Look at a ton of shoes. If you’re new to the world of sneakers, you’re gonna need to do some research. There are so many options out there, this process can be daunting, but it’s also fantastically fun. Check out sneaker sites like Kicks Deals and Sole Collector, and stores like Journeys and Foot Locker. The new releases section of Sneaker Freaker is great for browsing the latest crazy styles. Take a peek at the footwear choices at the basketball court down the street. Take note of the sneakers Kanye chose for a date with Kim. Open your eyes and your mind to the huge selection of badass sneakers available today.
2. Figure out exactly what you like (and what you don’t). As you’re browsing the infinite awesome shoes of the world, your sneaker aesthetic should become pretty obvious. I found that I was always drawn to mid or high tops with bright color accents, especially hot pink. I like a more rounded shape. I hate running shoes. I prefer a fairly simple design without too many extra straps, buckles, and extras. Primary colors are good in theory but don’t really go with my wardrobe. I could go on (for days) but you get the idea, right?
3. Recruit a sneaker mentor. My friend Pat is obsessed with sneakers. He’s got a substantial collection and a Pinterest board to document his favorite footwear. When I told him I had never owned a pair of sneakers that weren’t exclusively for working out, he took me under his wing and promised to find me the ideal pair of, as he put it, “fly kicks.” Once I’d figured out what I liked, Pat went shoe hunting for me. We discussed many, many shoes, and eventually he sent me a link to the Roundhouse high tops. I bought them 30 seconds later. It might sound kind of ridiculous, but seriously–getting help from a sneaker-freak friend is super helpful and super fun.
4. Try them on in person. I ordered my sneakers online knowing that Adidas shoes usually fit me pretty well, but in general it’s always good to try on shoes before you buy. This is especially true of sneakers because not only do you want them to be comfortable, you want to make sure they’re flattering, which some of the bulkier styles may not be.
5. Find your swagger. The best thing about flashy sneakers is that they have the power to change our attitude: slipping on the right shoes can instantly boost your confidence and add a little swagger to your step. Fly kicks should make you feel fly. End of story.