Let’s not beat about the bush here, what you wear on your feet is quite possibly the most important part of your outfit in terms of both practicality and style; women will always look at your feet first, as will most fashion conscious males, so it’s essential that you get it right.
I’m sure all of you regular readers will be right up to date with all the timeless, classic and transitive styles of footwear available to you and I’m also sure that those of you with the money will probably have at least one or more pairs of said items (lucky buggers). If not have a quick look through Matt Allinson’s article on the 5 shoes every man should own, to see what you’re missing.
Now we here at FashionBeans are big fans of brogues, loafers, boat shoes, derbys, Chelsea boots, military boots, desert bo– I’ll stop while I’m ahead. We could wax lyrical about such styles until the proverbial cows came home over and over again and then proceeded to die of old age. Unfortunately though, we often neglect or only mention briefly another style that has been with us for years but never really been in or out of fashion. You could call them an unconscious clothing staple; something we all own and need but have never really thought of as very stylish and fashionable.
I’m sure you all have very fond memories of trainers; parading them around proudly in the school playground or while playing with your mates; wearing them out the shop with their battered, almost completely forgotten predecessors swinging wildly in the bag; running through impossibly deep puddles on their first real outing. But at a certain age things change, no longer can we run around the park in a Spiderman costume and our shiny new trainers, us fashionable gents are looking for something more refined, so we move onto proper shoes and boots. However, it would be unfair to completely disregard and ignore such a faithful companion; trainers definitely still have their place in today’s fashion and will again become part of our lives.
How to Wear
So how do we go about turning something like the trainer – possibly a bit unrefined and a little too casual for most – into a worthy wardrobe feature? How do we transform it into a classic and timeless piece that we feel confident enough to wear in place of a pair of brogues or loafers? For a little inspiration, take a look at this look book inspiration below:
The key with trainers is simplicity. Less certainly does equal more in this case, as an overly complex outfit that taps into many of the current trends will quite easily be ruined with trainers – it looks like you’ve put a lot of thought into the clothes and just couldn’t be bothered to worry about your feet. However, what trainers lack in refinement and trend suitability they make up for in casual presence and practicality. If you are on your feet all day, or if the weather is sweltering and you need a lightweight alternative to your thick soled shoes, then trainers are a practical and fashionable solution – no one likes to suffer in the name of fashion, and your trainers are a go-to on days where you care about your outfit/appearance but your schedule just isn’t going to let up.
It is important to also remember that the idea of simplicity should carry over to the design and colour of your trainers. Keep patterns and colour schemes on the side of minimal; white tends to be the most versatile and subtle colour, providing you with a clean and tidy alternative.
You might also have noticed in the lookbook that tailoring seems to form a big part of outfits incorporating trainers. Making the most of soft tailoring and simple shapes and colours is often the easiest way of using trainers, helping them take on a refined appearance or using them to dress down a more formal outfit.
As you can see below, smart casual doesn’t have to be complicated. The suit will maintain the formal structure of an outfit while the tee and shoes bring in a more relaxed feel. Top it off with some classic sunglasses and you have a great, simple look that’s practical, stylish and comfortable. Feel free to make use of plain or graphic tees, polo shirts or even a shirt but if you do that make sure it’s a casual shirt, anything too formal will make it look like you forgotten to change your shoes after going to the gym.
Now I know I said simple – white and clean is best – but if you are feeling brave or want to stand out somewhat you could give some coloured trainers a go with your more formal outfits. Keep to plain block colours but keep the rest of the outfit clean and sharp – colour will make the shoes the focus of a look so they need to be tamed by a subtle top half. Try mixing bolder shades with lighter suits e.g. yellow and light grey and darker colours with blacks and blues. If you happen to be feeling really really brave crack out the high tops, tuck in your trousers (slim work best in this situation) and stick up a finger to subtlety.
With casual looks trainers tend to blend into your looks easily; there isn’t such a stark contrast between styles, like you would get when mixing with a suit above. This means you have more flexibility with the colours and styles you can choose. All the rules remain fairly similar however, as white tends to be the easiest colour to incorporate into all your outfits, and a simple design keeps your overall look casually classic and sharp.
To keep yourself on trend and to avoid looking like all the normal trainer wearing riff raff try and incorporate elements of current themes and use key items – nautical inspired knitwear and tees are a good start, as are new cut trousers and jeans; banana, carrot, drop crotch etc. To top it off throw in the odd accessory to really set yourself apart from everyone else – a straw hat, light scarf or necklace will be just the thing in spring/summer.
As with the smarter looks, hi-tops will always make your outfit stand out. Bold colour patterns will make them a feature, whilst more simple whites and block colours will allow for easy blending.
Shorts and trainers (as with any shoe style) are a little harder to pull off, the issue being that you don’t have the added advantage of material to help blend them in seamlessly. Wearing shorts puts your footwear clearly on show so it is in this instance perhaps more than any other that you need to get it right.
To wear them stylishly, be on trend and avoid looking like everyone else, we need to think about what the masses wear; a t-shirt, three quarter length combat shorts and a vast array of trainers is the uniform of choice… very little refinement and technicality there then. The best way to get around this is to make your look smarter.
Pair tailored or chino shorts with high quality polos (leave Superdry, Hollister, A&F and whom ever else fits this moniker in the draw at home) or shirts – denim, chambray and lightweight cotton will work fine here – and introduce some soft tailoring, a cardigan or fine knit jumper. Again mix in some classic accessories; wayfarers, clubmasters or a straw hat – maybe even give a panama hat a try, push your boundaries.
In this case trainers are best kept to the normal rules – white, simple and low profile – your outfit will look odd with a lump of colour just sitting all on its own at the bottom of your leg, these looks will be all about coordination and seamless design. This is perhaps the one situation where hi-tops wouldn’t really work.
New Season Mix
So you’ve had my guide to wearing trainers, so let’s get some feedback. One final note though; please leave Reebok classics and Nike air max to Jonny Yobo and the track suit gang, they have no place in fashion if you ask me. I would also advise against the squash trainers your Dad probably has hiding in the back of the wardrobe – not really a good look.
- What are your memories of trainers?
- Do you have any particular favourites?
- Do you agree with any of the ideas that I have put forward?
- How would you wear them?
- Do you believe trainers are deserving of a place in the fashion world?
- Share your links to your favourite trainers of the moment below. We will try and update the article with a selection from you guys.
Let me know in the comments below.