Style Foul

    Style Foul: Running Sneakers with Jeans

    23rd January 2013
    Megan says: It’s Wednesday! That means Intern Gabi is here to bring you some collegiate wisdom to help graduate your style to the next level. Take it away Gabs…

    Regular readers, I hope that the following style sin isn’t one YOU commit. That said, information is the only thing that can trump ignorance, so please pass these words along to any wingman who needs them; I promise you both will benefit.

    I have this friend of a friend (and if he reads this article he will know exactly who he is!) that commits this style sin just to spite me: running sneakers with jeans. I tell him that – from a female’s perspective – those are a ferocious turn-off, to which he responds, “I wouldn’t date a girl who would care about something like that.” I tell him he’s not reaching his potential, he tells me I’m shallow and not all girls are like me. (Eh-hem. I’m totally not shallow; I’m dating a guy who wore “relaxed fit” jeans…he’s changed his ways.)

    Some girls won’t be phased by the running sneakers and jeans look, but they are probably the kind of girl who also wears running sneakers with jeans and thinks that it is a normal, “pretty okay” look. That, or she’s too nice to give you (constructive) criticism, and that’s no good either – lack of communication is never healthy in relationship.

    If you are a frequent reader of this site, you’re probably a stylish guy, and want an equally stylish gal.

    Not me/like-minded-female-individuals.

    Here’s what running sneakers with jeans say to women looking at you head to toe (and, pro tip, that’s all of us):

    You are indifferent to style.

    It shows me that you started to get ready and after all the work you put into picking out a shirt that went with your pants, you gave up. You just sweated in those shoes and you’re going to wear them out? I know you HAD to take off your shoes to get in the shower, and that pair shouldn’t be what you put on after!  No offense, but you men have drastically nastier foot stank than us girls, and we don’t even do that.

    And if you went on a run outside, I bet there’s some mud and earth guts on those shoes, which is not quite symbiotic with your clean clothes. And if you were wearing your running sneakers and you weren’t even working out…YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

    As someone with feet as flat as pancakes, I understand as well as anyone that sneakers are made with extra support features for different types of feet, and being comfortable is important…BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED! There are plenty of dress and casual shoes with new support features, wide and narrow sizing, and extra insoles to make all of your other shoe options on par, comfort-wise, with your workout sneaks. All of these SUPER STYLISH options (below) are available on Zappos, under the “Comfort” section.

    (L to R): Superga, $65, Sperry Top-Sider, $80, Clarks, $120

    Maybe it’s a mental thing – you’re comfortable in your running sneakers, and that’s why you stick with them.

    But getting out of your comfort zone is important when it comes to style. Trying new things – like rock climbing, or anchovies – can be scary, but what if you find out you really like that previously unknown thing? You would totally regret not having tried it!

    Same goes for better shoes. The great thing is, there are baby steps to this change that will be so itsy-bitsy you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Start with a pair of casual, walk-around sneakers instead of running sneakers:

    RobPat rocks Adidas Sambas: a classic that you can still run in without it being a running sneaker. {}

    John Krasinski’s Vans slip-ons are another great option: you don’t even have to worry about your shoes coming untied!  {}

    Once you start upping your style game you’ll see how easy it is, and you’ll be wearing driving moccasins, chukkas, and boat shoes in no time. Take a step into a new shoe and you’ll walk onto a new path of life: a more stylish one.

    An outfit is everything you’re wearing, including shoes. Sporting a mismatched outfit says that you don’t care what other people think about your appearance, and I’m pretty sure that kind of fashion disdain stopped being cool around ’95. Putting some pride into your look tells a girl you’re not afraid of caring about your appearance, which is good, because any guy that I’m going to be interested in has to care about something.

    Bottom line: I will think more highly of you if you wear a shoe to the bar that you can’t wear to the gym, not only because it looks better, but because it shows you care.

    Tell Me:

    When did you upgrade your regular footwear? What’s your casual shoe of choice?

    • Aaron Trent

      Casual shoes have been one of the things I’ve been getting right for forever (since I was 18, so 8-9 years ago). I started with Chuck Taylors and graduated to Vans Slip-ons and Jack Purcells. The Vans see the most abuse and the Purcells usually go on for a slightly nicer sneaker look.

    • Fred

      The Europeans seem to have it right. Most men there, of all ages, wear some style of leather / canvas shoe.

    • Mike Thompson

      I stopped wearing gym shoes for regular footwear about 2-3 years ago. Wearing appropriate casual footwear makes all the difference in the world. You can be wearing great fitting clothes, but a pair of gym shoes will undo all of it. I prefer wearing my Clark’s desert boots or Oren lace-up boots during the cold weather. In warmer weather, a pair of Converse All-Stars or loafers will do the trick. The other great thing about wearing stylish and appropriate footwear is that the women do notice. For realz.

      • average joe

        you said “gym shoes” yay! you must be from the midwest

        • Mike Thompson

          guilty as charged. its between ‘gym shoes’ and ‘tennis shoes’. ‘sneakers’ just doesnt fit in my midwestern vocab

    • Dan from Wisconsin

      Hi Gabi!

      I wanna back you up against the guy(s) who said, “I wouldn’t date a girl who would care about something like that.”

      First off, it’s not like these guys are fighting off enough women with sticks that they’re sitting on their throne going “Hmm, which woman shall I choose? Ah yes, the one who accepts my lackluster choice of footwear!”

      Second, WE (males) should care about it. You wrote “Here’s what running sneakers with jeans say to women looking at you head to toe (and, pro tip, that’s all of us): You are indifferent to style.” Preach. Every thought we think, word we speak, and shoe we put on is not just a reflection of us, but becomes who we are on a day to day basis. At the very least, being well-dressed results in being well-dressed. Reason enough to dress well. But at the most, it bolsters our self-image and makes us look like – nay, helps us become – the good men that good women deserve.

      Also, a question: I have the exact Sperry Top-Sider shoes you mentioned in this post. How do you recommend wearing them with jeans, or any other type of pant for that matter? They seem destined for sockless feet and shorts. Living in Wisconsin, that’s kind of limiting.

      • Derric

        Just wear the shoes. With socks even! They’re in a color that will look good with just about anything, in my opinion.

      • Michael Bailey

        I strongly disagree with you on this. Saying he wouldn’t date a girl who cares about his footwear isn’t being arrogant or assuming he has his pick of women. He is setting up exclusion criteria. He is saying “this is who I am and this is the type of girl I want” and then he is dressing and acting in a way that filters out the type of girl he has decided he doesn’t want. That’s fine. He has made a choices about what he wants out of life and is acting on it. He is using his clothes to express who he is, and he is doing so consciously. I think that’s pretty cool, to be honest. He’s not making the choice I would make, but he’s making the choice he feels is right for him. I have to respect that.

    • John H.

      I don’t want to bring the “streetwear vs. #menswear/dadcore” debate to
      this site, but knowing that a large amount of your readers are in
      college, I’d say it would benefit your readers to have articles that
      also delve into other styles. Not all girls want a guy in the
      ever-so-popular OCBD+dark jeans+boots combo. There ARE other styles out
      there, and it would benefit your readers greatly if you wouldn’t just
      constantly bash a style that’s not #menswear.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Hi John,

        I wouldn’t necessarily call the style I promote on this site #menswear (though you’re certainly entitled to). These are just the kind of clothes that I PERSONALLY like to see guys wearing.

        What other styles are you interested in reading about here?

        • average joe

          I think the SG advice helps most average joe’s make it through our daily lives without looking like an idiot – clothes-wise.

          But to answer your question: what about a piece on how runway style trickles down from a fall fashion show in milan (or somewhere exotic) to what we can buy at J. Crew a year or 2 later.

      • Aaron Trent

        You might want to look into some other blogs if the content here isn’t what you are after. Dappered, Effortlessgent, primer, realmenrealstyle, putthison, etc are all similar but with a different focus. If I’m looking for suit advice I’ll go to a different source, but these sites aren’t supposed to be bibles, they are supposed to be a place to learn some new ideas.

        • HM

          Not to hate on the blogs you mentioned (I do read a couple of them) but most of them fall into the same general category of conservative/semi-formal/classic/gentleman style. Maybe I’m misinterpreting John’s comment but it sounds like he’s looking for a younger/streetwear style, not another site recommending blazers and dress shoes. Of course, Megan isn’t obligated to write about that – it’s fine to find a niche – and I do think she’s found a better balance than many other sites. That being said, it feels like many people in the “classic style” community refuse to accept the validity of other types of style, which really annoys me. Style should be about reflecting your personality, not forcing everyone to dress the same way.

          (Note: This isn’t so much directed at you or StyleGirlfriend specifically, it’s just something that’s been annoying me for a while and reading these comments just set it off. I hope this didn’t come off as rude.)

          • Style Girlfriend

            No, you didn’t come off as rude at all! And I agree with you to the extent that NO style site should make you feel like you’re “doing it wrong.” Personal style is different for everyone – that’s what makes it personal.

            I’d hope that I’m not guilty of failing to validate your guys’ style choices; I’m just trying to tell you what I most often like to see you wearing. Take it for what it’s worth!

    • hbc14

      Great reminder to everyone out there. Hopefully guys start thinking about this kind of thing in high school or earlier. Don’t even throw running sneakers on with jeans to go to the grocery store. A casual slip on sneaker works MUCH better.

    • D3100

      Im actually wearing a pair of Nike Sportswear with my Khakis a dress shirt and a tie to work and I think it works. Its also winter, so wearing something I won’t slip on the ice in is always nice too. I think it depends on the kind of running shoes. This is one of the only pairs I think has looked decent with anything other then shorts.

      • Style Girlfriend


    • TJ

      I stopped wearing tennis shoes and woke up to style about halfway through college. Before that is was t-shirts and skinny jeans along with gauged ears and long hair. I started by upgrading to Adidas sambas and now it’s mostly chucks boots in the winter and top-siders or suede bucks in the summer.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I always call them “tennis shoes” too! Is that a midwest thing? Where are you from?

        • ATLien

          I always called them “tennis shoes” and I’m from Georgia. I always thought it was a Southern tem.

        • TJ

          I’m originally from Texas but I spent most of elementary school, as well as high school and college in Alabama and well as a couple of years in California.

    • Drew J

      I’ve hated running shoes with sneakers even before I had the sense to know that I should hate certain clothes-related things. Probably haven’t worn them together regularly since middle school 20 years ago. My high school years were almost exclusively with Doc Martens, college was defined by either flip flops or Red Wings depending on the season, and post college I’ve moved into topsiders, penny loafers, and vintage-esque sneakers.

      Running shoes are for running.

      • Alexander

        Kinda have to agree with this, I always thought the shape of running shoes was incredibly repulsive. So wearing them for anything else than sports just seemed counterintuitive. Also, I probably wouldn’t date a girl that has hoodies and running shoes as part of her “uniform” so I’m not gonna go there either. (unless I’m bringing out the trash maybe)

        As for my footwear, I’ve been rolling with chucks for years until their lack of durability annoyed me – now I mostly go with casual leather shoes or half-boots.

      • Style Girlfriend

        “Running shoes are for running.” Couldn’t have put it better myself!

    • Fred

      There’s one demographic that absolutely rocks the sneaker look. I’m talking senior citizens.Who knew sneakers came in so many different colours? I can’t wait until I get older. Discount shoe stores, here I come…

    • Ton Loc

      clarks beeswax leather chukka, or boat shoes

    • Jarrod

      Adidas Sambas are not cool and never will be. I’ve played soccer my whole life and the one pair I had I returned instantly. No support. Hard as rocks. Awful shoes. NOT COOL.

      • Joseph Padilla

        Then you really don’t know what you’re missing. Your loss, dude!

    • Jack

      I’m so stylish, I wear chukka a on the treadmill!

    • David O.

      I can’t speak for most guys but to me shoes are just plain complicated. There are so many different styles out there, and in varying shades, that make selecting shoes a pain in the butt. I hear from ladies all the time how important the shoes a guy wears is…but for someone like me who has no sense of fashion, I have no clue what type of shoe looks good with what. I wish it were simpler!

      • Chris Rogers

        To me it’s pretty simple and Gabi suggested some classics that can go with almost anything. I wear both Clarks desert boots (can we get an acronym for these yet) and Sperrys very routinely. Sticking with a nice brown color for your shoe will go with just about anything in your wardrobe except black/dark grey pants which for me comprises zero of my daily wardrobe. When wearing Sperrys with pants I find it looks much better to have zero break so that the cuff stops at the top of the shoe and doesn’t pool. Like Ton Loc suggested below Clarks beeswax leather desert boots are a classic, they wont go out of style and go with everything.

        Clarks Desert Boot:

        A little cheaper on amazon, and just FYI for me the Desert boots fit about a half size smaller than all my other casual shoes.

    • Jim

      Alden and Bean boots in fall/winter, Sperrys and Converse in spring/summer, brown wingtips and penny loafers to work, black oxfords to weddings and funerals.

      New Balance for running, hiking and playing with my friend’s puppy.

      • Style Girlfriend


    • Tom

      I think that it has to be a deck shoes. You can wear them with jeans, chinos, cords (the list goes on). Although I might not wear them to interviews or meetings, they tick the box for pretty much every other social situation.

      • Style Girlfriend

        That’s what a Sperry is…no? Do we have different definitions of a deck/boat shoe?

    • Tim

      I’m gradually upgrading my wardrobe now that I’ve finally started to “grow up,” first footwear was a pair of Clark’s. I’d like a pair of casual tennis shoes, thinking something in white for starters. How are white sambas?

      • Style Girlfriend

        You could go for white Chucks or Air Force 1′s too! (but you’ve gotta keep ‘em clean)

      • Drew J

        Maybe a pair of Tretorns or Onitsuka’s versus sambas.

    • Teresa

      The sins of the father….

    • DW

      I recently had a total “give up” moment over the weekend when I chose to wear my running shoes on the way home from Atlantic City. I was just too tired to lace up my boots at the time and just slipped on my running shoes. I looked down when I got home and just shook my head at myself and collapsed onto the couch.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I think if you were coming back from Atlantic City, all bets are off (PUN INTENDED AND DESTROYED)

    • RobSay

      Next post should no technical outerwear unless you’re skiing or climbing a mountain. SG, have you noticed this every year around xmas when armies sneaker/jean and North Face-wearing tourists flood NYC?? Only exception is when the temp drops below 20F. Then all fashion rules are out the window.

      • Style Girlfriend

        It’s true!

    • AL-MO

      I still like Trainers. (Adidas mostly) But I wear them much less now. I wear them mostly when I attend soccer matches.

    • Lou

      Great article, I’ve been wanting to get some driving moccasins for a while but have no idea who makes a good one. Any suggestions?

    • Durwin Fong

      I used to wear mostly boots, but these days i find myself in Varvatos laceless converse

    • Brian

      I have a pretty large collection of basketball sneakers that I wear when it’s appropriate: like at sporting events and casual social functions. I really like shoes and I think nike sportswear, which is a seperate division within Nike, does a pretty good job bridging the gap between comfort and styling that men could easily wear for most functions that don’t require a suit and a tie.

    • Matt S

      I really don’t like when people wear Sperry boat shoes during the winter. Buy some chukkas. Please. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • omie

      I couldn’t agree more..

      Then again I’m the guy who doesn’t own any running sneakers. My gym sneakers are an old pair of sambas. Is there such a thing as gym style?

    • Adrian Gonzalez

      You wouldn’t work out in your jeans; don’t wear your jeans with workout shoes! I was guilty of this when I was younger, as I thought it was “cool” to rock the washed jeans & Nike’s look. Thankfully, I came to my gentlemanly senses and dress my feet seasonally as I do the rest of my wardrobe: Vans, Driving/Boat shoes and loafers in warm weather; boots, lace-ups, and wingtips to battle the cold. As for the issue of “other styles”, it’s one thing to play with style and find what you enjoy wearing… it’s a whole other thing to look like you had a late night workout in sweats and a hoodie, went to bed in those clothes and then decided to walk out the door the next morning in that outfit. Have a little self respect!

    • GEB!

      I just saw this post and I have to say..I disagree. I consider myself a well dressed man, but at the same time I am a child of the 80′s-90′s that grew up in NYC so I have a huge thing for sneakers that as I’ve gotten older has moved onto footwear in general. I have more footwear than most girls I know, definitely more than my last girlfriend. But I also run a lot, I find it therapeutic and good for the health, so my running sneaker game has exploded and with ties to clothing brands and Nike in general I think I have a great running sneaker collection. Right now, for work, I am wearing dark jeans and a gingham button up with a pair of Nike Roshe’s and have been complimented on my look twice already. I guess it works that I have a lot to choose from, color and design-wise, to complement my look. But I don’t think the jeans and running sneaker combo is close to taboo at all.

    • anon9876

      Nothing would make me wear SuperGa sneakers — on any occasion. It would just be too embarrassing. Vans are very suitable for surfers or skaters in southern California or Hawaii, but I’m not a surfer or skater, so they are not suitable for me.

      I do have (and wear) topsider equivalents. I go with the identical-appearing model by Rockport, because that has great arch support (and could have an orthotic inside if one needed that). Sadly, the Sperry Topsider AO has zero arch support and won’t work with most orthotics.

      On foul weather days only, I’ll wear with LL Bean Gumshoes in the classic brown/tan. On such days, the Gumshoe is quite common here in Metro DC (and in the rest of Virginia for that matter). Curiously, the gumshoe is MUCH more commonly worn than either the taller LL Bean boots or shorter LL Bean rubber moccasins. Also, the only colour scheme seen for men is the classic tan/brown, although women vary between tan/brown and tan/navy.

      Classic tassle loafers or classic penny loafers, usually in brown or cordovan colour, are better options than vans, superga, or chukkas. I’m surprised neither was mentioned in the post.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Whatever floats your boat…shoe! I think brand is less important than fit, since lots of footwear companies offer their own spin on a boat (or deck) shoe, which means making sure your arches are supported is more important than the label!

    • C’ville Prep

      The New Balance 99x series, only in classic grey, are quite acceptable with jeans in a wide range of casual/informal social situations. While Steve Jobs did not pioneer the look, it certainly is a fine example of someone who wore them with jeans (and usually his navy turtleneck shirt) in such situations. Happily, NB makes them in all sizes, for men/women/kids, and in a surprisingly comprehensive range of widths. They also can accommodate orthotics if need arises.

      Friends of mine call the New Balance 991/992/993, always in classic grey whether for men or women, “the standard preppy running shoe”, and compare it to how the classic Tretorn Nylite was “the standard preppy tennis shoe” back in the day. Other colour combinations (e.g. black, pink, whatever) aren’t as widely acceptable as the classic,
      and very neutral, grey colour for those shoes.

    • better than you

      You sound very shallow and ignorant. I wear “running shoes” with my jeans all the time. In another article you said it was okay to wear (dark) jeans with sneakers aka tennis/running shoes. I can tell by your picture that you are not very bright, just another typical stuck up pretty girl. Every person has their own style, however unique it may be. Just because someone wears what they want, even if it isn’t the popular expensive brand, it doesn’t mean they are worse than you, and people like you.

      • Mikey

        First off, all running shoes are sneakers, but not all sneakers are running shoes. These are sneakers:

        Would you run in them? I’m guessing not. (I’m guessing that you also don’t want to spend 405 on sneakers, which is cool; you don’t judge me for spending 405 on my shoes and I won’t judge you for spending 100 (or whatever it is) on yours, we cool?)

        But more importantly, you’re right. Every person does have their own style. We won’t attack you (Gabi assumes that her readers want her advice and want to change; otherwise, why read? She’s advising you not to wear that combination, and if you still want to, that’s up to you, but then why read a style website?), and you don’t attack us. Same concept. To jump out of nowhere and call her “shallow” and especially “ignorant” (in what context is this “ignorance” anyways?) doesn’t make you any better.

    • eccolibri60

      Your options shown are, from left to right, ugly, eh, and butt ugly.

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