Comfort is back in fashion. Thank the runway, designers, street style stars, or whomever, but sneakers have never been more stylish.
Rock a pair with a printed mini skirt, shorts, cuffed pants, or overalls—your look will be polished with a bit of an edge. We know, it sounds a bit tricky. You may ask, "how can sneakers work well with everything?" InStyle’s Market Editor Ali Pew has all the answers. Pew picked four sneaker silhouettes—the slip-on, the high-top, the lace-up, and the running shoe—and showed us not one, but two ways to work the style into your wardrobe. What's more, you'll learn which pairs are office-appropriate (or perhaps more importantly, which are not), how to make trainers as flattering as possible (hint: you'll want to show some ankle), and the key pieces you'll need to enhance your look.
—Styled by Ali Pew
1. The High-TopSince this style hits above the ankle, wear it with something that shows plenty of leg-maybe a zippered skirt or striped shorts. A sporty yet streamlined piece like a clean white sweatshirt or sleek black cap will enhance the chic athletic effect.
Shop the look: Woman by Common Project sneakers, $386, totokaelo.com; Rag amp Bone sweatshirt, $325, rag-bone.com; T by Alexander Wang skirt, $325, alexanderwang.com; Elizabeth and James bag, $445, neimanmarcus.com.
2. The High-TopRemember the '80s movie Working Girl, when Melanie Griffith's character rocks white high-tops with a skirt suit? If that vision makes you cringe, keep this in mind: These sneaks are for casual wear only and should never be teamed with anything that veers into office territory. You're all pleasure and no business with these kicks.
Shop the look: Pierre Hardy sneakers, $595, ssense.com; Topshop shorts, $72, topshop.com.
3. The Slip-OnWith their sophisticated and more grown-up appeal, slip-ons should be considered gateway sneakers. They are more like an alternative to smoking slippers, as they have a similar shape and look as polished with trousers as they do with a bright summer dress.
Shop the look: Kenneth Cole New York sneakers, $150, kennethcole.com; Tibi pants, $395, tibi.com.
4. The Slip-OnDespite their skater roots, slip-ons with baggy jeans is a tricky silhouette to pull off. Your choice of socks is also essential: Make it a point to find ultra-low-cut ones. You don't want to interrupt the clean lines of these shoes with the edges of your socks.
Shop the look: Feit sneakers, $425, feitdirect.com; Elie Tahari coat, $298, saksfifthavenue.com; Victoria, Victoria Beckham dress, $835, neimanmarcus.com for stores; Alexis Bittar bracelet, $215; alexisbittar.com for stores.
5. The Running ShoeThe key to making these sneakers work as a fashion staple is to bare some ankle. To further elongate the leg, try wearing them with a skirt, cropped pants, or shorts. Play up the youthful vibe with a striped mini and a neo-prene jacket, or give a surprising twist to a lady-like midi and sweater combo. To pull it all together, opt for a style that echoes one color in the rest of your look.
Shop the look: New Balance sneakers, $65, newbalance.com; Suno skirt, $595; neimanmarcus.com for stores; Botkier bag, $195, botkier.com.
6. The Running ShoeThe finishes of your sneakers are crucial in setting them apart from more gym-appropriate versions. Leather and suede look luxe, while mesh styles should be bright and bold—not orthopedic white.
Shop the look: Valentino Graravani sneakers, $795, at Valentino, 212-772-6969; Ellery skirt, $660, modaoperandi.com.
7. The Lace-UpDressed-up materials such as metallic leather or teal blue silk raise the bar on this classic style and give you the flexibility to wear them with both sporty and formal looks. But remember to pair like with like! With its subtle sheen, a ruffled charmeuse skirt works well with gleaming trainers, while loose cropped cotton pants mimic the matter tones of white leather. Still love the old-school canvas variety? They're the perfect match for jeans and other laid-back staples.
Shop the look: Acne Studios sneakers, $370, acnestudios.com; Assembly New York overalls, $574, assemblynewyork.com; Rubr watch, $25, rubrwatchnation.com for similar style.
8. The Lace-UpEveryone has probably owned a similar pair of lace-up sneakers at some stage, but don't revive your old Chucks from the depths of your closet. This is not the time to go vintage: To prevent your footwear from looking like a sloppy afterthought, skip the beat-up relics in favor of a fresh pair with minimal wear and tear.
Shop the look: Lanvin sneakers, $650, at Lanvin, 646-439-0380; Cynthia Rowley skirt, $295, cynthiarowley.com.