My mother never let me wear white shoes growing up. She said they looked as though you were wearing potatoes. She thought they’d quickly lose their luster. And she just wasn’t going to pay for them.
I hate to break it to you, mom, but if you saw what I wear to the office every day, you’d gasp. Each morning, I stick to the same uniform: a minimal graphic T-shirt tucked into black tailored jogger-like trousers with a stretchy waistband. Sometimes, I’ll wear designer shoes that cost me an entire paycheck.
But usually, I’ll wear one of several years-old Adidas Stan Smiths ($60; shop.nordstrom.com) or Superstars ($80; shop.nordstrom.com). They’re tattered. They’re torn. And anyone in my office building who isn’t a magazine editor likely wonders why I look so unpolished when they see me step inside the elevator. Check them out here:
Remember when Fat Joe famously licked the bottom of his brand-new Air Jordans in a 2009 episode of MTV Cribs? If I did that today, I’d probably contract some disgusting viral disease. That's how worn-in they look. If my mom were visiting, I’d probably change into nice-boy loafers.
So why do I intentionally wear dirt? This year, fashion houses like Balenciaga and Gucci—who in my mind can do no wrong—showed ugly, scratched up kicks that’ll cost you upwards of $800. That’s a lot of money, especially for something that’s purposely designed to make you look unkempt.
Regardless, I want Balenciaga’s quilted Triple S Trainer so badly. They’re chic. They’re capital-F fashion. And to put it plainly: I just think they’re damn cool (the $850 pair is also sold-out). I’m not in the position to make that investment this season so for now, I’m thanking the gods of fashion (hello, Demna Gvasalia and Alessandro Michele) for this trend.
You see, I love style, but I’m inherently lazy. I’d much rather wear only a quarter of my wardrobe to the office than set the alarm clock earlier and make any sort of early-morning sartorial decision. They say dress for the job you want, not the one you have, but ugh, that sounds like a lot of work.
Which brings me back to my Adidas. I’ve been wearing these dirty shoes regularly, before ugly feet were a thing. They’re no more than $60 on average, and if one pair really reaches the end of its lifespan, they can be easily replaced. To me, they match my uniform perfectly. That’s technically more bang for your buck, right?
I’m very aware of the fact that choosing to not wear clean clothes isn’t the most neat decision you can make. Your accessories tell a powerful story. And showing up to an important meeting with grime on your feet can unfortunately send the wrong, not-so-professional message.
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But I’m choosing to rely on what fashion says we can do. For that reason, I’m keeping an eye on guys and gals with a little grit on their shoes, too. Be it Balenciaga, Gucci, Vetements (below) or Adidas, I’m crossing my fingers in hope that soon, I won’t be the only one who’s opted to take the more relaxed, easier sartorial route.
After all, isn’t the point of adopting and crafting a personal style to break some rules and step away from the norm? Go ahead and tell me I should buy a new pair or try a little harder, I don't care. I'll continue wearing my washed-up shoes—until clean is the new dirty.