How to wear sneakers: 10 Style Panel tips for tackling this athletic trend without looking like you’ve just hit the gym

How to wear sneakers Style Panel
How to wear sneakers Style Panel

Ah, the sneaker trend. Once upon a time (and by that we mean junior high), runners felt like the only source for footwear, but while we resorted to them for efficiency, it certainly wasn’t for style. Nowadays, sneakers are the hottest shoes on the block, thanks to designers like Isabel Marant and her ultra lust-worthy sneaker heel hybrid. Who knew?

Whether colourful, embellished or super athletic, sneakers have definitely made their way in to the mainstream. Even high-end footwear designers like Christian Louboutin, Giuseppe Zanotti, and Jimmy Choo have included a pair or two into recent collections.

And while sneakers may be hotter than heels (for the time being, that is), wearing them without looking like you’ve just hit the gym proves a bit of a challenge. Naturally, we turned to our Style Panel to teach us how to tackle the trend without making it too literal.

Our two newest members, Leah SaysLeah Gust and Velvet & Vino’s Becky Kung sure know how to start off with a bang by mixing a pair of bold colourful sneakers with bright coloured or printed pants. Getting into the summery swing, both Barbara Ann Solomon (who appears in twofold) and Inherited Jeans’ Stephanie Koch showed off in neon-accented or leopard-printed sneakers while jumping for their photos.

Question 49: How would you pull off the sneaker trend without making it too literal? Read the answers now! »


How to wear sneakers Leah Gust

Leah Gust, 31
Toronto | Leah Says

I am not at all sporty but have fallen in love with the fashionable sneaker trend! Every girl needs a break from the wedges at least once in awhile. I like to wear my bright New Balance running shoes with a pair of printed pants – you can also wear them with boyfriend jeans, but I really like the contrast of a pair of fashion pants with a pair of sporty shoes. You could go basic on the top and really let the shoes shine or, like I have, wear something bright to make the look really fun and playful.

Leah’s wearing: Jacket, vintage. Shirt, Gat Rimon. Pants, Dalston Grey. Shoes, New Balance

How to wear sneakers KD Faustino
Photography by Melissa Molloy

KD Faustino, 28
Calgary | The Girl With The Messy Hair

Gone are the days wherein you have to wear heels to make a statement. Now, you can be completely comfortable in sneakers and still feel like you are on trend. Although I am wearing a really literally sporty outfit, I took a spin on the usual “sporty” look by wearing an elaborate quilted faux leather jacket and these maybe running shorts but what makes it modern is the leather-effect feel to it. Comfort never looked better!

KD’s wearing: Jacket, Zara. Top, Forever21. Shorts, Joe Fresh. Sneakers, Converse. Sunglasses, Ray Ban. Ring, H&M.

How to wear sneakers Becky Kung

Becky Kung, 30
Calgary | Velvet & Vino

I can’t get enough of wearing wedge sneakers this season! Believe it or not, sneakers are not only a fun statement piece for any outfit, these funky shoes can be styled in so many ways such as pairing with your favourite skinnies, cropped pants, or a fun and flowy spring dress. The secret I discovered to wearing sneakers is making sure they have a little bit of height to the wedge to create some interest in the look and also to be able to mix them between pants and skirts. Lastly, be sure to pick a fun color in your sneaker to add spice to the trend!

Becky’s wearing: Chambray top, Thread & Supply. Jeans, SOLD design lab. Bauble Necklace, J. Crew. Sneakers: Fashion District Boutique, L.A. Sunglasses, Tory Burch. iPhone case, Kate Spade.

How to wear sneakers Jacquelyn Son

Jacquelyn Son, 21
Vancouver | Style Worthwhile

I’m definitely a sneakers kinda girl. I can’t live in heels all day. It’s good to own at least one pair of neutral black/white/gray sneakers as they can almost go with any outfit. Here I’m wearing a more colourful pair of Nikes so I decided to go for some more basic colours for the rest of my outfit. I also tied a plaid shirt around my waist, just because it seems like the cool blogger thing to do nowadays, ya?

Jacquelyn’s wearing: White V Neck, Forever 21. Black drawstring pants & neon touque, H&M. Blue plaid flannel, Joe Fresh. Sneakers, Nike Air Max.

How to wear sneakers Mo Handahu

Mo Handahu, 29
Halifax | Lion Hunter

I only jump onto trends when I’m genuinely taken by them and this did not happen with sneaker wedges. It has taken me a while to actually incorporate them into my closet and I feel like I’m still getting used to them. I do love how super comfortable they are for everyday life and still give you that little lift to make your legs look good if you are showing them.

Mo’s wearing: Dress, H&M. Trench Coat, Black Market Vintage. ASH Sneaker Wedges, Little Burgundy. Glasse, Biscuit General Store.

How to wear sneakers Stephanie Koch

Stephanie Koch, 27
Kelowna via Calgary | Inherited Jeans

I couldn’t be more pleased that athletic inspired looks are having a moment right now. My own life is based around athletics, and my flat footwear of choice is definitely a pair of running shoes of some sort from my growing collection! My leopard-printed Keds are so comfortable, and are actually slip ons with the option of no laces. This keeps them from being too literal (ie excuse me while I go to the gym look). I matched them up with some leather looking track shorts, and a contrasting lace tee. Add in some punky jewelry and you have a fun look for a summer concert or festival.

Stephanie’s wearing: Aviators & shorts, Joe Fresh. Top, Aritzia. Sneakers, Keds. Necklace, Aldo.

How to wear sneakers Zoe Smythe

Zoe Smythe, 30
New York City | Zoe ’s Fashion Feed

While I’m thrilled to see a trend that encourages women to wear more comfortable footwear, I still don’t naturally gravitate towards a sneaker unless I’m headed to the gym. That said, with the warmer weather here, I have been riding my bike every chance I get, since I learned a painful lesson years ago about biking in open toe shoes, my white Keds have quickly become my weekend shoe of choice. Granted this is a very subdued version of the trend, but is it possible that my little white Keds are a gateway shoe leading to bigger and brighter sneakers?

How to wear sneakers Lyndsey Forest

Lyndsey Forest, 23
Edmonton | Over My Styled Body

I’ve always been a fan of sneakers but being only 5 ft. tall, I never really wore them because they did nothing for my tiny frame. So when sneaker wedges stepped onto the scene I got a little too excited and went out and bought 3 pairs, oops! I find them to be the perfect addition to amp up any casual outfit and will usually wear them for just that. Pair some sneaker wedges with your favorite boyfriend jeans or a maxi dress and you’ve got the perfect chic and cool outfit for those lazy Sunday’s!

Lyndsey’s wearing: Maxi Dress, Simon’s. Jacket, H&M. Bag, Forever 21. Hat, Nasty Gal. Sneakers, Italy.

How to wear sneakers Barbara Ann Solomon
Photography by Trevor Negin

Barbara Ann Solomon, 25
Toronto | Barbara Ann’s Style Blog

I’m not a sneaker girl, my shoe instinct will always be heels, wedges or platforms, really, anything that makes me a little taller. But, as a graphic designer, it’s easy to fall in love with sneaker culture, with the colour combinations and watching how the athletic brands have developed.

Sneakers have been everywhere for the last few seasons, and each year they seem brighter than the last. Runners, like the Nikes I’m wearing, are considered timeless and should be considered investment pieces if worn infrequently. This year I plan to get some super bright with the goal of running a lot more.

Barbara’s wearing: Dress, CÖ by Janine Sudduth. Flannel, Ralph Lauren. Sneakers, borrowed from Katelynn Ubbi, Nike. Cuff, Brave Beltwork.

How to wear sneakers Kayla Short

Kayla Short, 26
Halifax | Short Presents

Sneakers are no longer just for the gym, or seniors citizens! Sneakers are everywhere right now, and it seems like the crazier the better. The best part is they are über comfortable ladies, almost as comfortable as your Lululemons, BUT they are socially acceptable. You don’t even need to be either on your way to the gym OR coming home! You can actually successfully pull off sneakers with just about anything this season, from your favourite skinnies and blouse to full skirts and dresses alike. Bottom line whether heeled, brightly colored or athletic sneakers are a win.

Kayla’s wearing: Chuck Taylor Sneakers, Converse. Jeans, Parasuco. Blouse, Vintage. Necklace (long), Adorn by Sarah Lewis. Necklace (short), Stella and Dot. Over-sized Clutch, Gap. Earrings, Short Presents Etsy Shoppe.

How to wear sneakers Jennifer Pistor

Jennifer Pistor, 33
Vancouver | Prairie Girl In The City

To keep a casual look with runners still looking polished, I like to play off the shoe colour. These pink and silver Puma’s are perfect paired with bright pink jeans and a grey top. The stripes keep the sporty feel, while adding a silver clutch gives an unexpected bit of glamour. I love denim jackets for spring. This one I have had for years. The unique detailing and cropped length make it a bit more playful.

Jennifer’s wearing: Runners, Puma. Jeans, Fidelity. Top, Nally & Millie. Jacket, Inwear. Clutch, H&M. Watch, Michael Kors. Bracelet, Alden Rae.

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