How to Style Sneakers If You Think You Hate Sneakers


This story was written for Man Repeller

You know when you see someone walking past you on the street in an outfit that makes you want to run home and change into the exact same look? And then you run home, change and realize you look ridiculous? This happens to me all the time, most frequently when the outfit requires sneakers. I think people in sneakers look great. I see teenage girls pairing worn-out green Chucks with mini flower skirts and women wearing ankle-length silk dresses with Nike Vapormax trainers and want to copy all of it on the spot. Then I slip into a pair of sneakers the next morning, highly motivated to treat my feet nicely for once. And then I hate it.

My issue with sneakers may be due to my complicated relationship with my legs; I think they look better in platform sandals and maxi skirts than anything else. It may also have to do with my displeasure in dressing down. What I know is that it’s definitely not the sneakers’ fault.

Wherever I look, people wear sneakers. Everyone in my office wears sneakers. All my friends wear sneakers. On the sidewalks outside: all sneakers. People around the world line up for hours whenever coveted limited edition sneakers are released. I have never seen anyone line up for a pair of high heels.

In fact, you’re making your life a whole lot more uncomfortable if you hate them. Sneakers are often the key to making an otherwise crazy outfit look easy and effortless. High heels may enforce better posture, but they can make an outfit look too put-together. And yet, I feel sort of clumsy when I wear sneakers. Do I lack the laid-back, easygoing attitude that, in my head, is crucial to wear sneakers? Being uncomfortable seems to be my comfort zone. Isn’t that terrible?

People argue that true style means staying true to yourself, which in my case would mean that I shouldn’t force myself to wear sneakers because me in sneakers wouldn’t be the true me. But when I recently came home with swollen toes and three blisters on each foot caused by the pink mid-heel mules I’d decided to wear in the morning, I (Carrie voice) couldn’t help but wonder: Can the shoes we wear walk us in the wrong direction?

I’m kidding. That’s not what I thought. I just thought that I needed to go on a sneaker diet, immediately. It can’t be that hard to like sneakers. Forget about the true me. True me needs to learn a lesson: Sneakers are great! When people start implementing new workout routines or diet plans into their lives, they often report that their new way of living introduced them to a completely unknown side of the body and mind they thought they knew so well. Why can’t clothes do the same to us? This whole idea of looking stylistically confident by staying true to yourself is a lie preached by lazy people (including me). Should life not be an endless jump out of comfort zones, especially if that means getting comfortable?

To start my sneaker diet right, I consulted my friend Anja, owner of 250 pairs of sneakers. She also loves feather skirts, so I figured she would know what I needed. Anja and I agreed that my diet would only be successful if I allowed myself to pair sneakers with ingredients more familiar to my true me, like velvet frill skirts, ironed shirts or flashy earrings. But she also managed to convince me that I could wear sock sneakers with a mini dress, which definitely was a premiere. My legs didn’t know what was happening to them. I hated it. Then I reminded my true me that it needed to start working on its attitude.

God, did I feel like a newborn.

Styled by Claire Beermann and Anja Timme. Photos by Stephanie Pfaender (@stephaniepfaender)

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