Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Madhav Sekar of wardrobedomination.com. Madhav helps young men with limited style knowledge develop great style and live better lives. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
If you’ve been paying attention to menswear, you’ve probably seen the rise of sneakers as a style item and not just an athletic accessory. Every company seems to be selling them, and prices range from as low as $35 to as high as several hundred dollars. With all these options, it’s easy to fall prey to analysis paralysis – that is, the flood of options makes it impossible to make a decision. For now, I want you to ignore the other options and focus on the sneakers shown below. These shoes are both affordable and versatile.
#1. Vans for J. Crew Washed Canvas Authentic Sneakers — $60
This is my all-time favorite sneaker. I’ve worn this with every possible outfit – jeans, khakis, chinos, shorts, even a shirt and tie– you name it and I’ve most likely done it. My first pair of these shoes lasted a bit longer than a year (I probably should’ve thrown them out sooner though). This shoe is super-affordable and is a great bang for your buck. I will undoubtedly keep wearing and re-buying this shoe as long as it’s still made.
#2. Jack Purcell Converse Sneakers — $65
You NEED to own a pair of white sneakers. There’s no getting around this. Do you know how cool you’ll look wearing some nice denim and white sneakers? (Answer: incredibly cool) Granted, they will get dirty, but thankfully these don’t come in at too hefty a price. Personally, I’d be scared, knowing my tendency to get things dirty, to invest in these. Obviously, these Jack Purcells aren’t your only option – there are tons to choose from. You could go check out Tretorn, GREATS, or Adidas (I like the hint of green in these classic Stan Smiths).
#3. Vans Leather Authentic — $65
In pursuing your quest towards great style, you’ve got to pick up these black leather sneakers. Although they’re the opposite color, they’re just as cool as the white ones. They may be slightly less versatile – as you’ll probably only wear them with darker colors. But they’re definitely still worth the small investment. You may be a bit hesitant to try wearing these at first, but I encourage you to take the plunge, get a pair, and start wearing them. Sometimes you’ve got to push your comfort zone to get better.
#4. New Balance 998 Sneakers — $170
New Balance sneakers are incredibly popular now. They come in a ton of colors and look great with chinos or denim – maybe it’s the retro silhouette. J. Crew’s site is probably one of the best places to buy these shoes – they carry a huge selection of them. In addition to the 998, they also carry the 996 and 1400 silhouette. Ideally, you’d be able to have a couple different colorways in your wardrobe, but unfortunately these shoes can be a bit pricey. If you’re looking for a cheaper option in a more neutral color, check out the Rosen sneakers from GREATS.
#5. Seavees Baja Slip On — $78
After getting the basics, you definitely wanna check out a pair of slip-ons. These can be worn in all the same situations as sneakers and are a nice way to add some variety to your footwear game. I love these shoes because they’re simple, they have a strong “surfer” theme, and the footbed is made of bamboo canvas. But if this pair doesn’t get you goin’, check out this pair from GREATS or this pair from Sperry. And if you’re feeling particularly bold, I’d recommend these Seavees or these Sperrys.
If none of these shoes caught your fancy (I’d be really surprised if this were the case), here are some underdogs that you may find attractive. Uniqlo has recently ventured in to the world of sneakers – pricing theirs at a whopping $34.90. If you’re super nervous about wearing sneakers and want to try it out without breaking the bank, this is the pair for you.
If you want a black pair with a little bit of character, grab these shoes from Spanish brand Massimo Dutti. I really love the subtle hints of blue throughout. If you’re not sure whether you want to spend your paycheck this month on rent or a pair of shoes – take a look at these. Even if I could afford them, I’m not sure I trust myself enough to take care of them.
The Last Word
To paraphrase a Chinese proverb, “the best time to get in to the sneaker game was yesterday, the second best time is today” – so, open a new tab on your browser and pick up one of these bad boys. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Tell me what you think — do you have any experience with any of these kicks? Do you have any other suggestions?