As I await the delivery of yet another all-white pair of sneakers following a rainy afternoon of sloshing through ankle-deep puddles, and as all-white sneaker photos from across the Internet continue to occupy my social feeds, it’s clear white kicks aren’t going into hibernation for the winter.
The long-standing adage of not wearing white after Labor Day has mostly been left behind, although naturally dark colors tend to prevail during cooler seasons. It’s also natural to forego crisp white sneakers during poor weather if only to avoid getting dirty, not unlike those (such as myself) who avoid white clothing knowing mud or wine or ketchup would be in the vicinity.
White can be tricky to wear, but when executed with just enough finesse, it can really complete a look. A white sneaker is a staple piece, one that should own real estate in every footwear collection, sneakerhead or not.
Let’s first abandon the notion that white can only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Bury the natural habit of associating all-white to family barbecues and boat parties.
Next, we’ll tackle how to successfully wear white sneakers in the winter by setting some criteria of what materials and styles to consider based on seasonal factors.
Be AWARE OF THE FORECAST. Most sneakerheads are predisposed to base their footwear decisions on anticipated precipitation. Is it raining? Snowing? Hailing? Dry? Generally speaking, rubber and leather are safe bets for most weather conditions. Choose something with a smooth surface that can easily be wiped. Hold off on suede for dry weather, such as the sunny days with frigid cold temperatures. Fabric materials such as canvas, Flyknit, and Primeknit are ultra breathable–meaning that everything that comes with winter will permeate the fabric and leave you with frozen feet. For those living in warmer climates, feel free to ignore this unless it’s raining and you like wet socks.
Next, OPT FOR CLASSIC STYLES you aren’t necessarily attached to or can be replaced easily. Personally, I like to take extra care of anything that was difficult to acquire. For example: Nike Air Force 1, Nike Air Max 90, adidas Superstar, adidas Stan Smith, Reebok Classic, and Converse Chuck Taylor (pending weather) are all safe choices. These styles are always readily available and should be in your rotation anyway–not to mention the gently worn-in look on these styles does look quite nice. Notice I said “gently” and “worn-in.” Brown, slush-stained kicks are not a good look. Maintain regular upkeep. The best part is kicking off the summer season with a fresh pair of crispy whites to wear into the following season.
A plus side to fabric styles such as Flyknits and canvas Chuck Taylors is they can easily be thrown in the wash. However, I can’t attest to Primeknit as I don’t personally own any white. Neoprene and fleece are easily stained and very difficult to clean so avoid the triple-white Huaraches. They don’t look good dirty either.
If you can’t quite commit to an all-white style just yet, opt for SOMETHING WITH SMALL ACCENTS to soften the look. For example, the adidas Superstar with black stripes, or Stan Smiths with different accent options and the “OG” (yellowish) are some ideas. Gum soles are also a good look. Another option is the Air Jordan IV “White Cement” coming out next month. Jordan heads can look no further than their collection for a number of white/accent colorways.
Now that the sneaker criteria has been outlined, it’s time to move on to the outfit itself.
Most outfits pair well with white sneakers. It can create a simple but polished effect. Embrace the minimal. Black really makes the white pop. White sneakers achieve a clean look alongside greys and neutrals. Be cautious in attempting head-to-toe white–a dirty white sneaker is guaranteed to break the outfit. For more statement colors, white can alleviate the brightness, or even the stress, of pairing complementary colors.
Stuck on outfit ideas? Look no further than your own SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS for inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out inspiration so long as you incorporate a way to add your own touch to the look rather than completely jacking somebody else’s idea. There are countless resources available. Jerry Lorenzo is a good starting point as a leader in the fashion and streetwear world, often seen in white adidas Ultra Boosts. There are a number of women elevating sneaker style, such as Aleali May and Sophia Chang. Even Kylie Jenner has grown into a relevant presence in sneaker style.
Don’t be intimidated by white sneakers during the winter. “Winter whites” just makes so much sense, even has a nice ring to it. Take notes, stay open to inspiration, and you’ll eventually figure out your own white sneaker winter style formula.