Sneakers: The Ultimate Guide for Obsessives

A CLEANER SNEAKER? From left: Veja and Allbirds sneakers, whic hproject a more sustainable design ethos, are keeping the big brands on their toes. Veja V-10, $150,; Allbirds Tree Runners, $95, PHOTO: BRYAN GARDNER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS

Article by Wall Street Journal

As athletic shoes morph and multiply—emerging as a pivotal business for both men’s and women’s fashion—we offer an extensive primer, including the threats to Nike’s dominance and 5 game-changing technological innovations

By Jacob Gallagher

Updated Sept. 6, 2019 4:25 pm ET

What’s the last pair of shoes you bought? Let me guess: sneakers. Maybe a pair of collectible, cartoonishly colored Nike s? Leather Common Projects lace-ups in minimalist, office-friendly white? Or some humbly ho-hum navy-blue wool Allbirds? You weren’t alone. The sneaker business hit $44 billion in sales last year in the U.S., up 9% from the year before, according to market-research firm the NPD Group. 

Although the modern sneaker era arguably began with Nike’s first running shoes—the basic Cortez—around 50 years ago, today that type of functionally athletic sneaker is not driving the growing market. Matt Powell, the senior industry adviser for sports at the NPD Group, noted that sales of performance-sport sneakers (for running, basketball, tennis, etc.) are tapering off. “For the last four years we’ve been in this period where we do not have a single performance [shoe] trending positively,” he said. Why pay for state-of-the-art, air-bubbled high-tops if you’re not Steph Curry lining up to take a three? 

Simpler sneakers are on the upswing. “Retro definitely has a bit more of the momentum,” said Erik Fagerlind, the co-owner of Sneakersnstuff, a global chain of sneaker boutiques. Tasteful throwbacks, like the reissued Nike Tailwind, Adidas Superstar (see “Os” above) and upscale traditional sneakers like Spalwart’s Marathon Trail Runner and Brunello Cucinelli ’s luxe suede low-tops appeal to a clientele who came of age in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. For Frankie Walker Jr., the co-owner of Unknwn, a Miami sneaker retailer, and a child of the ’80s, the sneakers of one’s youth hold nostalgic charm. A plus? These clean styles won’t look out of place at the office. 

Another sneaker that blends well with business-casual garb is the understated, sustainable kick as epitomized by the knitted-upper runner from direct-to-consumer startup Allbirds (“Ds” above) or the subtle shoes from French label Veja (“Ss” above). At a time of staggering clothing waste, these shoes attempt to tread more lightly on the environment. 

At the opposite end of the style spectrum, aggressively trendy sneakers are rife in the Instagram age. Statement shoes like Balenciaga’s colossally chunky Triple-S or Nike’s collaboration with Japan’s Sacai (with its double soles and double tongues) leap out on social media, where brash sneaker fans of all ages battle for bragging rights. The thirst for boast-worthy shoes has supercharged sneaker collecting. On resale platforms like Stadium Goods, StockX and Flight Club, obsessives amass and unload limited pairs, sometimes at hammer prices well into the five figures. In July an entrepreneur paid $850,000 for a set of 99 rare sneakers during a Sotheby’s sale. 

Of course, most of us are just looking for one everyday pair. For many, it’s a low-key minimalist sneaker, but even if you’d never wear Technicolor Nikes (“Ni” above), they can be fun to look at.

TIES NOT OPTIONAL Off Duty’s deputy fashion director wears hertrusty New Balances with a directional Céline dress. PHOTO: RYAN MESINA/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Can sneakers be stylish?

Fashion editor Rebecca Malinsky willed them to be following a debilitating foot injury.

AT A CLOSE FRIEND’Swedding in the Portuguese countryside a while back, I danced until the wee hours in a predictably picturesque setting. The next day, however, my right foot was aching. After the seven-hour flight home and a long walk through customs I knew something was not right. Three podiatrists, two MRIs and one renowned foot and ankle surgeon later, I discovered that I had boogied my way to a rather serious ankle injury that would simply require time and supportive (read: ugly) shoes to heal. Time? Sure. But trading ballerina flats for the same sneakers as my dad? 

The accident humbled me into accepting the fragility of the human body—in the painfully conspicuous form of orthopedic shoes. I spent about 18 months solely wearing running shoes, minus the three hours I devoted to getting married in 1-inch Valentino heels lined with Dr. Scholl’s pads (fighting back tears from the pain and the emotion of it all).

Physically, just getting from point A to B has been exhausting; mentally, trying to remain confident as a fashion authority in sensible sneakers has been taxing. In the time I’ve spent in my go-to pairs of shoes—a gray New Balance 990 and a black Asics GT-1000—I’ve had to get creative to make them feel like they are truly a part of my personal style. But along the way, I developed the following guidelines on how to style sneakers fashionably:

  • Don’t dress down. Sneakers look more considered and intentional when paired with trendy clothing vs. basics. Try a slouchy linen pant or floral dress instead of jeans.
  • Consider the classics. Many designer sneakers are inspired by traditional tennis, or running, shoe brands. Scout out the original: It looks more authentic and saves you hundreds of dollars.
  • Venture manward. Why are women’s sneakers always fuchsia and teal? Learn your sizes in men’s sneakers to get the more-interesting lime green/black or red/white/tan combinations.
  • Socks matter. They should match your outfit, not your shoe. Invest in no-show peds for summer, and some gray, textured wool tall socks for the cooler months.

Male Dress Code – body shapes for men

Thick neck  

What to wear … deep collars; v-neck jumpers; polo shirts

What not to wear … small collars; high round necks; buttoned up shirts

Big tummy

What to wear … vertical stripes; loose tshirts; structured jackets; single breasted suits; knits with horizontal panel across the chest and contrasting darker colour around the tummy

What not to wear … short tops with high waisted pants! Tops that are too long; strong contrasting colours; big belts; skinny leg jeans/pants

Short legs

What to wear … all one colour; vertical stripes; plain shoes; match shoe colour to pants; monochrome colours; slim fit clothing; pointy toe shoe; the key is to streamline/visually lengthen your frame through colour and fit

What not to wear … contrasting colours; baggy clothes; ill fitting clothes; bold prints and patterns; don’t layer longer pieces underneath shorter pieces – this will break the continuity

Man breasts

What to wear … printed shirts; vertical stripes; shirts with pockets; dark colours

What not to wear … see through shirts; fine knit tops

Top heavy

What to wear … boot leg pant; fitted blazer; small pattern shirt; v-neck knits over white t-shirt

What not to wear … short sleeved shirts; tapered pants; double breasted jacket


What to wear … straight leg, light coloured denim jean;Layering allows you to build size; add kilos to your frame by selecting a denser, wool suit; chunkier, heavy jumpers such as cable knits and roll necks add size; white t-shirts, beige chinos, and pastel colours are best to add bulk

What not to wear … nothing second-skin thin for the skinny guy – this includes shirts labelled super-fit or ultra-slim and shirts that are stretchy or clingy; shirts that are too big; fat ties

4 ways to take the stress out of getting dressed in the morning

First published at Vogue

Every woman in the world can sympathise with the ongoing drama of ‘What am I going to wear today?!’

No matter what type of style you have, here are a few ways you can take the stress out of getting ready in the morning.

  1. The basics Having a well-rounded wardrobe that covers all occasions makes getting ready in the morning much less stressful. Take the time to invest in the wardrobe essentials that will empower you to create an array of go-to outfits with ease. Personally I’m a huge lover of black skinny jeans and a white T-shirt paired with white sneakers and a longline blazer. Below are my wardrobe essentials:

The classics: a black boyfriend blazer, pencil skirt, a striped T-shirt and cigarette pants. Whites: invest in a good linen or cotton white T-shirt and shirt. A little black dress: every girl needs at least one little black dress. Denim for days: a wardrobe essential, jeans are one of my go-tos! I love a good black skinny jean, vintage blue denim and ripped white jeans. The footwear four: these four staples can finish off a look perfectly. It’s all about the sneaker, black leather boots, a classic pump and slides. Statement: invest in a designer piece that adds a little wow factor to your wardrobe, from a Georgia Alice top to an Ellery dress. Leather: toughen up your look with a leather jacket.

  1. Order Creating order in your wardrobe is one of the easiest ways to make getting ready in the morning stress free. Personally I order my wardrobe in categories, for example: blazers, jackets, jumpsuits, pants, skirts, dresses, tops etc. This simple step literally makes your clothing much more accessible and organised, rather than wasting time hunting high and low for that Bassike T-shirt you know is hiding away in your wardrobe somewhere. The key is keeping your wardrobe this way. Make the effort to give your wardrobe a refresh once a week on a Sunday evening, ready to power through the week ahead in style and ease.
  2. Prep Preparation is the quickest way to avoid feeling stressed in the morning. Set aside five minutes each night before you go to bed to check the weather and your diary before selecting your outfit the following day. Thoroughly check your outfit to see if anything needs ironing and once it’s good to go, hang the outfit at the front of your wardrobe with your accompanying accessories. This little bit of prep also allows you more time in the morning to make a fresh smoothie or indulge in a coffee on your way to work.
  3. Accessories Accessories can bring the perfect finishing touch to your look. Make sure your favourite pieces of jewellery, eyewear, shoes and belts are accessible to you when you are getting ready in the morning. I love to keep my jewellery displayed neatly on my bedside table and I keep all my shoes and belts ordered in my wardrobe where I can see them. It may sound simple, but when you’re stressing that your outfit isn’t complete, a simple shoe or new necklace can finish off your look perfectly.

Fifty and beyond: the rules to make them as stylish as your youth

First published at The Australian

If 30 is the new 20, what does that make 50? And, more important, what does it look like?

Any woman wondering whether her date of birth dictates the way she dresses would do well to take tips from former fashion editor Alyson Walsh. (She’s 51, should that matter.)

“Fifty isn’t that old,” she says. “But the fashion industry sort of ignores you. It’s changing now, but largely the photos are of young, thin people.”

Walsh created the blog That’s Not My Age in her early 40s. Now she’s releasing a book aimed squarely at those who are only as old as they feel. Consider it a sartorial manifesto for what she calls generation FAB (Fifty And Beyond).

Wear what you feel good in. You know whether you’re comfortable or not. “By the time you reach this age, you have more confidence and you’re aware of your body shape, so you know what suits,” Walsh says

Don’t chase trends — you can buy anything and wear what you like. It’s about looking modern, timeless and ageless. J Crew’s Jenna Lyons and Robin Wright (both shy of 50) do it effortlessly.

Comfy shoes are a good thing. “Your body changes and so do your feet. I suggest really good brogues or loafers. A pair of kitten heels from LK Bennett is fine too.”

Don’t buy cheap clothes. It doesn’t have to be Balenciaga or Saint Laurent, but don’t buy fast fashion that’s going to fall apart. Save up, buy less and buy better.

Spend money on a decent, tailored jacket — the structure of it conceals any dreaded middle-aged spread and it goes with everything. If you’re curvy or have big boobs, try semi-fitted styles; if you’re petite, a cropped, collarless number works. And choose a longer one if you want to cover your seat. On the high street, Zara has a good selection.

Balance and proportion are key: loose tops look better with slimline trousers and skirts; wide-legs and A-lines need something more fitted.

Occasion wear is dead. Walsh is adamant about this: “I was going past Buckingham Palace one day after a garden party and I stopped in my tracks. Frills, ruffles and pastels make you look old. It’s about simplifying things rather than piling everything on.” Look for sharper feminine pieces, and never match your bag to your shoes.

But accessories are your friends. A sparkly necklace reflects light on to the face for a bit of Photoshop on the go, statement earrings work for day as well as night, and a bright scarf is a quick way to liven things up.

Don’t be afraid of colour. “It’s important to perk things up a bit because your complexion changes and your hair loses colour,” Walsh says. “I live in navy and khaki, but sometimes I’ll add a bright orange T-shirt or something.” Try Cos for a cool and minimalist approach to introducing brighter shades.

Be careful with black. It may be the fashion editor’s favourite, but black can look severe when you’re over 50 — especially if it’s next to your face. Try grey or blue instead.

You can do sexy. “But sexy isn’t really about looking sexy,” Walsh clarifies, citing former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld as a FAB femme fatale. “It’s not overt, it’s subtle and strong. Not caring what men think is something that comes with age.”

Buy a silk shirt. “It’s a ‘go anywhere’ style — through the day and into the evening. I like Equipment and Winser London.”

You’re never too old for vintage or boho — see Tilda Swinton for inspiration. But keep things simple, look for clean lines and make one garment your statement piece.

Spend more time and money on an effective beauty regime rather than buying every potion on offer. Walsh recommends Decleor’s Aroma Cleanse, Aromatherapy Associates facial oils and Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturiser with SPF.

For those of the “natural look” make-up school, you’ll need more of it than you used to. “When oestrogen leaves the house, the resulting slump in collagen production means that pores slacken too,” says beauty writer Vicci Bentley. “Primer keeps make-up fresher for longer, and light-reflecting powders give skin a healthy glow.” She recommends Dr Brandt for the former and Chanel for the ­latter.

Treat yourself. Buy French lingerie, and take shirts to the dry cleaners rather than ironing them.

Get your underpinnings right: buy bras that offer support and won’t show up through your clothes — and learn to replace them every six months. Your breast tissue changes as you get older too, so look for soft-cup alternatives to underwires, and get yourself measured twice a year.

Keep your hair in check. Going grey is fine, but only if you’re in charge of it when it happens. Applying Color Wow’s Root Cover Up powder to roots will hide any stragglers until your next appointment.

Buy new things. Aim for classics rather than being stuck in a rut. “You should never stop experimenting,” Walsh says.

Sunglasses can replace eye make-up on short shopping trips. Come to think of it, if they’re big enough, your sunglasses can hide almost anything. Try some Anna Wintour bug-eyes on for size.

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