Sneakers are the new pumps ... and the new booties, boots and loafers, too. They've upstaged all other footwear as the go-to shoe whether we wear leggings, joggers or jeans. Those of us who have returned to actual clothes even wear sneakers with tailored work pants and midi dresses. Our bunions and hammertoes love them, our calluses and sensitive soles, too. And if you're looking for extra traction (and who isn't over age 50?) what's not to love about rubber soles? Here are the ones to snap up.
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PHOTO BY: Zappos (2); Famous Footwear
1. The classic sneaker
They're old-school, iconic and a great blast from the past of sneakers we've wore before. Cotton canvas sneakers with white laces are classics, so think of them as basics — just like a navy blazer, a crisp button-down shirt or a pair of dark-wash jeans. In other words, you can't go wrong. Choose low-tops — like the Keds Champion-Canvas CVO in black canvas ($50, zappos.com) or the Superga Women's Classic Low-Top Sneakers in grey sage ($65, zappos.com) — or a high-top like the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Top Sneaker in red ($60, famousfootwear.com).
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PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's; DSW; Zappos
2. The snow sneaker
Hi-tops and hiking boots have joined forces in a toasty new alternative that keeps our ankles sturdy and our soles from slipping, in fleece and faux fur trimmed ski-lodge style. Yes, they're a little more expensive, but they are multitasking and worth it if you live in a cold climate. Try a cozy pair like the Sperry Crest Lug High-Top Quilted Cozy Suede in griffin ($85, zappos.com), Steve Madden Debora Mid-Top Sneaker in dark olive green ($100, dsw.com) or the Cougar Women's Lace Up Faux Fur Trimmed Sneakers in pewter ($160, bloomingdales.com), and start looking forward to chilly icy days like never before. And unlike clunky/heavy storm boots, they're a cinch to drive in, too.
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PHOTO BY: Nordstrom; DSW; Zappos
3. The leather slip-on
This is the faux black leather shoe substitute that fashion editor me calls a “sh-neaker” — a chic hybrid with a more dressed-up look. The structured fit is way more foot friendly than thin-soled ballet flats, pointy toe pumps or mules. Try sophisticated styles like the Dr. Scholl's Nova in black ($50, zappos.com), Steve Madden Coulter Quilted Slip-On Sneaker in black ($60, nordstrom.com) or Naturalizer Zola Slip-On Sneaker in black ($70, dsw.com).
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PHOTO BY: DSW (2); Zappos
4. The wedge sneaker
The truth is some of us can't let go of the need for a little more “height.” We're the heel and wedge fans who like a few extra inches and a leggier look. Once again shoe design geniuses have given us a solution with rubber soled sneaker booties — like the Blondo Glenda Waterproof in mushroom suede ($76, zappos.com), Dr. Scholl's Madison Sneaker Bootie in grey ($70, dsw.com) and the Steve Madden Wavery Wedge Sneaker in taupe or black ($70, dsw.com) — with a hidden wedge and an easy zipper entry/exit.
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PHOTO BY: Nordstrom; Zappos (2)
5. The wild leopard sneaker
They are wild — as in, “I love your sneakers! They're wild!” Animal prints (especially spotty ones) are one of our favorite things, so no wonder they've migrated to our love of treads and athleisure. For a posh touch choose a calf-hair style like the Hush Puppies Sabine Sneaker in leopard haircalf ($86, zappos.com), Dr. Scholl's All In Platform Sneaker ($110-$130, nordstrom.com) or the Naturalizer Macayla ($80, zappos.com) in a cheetah print. The combo of elegant texture, sporty look and neutral colors makes them polished enough for any occasion you'd wear tailored ankle pants and relaxed enough to put on with your comfiest clothes.
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PHOTO BY: Zappos (3)
6. The retro sneaker
They're a little bit been-there with a modern twist thanks to a slanted tapered shape that lifts at the heels. You'll see this trendy sneaker in luxury brands like Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga and Gucci, but the look is definitely casual, comfy and oddly edgy. In fact, they feel like you're walking on throw pillows. Retro looks — such as the UGG La Daze ($84, zappos.com), Saucony Originals Jazz Original Vintage in yellow/white/silver ($64, zappos.com) or Michael Michael Kors Georgie Trainer ($80, zappos.com) — will add stylish attitude to your closet now through spring.
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PHOTO BY: Zappos (2); Walmart
7. Glam sneakers
These are the new party shoes — the equivalent of slipping on sparkly slingbacks or dangling jeweled earrings for an evening out (not that we have many of those these days). Kicks covered in sequins or glitter — like the Kids x Kate Spade New York Champion Leopard in tan multi glitter ($68, zappos.com) or Forever Link Remy Women Sequin Lightweight Glitter Sneakers in black or gold ($23, walmart.com) — or a joyful pair of embellished lace-ups such as the Steven New York Rubie in white leopard ($99, zappos.com) will certainly add a festive feeling to anything from sweatpants to jeans any day or night of the week.
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PHOTO BY: DSW; Zappos (2)
8. The comfort sneaker
Hopefully we'll be able to travel in 2021, and these lightweight knit sneakers are just what we need. They slip on and off for long car trips, plane rides and terminal walks, and the soft fabric has more breathability and toe-wiggling ease (especially for those with corns and hammertoes). Knit sneakers like the Bzees Indigo in black cloudLite mesh ($59, zappos.com), Skechers Ultra-Flex Harmonious Slip-On Sneaker-Women's in black/charcoal ($60, dsw.com) and Blondo Karen Waterproof Knit Sneaker in black/white knit ($66, zappos.com) feel like your favorite thick socks with a sturdy rubber sole. Why wait to fly? Right now, they could be your everyday around-the-house choice instead of slippers or clogs.
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PHOTO BY: DSW (2); Zappos
9. The chunky white sneaker
Some call them “Dad” sneakers, but white lace-ups have a modern street-smart vibe and are still high on the trend list for 2021. They obviously go with anything, but keeping them pristine is the only real fashion challenge here. Look for updated classics with a bold but clean shape like the Vans Ward Lo Deluxe Sneaker-Women's ($70, dsw.com) or Superga 2750 COTU Classic Sneaker in white ($65, zappos.com), or opt for simple but stylish platforms like the Steve Madden Hanly Platform Sneaker ($60, dsw.com).
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PHOTO BY: DSW (2); Famous Footwear
10. The sports sneaker
If you really run, hike, brisk walk or do serious gym stuff, then a little more support, cushion and bounciness is a good idea. The sportier brands are best here — they have the experience and technological improvements and features that protect your feet and boost your balance and traction for safety and foot health. Look for those that target your need — like the Nike Women's In Season 9 Training Shoe in navy/pink ($75, famousfootwear.com), New Balance Nitrel V4 Trail Running Shoe ($65, dsw.com) or Adidas Edge Lux 3 Lightweight Running Shoe-Women's in red ($80, dsw.com) — in upbeat colors and mixes that accent neutral workout clothes and add plenty of incentive.
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