Nothing compares to the feeling on Christmas morning of spotting a gift with your name that has the exact dimensions of a shoe box. I remember the year during my childhood when Santa really came through with all my wishes. I received a new bike, tickets to “Disney on Ice,” and the cherry on top was a brand new, bright white, soft leather pair of classic Reebok Princess Wides. Although I loved my shoes, I wanted to make them my own, so, much like a young Virgil Abloh, I took pen to leather and wrote all over my new kicks. However, instead of being celebrated for my ingenuity, my parents were royally pissed. Before I could get a new pair, Reeboks went out of style and were replaced by flashier shoes.
I often think about those shoes I had as a child, and how I could have incorporated them into my outfits had I not defaced them with a Sharpie. Well, now we are living in an era of nostalgia and all of my favorite shoes, including Reeboks, are making a strong comeback. Here’s a list of classic sneakers you’ll be able to pull off with any outfit on any occasion (Sharpie sold separately).
1. Adidas Originals Stan Smith
Since its first introduction into the shoe world in the 1970s, the Stan Smith has seen little to no change. Every sneakerhead has owned a pair of Stan Smiths ($80, addidas.com) at some point in their life, and for the good reason. The crisp color and simplicity make this shoe a must-have for anyone who wants the convenience of wearing one shoe during the day and not having to change it at night.
2. Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor
Nothing says classic sneaker like a pair of Chucks ($55, converse.com). The shoe, which has been around since 1917, has been worn by some of the greatest names in sports, music, and fashion. As the first mass-produced basketball shoe in history, the Chuck Taylor has always had mainstream visibility. Eventually, the shoe was adopted by other cultural subsets such as punk rock stars, skaters, and celebrities who didn’t give AF about the red carpet status quo. The great thing about the Chuck Taylor is the high-top design and canvas body make it a versatile shoe to wear during any season. Dress these babies up with an elegant ensemble or keep it low-key with a pair of cut-off jeans and a T-shirt.
3. PUMA Astro Cup Suede Trainer
The PUMA Suede ($40, puma.com) is not only a perfect shoe if you want to pull off a clean and crisp look, but has also been around for some of the biggest moments in history — like if Forest Gump was a sneaker. Originally released in 1968, the PUMA suede was popularized in the early days of hip-hop in New York City. The shoe was also famously worn by Olympian Tommie Smith during the 1968 podium ceremony wherein he and fellow runner John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists in the air to draw attention to the fight for Civil Rights in the United States. Even if you aren’t personally trying to make a statement, these shoes will do all the talking when you slip them on.
4. Vans Old Skool
Just like a pair of good Levis and a white T-shirt, the Vans Old Skool ($60, vans.com) should be a staple in any closet. Although the sneaker was at one point synonymous with skate parks and BMX, the sneaker, which comes in an assortment of colors, can be worn by anyone. The iconic side stripe and sleek design make this shoe a great option for any casual outfit.
5. Reebok Ex-O Fit HI
While chunky hi-tops may be all the rage right now, the style trend is nothing new. The Reebok Ex-O Fit Hi ($85, reebok.com) is incredibly lightweight and, unlike some other off-court chunky shoes, comfortable the first time you put them on. The best thing about these Reeboks is they are extremely versatile and can be worn with any outfit; if you aren’t able to keep them in pristine, white condition, the shoe makes a great workout sneaker.
6. Nike Classic Cortez
The Nike Cortez ($70, nike.com) was first advertised as a running shoe, like many other sneakers like it. Designed by Olympic track coach Bill Bowerman, the Cortez is comfortable and constructed with a raised foam heel to protect runners during long-distance runs. However, if your preferred form of cardio includes walking to the fridge to grab and snack, then you need not to worry. The Cortex shoe is simple yet sophisticated enough to go great with a pair of cuffed jeans or a denim skirt. These shoes are meant to have fun with, so don’t be afraid to play off the bold red Nike swoosh or the blue stripe bottom.
7. New Balance Classic M320
If you are a fan of the “dad sneaker” trend then you have to give it up to the original dad shoe: The New Balance M320 ($80, zappos.com). Back in the '70s, the shoe was named the number one running shoe by Runner’s World, and it’s been a mainstay in the closet of men over 40 ever since. Now the shoe has been re-popularized by influencers and models, so there’s no need to shy away from trying out a pair of these classic kicks.