High tops have been worn by everyone from geeky Screech in Saved By The Bell to the Flash when he’s not saving Central City. Styling high tops can be tricky but if done right, your shoes will give your outfit the perfect finishing touch.
Hi-tops were designed to support athletes’ ankles, particularly on the basketball court. However, the unique style quickly transformed into a classic shoe used in everyday fashion. Hi tops are some of the most versatile shoes and you have a plethora of looks right at your fingertips. And no, I’m not talking about doodling on your old Converses with a sharpie to fuel your emo phase. I’m talking about looking like a respected adult who has their life together.
So, let’s start from the top if you’ll excuse the pun. There’s essentially two types of high top trainers: thin and thick. A thin pair would be Converse All Stars which are typically constructed from canvas and rest snugly against the leg when tied to the top. Nike Air Force 1s are an example of thick hi tops which have a slightly wider ankle and a chunkier design.
The problem with thin high tops is that they can make your ankles look weird and small. The first rule is to never lace thin high top trainers all the way to the top. Instead, tie the shoes loosely in the middle so the top isn’t tight against your ankle and wear trousers that either have a wide leg or show a bit of skin above the shoes. This is a guaranteed way to keep your body proportions in check (unless you want to look like a scrawny Joe Jonas circa 2008).
On the other hand, thick high tops can make your feet look big and lumpy, giving a clumsy edge to an otherwise stylish outfit. To avoid having building block feet, pair thick hi tops with slim fitting trousers tucked into the shoes. As thick high tops have their own weight, they stand on their own and accent the lower half of your outfit.
It may seem obvious but colour can make or break hi tops. Simplicity is key. Block colours never fail, especially black or white as they complement almost any outfit. It’s always tempting to buy the latest pair of Vans covered in Toy Story characters (I have two pairs in my wardrobe) but you will never beat a pair of plain Converse or Reebok classic high tops. Of course, a splash of colour is great for expressing your personality but the success of that colour is completely dependent on your outfit (i.e. don’t wear green shoes with a red shirt or you’ll look like a Christmas tree).
High top trainers are obviously synonymous with casual outfits. Plain white Converse always look great with a plain white t-shirt and black jeans for an understated look with workwear undertones. If you’re a hat enthusiast, add a plain knit beanie to elevate the outfit on cool days. If you’re keen to channel your inner Kanye, opt for some bright coloured Nike Air Force 1s to contrast with the rest of your outfit. Finish this look off with a tight trench coat but be careful not to turn into John Bender from The Breakfast Club!
Alternatively, if you like to express yourself through patterned shirts and tees, choose white or black hi top Vans that won’t compete with your top half and will let your bright shirt speak for itself. Complete the ensemble with a pair of plain black jeans and a black leather jacket to accentuate your colourful top.
For a drastically different style, find some hi-tops that complement a smart outfit. But just to clarify: trainers are NEVER okay for a serious black tie event. I’m sure Queen Liz would love your Adidas trainers but it’s not appropriate for a meeting with royalty. However, adding hi tops to a smart outfit is a foolproof way of making sure you’re not overdressed while not being too casual. Go for some chinos, a plain shirt, and a blazer for a quick and easy smart look. Finish with monochrome high-tops and consider leather or suede options to lift the look to a new level.
There’s no doubt that high tops will always be in fashion and will always be loved by all. With so many styles of high tops to choose from, you’ll easily find ones that match your personal style. Whether you choose the bright leather Adidas hi tops or the classic canvas Converse, the possibilities are endless.
Written by Rachel Glass