August 20, 2020
The rise of streetwear over the past decade has made “looking good” more confusing for guys than the closing scene of Shutter Island. There are more options than ever, and mixing and matching styles has become so normal that most “cool” things we see online and in stores generally leave guys thinking:
“That slaps, but not for me.”
After all, most men, myself included, want to wake up and get dressed without putting much thought into it. So in the world of boxy fits, sneaker drops, and endless exclusive collabs, *not thinking and *dressing well seem like mutually exclusive concepts. I mean sure, Timothee Chalamet looks effortlessly clean all the time, but where would I even begin to find my own version of what that scrawny dollop of a man wears on a regular basis?
Thankfully, this shift in the fashion industry has also made finding your own style more accessible than ever. From Target to Gucci, gents have nearly endless options for looking good without having to think too much about it.
And that’s where I can (hopefully) help. I’ve always used clothes as a form of creative expression — sometimes to my own detriment, when I rocked inside-out sweats in the middle of summer as a 5 year old — but I still subscribe heavily to the mindset of not wanting to think too much when I’m getting ready. So, over the years, I’ve worked to get to a place where I can establish natural rhythms to my daily life, while still managing to wear things I feel comfortable and confident in.
To do that, I’ve spent way too much time reading about and researching hats, shirts, jeans, pants, tees, sneakers, outerwear socks, lounge wear, and even the unmentionables.
Why? Well, first of all, it’s helped me create a personal style that feels classic and remains unique. Beyond that, it’s allowed me to keep that sense mindlessness about getting ready in the morning — I’ve already done the deciding by researching and buying quality items I love, so now it’s just throwing on garments I already know I enjoy.
Okay, now that I’ve bored you with the backstory, lets get to the point: most men don’t think about any of the things I just talked about. If the previous sentence describes your boyfriend, fiance, hubby, or life partner, then these series of posts is for you (or them, really).
Anna and I thought it may be valuable to talk about ways to step up your bae’s game. Maybe they’re not entirely hopeless, or maybe they’re Steve Carell in the first half hour of Crazy Stupid Love. Either way, I’m going to be writing about options to help the domestic partner in your life look like they’re wearing what they wore on purpose.
Today, we’re going to start with what may be my favorite subject: kicks. I’m a recovering, low-level sneakerhead, which means I’ve forgotten more about sneakers than most people would ever care to learn, but I also didn’t end up bankrupt over a few pairs of Off-White Nikes.
Thankfully that life is behind me, and I’ve honed in on some certain styles that work for me. Still, my ventures in the rubber sole game has helped me understand how sneakers can take someone’s casual style to an entirely new level without much effort. So, whether you or the person you’re shopping for is dipping their toe in the water, or are already learning to swim, here are some ground rules to consider before we dive in:
1. Don’t change all at once.
While the Steve Urkel to Stefan Urquelle transformation seems ideal, it’s not realistic. Trends change, tastes change, and seasons change, so don’t throw yourself or the arm candy in your life into a new wardrobe too quickly. As a starting point, aim for versatility and classic silhouettes across the board. If these changes don’t stick long term, at least you have a few pieces that will mesh with what’s already there, while not wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to force it to work.
2. Keep it simple.
If you want to introduce someone to sushi, you hand them a shrimp tempura roll, not a salmon skin roll. The same is true with sneakers. If you want to wear (or want someone else to wear) Yeezy’s one day, make sure you or they look good in Nike and New Balance first. In the end, you may decide that these kinds of brands have options that you like better than a lot of the hyped up kicks out there.
3. Stay true, but have fun.
If it’s not you or your boo’s personality to stunt like streetwear royalty, then don’t force it. That said, we wholeheartedly reject any “They can pull that off, but I can’t” statements here at The Page Edit. In other words, some people tell themselves to “stay in my lane” without even knowing what their lane is. Go to a store, try on the chunkiest tennis shoes you can find, have your significant other lace up some Jordan’s, or slip into a pair of sneakers that look like socks (snockers). And if you decide its not for you or them, then at least you’re one step closer to knowing what actually works.
Alright, now that we have the “rules” out of the way, here are 5 pairs of sneakers that work for guys of all “style aptitudes”.
For the novice.
Adidas Stan Smith’s – Anna and I agree that Stan Smiths (white leather sneakers in general) are a must own for every man or woman. If you or your guy buys into a closet overhaul, he may eventually graduate to coveting Common Projects’ Achilles Low, or one of the many versions you’ve seen every designer and fast fashion brand rip off. Until then, start him or yourself here. Stan’s are a classic, but not overdone. They’re clean, and they go with everything from chinos, to jeans — from skinny to relaxed and everything in between. And most importantly? They will never not “slap”.
Nike Killshot 2’s – Once a “grail” of the sneaker world, occasionally stocked by J. Crew, Killshots are now always in stock, all over the internet. While this means the allure is gone for sneakerheads, abundant availability doesn’t change how freaking good these shoes look in literally every colorway they’ve released (I still ride for the classic navy or the kelly green, but you have no shortage of clean color options). If you want more of a head-turner for you or your boy toy with the same staying power and versatility of Stan Smiths, Killshots are your move.
For the athlete.
New Balance 574 – If your significant other constantly finds themselves in gym shorts, then you can find something that works with jeans and with a pair of performance joggers. To me, “70s runners” (which is what these shoes are considered) are the best silhouette to bridge that gap — it’s easily my favorite style of sneaker. Nike makes some harder-to-find/more exclusive versions, but New Balance makes the most classic and underrated versions of the vintage running shoe.
While New Balance’s 997 is more of a trend right now (with several collabs focusing on versions of that silhouette), the 574 is an easy wear for anyone, but especially if you or your guy leans preppy. It’s not a stretch to say a pair of 574s look good with khaki shorts, chinos, jeans of all fits, and can even work if you or your partner can’t stop donning workout clothes. Regardless of how they dress, these will instantly make them look like they’re wearing what they’re wearing intentionally — which is more than a lot of us can say.
Asics Onitsuka Tiger – Mexico 66 – Along the same lines of the New Balance 574, the Mexico 66 is an impossibly versatile kick that has a “sportier” look to it. It’s another classic that will always have two things going for it: it transcends trends, and it has innumerable colorways across the internet. Why is that first point important? It means you’ll never have a hard time finding them, but they also aren’t over-saturated at any given point in time. As for the second point? Well, it means you can get a pair in you or your beau’s favorite team’s color, which instantly elevates their game day fit and makes it easier for them to rock these with what they’ve already got in their closet. Overhauling is a brick-by-brick process, and these are a great starting point.
For the confident.
New Balance 990 V5 – Let’s say your king is already competently dressing themselves well, but you’re looking for a way to push them into more adventurous waters — well, consider 990s the “furry handcuffs” of their sneaker game (yikes).
To move on from that analogy quickly, 990’s are how you take your man from J Crew to H&M or Zara, without ending up at Urban Outfitters. Are they dad shoes? To some, yes. But in truth, they’re a pair of shoes you just find yourself looking at a lot whenever they’re in your periphery. In other words, they’re just really freaking cool sneakers, and aesthetically pleasing as all heck, especially in person.
At first glance, you or your significant other may say “I can’t pull those off”, but I’m telling you right now, you absolutely can. While they have the feel and comfort of those chunky dad sneakers you see everywhere from Yeezy to FILA to Zara to Gucci, they have a classic silhouette that keeps them more mature and classic than the “feets” my 10 year old nephew rocks. This means that 8 years from now when we’re laughing at people for wearing loaves of bread as shoes, you can confidently say that 990’s helped you endure these choppy waters.
While you can venture out and find unique colorways, the classic “Made in US” in both grey and navy are clean and versatile looks. I know $175 is a bit of departure from the prices of the other options listed, but I’ve worn my 990 V4’s every single day in 2020. They are hands down my favorite sneaker to wear right now and will forever be my answer to whatever dad shoe monstrosity is trending on StockX this week.
Whether your special someone appears completely hopeless, or is already doing great, he–much like Jack Harlow–has got options. In the vast sea of the sneaker industry, it’s important to differentiate between what will last and what is just a trend you’ll always feel too old to pull off. Hopefully this post can help you discern the difference!