The Best Comfortable Sneakers for Everyday Wear
Out with high heels, in with comfy sneakers! One of the best fashion trends to come out of the pandemic is, without a doubt, that casual attire is the new normal. And that includes our renewed love for sneakers. Paired with every outfit from suits to sundresses, sneakers are now ultra-chic, complementing attire way beyond athleisure. Not only are they easy to wear and comfortable all day, you can sport them everywhere from the grocery store to running errands to doing yardwork or taking Zoom calls without looking like you just got home from the gym.
How to Buy Comfortable Sneakers
While sneakers are relatively easy to order online in your regular size and get a nice fit (unlike boots or heels, which can be trickier), keep a few pointers in mind before buying.
First, you should look for three main features in sneakers for everyday wear: cushioning, shock absorption and a deep-seated heel, says Jackie Sutera, D.P.M., FAFCAS, a board-certified doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery in New York. A deep heel is helpful for stabilizing your foot and keeping everything in alignment. You should also look for sneakers with a slight heel-to-toe drop—i.e., a sole that's thicker and tapers down toward the forefoot. In other words, platform sneakers aren't the best choice (however trendy they may be on social media). "Sneakers with a platform may not be the best choice for all-day, everyday [wear] … because they can be too flat," Sutera adds.
When trying sneakers on, consider the fit. They should not feel tight, but they should fit snug, "like the shoes are hugging your feet," says Sutera. Your toes should have enough room to spread and wiggle, but don't make the common mistake of measuring your foot only to accommodate your big toe—as some people have longer second toes, she adds. As with any shoe, make sure you don't have any spots that rub while you're trying on sneakers. If they're not fitting right to begin with, they'll only continue to get more uncomfortable when you actually wear and walk in them. Getting a good sneaker means you shouldn't have to "break them in," says Sutera. Likewise, you should avoid buying shoes that slip off your heel and that require padding inside to make them the right size.
When to Replace Sneakers
If your favorite sneakers become a pair of shoes you're wearing quite often or for everyday use, Sutera advises replacing them around the 12-month mark (or sooner, depending on your individual wear). She recommends an evaluation she calls the "tabletop test." Set your shoes on a tabletop, then get eye level with them and examine them for asymmetry, signs of wear and lopsided soles. Also look inside and turn them upside down, looking for any holes or smoothing tread. You'll be able to tell from this method whether it's time to replace your sneakers.
Should You Wear Socks with Sneakers?
The answer to this age-old question is: It depends. It really comes down to preference, comfort (socks offer a layer of protection against blisters), warmth and, sometimes, the look you're going for, says Sutera. The bottom line, however, is that going sock-free will ultimately shorten the lifespan of your sneaks. "Your shoes will start to smell a lot sooner, inevitably, due to the sweat that gets absorbed inside the sneaker," says Sutera. If you do decide to go barefoot in your shoes (knowing that you run the risk of sweating and also developing athlete's foot, irritations, blisters, dermatitis or other skin conditions from doing so), make sure to let them air-dry between wears. Sutera also recommends using an antifungal shoe spray after each use to deodorize them.
The Best Comfortable Sneakers for Everyday Wear
Here are some top picks for comfortable everyday sneakers.
Cole Haan Generation ZeroGrand II
Giving the term "plant-based" new meaning, this perfect-for-spring sneaker is the first of its kind to have an outsole constructed from dandelions. Rubber made from the plant provides responsive cushioning inside the "FlowerFoam" sole that's topped with a vegan suede upper made from recycled plastic bottles. The delightfully lightweight shoe is instantly comfortable and comes in four color combinations with names so catchy (like Rosette Peach Whip!), they could also be a cocktail.
Keds Triple Kick Leather
A bestseller from this iconic brand, this simple platform sneaker—available in black or white—features a 1-inch platform to add a little height without an ounce of discomfort. You'd be hard-pressed to find a look these shoes don't match, and with a cushioned footbed this comfortable, you'll never want to take them off.
Vionic Electra Sneaker
At first glance, these sneakers may have you thinking they're either too fashion-forward or a throwback to the 1980s. In reality, though, just about anyone can pull off these sporty kicks, which are as comfortable and supportive as they are stylish. A mix of mesh, leather and nubuck fabrics adds cool texture, available in two color varieties.
Vessi Women's Weekend
If you're the type to retire a pair of white sneakers when they get a little dingy, consider these your new quintessential white shoe. Not only are they lightweight and made of stretchy, breathable knit for an easy fit, they're also waterproof and—wait for it—can be tossed in the washing machine for an easy cleanup. (Just remove the laces and insoles first and tuck all the parts into a bag first.) The marble white color is classic, but these sneakers are available in seven other colors too.
Cariuma OCA Low
There's good reason these easygoing, casual sneakers have more than 15,000 five-star reviews—a few, actually. First up: They come in more than 40 colors and styles, giving you an option to suit any outfit or mood you can dream up. Second, the B-Corp Certified conscious sneaker company prioritizes the earth (e.g., using better-for-the-planet materials like ethically tapped rubber) and vendors (only working with companies complying with fair wages and conditions). Finally, with options starting at $79, they're affordable enough to grab a new pair every season. What's not to love?
Ecco Street Tray Sneaker
If you're looking for an everyday sneaker that's more like streetwear, check out this stylish pair made from full-grain leather. With a clean, crisp look and flat laces, they look equally as sophisticated paired with a flowy sundress as they do with black leggings. Inside, the sole is removable and extra cushioned, while the extra-long laces can be adjusted to your level of comfort, too.
Vionic Athena Sneaker
These neat sneakers, which come in a variety of pretty pastels (like blue haze, terra cotta and vapor, in addition to black and white), feature a side zip that lets you slip them on without having to untie them. Especially great for people who may have a hard time taking shoes on and off, these have a supportive, thick heel and a podiatrist-designed orthotic inside for maximum comfort.
Keds Kickstart TRX Quilted Metallic Sneaker
You know that saying, "elevate the everyday"? One sure way to do it: step into a pair of these shiny (and so affordable!) metallic sneakers, which add an element of fun to any outfit, from casual to dressy. The minimalist silhouette Keds is known for keeps things classic, but a lugged bottom adds durability to the sole. Also, the breathable lining means you can log thousands of steps without worrying about your feet.