this thing's incredible

These French Sneakers Are Like Converses Only Cheaper and More Flattering

The author in her charmingly filthy white Bensimons. Photo: Alice Gregory

Efficiency comes in many forms. Drafting emails on the subway, listening to podcasts at 2.5x speed. I like to think I save a cumulatively significant amount of time by refusing to wear shoes I have to tie. Maybe a solid ten minutes per week, which I then get to invest in all sorts of mind-stimulating, soul-restoring activities like texting parody magazine headlines to my friends or searching eBay for novel display cases for tiny chunks of the Berlin Wall.

Anyway, shoes that you don’t have to tie. Tricky if you’re also a person who walks a lot. Dansko clogs are good for long distances but smell horrible almost immediately; men’s espadrilles work for short distances but might as well be thrown in the garbage if it rains. Sneakers are the obvious solution, but not for a person unwilling to waste any of her life hunched over clawing at dirty string. It’s why I wear Bensimons. Twenty-five dollars with a (very important) flatteringly low vamp, FRENCH, and floppy enough that you can just shove your foot into them and flip up the heel. They do in fact have laces but you can keep them loosely tied enough that your feet can easily slip in and out without bothering to undo them. Like all the best products, Bensimons look like they were issued by a toppled authoritarian government.

The brand has a billion stores in Paris, but they’re also available on Amazon, a fact I unfortunately learned only after filling up half a suitcase with them. They come in beaucoup colors, all tres jolie. I’m partial to white, which get charmingly filthy very fast, but I also have them in black and a coral/clown color that I’m still unsure about. You have to be careful and only buy the “Lacet” model. There’s one that looks dangerously similar but have secret elastic tabs along the tongue — avoid!

The white version I prefer, unfortunately, has $10 shipping, but they still come out to be cheaper than Chuck Taylors.

More Strat-approved comfortable shoes

Strategist contributor Alison Freer first wrote about these plastic Birkenstocks and we’re still digging them: “Available in a rainbow of crazy colors, they are made from eco-friendly EVA (a type of dense polymer foam that doesn’t use chlorine in its production) and have almost the same arch support as regular Birkenstocks — for a fraction of the price. They are wildly flexible and far easier to clean than the classic cork-footbed versions — just hose them off and you’re good to go.”

In the words of our always opinionated columnist Chris Black, “The only all-white sneakers I genuinely stand behind are Vans. The perfect summer shoe. Understated, durable, eternally cool.” We might disagree on whether they’re the only shoe, but Vans are pretty great.

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These French Sneakers Are Like Converses But More Flattering