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What Are the Best Men’s White Sneakers?

Photo-Illustration: retailers

A simple white sneaker has always been an essential part of any man’s shoe collection. Yes, their timeless appeal comes in handy when you’re putting together an outfit for the office or a date, but even if you’re only “getting dressed” to get groceries or take a walk, white sneakers can be just as much a go-to. So having the right pair in your arsenal may even force most other shoes out of your rotation. “They will never not be in style,” says Cory Ohlendorf, an editor of men’s-style site Valet. “When you think of all the eras of menswear, a basic white sneaker remains something you simply must own.”

Underlying white sneakers’ versatility is the fact that, like black sneakers, they look good with almost all clothes. But, unlike black sneakers, white ones can be worn year-round, according to our cool guys. “That’s the beauty of a simple white sneaker,” says Nicolas Lazaro, a community specialist at menswear-resale platform Grailed. While sunny days scream for bright kicks, the best white sneakers also look better when weathered, making them just as fall and winter appropriate. As stylist Bryant Simmons puts it, the more wear they show, the more they suggest their wearer “has a life.” To find the best men’s white sneakers, we talked to Ohlendorf, Lazaro, Simmons, and ten more stylish guys (then went through our archives to make sure we didn’t miss any standout pairs recommended by other cool men). The 12 pairs below include something for most everyone, from canvas styles, to classic leather pairs, to slip-ons, to sneakers you can skate in, and more.

Best overall men’s white sneakers

Three of our cool people say that Nike’s Air Force 1 is a classic white sneaker that hasn’t lost its cool in the decades its been around (cool teens, athletes like Kevin Love, and celebrities like Fab 5 Freddy have told us they feel the same way). According to Simmons, they’re perhaps even more relevant today than they’ve ever been: “The last couple of years have seen a move away from skinny jeans toward wider-legged pants, and the Air Force 1’s balance out that wide silhouette really well. If you wear smaller shoes with a wider leg, your feet can look swallowed up.” Other fans include designer Edgar Gonzalez (of rising bootleg T-shirt brand AndAfterThat) and Strategist writer Jordan Bowman, who simply says, “It’s hard to look bad in them.”

Best less-expensive men’s white sneakers

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Named for the tennis player who wore them, Adidas’s Stan Smiths also came recommended by three folks: Bowman, hairdresser Mark Miguez, and Chris Black told us that these have been in their sneaker rotation for years. Bowman, who has been wearing Stan Smiths for eight years, describes their appeal this way: “If they’re good enough for legendary designers like Phoebe Philo and Raf Simons to wear,” they’re good enough for him. Black agrees, saying the “classic” leather sneakers “absolutely serve their purpose.” Bowman adds that Stan Smiths look “the best when they are a little lived-in,” which is why he likes to wear them all year long. Miguez seconds that, telling us he also likes his Stan Smiths to have “the worn look” when he wears them with denim or chinos.

Best even-less-expensive men’s white sneakers

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The third and final white sneaker to receive three nods, Vans Classic Slip-ons are even more affordable than the pairs above (though we’ve seen Stan Smiths with similar price tags when they’re on deep sale). Ohlendorf told us that he has “gone through many a white sneaker” in his time, but that Vans slip-ons are the pair he always returns to. “It’s a classic that always looks right — whether it’s crisp and new or all beat-up and dingy,” he explains. And not just for errands or a day in the park: “They’re simple enough to swap in for dress shoes and sturdy enough to lift weights in,” says Ohlendorf, who adds that “you can’t ask for much more from a $50 shoe.” Miguez is another fan, noting he keeps a pair of these in his closet alongside his Stan Smiths. “They go with everything and age great,” he promises of the canvas sneakers. Leon St. Heron, the fashion designer behind clothing brand Heron Hues, also wears the slip-ons, calling them his “go-to pair of white sneakers” because of their “classic look and legendary silhouette.”

Best splurge-worthy men’s white sneakers

You (still) can’t talk about white sneakers without mentioning Common Projects, which two guys say proves worth the investment over time. Christopher Echevarria, the founder of loafer brand Blackstock and Weber, says they’re his “all-time favorite white sneaker” and that he owns two pairs of the Achilles Low — one is brand new, the other he’s owned “for seven or eight years has just gotten better with time.” (He “prefers the pair that’s beat to shit.”) Simmons likes them for the same reasons. He says the minimal Achilles Low “is designed to really mold to your foot” and that the quality of the sneakers construction is noticeable. For example, you can see “that the leather is stitched right into the rubber sole,” he explains. Simmons adds that the distinctive gold lettering around the sneakers’ heel means that even “beat up Common Projects can work with a nice, formal outfit.”

Best men’s white sneakers that are a Common Projects dupe

According to the guys who recommended them, these sneakers have a similar appeal to the Common Projects ones above — they’re long-lasting and thoughtfully designed, but less ubiquitous and also less expensive. They come recommended by August Bard Bringéus and Jakob Dworsky, the co-founders of Swedish menswear brand Asket. Both men own a pair and tell us the sneakers are unlined and less structured, which gives them more of a broken-in, casual feel from the get-go. Bringéus and Dworsky add that they use CQP Racquet Sneakers “for all of our photo shoots, because they set off any outfit perfectly.” Bringéus says the sneakers have a “clean minimal design with precise details that allow the materials and craftsmanship to do all the talking.” Like our Common Projects fans, Bringéus and Dworsky admit these are pricier than lots of other white sneakers, but promise that the “quality leather only gets better with time, so they’re worth the investment.”

Trendiest men’s white sneakers

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“The sneaker of the year” is how Gonzalez describes Reebok’s Club C, which is another of Simmons’s all-time favorites. According to him, “we’re moving into weird era between ’70s and ’80s style, and the Club C is a great sneaker to slot into that period.” But Simmons adds these are worth considering even if you couldn’t care less about trends, because the sneakers have a lot of qualities that make them wearable at any time. “They’re inexpensive, so cushioned and comfortable, and they also have a European, understated feel to them,” he says.