please advise

Ask Chris Black: What Are the Best White Sneakers?

Photo: Yimmy Yayo

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions, and to get more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

What are the best all-white sneakers? I’m tired of Stan Smiths, and Common Projects is a little out of my price range. What all-white sneakers should I buy for the summer?

Are you a junior strategist at a “creative agency” who lives in Williamsburg, loves mezcal, and takes dates to Seamore’s? No? Then you should avoid Common Projects. They are wildly overpriced in my opinion. Also, be careful to avoid the designer-white-sneaker trap, I see countless victims daily, strolling in Soho in faux-distressed Golden Goose Deluxe Brand, Givenchy, or Balenciaga. JUST SAY NO! You never want to look like you are trying that hard.

The only all-white sneakers I genuinely stand behind are Vans. The perfect summer shoe. Understated, durable, eternally cool. I wear them sockless for 3–4 months a year, throw them away, and get a new pair next year when the weather warms up.

Stan Smiths (and the less popular Rod Lavers) are classic and absolutely serve the purpose. I wore them a lot in high school.

From $77

If you want something a bit more substantial, the classic Nike Air Force 1 is a good option.

A pair of two-tone white suede Converse Jack Purcell low-tops will break in nicely and aren’t as ubiquitous as my other suggestions. White shoes are meant to get destroyed — don’t waste your money on an expensive pair.

You get home and realize you’re out of some grooming necessities. What can you get at the drugstore or bodega and what needs to be more specialized?

Just last week, before boarding a morning flight to Mexico, the lovely TSA agent at JFK tossed my brand new bottle of Aesop SPF50 Protective Body Lotion in the bin. Instead of getting third-degree burns, I copped some La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+
and soldiered on. It protected me, but it didn’t have that wonderful Aesop scent.

If you find your Marvis tube is dry, absolutely hit Walgreens for some Crest. It will keep your chompers pearly until you can replenish your bourgeois reserves.

Forgot your face wash at the Sunset Tower? Cetaphil face cleanser will hold you over. It’s gentle and leaves your skin feeling refreshed.

The Oribe shampoo you ordered didn’t arrive in time for your trip? The Daily Shampoo from American Crew will work for a few days, and it actually smells good.

Unfortunately, some things just cannot be replaced. If you’ve run out of your Tom Ford deodorant, don’t buy Old Spice or you will smell like the YMCA locker room at peak hours. Unless you want to smell like a chubby Chris sitting in his middle-school bedroom reading Thrasher and listening to Earth Crisis, leave the Curve on the shelf, and head to your local department store for a proper fragrance. Pick your battles.

We need trouser recommendations. Our hearts desire that good Lemaire high/natural waist, but without the Lemaire price tag. Usually we would go straight to Sid Mashburn, but the only real option over there is custom and someone out there has to be doing this rise in a trouser (not denim. Shout-out to Levi’s and the 501 rise) for less than $500–700 … right?

This is a particular request, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but it sounds like you gotta go custom. There is a New York–based brand called Stoffa that I would like to recommend. They offer a myriad of fits and fabrics, and it’s all made-to-measure. I feel like they could get you sorted for under $500. In the braggadocious words of the polarizing producer, musician, and designer Kanye West, “I get it custom, you a customer.” If you have the cash, why avoid made-to-measure? It’s the best.

I do pretty well off-the-rack. My natural-waist, pink, wide-wale corduroy trousers from Noah, I love, but those are only for special occasions.

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Ask Chris Black: What Are the Best White Sneakers?