Sneakers have enjoyed a cozy relationship with fashion for some time now. However, unlike many other improbable pairings (so long, Birkenstocks), we have yet to grow tired of them. Instead, we’ve willingly welcomed the sneaker as an essential element of great style. It’s right up there with your slip dress, your parka and your vintage Levi’s. To clarify, I’m not talking about the running kind.

You can trace the connection back to 2011 when Céline’s Phoebe Philo gave her catwalk bow in a grey/green turtleneck (hair tucked in), black pants and a pair of Stan Smiths—an outfit as unassuming and effortlessly chic as the much-lauded looks that had walked down her runway just moments before. The trainers on her feet seemed to communicate the same ease she had made so covetable. Those ahead of the curve took note. Two years later, Gisele appeared wearing the Stan Smith (and not much else) in French Vogue and by Fashion Week in February 2014, every editor had a pair. Suddenly it wasn’t cool to dress up—looking like you’d made an effort seemed to announce a lack of innate style. There was an in-the-know irony in wearing the familiar and calling it fashion. Mainstream newspapers started writing about “normcore” and by 2015, soccer moms and their teenagers were walking around in them. Of course, when normcore actually became the norm, no one wanted it anymore. Once an in-joke between industry insiders, the commercial popularity of the recognizable (and affordable) Stan Smith sent the style straight to the dustbin of fashion history—even Philo’s ditched hers.

How to Wear Sneakers
(With Everything but Jeans)

The Retro Sneaker
The Metallic Sneaker
The Evening Sneaker