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Be it all white, platformed and bright, or even a bit scuffed up, dressing well spans from head to toe — and sneakers are a big part of kicking your fashion game up a notch.
While you also most certainly need a pair of good running shoes in your closet, too, fashionable sneakers are a must-have and are now trendier than ever to pair with basic jeans, shorts, skirts and even formal dresses for a laid-back but styled outfit.
The best bet is having a few pairs lined up, including basics like white and black, and then a few statement sneakers that show off your own personal style. Not only are bright and fun shoes on-trend, but when paired with a typical quarantine outfit of sweats and a tee, they automatically elevate into a purposeful and practical athleisure look.
Scroll below for some of our picks of the best kicks for 2021, ranging from neutral to a bit chaotic — but always fashion-forward.
Best leather and vegan leather sneakers
Cariuma OCA Low Premium Leather Sneakers, $139
Premium leather doesn’t have to be bad for the planet, ya know?
Cariuma is making a difference every step of the way — literally. The Brazilian shoe company aims to restore the rainforest, planting two trees with the purchase of any one pair of shoes. These leather shoes are included, as they are also created with the world in mind. They have a signature insole made from memory foam and natural vegetable tanned leather — and the company ships them to you in recyclable packaging.
The leather shoes come in both men’s and women’s styles and span a color palette that includes black, gray, brown and white to match any outfit.
Lulu’s Kenley Black Platform Sneakers, $9
Just because it’s faux doesn’t mean it’s not also fabulous.
This pair of faux leather sneakers from Lulu’s is a must-have — especially for this price. The shoes are now just $9 while supplies last and come in a range of women’s sizes from a 5.5 to a 10. They offer black laces to match and a white platform sole to break it up a bit and give a nice boost as well.
Dr. Scholl’s No Bad Vibes Platform Sneakers, $44.98
No bad vibes here — or for the environment — with these faux-leather sneakers from Dr. Scholl’s.
“These platforms feature linings made from recycled plastic bottles and an eco-conscious faux leather upper for sustainable appeal,” reads the product page.
Not only are they good for the planet, but they are also great for your feet, featuring a cushy insole lining and footbed to soothe feet for all-day wear.
Cynthia Rowley x Italeau Low Rider Leather Sneakers, $182
These leather sneakers combine style, color and the most premium materials all into one low-rider shoe.
From Italeau, the Italian-made shoe company, these leather sneakers come in daring colors and styles that make a plain leather sneaker pale in comparison. The black style comes with pops of green scallops and bright blue laces, or go for the gold with a metallic option with silver scalloped accents. The shoes are made of premium Italian leather and suede and are also waterproof and stain-resistant to protect your kicks from the elements.
Best basic white sneakers
Nike Air Force 1, $90
There’s nothing more iconic than stepping out in Air Force 1s.
Nike has it on lock when it comes to the most fashionable and comfortable white sneaker around, with everyone wanting a pair of the Air Forces for themselves. Luckily for you, they are readily available on the Nike site, in both the classic white and black, with the option to customize them for an added flair.
Fila Women’s Disruptor II Sneaker, starting at $59
Step back to the past for a moment with these retro Fila sneakers in a time-enduring basic white.
Sold on Amazon, the Fila shoes come in a variety of colors, including all-white, white with the classic red and navy Fila logo, and even some metallic options like white and gold and white and silver.
Skechers Women’s Street Uno-Pearl Queen Sneaker, starting at $65
This take on a white sneaker will make you feel like a queen amongst commoners.
The shiny pearl-colored shoe from Skechers is a fun take on a white sneaker and combines fashion and comfort into one. The outside glistens with shine, while the inside features air-cooled memory foam to keep you comfortable every step of your way.
Adidas Superstar Shoes, $85
Adidas has a whole page for white sneakers, but none are more popular than the Superstar. The three-striped shoe comes in the classic black and white design and an all-cloud white pair as well. The shoes are made of leather — both on the upper and lining of the shoe — and are built to last and outlast the test of time and trends.
Best basic black sneakers
Frye Ivy Strap Low, $129
Frye isn’t just for boots anymore.
When shopping for chic black sneakers, turn to Frye for some high class low tops. Trade in laces for some Velcro straps across the top, easily adjustable to fit your foot while always remaining snug and secure. The black shoe is made of leather and ranges in size from a woman’s 5.5 to an 11.
Mallet London Popham Black & Gold, $241
These all-black sneakers are sleek and soft with just a pop of punk, brought to you by Mallet London.
The sneaker company excels at modern and timeless designs with added elements of gold and silver hardware, making them go the extra fashion mile. The shoes are designed in London and made of premium leather and suede, giving you all the luxury London has to offer, shipped across the pond to your door.
Bzees Golden Knit Slip On Sneaker, $69
Slip into Bzees and you’ll never want to slip them off — except for when it’s laundry day.
While black shoes don’t show dirt as much as white, they still get grimy when worn every day. With Bzees, you can rock them all day long and then toss them in the wash after — without worrying about ruining your new favorite shoe. They come in a wide range of sizes and are equipped with memory foam, impact-absorbing gel on the heels, and foam footbeds — perfect for those who stand on their feet all day.
Saucony Women’s Bullet Terry, $45
If you have these kicks in your closet, you’re on the right track to becoming fashion forward.
Modeled after a classic track shoe, these exclusive sneakers from Saucony combine the retro look of 1985 with the durability and technology of today, giving you a track shoe that can be worn on the streets. The shoe itself is made from terry and suede, while the bottom has street-safe rubber that absorbs shock and helps you reach your goals in the gym, on the track or just talking a walk.
Best colorful sneakers
Cole Haan GrandPrø Rally Canvas Court Sneaker, $45.46
Step right into summertime with some sneakers that will remind you of strawberry lemonade.
Cole Haan has some new sneaker releases up their sleeve, including this pair of GrandPro Rally Canvas shoes, which also come in a lemonade yellow that we’re tempted to mix and match. They are great for a tennis match or just to match your brightly colored sun dress at brunch, and come in women’s sizing from a five to an 11 in both colors.
Kenneth Cole KAM Neon Accent Sneaker, $89.99 (originally $135)
A pop of neon goes a long way.
You’ll be able to see these coming for miles, as the stripe of neon yellow (or pink) on the Kenneth Cole sneakers is electrifying in all the right ways. The sneakers are also now on sale, down to just $89.99 for premium leather and a gorgeous design.
Kat Maconie Marianne Sneakers, $195
Rule your block with these bright color-blocked kicks from Kat Maconie.
These sneakers are as fun as they are functional, featuring bright patterns alongside a soft and durable leather and clear mesh body. The sneakers come in a variety of colors, including the pictured “Lemonade” style, a neon pair and even a style with glitter for an added sparkle. Select styles are on sale now, so be sure to snag a pair before spring sneaker season begins.
Nothing New Women’s Low Top, $95
According to Nothing New, while your sneakers may be new to you, their materials have been here quite longer. The sustainable sneaker brand is on a mission to create a totally recycled shoe that still holds up for all day and all-season wear. For some pops of eco-conscious color, opt for the lavender kicks above, or the pink, red or army green options.