Ask Janie: How To Pick A Pair Of Sneakers

Esquire's Fashion Director gives you the low-down on what you need to know when picking out your kicks.

BY Janie Cai | Mar 11, 2016 | Shoes

Image from McDonald'sŪ.

From Andy Chen

"Recently I’ve noticed more men incorporating sneakers into a formal outfit. How do I go about getting one that works with a suit and tie yet pairs equally well with more casual stuff?"


From Janie Cai
Esquire Singapore Fashion Director

Good question Andy, there has never been a better time to incorporate sneakers with a suit—the wealth of styles available at different price points, from both mass and luxury brands, is pretty astounding. So it's no surprise that the number of choices can be overwhelming. Here are three things to get you sorted:

1 | Style—old is gold.

There is a reason why classic sneaker styles have been around for so long, the Adidas Stan Smith, Nike Air Force 1 and Supergra 2750 are just some tried-and-true styles that work with almost anything. If in doubt look for a low-cut pair with a streamlined silhouette and minimal embellishments—less is definitely better here. Saint Laurent's Court Classic Sneakers in canvas are a good bet, or consider a pair of Bata Tennis sneakers. It's rubber toe-cap and canvas design has barely changed since starting out as a school shoe for children in India back in 1936.

2 | Designer collaborations

More brands are collaborating with designers and personalities to create limited edition runs. It's a good idea to keep tabs on what your favorite brands are doing so you can pick up a unique pair that not everyone will be sporting. Collabs can be hit or miss though, so be discerning, go for those whose participants fit your aesthetic or whose style you genuinely like. Some of my favourite sneaker projects include Gel-Lyte V Asics X United Arrows (super comfy and great colourway inspired by the blue of the Japanese Imperial Army) and Puma X McQ (slick enough to rock at Fashion Week). But forget about picking up a limited edition pair just because you think others will think you look 'cool'. That's just a dead-end.

3 | Solids

You already have enough to worry about when you start dressing in the morning, so it's important that your sneakers are clean, classic and fuss-free. In this regard, a pair of solid-coloured sneaks makes things way easier. For maximum versatility, go with a pair of plain white sneakers. They go with everything and can add just the right dash of laid back louche to a suit, whilst elevating a weekend without too much fanfare. Our favourite all-white sneakers are from Church's, Common Projects, and not forgetting the evergreen Converse Jack Purcell canvas classics. 

And finally, if you're dead-set on a pair that's luxe enough to go with your bespoke suit then look no further than Berluti. This Parisian based 120 year-old shoe atelier has literally the most drool-worthy luxury sneakers out there. You can have them hand-patinated in a selection of tones and each pair is hand-stitched and unique in its finish, with a price tag to match. So if money's no issue then go with these: Berluti Playtime sneakers in Tabacco Bis. It's a style that fits both formal attire and casual wear, no fear.