A stylist on the right way to wear dad sneakers

Words by Fashion Journal

Make them your own.

A trend like the dad sneaker can be intimidating, and you might have some reservations about rocking it for the first time.

We asked stylist Jade Leung for her top tips on introducing the style to your wardrobe, without looking like you’re about to fire up the barbecue or start cracking dad jokes.

Where did the ugly sneaker trend come from?

The ugly sneaker made a huge trend-based debut in the ’90s. I believe we named it “the Jerry Seinfeld sneaker,” thanks to Jerry’s iconic styling of the New Balance 608s, faded straight leg 501 jeans and a sweater. Now that we’re in the middle of this big ’90s revival, brands like New Balance are highly sought after because they’ve kept that really classic look to their sneakers.

And what’s their key appeal?

First and foremost, they’re comfortable. A lot of trends aren’t, so I think the feet of every girl in the cosmos have been thanking the dad sneaker since it’s made such a huge comeback.

What separates a good ugly sneaker from just an ugly, ugly sneaker?

A good ugly sneaker has a sleek silhouette – take note of width, sole height and fabrications. The all-white, all-leather look combined with a bold logo is always the safest and most versatile way to avoid going JUST UGLY with your sneaker.

What are the best ways to style the silhouette?

Dad sneakers tend to be chunky and bold. To create balance, make sure you show at least a bit of ankle. If you feel the need to do a longer pant, go for something wide-legged and long enough to sit over the shoe.

What are the signs you’ve crossed the line between pulling off a trend like this and just looking like a dad?

This is a hard one, because I don’t think there is a line. I mean, even bum bags have made a comeback, so anything kind of goes. The only time I’ve seen a dad sneaker on someone and thought it was not a trend-based decision was when it was on an actual dad. Dads always have their trouser cuffs sitting exactly 1cm over the foot hole.

When shouldn’t you break out your dad sneakers?

At your wedding. I’d suggest leaving your dad sneakers in your perspex Ikea shoe box for any formal occasions you’ve got coming up. Sneakers and dresses are cute, but there’s definitely a time and a place.

For someone who hasn’t worn the dad sneaker before, how would you suggest styling a pair with your existing wardrobe?

My favourite way to wear my NB 608 sneakers is with a soft skirt that goes to about mid-calf, and an oversized jacket or jumper to balance out the shoe.

How can you dress the style up?

An easy way to dress a sneaker up is to wear it with a twin set. Whether that’s a top and pant or skirt, or your favourite matching blazer and trouser. Add some statement earrings, and you’re good to go.


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