Sneakers are a must-have in any wardrobe but a white pair is the ultimate accessory to leverage a casual look. White sneakers are ubiquitous as the white T-shirt and are perfect for wearing with jeans, dresses, trousers and more.
Aside from their versatility, white sneakers are a classic piece that adds comfort to most outfits and can transition into any season. Shop TODAY asked experts for tips on the features to look for when shopping for white sneakers and the best shoes that will go beyond functionality, occasion and design.
Materials and features to consider | How to find the proper fit | Cleaning tips | Must-have white sneakers | Meet the experts
What features should I consider when shopping for white sneakers?
According to Zepyure founder Allen Huddleston, the best materials to look for in sneakers are calfskin and lambskin leather. "These are the main materials used on uppers. The upper is the stitching component and normally anything that is made with calfskin is going to be made at the high [quality] level," he explains.
Miami-based designer and entrepreneur Andy Maitland recommends avoiding sneakers that have a white bottom because they get dirty faster. "The better choice is an off-white which it will look weathered or worn-looking," he adds.
Huddleston shares a similar sentiment about the worn look. "I think distressed sneakers tell a story on how shoes are meant to be worn; shoes are meant to be scuffed and that is natural," he says.
Huddleston defines a great sneaker as one that's made with quality materials, has a unique design, is comfortable and is exclusive (not mass-produced). "I believe that a sneaker that has those four components is really going to stand out."
How to find the proper shoe fit
When it comes to shoe fit, Huddleston recommends opting for your actual size because it allows the shoe to mold to your foot, which is especially true for calfskin, he says. "I personally don’t like sizing up because the foot can slide. I prefer sneakers that fit on the tighter end and allow the leather to stretch out."
Best way to clean white sneakers
White sneakers tend to easily scuff and get dirty, which requires more care and attention to detail. Maitland suggests avoiding throwing them in the washing machine because the leather can degrade faster and create creases. Instead, you'll want to use hot and soapy water with a clean towel or terrycloth.
Huddleston suggests avoiding typical shoe cleaners, as well. "With all of the components that go into shoe cleaners, it really breaks down the leather and it can potentially dry it out. If it dries out, it is going to crack and the creases won’t be as moist," he says.
The best way to clean them is to first remove the shoe laces and wash them separately, according to Maitland. He also recommends removing the footbed and using a foam cleaner — like the ones that can be found in any Foot Locker — to remove any grime. For more tips on how to clean different types of white sneakers, check out this guide with everything you need to know.
Must-have white sneakers for women
Toms Alpargata Slip-On
These simple slip-ons are easy to wear, mold to your feet and stretch over time. Whenever you need a pick-me-up, the insoles can be removed and hand-washed. "It took an hour or so of wearing them before they "molded" to my feet, but once they did, pure heaven. And so cute!" raved one Zappo's reviewer.
Vans Filmore Women's High-Top Sneakers
While Vans are known for its street style aesthetic and "Off The Wall" slogan, its inventory goes beyond skateboarding culture. Maitland recommends a high-top sneaker as a must-have style to keep in your footwear repertoire. This one features a double stitched upper, a comfortable footbed and a round toe box for extra durability.
It's a shoe that pairs well with shorts, jeans, dresses and more while providing that extra security on the ankle.
Bzees Golden Knit Slip-On Sneaker
These Bzees sneakers are lightweight, comfortable and made with anti-microbial and odor-controlling technology for a fresh experience. With memory foam arch support and heel impact shock absorption built into the insoles, you'll feel like you're walking on a cloud. Did we mention they're machine-washable?
"These are my favorite shoes because they are so comfortable and bouncy, with such good arch support and cushion. I feel lighter on my feet," mentioned one reviewer.
Cariuma OCA Low
These simple-but-chic sneakers have cork-lined insoles and cute lime green accents, giving them a little something extra. They're lightweight and perfect for wearing around the city, at the beach and beyond. This style has been a hit among millennials and Gen Z for their traditional aesthetic and no-frills design.
"These sneakers are super comfy and require no break-in. Cute styles and colors make them better than your average kicks and go with jeans, skirts and dresses," said one shopper.
Adidas Superstar Shoes
If you're more on the traditional side, the Adidas Superstar is a classic design that will elevate any casual look. This one remains a favorite among sneakerheads for its plain silhouette. With its many iterations and limited-edition releases, this shoe is top of the line and great for walking.
"The silhouette is unobtrusive and the quality of the leather that you’re getting at that price is unbeatable. Between the Superstar and Stan Smith, no one is touching the quality of leather at that price," says Maitland.
Adidas Stan Smith Shoes
The Stan Smith from Adidas is another design that combines tradition and versatility. This globally-renowned shoe is easy to dress up and down thanks to its classic and uncomplicated design. The design has been embraced by many players, celebrities and sub-cultures since its launch in 1965. Also, it's partially sustainable since 50 percent of the upper is built with recycled materials, according to the brand.
Vionic Miles II Sneaker
Vionic sneakers are for the busy city-dweller looking for comfort over everything. This shoe is podiatrist-approved and a great option if you work as a teacher, nurse or stand all day. With an all-white aesthetic, sleek style and athletic design, the shoe is meant for everyday wear. It features Advanced Motion System technology that provides the flexibility and breathability your foot needs.
"Since my feet tend to swell when it's warm I order a half size up. These sneakers are wearable right out of the box. They have a nice wide toe box and did not need any breaking in," shared one customer.
Nike Air Force 1 '07
Once you see the Swoosh on the shoe, you know you're bound to get a quality shoe like no other. The Nike Air Force 1 represents street style at its best with its crisp leather and soft cushioning. It continues to be raved by sneakerheads for its outstanding functional features and all-day comfort. This icon continues to be a bestseller throughout its many releases and combinations — and it's a shoe that goes with everything.
"I’ll admit that I bought these because they are a super popular style. What I didn’t expect was the comfort and the fit of these shoes. I wore them two to three times and I would say they were good to wear. I can wear these all day at work and come home and my feet aren’t in pain," said one shopper.
Clarks Un Rio Zip White Leather
For a more classic take on traditional sneakers, this white leather option from Clarks will elevate your workwear. The shoe combines fashion and function with its accessible design. It features premium construction and zip fastening that is easy to slip on and off. The multi-density foam delivers cushion to your heels and even arch support to stabilize the foot. Plus, they're a favorite of associate SEO editor Kamari Stewart.
Meet the experts
- Allen Huddleston is the founder of Zepyure, a footwear brand focused on high-quality sneakers built on heritage and culture.
- Andy Maitland is a designer and entrepreneur based in Miami, Florida. He is the co-founder and creative director of the fashion label Harbour Colectiv.