How to Wear Sneakers with a Dress: Styling Tips

How to Wear Sneakers with a Dress: Styling Tips

Is it true that half the footwear you own or feel the need to buy is only because you want to wear something appropriate with your precious dresses? After all, something as comfortable as sneakers cannot look good with a dress, right? Wrong! Gone are the days when pairing a dress with sneakers was considered a faux pas, as today, knowing how to wear sneakers with a dress correctly is an essential fashion hack for every woman (or dress-wearer in general)!


Originally construed as a sporty footwear that gained momentum through hip-hop culture among artists and fans, sneakers have always been viewed as something that will only look good with baggy jeans or athleisure. But the fact that wearing sneakers with a dress has become quite mainstream in fashion today shows how far we have come as a generation.


The lines between comfort and fashion are certainly blurring, but this does not mean that you can consider your soiled, worn-out gym shoes as “sneakers”, put them together with a pretty dress, and call it a day! To strike the perfect balance of comfort and style in this kind of outfit, you need to understand what kind of sneakers look good with what kind of dresses. The below-mentioned guide will help you with the same.


Types of Sneakers You Can Wear with a Dress


About a decade ago, there were only a few types of sneakers that could be imagined being paired with a dress. However, fashion has evolved so much ever since that almost all kinds of sneakers can go with a dress — albeit, how and for which occasion matters a lot! We’ve discussed some of the best sneaker categories to be paired with dresses below.


1. White Sneakers:


A raging trend in most summer/spring wardrobes, white sneakers with a summer dress are probably the first picture that comes to one’s mind when pairing a dress with sneakers. This trend became a rage even before the 2020s and is still going strong. What makes this look work is that the white footwear brings more focus to the color of the dress one’s wearing on top and balances the look. White sneakers look particularly great if the dress has white polka dots, tiny floral motifs, or a schiffli fabric.

2. High-top Sneakers:



Shorter dresses reveal much of the legs, which offers a canvas to play around with. Here, high-top sneakers work really well as they add a cool flair to the look, so your legs don’t look lackluster and flat. The look works better if the dress has long sleeves. The addition of accessories such as a cross-body bag further enhances the silhouette. 


3. Slip-on Sneakers:


People new to wearing a dress with sneakers can perhaps begin with slip-on sneakers first. This is a safe look as the footwear doesn’t take the attention off the dress or stand out awkwardly. Besides, color combination is easy with slip-on sneakers as you can simply pick footwear that has the same color as your dress. They are quite similar to espadrilles but far more comfortable. Hence, with such footwear, flared midi, and maxi dresses are the best bet. 


4. Chunky Sneakers:



You can always count on chunky casual sneakers to elevate your look if your dress is rather minimalistic. But be mindful that these sneakers stand out a lot and look quite bold, so pick a dress carefully and prioritize the color combination. Also, flared dresses, ruffles, and airy silhouettes don’t work very well with them, so instead go for straighter fits, slip dresses, etc. to pull off chunky sneakers the best! Pro tip — layer the dress with a blazer or jacket for a more balanced look. 


5. Retro Sneakers:



Incorporating retro shoes would be an excellent way to jazz up your outfit aesthetic. Throw in your favorite Jordans with a solid T-shirt dress and a denim jacket for a sporty look, or 90s-style color-blocked sneakers with a brightly colored midi dress for a cute summer look. These street-style sneakers have a way of eliminating fall blues by boosting color in your OOTD. 


6. Platform Sneakers:


Platform sneakers are a buddy for short-length T-shirt dresses and shirt dresses, as they capture the urbanness of these outfits and enhance the look. An alternative to heels, these shoes elongate your frame and enhance your stance without the discomfort or spinal issues that come with the former. Also, they are great closed-toe substitutes for wedges and espadrilles, as well as a summer alternative for ankle-length boots. Besides, nothing screams confidence more than a pair of glossy, leather platform sneakers and a fitted houndstooth pinafore.

7. Athletic Sneakers/Running Shoes:


Athletic shoes make a statement! Kind of like statement earrings, whether these color-coordinate with your dress or not, they stand out and add an edge to your ensemble. A big plus is if your shoes are brightly colored and chunky, like athletic sneakers typically are! As these shoes reflect your persona, you can use the opportunity to be very specific! For example, if you’re a football fan, you can throw in a vibrant pair of cleats. Or, if cutesy girl-next-door is more of your style, then a pair of tennis shoes would go a long way!

8. Gum-sole Sneakers:


If you’re wearing sneakers with your dress for functionality more than any other reason, then gum-sole sneakers would make a great choice, especially for summer and beach days. An excellent alternative to espadrilles, gum sole sneakers offer a good grip and are usually not too bulky or extreme in appearance. When styled properly, they can complement your outfit like a perfectly fitting piece of a jigsaw puzzle!

9. Flatform Sneakers:



Contrary to what many people believe, flatform sneakers go quite well with dresses — given that they are styled properly. They pair incredibly with mini-to-midi length shirt dresses, as well as V-neck wrap dresses. Often made with canvas, these are really comfortable sneakers for warm weather. Other than canvas, these are also available as classic leather sneakers. Moreover, the bright colors and vibrant designs elevate the versatility of these shoes.


10. Color-blocking Sneakers:



In contrast to white sneakers that go with most dresses, color-blocked sneakers make a bold and stylish statement and must be paired carefully with an appropriately colored dress (more on that below). Such sneakers breathe life into the look as they add a pop of bright color, and become the focal point of your ensemble. Hence, wearing colorful sneakers on special occasions is a great idea to make your outfit stand out in the crowd.


While it is easy and really comfortable to wear sneakers with a dress and call it a day, pairing the right sneakers with the right dress requires some thought and a basic understanding of proportions and color in fashion, to prevent you from committing a style faux pas! The following guide aims to help you with the same.


Tips for Pulling off Sneakers with a Dress:


When pairing sneakers with a dress, you need to determine what you’d like the focal point of your outfit to be. If you want the shoes to be the first thing one notices when they look at you, ensure that the dress has a minimalistic silhouette and doesn’t overpower the look of the shoes. Similarly, if you want the dress to be the focus, then ensure that you take the glitzy element of the shoes down a notch somewhere — be it by reducing its color vibrancy or its bulkiness.

Now to specifically understand where to start and how to balance off the visual proportions to pull off a dress with sneakers look, refer to the following points.


Consider the Length of the Dress


If your dress length is short, then pairing it with dad shoes, platform sneakers, retro sneakers, or even high-top sneakers would be the way to go, so the foot area doesn’t look too scanty. On the other hand, if you’re looking at a maxi dress, then avoid such bulky footwear at all costs as you don’t want the foot area to look cluttered and awkward. Instead, slip-on sneakers would be a better choice — and, if your maxi dress has a beachy vibe to it, then definitely go for canvas sneakers to complete the look.

While sneaker options for midi dresses are more versatile, it can also get slightly tricky to style such dresses. Hence, look into other factors such as the shape, cut, color, and pattern of the dress to get a better idea.

Consider the Silhouette of the Dress


If your dress has a flowy silhouette, or even just a flared skirt, pairing it with slimmer canvas shoes or Converse-type sneakers would be wiser than going for bulky shoes. Contrarily, if your dress has a fitted or bodycon silhouette, then going for slightly chunkier shoes would be better — but be mindful that they are not too chunky either to keep things balanced. Athletic and high-top shoes would be a good addition to fitted dresses.

The best kind of dress to pair really chunky sneakers with would be a straight-cut one, preferably cinched or belted at the waist. Also, a freer neck area would support the look for bulky shoes as opposed to necklines with a lot going on. That’s about it as far as the suitability of sneakers based on the shape and cut of the dress goes, as the color, design, mood, and overall look of sneakers vary across all categories, and you’ll only get a better idea once you take a look yourself.

Determine the Color Combinations


White sneakers are a rage everywhere, so if you invest in a pair of those, chances are high that they will go with the most brightly-colored dresses in your wardrobe. And, if the dresses in your wardrobe comprise darker colors, then you can pair them with black sneakers without a second thought!

The tricky part comes with pairing colored sneakers with dresses — but if you do it well, the results are just as rewarding. A good approach to combining colors would be going by the complementary color scheme, wherein you pick pairs of opposite colors on the color wheel. So, if your dress is purple, you can make a bold statement by pairing it with yellow sneakers.

If a complementary color scheme seems too bold and gaudy for your taste, then you can pick a split-complementary color scheme, such as pairing purple with light green, pink with teal, etc. In fact, the split complementary color scheme is more pleasing to the eyes, and a popular choice among most people.

See the Overall Look



Having referred to the above points, once you have a dress worn with sneakers of your choice, it is time to find missing elements or areas of improvement to fine-tune your look.

If you’ve worn a bodycon dress and classic chunky sneakers, consider layering it with a jacket or an overcoat for a more balanced look. But if you’ve worn a short spaghetti dress with black retro shoes, layer a white blouse with dramatic sleeves underneath the dress to add more flair to the look.

A missing element could also be jewelry, stockings, a belt, a cross-body bag, or other accessories that enhance the look. So, determine what else your dress along with sneakers could use to transition into a more put-together ensemble.


Be Mindful of the Occasion


Now, when it comes to wearing a dress with sneakers, people often assume that the occasion will inevitably be casual. However, these days sneakers have made their way to all kinds of occasions and look great with all kinds of dresses — prom dresses, formal shirt-style dresses, sporty T-shirt dresses, glitzy party dresses, and a lot more. Hence, you cannot just pair a dress with your gym shoes and must be more mindful of the occasion you are picking these shoes for.

For example, if you’re wearing a swing dress or a sequined dress, then a pair of gold-toned or silver-toned high-top sneakers — whichever is more suitable with the color of your dress, would be an appropriate choice. For spring or summer dresses that are long and flowy, you can jazz up the look by wearing slim sneakers with floral motifs on them.


Once you have finally figured out how to wear sneakers with a dress while keeping things stylish, you have officially got yourself covered for most occasions! After all, the comfort sneakers provide is unparalleled compared to other footwear! Besides, sneakers make one look and feel younger, and are a source of confidence for sneakerheads who swear by it. The best part about knowing to pair these sneakers with a dress correctly is that one can make affordable sneakers look as cool and attractive as high-brand ones — and the same principle applies to the dress too! Hence, this article serves as a helpful guide for contemporary fashionistas who wish to keep their wardrobes fresh and updated! We leave you with that folks! Happy styling! 

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