“Never trust a man wearing white shoes,” a friend’s mum once told me.

She never explained why, but it stuck with me. And for a long time I found myself deliberating her words. Is it because he’d be afraid to get his hands dirty, and therefore afraid of hard work? Or is just it an outdated red flag?

White shoes evoke a very specific look. But sneakers are different. Trends aside, it’s likely that most of us have a pair in our wardrobes. Over time, we’ve seen slim-fit styles, chunky “Dad” shoes and tennis shoes take the spotlight. As a 12-year-old I’d roughen up new, pristine pairs for that lived-in look, but these days, the cleaner the better.

And with more of us switching to comfy clothing as we spend more at home during the pandemic, sporty footwear is an obvious choice down below. Here are four styles to take to the footpath – or just the lounge room.

Classic
With curves, sturdy soles, uniform laces and a little sporty edge, classic white sneaks pair with just about anything. Acne’s lace-ups have a thick rubber sole for long days on your feet. For something lighter, there’s Superga’s canvas tennis shoe, which has been in production since 1911. Another interpretation of a ’70s tennis-shoe silhouette is the Baan sneaker by Collective Canvas, made from sustainably sourced materials including organic cotton canvas and cork. Feit’s Low Latex sneakers are hand-stitched from a single piece of leather.

Tom’s Indio sneakers are a good budget option at $54.95, while Common Projects’ Original Achilles, at almost $500, is an investment shoe for the kicks connoisseur (it’s made in Italy and has gold foil detailing).

We’re also loving this remake of the original Volley, which was famously worn by tennis great Mark Edmondson (the last Aussie to win the Australian Open men’s singles championship, in 1976), and this ethically produced pair by Saye – the ’80s-look design is produced using recycled polyester. And the Surry sneaker by RM Williams might just be the ultimate minimalist option.

Velcro 
For speedsters with better things to do than tie laces, there are Velcro fasteners. Some of our favourites include Veja’s Esplar trainers, Radical Yes’s ultra-padded Journey 2 sneaks and Adidas’s unisex classic, the Stan Smith. Rip them off, slap them on – you know the drill.

Chunky
Daggy dads everywhere can rejoice, because the chunky sports shoe has well and truly returned (and like many things – cookies, salsa, knit blankets – I reckon athletic footwear is better chunky anyway). Von-Routte’s Austin has some good height to it, and is designed in Australia. Nike’s React Art3mis looks hefty, but feels lightweight. Puma has just released a bold update to its iconic Cali silhouette, the Cali Wedge, which has a super-thick sole. And Skechers’s Energy Timeless Vision sneaker is a Y2K throwback.

A little something extra
Because ankle-grazing sneaks aren’t for everyone, there’s Converse’s Chuck Taylor Move Platform High Top, which will give you some extra coverage. Another Converse shoe we love is this collab with Commes des Garçons – the Japanese fashion house’s iconic heart logo adds a playful touch. Zimmermann’s linen sneakers have a cute tropical print, but for something subtler, Spring Court’s Punch Leather sneaker has a textured, ventilated outer that keeps things interesting without sacrificing simplicity.