A trend is rarely as practical as it is stylish, but the resurgence and popularity of chunky sneakers may just be the exception to the rule. Recalling footwear styles of the '80s and '90s, sneakers with thick rubber soles (sometimes called “dad sneakers”) are everywhere these days, appearing on everyone from Bella Hadid to Hailey Baldwin. With most sneakers ranging from $80 to $150, the trend is fairly accessible too, especially when you take into account the comfort and versatility of chunky sneakers. It’s hard to imagine a trendy accessory that’s easier to throw on or wear in everyday life.
Dad sneakers can be paired with everything from sexy mini dresses to suits to athleisure wear, and they’re just as comfortable as they look. The most difficult part about wearing sneakers could come down to getting used to the trend. It wasn’t so long ago that chunky sneakers were considered uncool, after all. But the same could be said for scrunchies and claw clips, both hair accessories that are everywhere (and are incredibly practical).
Meet the Expert
“When shopping for a chunky sneaker, select a style and color that showcases your individual personality,” Stitch Fix stylist Mary Wilson says. “If you like color, find a style that puts a spring in your step through a pop of color. If you prefer neutrals, look for a style that is sleek and solid in color. Select a chunky sneaker that allows you to feel the most comfortable, confident, and stylish, no matter the occasion.”
So, if you’re stressed about how to wear sneakers (or how to keep them clean), it’s understandable. But there are a million different versions of chunky sneakers to suit your style. Plus, when a trend comes along that’s this comfortable and this affordable, it's almost always worth investing in.
Here are the best chunky sneakers to get you started.
Best Overall: FILA Women’s Electrove 2
It doesn’t get better than FILA’s Electrove 2 when it comes to trendy, affordable, and comfortable chunky sneakers. The style offers the perfect combination of modern and throwback details. Plus, FILA is one of the most popular celebrity chunky sneaker brands—and you can get its style for less than $100.
Materials: Leather, rubber | Size Range: 5-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best Budget: American Eagle Dad Sneaker
At less than $35, it doesn’t get much more budget-friendly than these dad sneakers. The beige color makes them a little easier to wear than white sneakers (no need to worry about getting them a bit dirty), and the style is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking to ease into the chunky sneaker trend, this pair could be a good choice.
Size Range: 5-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best Designer: Balenciaga Triple S Clear Sole Chunky Sneaker
Available in four colors (even pink!), these Balenciaga chunky sneakers are popular with celebrities and influencers alike. They’re certainly an investment piece, but hey, at least you’ll know they’re comfortable enough to wear often and make them worth the price tag.
Materials: 48% polyurethane, 52% polyester | Size Range: 4-12 | Style: Lace-up, low top
Best High Top: Converse Run Star Motion Sneaker
These aren’t your typical Chuck Taylors, but they have the same great quality that Converse is known for—all with a modern twist. The two-toned, extra chunky rubber sole adds a bit of flair to an otherwise simple white sneaker.
Materials: Canvas and rubber | Size Range: 6-12 | Style: Lace-up, high-top
Best Designer High-Tops: Off-White Off Court 3.0 High Top Sneakers
These lace-up high tops by Off-White are great for those who are looking for some extra ankle support and the indelible, high-fashion streetwear look of Virgil Abloh. Its colors and tags certainly make a statement, but rest assured that the style has reached icon status and actually make for a great investment.
Materials: Upper made from leather, cotton, nylon, polyester, and elastane | Size Range: 5-12 | Style: Lace-up, high-top
Most Versatile: Veja Venturi Sneaker
These chunky Veja sneakers are so sleek and versatile. Their streamlined design, including an elegant, high arch, makes for an elegant appearance that goes well with everything from tailored chinos to denim pants. The brand is known for its lofty sustainability goals, so naturally, they're made from fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles and rubber sourced from the Amazonian forest.
Materials: Leather, suede, and rubber | Size Range: EU 36-41 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best Wide-Fit: ASOS Design Wide Fit Chunky Sneakers
It's paramount that your shoes fit your feet. For wide feet, ASOS makes a solid pair at a reasonable price; they will run you less than $50. The beige color means they are easy to keep clean, which is a plus.
Materials: Mesh, rubber | Size Range: 4-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best Dad Shoe: New Balance MADE in USA 990v5 Core
The dad sneaker brand of all dad sneaker brands is (arguably) New Balance, with dozens of styles to choose from. The 840v2 sneakers are a great option for a standard pair of dad-style sneakers that has some weight to it without being over the top. Plus, the sizing and width options are pretty inclusive, so you have the best chance at finding the perfect fit.
Materials: Leather, rubber | Size Range: 5-13 (including wide and extra-wide) | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best Leather: Kahmune Monika Sneaker
Go sleek and simple in a classic leather pair from Kahmune. This go-with-everything pair comes in a myriad of neutral colors (inspired by the complexions of women from different parts of the world), so you can choose the shade that best suits you and your wardrobe.
Materials: Leather, foam, and rubber | Size Range: EU 35-44 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best for Running: Hoka Gaviota 4 Running Shoe
If you are a runner, then maybe you’ve heard of Hokas. They’re known for their walking-on-clouds feel thanks to cushiony soles. This chunky option features heel tabs for an easy on, easy off appeal and mesh uppers for breathability. The brand claims "plushness on steroids," and members of the Byrdie team can attest to the shoes' comfort.
Materials: Mesh, rubber | Size Range: 5-9 (including wide) | Style: Lace-up, low-top
What Our Editors Say
"I ran the NYC marathon in these sneakers and they're perhaps the most comfortable running shoe I've ever owned. If you tend to run on roads and sidewalks (versus trail running), I couldn't recommend these more." —Erika Reals, Associate Fashion Editor, Commerce
Best White: Nike Air Force 1 Shadow
The Nike Air Force 1 Sage Low plays into the chunky shoe trend through the lens of classic hoops style. A clean leather upper is easy to style, and its platform midsole is serves to add a bold spring to your step.
Materials: Leather, rubber | Size Range: 5-12 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
What to Look for in Chunky Sneakers
If you’re ready to embrace the chunky sneakers trend but unsure where to start, it’s best to first assess your personal style. As you can see, there is more variety of styles within the chunky sneaker market than you might have expected, so it’s important to choose the pair you actually think you’ll wear the most.
Still, overwhelmed? Consider going the most classic route and opting for a bright white sneaker with a chunky rubber sole and more classic laces. This will be a neutral accessory from summer to winter.
How should sneakers fit?
Even if you know your shoe size pretty well, chunky sneakers can sometimes fit a bit differently, as Wilson explains.
“Many chunky sneakers have added width and cushion by design. You want the sneaker to fit snug around the heel without compromising comfort. Socks are another element to consider,” Wilson says. “With the addition of a sock accessory, you want to make sure your sneaker has enough space around the toes without leaving them feeling bulky.”
How do you style chunky sneakers?
As Wilson suggests, styling chunky sneakers is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. It can be as simple or creative as you want to be. There are a few helpful things to keep in mind, though.
“Focus on layers, fabric texture, and silhouettes to balance these shoes when completing any look,” Wilson says. “Take your classic midi slip dress or silk skirt. The pairing of the chunky sneaker mixed with the romantic, classic style of the dress or skirt adds an unexpected casual element. Simply add some delicate layered jewelry and you will be on-trend no matter where your plans may take you. For casual weekends, a chunky sneaker can pair with bike shorts and an oversized sweatshirt, giving you Hailey Bieber vibes all day long.”
For an everyday look, Wison recommends pairing chunky sneakers with straight-leg jeans, cropped menswear trousers, or a chunky knit cardigan with a blazer can also be a good choice.
Why Trust Byrdie
Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For this roundup's criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, size range, versatility, and style.