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 Bieber. 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.
By far, the FILA Women’s Electrove 2 was our favorite out of all our list, thanks to its chunky sole, comfortable fit, and fashion-forward design.
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).
“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.
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.
Price at time of publish: $80
Upper Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Lucky Step Chunky Platform Sneakers
You get the best of both worlds with this sneaker, as it combines a dad shoe with a platform to get the ultimate chunky appearance. The sole itself is just above two inches, so it is big enough to add some height to your step, and is slip-resistant, too. Besides a classic white, the sneaker is available in 18 colors for you to play around with, or to simply dress up or down.
Price at time of publish: $46
Upper Material: Polyurethane | Size Range: 6-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
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.
Price at time of publish: $1,150
Upper Material: 48% polyurethane, 52% polyester | Size Range: FR 34-42 | Style: Lace-up, low 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.
Price at time of publish: $120
Upper Material: Canvas and rubber | Size Range: 4.5-14.5 | Style: Lace-up, high-top
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 makes for a great investment.
Price at time of publish: $705
Upper Material: Leather, cotton, nylon, polyester, and elastane | Size Range: IT 35-42 | Style: Lace-up, high-top
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.
Price at time of publish: $195
Upper Material: 100% Polyethylene | Size Range: 5-10 | 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 990v5 sneakers are a great option for a standard pair of dad-style sneakers that has some weight to them without being over the top. Plus, the sizing and width options are pretty inclusive, so you have the best chance of finding the perfect fit.
Price at time of publish: $185
Materials: Leather, rubber | Size Range: 5-13 narrow to extra-wide | Style: Lace-up, low-top
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.
Price at time of publish: $265 on sale
Upper Material: Nappa calfskin | Size Range: EU 35-44 | 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.
Price at time of publish: $37
Upper Material: Mesh +other materials | Size Range: 4-11 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Best for Running
Hoka Gaviota 4 Running Shoe
If you're a runner, then maybe you’ve heard of Hoka. 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 promises plushness in its styles, and members of the Byrdie team can attest to the shoes' comfort.
Price at time of publish: $170
Upper Material: Mesh | Size Range: 5-12 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
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 serves to add a bold spring to your step.
Price at time of publish: $110
Upper Material: Leather | Size Range: 5-12 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Eytys Off-White Halo Sneakers
At three inches tall, this sneaker from Eytys is a true platform that will surely boost your height. Although it does have a thick, chunky sole, the shoe is relatively lightweight despite its appearance. It's also mixed with mesh and suede for a sleek, breathable look and feel as you walk.
Price at time of publish: $545
Upper Material: Leather, rubber | Size Range: EU 35-45 | Style: Lace-up, low-top
Meet the Expert
Mary Wilson is a Styling Team Lead at Stitch Fix, the online personal shopping and styling service that delivers one-to-one personalization to its clients through data science and expert stylists.
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 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 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.
In the same way that the nature of a pair of pants changes whether it's made from denim or a suiting fabric, so too does a pair of sneakers. Canvas is casual, while leather adds a bit of polish. A combination of the two, or a different mix, like one of suede and mesh, can appear playful, and strictly mesh uppers are decidedly casual. To make the best buying decision for you, determine your lifestyle needs, then choose a material.
How should sneakers fit?
Even if you know your shoe size pretty well, chunky sneakers can sometimes fit a bit differently.
“Many chunky sneakers have added width and cushion by design. You want the sneaker to fit snug around the heel without compromising comfort,” Wilson says. Ergo, socks should add softness without feeling bulky.
How do you style chunky sneakers?
Styling chunky sneakers is a personal endeavor, Wilson says, and it can be as simple or creative as you want it to be. To guide you, consider a few methods.
“[You can] focus on layers, fabric texture, and silhouettes to balance these shoes when completing any look,” Wilson says. Pairing a midi slip dress or skirt with chunky sneakers is the perfect example of how to do this. Simply add some delicate layered jewelry and you will be on-trend no matter where your plans may take you. For a more casual look, Wilson suggests wearing your chunky sneakers with bike shorts and an oversized sweatshirt. It'll give you Hailey Bieber vibes all day long.
Finally, denim lovers can reach for their favorite pair of straight-leg jeans and soft cardigans to wear with their sneakers.
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.