You don’t have to shoot hoops to appreciate a good high-top sneaker. There’s something about the sneaker’s extra height that takes your outfit to, well, new heights. Historians say the real reason why sneakers were designed as high tops in the early 1900s was that they mimicked men's ankle boots that were worn at the time. High tops offer the edge of a boot with the comfort of a sneaker.
Of course, high tops have evolved tremendously from their first iterations, but the general concept is still there. Versatile and durable, high tops are ideal for trips filled with walking and Instagram photos as well as daily treks across the city. White sneakers go with practically any outfit, yet today you can show off your personality with sneakers in different shades, fabrics, and silhouettes.
“High-top sneakers are slipping right into 2022 as the perfect shoe to pull together any look—no matter your style,” says stylist Stephanie Valponi. “Whether it’s romantic florals or an edgy moto jacket, a great pair of high tops will have you rocking your look with confidence.”
Meet the Expert
Regardless if you are looking for your new go-with-anything sneaker or simply want to add a new kick to your collection, we researched the best high tops and gathered expert styling tips from Valponi below.
Best Overall: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic
You know you’ve created a brilliant design when it's lasted for more than 100 years. Though they’ve gotten some tweaks over the decades, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star high tops look largely similar to the first iterations in 1917. Canvas upper, rubber sole, star logo. People love them because they come in a variety of colors and prints, can easily be dressed up or down, and don't cost a fortune. Spanning a century, the shoe is tied with many iconic moments but the best are those you make in them. In other words, Converse shoes age well.
Material: Textile upper and lining/rubber sole | Colors: Black, Brown, Natural Ivory, White, Red, Navy, Electric Purple, Lemon Chrome +more | Size Range: 5-20
Best Budget: Vans Canvas SK8-HI
These Vans were my first high tops, and I adored them. They accompanied me on my travels and treks across my college campus as I wore them with just about anything. The lightweight canvas was breathable and lent laid book ease. My only complaint is that my all-white pair was hard to keep clean, but you can always select another color or embrace the worn-in look. With a few wears, you’ll have Golden Goose-style shoes for the fraction of the price.
Material: Canvas upper and rubber outsole | Colors: Black, Black/Blue, White, Red, Berry | Size Range: 5-17.5
Best Luxury: Balenciaga Speed 2.0 LT Sock Sneaker
The most iconic designer high top isn’t made from luxury leather—it looks like a colorful sock with a chunky sole. Though it wasn’t a new concept, the Balenciaga speed trainer caused a sensation when first released. From Cardi B shoutouts to fast fashion brands making their version, the sock sneaker is here to stay. Compared to traditional kicks, the style is lightweight and molds to your foot for a barefoot feel. The neutral color palette is perfect for a sporty, minimalistic look, but it's also available in more bold colors too if that's what you're looking for.
Material: Textile upper and lining and synthetic sole | Colors: Black, Beige, Dark Green, Dark Pink +more | Size Range: 5-12
Best Leather: Nike Blazer Mid '77 Vintage
Consider leather sneakers an investment piece—the durable material is easy to clean (just wipe down) and molds to your feet. With Nike’s timeless design, you’ll be wearing these high tops for nearly, well, forever. Styled in the 1970s, the shoes have a sleek silhouette that won’t feel bulky on your feet. And one large swoosh can add a flash of color (orange anyone?) or you can keep it clean with all white. Or become your own muse by designing a custom pair.
Material: Leather and synthetic upper, rubber outsole | Colors: White, White Orange/Blue, White/Animal Print, White/Black/Sail, White/Gold +more | Size Range: 5-12
Best All-White: Adidas Forum Mid
Leather is easier to keep clean than canvas, says Valponi, that’s why we picked a leather option for our all-white pick. The Adidas Forum high top gives you that iconic logo and three stripes in a bleached-out palette. Challenging basketball legends from the 1980s, the shoe features a removable criss-cross strap system for style you can change up. Who says monochrome has to be boring?
Material: Leather upper and rubber outsole | Colors: White +more | Size Range: 5-20
Best Chunky: Converse Run Star Motion Sneaker
Think all Converse sneakers look the same? Well, you haven’t seen this pair. Sure it has the classic canvas construction but instead of a sleek platform, you get a spiked chunky sole. With a phylon midsole for impact absorption and lightweight cushioning, these shoes will feel like walking on a cloud.
Material: Organic canvas upper, CX foam insole, phylon midsole, and rubber outsole | Colors: White, Black | Size Range: 4.5-14.5
Best Platform: Superga 2705 Hi Top
Platform sneakers are a short person’s dream. They subtly give you height without the pain of heels. This high top from Superga gives you 1.5 inches of extra height, perfect for complementing a skirt or dress. Since platforms already are a bit extra, we like how the brand keeps it otherwise simple with an all-white or black design.
Material: Cotton canvas upper, natural rubber outsole | Colors: White, Black | Size Range: 6-10
Best for Wide Feet: SUAVS The Legacy
When you have wide feet, you want to look for sneakers with a wide toe box and stretchy fabric to accommodate your foot. The Legacy high-top checks off those boxes with their shape and breathable knit material made from recycled water bottles. Designed for travel, these sneakers are moisture-wicking, washable, and packable. The weatherproof toe cap not only looks good but protects your feet as you travel between different climates. Now you no longer have to wonder what shoes to wear on the plane.
Material: Knit upper made from post-consumer recycled water bottles, rubber toe cap, cotton laces, foam insole, and rubber sole | Colors: Jet Black, Timber, Slate Gum, Olive Green | Size Range: 5-12
Best on Amazon: Puma Rebound Layup Sneaker
For a unisex shoe that is as sporty as street, check out this pair of Pumas on Amazon. Inspired by a basketball trainer, these sneakers have a padded tongue and collar for comfort and support. Synthetic leather comes in both neutral and bold color combinations. Take a cue from Instagram and style these kicks with a leather skirt and graphic tee.
Material: Synthetic leather upper and rubber outsole | Colors: White, Black/White, White/Black/Red, Black, White/Grey/Light Blue +more | Size Range: 5.5-15
Best Slip-On: ASOS Design Della Sock Sneakers
Want to test out the sock sneaker trend without losing a brick? ASOS to the rescue. The Della Sock sneaker gives you all the comfort and minimalist style without the steep price tag. And you can’t beat a black-and-white design that goes with anything.
Material: Textile | Colors: Black | Size Range: 4-11
Best Sustainable: Cariuma OCA High
What we love about Cariuma is the brand’s commitment to sustainability. The OCA high top fuses fair trade organic cotton upper and 100 percent vegan insole from responsibly managed ethical factories. Not only that, but these sneakers are some of the most comfortable shoes the Byrdie team has tried.
Material: Fair trade cotton canvas upper and lining, Mamona oil bio base with cork insert | Colors: Off White, All Black | Size Range: 5-13
Best Vegan: Veja V-15 CWL Sneakers
You’ve probably seen Veja sneakers popping up everywhere in recent years, but did you know the popular brand strives toward sustainability? As a certified B Corp, the brand is committed to being transparent about how it makes its products and treats its workers.
The V-15 is a high top made from vegan materials like castor oil, recycled rubber, and rice waste. The result looks like leather, though you can wear it knowing no animals were harmed in the process. The brand’s signature V can be the pop of color that ties your entire outfit together.
Material: Organic cotton, recycled polyester | Colors: White/Red, White/Blue, Black | Size Range: 4-10
Best Retro-Inspired: Rag & Bone Retro Hiker Sneaker
Busy hiking the concrete jungle? These retro-inspired sneakers ensure you are doing it in style. Since you can break a sweat in the city or on the hiking trail, the antimicrobial lining has four layers for fast absorption and quick release of moisture. Happy trekking.
Material: Leather and textile upper and lining/rubber sole | Colors: Black, dijon | Size Range: 5-11
Best Designer: Off-White Off Court 3.0 High Top Sneakers
Pay tribute to designer Virgil Abloh with his take on the basketball high top. True to his brand, Alboh infused this sneaker with unique details like an eccentric platform design, loud laces, and arrow applique. It also comes in a glitter version for those who want some daily sparkle.
Material: Leather, cotton, nylon, polyester, and elastane upper with synthetic sole | Colors: White | Size Range: 5-12
Best Distressed: Golden Goose Slide High Top Sneaker
Do you ever feel nervous to wear a new pair of sneakers because they are so clean and pristine? Golden Goose has the solution for you. Inspired by Southern California skating culture, the sneakers come pre-distressed, sort of like a pair of jeans. Now you might be wondering why you would shell out more than $500 on shoes that come dirty. Well, each scuff, stain, and smudge is handmade in Italy, meaning no two pairs are the same. Besides the design details, the brand has built a cult following as fans rave they are some of the most comfortable sneakers they own. Whether you prefer the distressed look or want to avoid new shoe anxiety, check out their selection of eclectic high tops.
Material: Leather upper and lining with rubber sole | Colors: White | Size Range: 5-11
Best All-Black: Cariuma OCA High in Black Contrast Stripe Canvas
Sometimes you want a shoe that’s all black. Like literally all black from the logo to the laces. Cariuma shut out the lights for its OCA High in All Black Canvas. Otherwise, the brand is known for being green due to its commitment to ethical production, natural materials, and sustainable packaging and shipping. They even have vegan insoles for conscious comfort. The simple design and relatively affordable prices make for a great everyday shoe.
Material: Fairtrade canvas, rubber sole, vegan insoles made from organic mamona oil and cork | Colors: Black | Size Range: 5-13
Best Boot Hybrid: Greats Lug Sole Ankle Boots
You know those winter days when it's slightly icy but you don’t want to lace up full-blown snow boots? These lug-soled boots/sneakers are the solution. A hefty rubber sole keeps you from slipping while recycled nylon and cotton upper let you breathe during warmer winter days. And we can’t get over how good the canvas and green shades are.
Material: Recycled nylon and cotton with rubber sole | Colors: Stone | Size Range: 6-10
What to Look for in High-Top Sneakers
High-top sneakers tend to be made from canvas, leather, or suede. Deciding between these materials comes down to your lifestyle and the look you are going for. If you want to invest in a shoe that will last a long time, Valponi recommends looking for (vegan) leather options.
“The benefit [of leather] is that it gives a sleek polished look, and it’s super easy to clean. A quick polish will have your shoes feeling eternally new,” Valponi says. “Not just that, but leather tends to increase in comfort with time, as the material molds to your feet.”
For a more casual look, you can’t go wrong with classic canvas. This fabric comes in a variety of colors and prints and can be more affordable. However, canvas is harder to keep clean, so for those crisp, white high tops, leather may be the better bet.
Suede is another material that elevates sneakers. Yet as anyone with suede shoes knows, the material can be delicate when it comes to dirt and rain. If you love the look of suede, consider a mixed materials sneaker.
“Suede on the uppermost portion of the shoe will give you added flexibility and comfort,” Valponi says.
While high-top sneakers share the common trait of extending above the ankles, there are so many variations of the style today. Some styles are form-fitting to the foot like the classic Converse or Balenciaga sock-style while others have platforms or chunkier silhouettes like the Adidas Forum Mids.
It makes sense to stock up on different styles for a variety of outfits and moods. The sock style looks ultra-modern and sophisticated while chunkier sneakers have a funkier feel. Valponi says it’s all about balance. Sleek shoes balance out more voluminous layers while chunkier silhouettes turn up a minimalist getup.
While a white sneaker is a wardrobe essential that goes with every outfit, colorful shoes can add that extra oomph to your wardrobe.
“The key to successful styling is building in contrast. If your outfit is more neutral, then don’t shy away from snagging a bold color shoe with a fun logo. The contrast will give the whole combo a fun pop,” Valponi says. “Alternatively, if you are wearing fabrications with colorful prints, then choose a muted shoe with neutral colors.”
How do I style high top sneakers with dresses?
High-top sneakers are a great choice when you want to dress down a skirt or dress as well as play with contrast.
“Reach for either a skinny style high top or a thicker option, but remember, the key to pairing with skirts is balance,” Valponi says. “If your skirt is fuller, I recommend snagging a sleeker high top that doesn’t create added bulk.”
This combo goes great when you’re running errands on the weekend or even in the office on a casual Friday.
“High tops style well with a mid-length skirt and look fantastic with a graphic tee and denim jacket for a casual vibe,” says Valponi. “For an in-office combo, opt for an oversized blazer and a crisp button-down.”
How do I wear high-top sneakers with jeans?
Combining jeans and sneakers is the ultimate casual-cool look. Yet styling high tops can be a little tricker as you don’t want the jeans to bunch around the shoe. Follow Valponi’s easy tricks for nailing jeans with high tops.
“A thinner high top is so versatile and can be worn with various denim styles (think straight fit, wide, or skinny)," Valponi says. "I always recommend showing a sliver of skin (think about an inch) around the ankle. This can be achieved with a casual cuffing of the hem. Avoid the habit of lacing the sneakers all the way to the top, but rather stop about mid-way for a casual vibe.”
Though tried and true skinny hightop is a classic staple, Valponi says you shouldn’t hesitate to pair your denim with a thicker bolder option. The key to styling this fit is to tuck your denim into the shoe loosely for an elongated look.
Why Trust Byrdie
Emily Cieslak is an assistant commerce editor for Dotdash Meredith, working on InStyle and People. She has covered fashion for Byrdie since 2021. Emily always owns at least one pair of white sneakers to dress up or down and has cycled through various brands and styles. Her white Vans high tops will always have a special place in her heart. For this article, she interviewed a style expert from Stitch Fix on how to shop for and style high tops.