The best trainers if you’ve never worn trainers outside the gym

People sometimes say to me that they’d love to wear trainers, but they don’t think that they suit them. Which is a shame, because EVERYONE should have the opportunity to enjoy the comfort that trainers bring with them. Just look at Emma Thompson this week collecting her damehood in a trouser suit and Stella McCartney vegan adidas Stan Smiths. Absolutely proving that trainers can work for you whatever your age, and whatever the occasion. And whatever your animal rights beliefs, come to that. What a hero.

But I do understand that it might be a difficult transition to make if they’ve never been part of your wardrobe before, so I thought I would offer some advice on the best trainers to invest in if you’re only just getting into trainers. I’ve updated this guide with some new season styles, and have stuck to the ones that I think look brilliant with things like Emma’s trouser suit, as well as the obvious jeans and T-shirt.

En Brogue wearing black and white trainers

Clockwise from top: Vans x Dover Street Market (see below for similar), adidas Stan Smith x Raf Simons (limited edition), Rogue Matilda, adidas Gazelles, Rose Rankin (no longer available), Weber Hodel Feder

First off, let’s talk colour. Or rather, lack of it. While I love bright shades, the sneakers I get the most wear out of are white, or black, or black and white. White trainers are an especially good way in to the sneaker world, because they look universally good on everyone, and go particularly well with non-sporty attire, such as tailoring. Adidas Stan Smiths have been a revelation to many women over recent years – I persuaded my mum to get a pair last winter which gave her the confidence to branch out into Converse, too; she’s never looked back and her feet have never been happier.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 17.05.25

adidas Stan Smiths, picture by Holly Jolliffe taken from my book, En Brogue: The Trainers Guide (£10,

Secondly, consider the shape, because there are lots of options and some are easier to style and wear than others. Personally, I find a tennis shoe (like Superga or Stan Smiths) or basketball styles (Puma suedes, Converse) are a little more flattering on the legs than running styles. Plus you’re less likely to run the risk of looking like you’re wearing your gym shoes by accident. I’d also go for a low-top rather than a hi-top if you’re a trainer virgin, since showing your ankles is the cheat’s way to staying on the right side of chic in your kicks.

En Brogue wearing Rogue Matilda

Rogue Matilda Sweetheart sneakers, £179 (

Finally, pick something that’s well-made and good quality, as nothing looks worse than grubby trainers (unless you’re running cross-country in them, of course). I prefer leather or good faux leather if I can find it (rather than canvas), and luckily there are loads of new brands popping up who make subtle, non-branded leather sneakers ideal for those of you who’d rather not wear a sports brand but still want hit of those springy soles. My particular favourites are Seven Feet Apart (unrivalled for comfort) and Grenson, which now has a huge selection of trainers, as well as a fantastic cleaning tonic which works wonders to buff them back to their former glory when they’re looking a bit battered.

So, now you know where to start, here are some of the best available right now.

White trainers

Adidas Stan Smith

adidas Stan Smith trainers, £74.99 ([AD]

A must-have for every modern woman’s wardrobe. Pair with tailored trousers and evening wear, as well as everything else.

Spring Court G2 Velcro nappa trainers, £115 (; Stella McCartney x adidas Stan Smith vegan trainers, £235 (; Veja V-10 sustainable trainers, £115 (


Black trainers

Seven Feet Apart

Seven Feet Apart The Original 172, £85 reduced from £137 (

A fantastic addition to your party repertoire – I have worn the black adidas Gazelles in the top picture with most of my dresses and black tights (a revelation!). Look for a shiny leather finish for a more luxe look.

Axel Arigato Clean 90 sneakers, £160 (; Grenson Sneaker 1, £165 (; Northern Cobbler Stonefish sneakers, £84 reduced from £140 (


Black and white trainers

Air & Grace

Air & Grace Copeland cow print sneakers, £169 (

Once you’re feeling brave, this is the obvious place to branch out to. I like to wear with black skinny jeans and a black top, because why detract from the shoes?!

Converse One Stars, £65 ([AD]; Vans checkerboard Slip-ons, £52 ([AD]; Hush Night Sky trainers, £155 ([AD]


To celebrate Dame Emma Thompson’s winning attire, this week I thought I would pick three of my favourite trouser suits and tailoring that would all look great with trainers (as you can see here). They’re something I’ve recently begun to really love – you can read more about how to style trouser suits here. NB many of these styles of trousers are too long for me, personally, to wear with trainers – you might need to be clever and buy your suit trousers and jacket from different stores depending on the fit.

Arket wool blazer, £150 ([AD], and elastic waist wool trousers, £79 ([AD]

COS long jacket with gathered back, £89 ([AD], and elastic detail jersey trousers, £69 ([AD]

Mango essential cotton-blend blazer, £39.99 ([AD], and slim-fit trousers, £29.99 ([AD]



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