Contrary to what all the other girls were doing, the 8-year-old Stephanie rocked trainers with her school uniform. Fast forward 15 years, my 23-year-old self now rocks trainers to work. It all began with a pair of Von Dutch hi-tops (who remembers those!). They were denim, lime green and oh-so-bold. “I could never wear those! I can’t pull them off!” I half doubted and half marvelled to my mom. A week later, I’m not sure what came over me but I bought them and that’s where my love for contemporary fashion begun.
From that moment on, I was transformed from your everyday shy girl to a bold sneakerhead! Thanks to a tacky noughties brand, a seemingly impulsive trainers purchase sent me on a path to confidence. I started pairing trainers with everything. First starting with more casual looks (Roxy board shorts, cut-off Levis), trainers gradually became a staple for every look. While this swap was liberating, what truly freed me was pairing my trainer fetish with my work wardrobe.
Yes, I am that girl that wears trainers to work every single day and I’m about to school you on how you can do it too!
The ‘just look cool’ policy
Did you slow-clap at the images of Kristen Stewart removing her painfully steep Christian Louboutin heels on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet? Me too! For years the prestigious event has maintained a strict ‘heeled shoes for women’ policy and honestly, we’re just not here for it anymore.
Before starting my career, I believed it was forbidden to wear trainers at work. Now that I work in the fashion industry I’ve learned that office dress codes are more liberal than other industries. Rather than the old-school pencil skirt and heels rule (*cough* finance *cough*), fashion offices have an unwritten ‘just look cool’ rule. By now we all know that fashion jobs and aren’t as glamorous as they’re made out to be, therefore wearing trainers to work actually helps with productivity. Now run (which you can because you’re wearing trainers) and tell your boss that!
Styling tricks & inspiration
Styling-wise, I’ve realised that a solid work uniform is critical to being able to pull off my ‘trainers at work’ style. Trial and error is crucial to the process. Once you find the pieces that work with your trainers, don’t be afraid to stick with them! Personally, flared trousers, a vintage blazer and eccentric sunnies have become my go-to combo with my 30+ trainers. In having a consistent base, it’s easier to experiment with bolder footwear while still maintaining a professional look.
If you’re still unsure of how you could get away with it, allow the street style starts to broaden your horizons. I specifically look to Paris Fashion Week, where the likes of Tim Blanks proclaim a streetwear takeover. Whether it’s Susie Bubble pairing her Louis Vuitton Archlight’s with a delicately beautiful skirt or Claire Thompson-Jonville teeming a powerful grey suit with the ‘hard-to-get-your hands-on’ Off White x Nike trainers, the ‘classic chic’ of Paris Fashion Week is the epitome of trainer elegance. Some fashion week looks can be pricey, the styling tricks of Susie and Claire can be translated with affordable trainers like a Stan Smith or Veja.
Through regularly wearing trainers to work, I feel like that 8-year-old buying hi-tops all over again. When I wake up in the morning, knowing that my look of the day represents the real me helps me feel energised, comfortable and ready to do my best work. By fully embracing the juxtaposition of Adidas Y-3’s with a sleek work dress has definitely helped me discover confidence in my style, and in turn, myself.
Now it’s over to you! Tag us in your best trainer looks on Instagram (@pepperyourtalk)
Words by Stephanie Irwin