Understanding White Sneakers – History, and How-To Guide on Styling

Despite the vast landscape of sneaker trends that have ebbed and flowed over the years, there’s one style that has stood the test of time as a shoe-rotation regular: the white sneaker. Sure, a pair of multicolor chunky dad sneakers can steal second glances, and designer sock-like sneakers are a whimsical option. But nothing beats the versatility of white trainers.

So, if you have a pair of white sneakers that are languishing at the bottom of your sky-high shoe pile, it’s time to dust them off and wear them out on the town.

Sneakers started as plimsolls

In the 1830s, the Liverpool Rubber Company invented a shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole. But rather than the familiar term ‘sneakers,’ those shoes were known as ‘plimsolls.’

Through various shoe inventions by homegrown companies over the years, sneaker popularity in the United States boomed. 

Here’s a brief timeline:

  • Late 1800’s – U.S. rubber produced Keds; these shoes had a soft rubber sole and officially became known as sneakers as the soles allowed ‘sneaking around silently.’
  • 1920’s – Marquis Converse created Converse All-stars, a sports sneaker meant for basketball players.
  • 1985 – Nike made the original Air Jordan sneakers created for former NBA player, Michael Jordan, available to the public and sneakers’ popularity sky-rocketed.

How to style white sneakers

The knowledge on the history of white sneakers is nothing if you’re short on outfit inspiration ideas. Hey – no judgment, with your packed schedule, looking put together all the time deserves a trophy. 

We’ve got you covered: take a look at the five ways white sneakers can top your outfit off.


White sneakers are, inherently, casual. It, therefore, makes sense to wear them as such by pairing them with jeans. 

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While you definitely wouldn’t want to pair your trusty pair of white sneakers with an LBD (little black dress), they go great with any all casual dresses.

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Wearing white sneakers with skirts – both long and short – are super cute. Experiment with the textures and color of your skirt choice; you might end up surprised at how well white sneakers gel your entire look together!

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Business casual

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Heels have a time and place at the office. But even the most luxurious pair will leave your feet aching after a couple of hours. So who’s to say that you can’t replace them with a pair of cushy white sneakers in between business meetings?

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You cannot go wrong with pairing your white sneakers with a pair of shorts. The both of them go together like peanut butter and jelly; salt and pepper, and bread and butter. As with skirts, play around with the material and length of shorts to achieve different looks.

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How to clean your sneakers

Trying to keep your white sneakers spotless is a foolish endeavor. But you can minimize the wear and tear through periodic scrub-downs. Here’s how you can clean your white sneakers, based on their materials:

  • Canvas – Scrub your shoes with a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda, and warm water.
  • Leather – Go through the stained spots with a magic eraser.
  • Suede – Gently dab at the stains with a pink pencil eraser and rub the outside of the shoes with a suede brush.

There you go: you now have all the knowledge you need to strut out in this ridiculously versatile footwear. If you haven’t already, it’s time to reach for that pair of old white sneakers – trust us, the inevitable shoe avalanche is worth it.

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