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Dad shoes are back in style

Dad shoes are a must-have – but honestly, when you look at these clunky trainers, it’s hard to believe. It’s no coincidence that they’re also known as ‘ugly dad shoes’. They’re a throwback to the 90s, part of the revival of the footwear fashions of those days.

But what are dad shoes, actually?

They look like running shoes; they usually have colourful appliqués and a thick sole that’s a little longer in the heel on some models. This gives the illusion that the wearer has longer legs. They definitely look like something your dad would wear – or more specifically, something an American dad would wear. The trend started in the USA, and it’s based on the footwear fashions favoured by American dads in the 90s. The look is all about comfort and relaxation – the things dads really value. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, known from the hit TV show that bore his name, is considered the ‘founding father’ of the dad shoe. Today’s dad shoes combine the features of a retro trainer with a touch of high fashion. But if you look closely, you’ll spot the differences to the models from the 90s: The soles are thick, but they’re streamlined; the colours are more modern, and the materials are usually slightly metallic or made to look like leather.

Ugly trainers back on trend

By wearing these chunky trainers, trendsetters and influencers like Kendall Jenner and Kim Kardashian are turning them into high fashion. The Triple S from hip label Balenciaga was a colourful dad shoe that cost 850 US dollars. Designers like Acne and Gucci followed suit, presenting dad shoes on the catwalks. Even athletics giant Nike seems to be conjuring up old models again, like its famous retro shoe, the Nike Air Max 98, and Adidas is creating entirely new dad shoe models. Why are these old shoes suddenly in again? The latest trends are leaning more and more toward comfort. Grunge styles and shabby chic are making a comeback. Casual is key – whether you’re choosing trousers, shirts or shoes. Dad shoes might not look particularly graceful or dynamic, but they’re bang on the comfort trend.

The perfect outfit for your shoes

There are limitless options for mixing and matching your outfits to these trainers. Influencers wear them with everything from dresses to suits. Even if the styles of the shoes and clothes don’t match, you can still create a coordinated outfit by colour-matching, such as by pairing brown shoes with a brown trench coat. The shoes usually have multiple colours, so it’s best to base your outfit on the shoe’s dominant colour. If you want to try colour blocking, pair an ugly dad shoe in bold colours with equally colourful clothes. To create a more formal look, wear the shoes with a chic pair of trousers or a basic shirt.