The White Shoe Brigade

Sneakers are everywhere! Just about every fashion blog confirms that the humble (and not so humble) sneaker is the ‘IT’ shoe of the moment.

They are everywhere and, apparently, can be worn with everything. Sneakers and skirts are almost mandatory.


Photo courtesy

And, if you are at a loss to know what to wear with your new winter coat, don’t despair – a pair of white sneakers is the latest must-have accessory. I can’t guarantee that they will keep your feet warm, but you will look cool.


Photo courtesy

The thing is when you start to see a lot of something, you start to want it for yourself. Take culottes and their Hispanic cousin, the gaucho pant – I hadn’t thought about them for about 40 years – their last moment in the sun was circa 1970.

But they are back with a vengeance. I already have a culotte ‘onesie’, which is unbelievably versatile – and I can’t think why it took me so long to get on board with this trend.


The gaucho pants were stolen from the traditional cowboy of Argentina, and I predict that these wide-legged short pants will be the hottest things to wear with boots. Gauchos (the pants, not the cowboys) have very wide legs, and are styled like the skort – only so much cooler, don’t you think?

white_05Photo courtesy

But I digress, I was talking about the sneaker, specifically the white sneaker, which keeps popping up in my FaceBook and Instagram feeds so often that I really feel that I need a pair.

She wears it well…

Fashion has a long memory, and it’s pretty hard to find a better role model for the white sneaker than the late and great Katherine Hepburn – a natural athlete (she swam daily and year-round, despite freezing temperatures in winter) who had a penchant for comfy menswear-style clothes. Also having razor-sharp cheekbones certainly helped carry off this early minimalist style.


Seventies model, Lauren Hutton, was a certainly a trailblazer. She was the first model to sign an exclusive cosmetics contract with Revlon, paving the way to financial freedom for many models in the future.


When Lauren Hutton wasn’t spruiking for Revlon, she travelled off the beaten track to faraway and exotic places. This mix of the glamorous high life and simple pleasures made Lauren Hutton the ideal candidate to take over the mantle of the White Sneaker Queen from Kate the Great, and to continue to show us just how good sneakers could look with regular day wear.

But can I wear them?

Of course I can. I have done so in the past. Way back in 1981, I paired my Dunlop Volleys with the then ‘of-the-moment’ and ‘on-trend’ baggy jeans.

I had two pairs of the above-mentioned jeans – standard denim and pink, which I paired with polo shirts and my Volleys.  I felt great in this outfit and loved the liberating feeling of having a ‘bounce’ in my step.


I even wore this ensemble to work – which viewed by today’s standards is totally unremarkable. Go into any office and you will see a variation of this theme – a polo shirt, ‘on-trend’ jeans, and sneakers. I’d even go as far as to say it is a uniform for some.

But back at that point in time, in the latter part of the 20th century when some workplaces did not even allow women to wear slacks or trousers, it was a pretty big deal. I remember a colleague asking me: “are those Volleys on your feet?” in such a shocked but subdued tone, one might have thought I had dared to come to work naked.

It wasn’t that white shoes weren’t popular in Queensland in the 1980s – they were hugely so. They even coined the phrase ‘the white shoe brigade’ to describe the favoured footwear of wealthy business people (usually men), typically property developers who were perceived as aggressively commercial, vulgarly showy, and politically conservative.

And for any self-respecting fashion-forward young lady in the early 1980s, her wardrobe was not complete with out a pair of ‘white court shoes’.  Ever self-indulgent, I had two pairs: a standard white pump and a more daring sling-back style – both from Jane Debster.


And should I wear them in 2106?

Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I think a little further research is needed. Lauren Hutton is as stylish as ever, and, in my opinion still the reigning White Sneaker Queen.

Sure there are plenty of other contenders (young, and not-so-young) who also look fabulous. But then there are others who, let’s face it, do not. They are more like Jerry Seinfield or Melanie Griffith in Working Girl rather than sartorially elegant.

To carry off this look successfully, you need to be mindful about the line of the body, which needs to be streamlined and elegant, not scream “look at my big white shoes!” And, as unfair as it may seem, height, weight, and yes, unfortunately, even age, come into this style equation.

If you are of a certain age (like me), careful attention must be given to your la bella figura lest you end up looking like you are auditioning as extras in a commercial for an “Over 50s lifestyle resort” – which, trust me, is not the look you wish to achieve!

So as much as  I really do want to treat myself to a pair of comfy white kicks, I think I’ll ponder my decision a little longer to decide if it really is the right choice for me – looks like I am a fashion grown-up at last!

How about you – will you be joining this millennium’s ‘white shoe brigade’ and be out and about wearing your ‘on-trend’ white sneakers?


6 Comments on The White Shoe Brigade

  1. Robyna | the Mummy & the Minx
    February 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm (1 year ago)

    I LOVE the idea of a white shoe, but because my feet are size 9/10 I always feel like they look way too large. I’ll just keep searching for the minimising pair!

  2. Epicurean Eva
    February 7, 2016 at 3:04 am (1 year ago)

    I also have large feet, but you’ll still find me wearing white Vans. I love the slip-ons in the summer.

  3. Fiona @TIFFIN bite sized food adventures
    February 8, 2016 at 9:33 am (1 year ago)

    And why shouldn’t you wear them? They are comfortable and stylish and hopefully at *ahem* our age, we can also keep them clean. Talk about a flashback seeing those Volleys! They were THE shoes to have at school. I was lucky enough to find a 2nd old pair at home so I painted them with shoe paint – pale blue for the canvas and silver for the edging. Gosh I was cool! Also had some Gouchos in primary school. Didn’t like them at the time but would love a pair now, with boots, as you suggest.

  4. Elisa
    February 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh goodness, they really are everywhere, aren’t they? And I cannot abide clothe sneakers, personally. I don’e mind a nice pair of vintage adidas with jeans, or possibly with a cute causal dress and a bare leg in summer, but I just am not on board with the “sneakers” with everything trend. I’ll stick with my flat or low-heeled ankle boots instead 🙂

  5. Jules
    September 19, 2016 at 2:41 pm (9 months ago)

    I am 55 and just bought some cute white lace up sneakers for $12 from the local Big W store I had no idea what to wear them with ( apparently it is ‘ everything’ lol ) I Googled white sneakers and found your blog 😀
    I Am wearing them now with kahki skinny jeans a dark denim fitted shirt and a pretty scarf I like it 👏🏻not sure what my 12 year old granddaughter will think though 👍🏻😀


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *