Women Wearing Sneakers vs. Heels

Love your sneakers, but know when to let go.

Women wearing sneakers vs. heels is a common debate amongst fashionistas who love shoes just as much as they love comfort. When's the right time to toss on a pair of sneakers, and when is it appropriate to go for a lower heel instead of a stiletto? It's time to take a look at what's most comfortable - and appropriate - for every occasion.

Women Wearing Sneakers vs. Heels: General Guidelines

Get to know the basics about casual shoes and how to pull them off right-and when not to try to pull them off at all.

  • Travelers will benefit from wearing slip-on athletic shoes in Europe and Asia, which can look more like slippers or ballerina flats from afar.
  • Take a look at the soles. If your shoes have thinner soles and are mostly "designer athletic" looking, you can blend in during casual occasions.
  • Not much of a shopper? You can find a pair of casual shoes with a touch more style if you hunt down brands that are known for their style. Even the fashion clueless will be able to get respect in the shoe department when they stick to fashion-forward sneaker brands like Versace and DKNY.
  • Kitten heels are far more comfortable than a standard pair of heels, and are a great compromise when you need style with comfort.
  • If you can handle them, stiletto heels are a smart choice. They can be worn with jeans, skirts, dresses, and more, and being overdressed is always better than being underdressed! The only time you need to think twice about wearing stilettos is when you'll be walking around in the grass, because you can get really bogged down.
  • If you want a pair of sneakers that go anywhere, try on a pair in black or gray instead of white. White sneakers, no matter how stylishly designed, will still look less fashion-forward than colored options.

When Not to Wear Sneakers

These are just a few times when a pair of sneakers just won't work.

  • Weddings: No matter how funky, weddings usually deserve more than a pair of running shoes. Ballet flats can be just as comfortable, and can be paired easily with a long dress.
  • Receptions: Go for kitten heels for dress rehearsals and practices.
  • Red carpet events: Sneakers can shorten the legs and make your ankles look thicker. If you want to look back fondly on your red carpet appearances, try a pair of heels.
  • Invitation-only events: You don't know who you'll run into when you attend an invitation-only event!
  • Important parties: When you attend special parties, you'll probably need to dress up. Chuck the sneakers and up the glam-factor with a pair of heels that feature comfort soles.
  • Some dates: Unless you're hiking or rock climbing, put your best foot forward when you are looking for love. You'll look taller, walk with a straighter carriage, and make your butt and legs look better.
  • Family honors: Show the family some respect with a great pair of shoes. Wear an extremely comfortable pair of heels, and make up for a stacked-style heel or a sturdier shape with color, texture, or embellishment. Have fun!
  • Photo ops: You can match your outfits more easily with the right pair of heels, because sneakers only come in so many styles and colors!
  • Interviews: Show off your style and make a great impression with an amazing pair of shoes.
  • Memorable moments: Do you really want to be wearing sneakers for one of the most important moments in your life?
  • Speeches: Heels add more authority to your outfit.

Shop for Heels and Sneakers

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Women Wearing Sneakers vs. Heels