Dad shoes AKA old people shoes AKA ugly sneakers have been around for a long time. And while dad shoes started out as a fashion trend a few years ago, they’re showing no signs of leaving. Yep, those clunky, thick-soled lace-up sneakers that you cringed at as a kid, aren’t going anywhere. Now if you think about it, a comfortable shoe that’s fashionable is about as rare as a dancing unicorn. The best dad shoes are the ones that make your feet happy. Let’s hope this style stays around for a long time.
The history of dad shoes
How did we get to fall in love with chunky sneakers? The 90s made athletic-wear trendy, which set the ground for what was to come. Back in 2014 Adidas’ Stan Smith sneaker was relaunched and everyone had to have them. That shoe was the gateway to it all. Then in 2017, Balenciaga released the Triple S sneaker and suddenly oversized, thick-soled, chunky sneakers were the big thing. Yeezy, Louis Vuitton and everyone else jumped on the trend. Demna Gvasalia, the genius behind Balenciaga also created the knitted or sock sneaker. Want to know what the next footwear trend will be? Follow Balenciaga. Under Gvasalia’s reign as creative director, the brand is creating sneaker trends every day.
How to wear dad shoes
The best dad shoes, as we’ve established earlier, are insanely comfortable. Maybe it’s the big, chunky foamy heel or the knitted top, but once you got them on you don’t want to take them off. Maybe that’s what made Dad grab those shoes the moment he was off work. When throwing together an outfit, remember that the best dad shoes, once you parse it down, are really just sneakers. They’ve got an amped up sole and sometimes crazy colorways, but in the end, they’re just sneakers. Using that philosophy and applying it to dressing, the stuff that you’d normally wear with sneakers — jeans and a tee, or khakis and a sweatshirt, — will work just as well with dad shoes. Basically, you can wear a dad shoe with anything except maybe a tuxedo or a kilt. Then again, if the dad shoe is the best dad shoe you’ve ever worn, go ahead and break the fashion rules and do it up.
Now that we’ve cleared all that stuff up, scroll through to find the best dad shoes for you and your budget.
1. New Balance Men’s 624 Sneaker
Dubbed the “classic dad shoe” the 624’s silhouette remains unchanged since it hit the streets when originally debuted. Classified as a cross-trainer AKA mall walking shoe for Ops, this sneaker has a plump, chunky heel, rounded toe, EVA cushioning for a comfy midsole and EVA heel pocket for more plushness.
2. Balenciaga Triple‘S’ Mesh and Leather Sneakers
This, my friends, is the dad shoe that started it all. Some may call it the best dad shoe of all time. Others may say “Yikes! That’s expensive.” Either way, it’s a cool-looking sneaker. The name Triple S comes from the triple-layer sole. Here’s what’s under the hood: leather and mesh upper in contrasting hues. Huge tricolor rubber outsole and mad style.
3. Fila Men’s Strada Disruptor
Fila’s a respected name in the world of tennis shoes and sneakers in general. Frankly, it’s insane that the price is so low for this mixed-leather dad shoe. It has the requisite chunky heel and bungee cord lacing. On a personal note, I have a Fila sneaker in a similar style and walking in them is like walking around in uber cushy slippers. It comes in a whopping 37 different colorways.
4. K-Swiss Men’s ST329 CMF Training Shoe
BEST ON AND OFF THE COURT
When K-Swiss debuted this dad shoe it was positioned as a tennis shoe. Yes, you can use it on the courts, but its chunky heel and silhouette screamed “Daaaad.” It has a gum rubber outsole, leather upper, stripy laces and a groovy best-dad-shoe feel.
5. PUMA Men’s RS-X Sneaker
BEST RUNNING DAD SHOE
Running shoe meets dad shoe in Puma’s RS-X collection. This hybrid sneaker has the now-classic thick outsole that’s topped with lots of color for a bold take on this trend. Reviewers rave about its comfort. If you’re planning on traveling or walking everywhere, this may be the best dad shoe for you.
6. Adidas Ozweego Shoes
BEST IN BLACK
The Ozweegos are on everyone’s “best dad shoe” list. These clunky all-black sneaks hold all the original details the OG version designed in ’98 has. They’re eccentric yet low-key, which are perfect for goofy dads and modern street style wearers alike. Ever work in the food industry? These are super similar to what you wore running tables, hands-down.
7. Skechers Relaxed Fit: D’Lux Walker Pensive
MOST COMFORTABLE PICK
Skechers, no matter how they’ve tried to position themselves, were always the home of the dad shoe. And now, drum roll please, they’re an “In shoe.” Kinda. One thing they do right is create a massively comfortable sneaker. The Relaxed Fit: D’Lux is a slip-on sneaker that looks like a running shoe. With its flared outsole and air-cooled memory foam insole, you’re in for miles of easy walking. This dark shade works well with jeans.
8. Nike 997H Sneaker
We love a little neutralized color implemented in our day-to-day look, which is probably why these Nike 997H sneakers make such an excellent pick for our favorite dad sneakers. They have a retro look to them that looks dated yet trendy. We’re sure you’ll get a couple of head turns in these. Pair them with a flowy pair of cords and your go-to Hawaiian button-down.
9. Everlane Court Sneaker
BEST FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Using less waste, energy and virgin plastic than almost every other sneaker of its kind, Everlane’s Court Sneaker is taking the term “dad sneaker” to a whole new level. Everlane offset all of the emissions they could possibly eliminate for this sneak’s creation and uses a 100% recycled polyester lining and natural and recycled rubber.
10. Reebok Walk Ultra 7 DMX Max Men’s Shoes
BEST LOW-KEY COOL PICK
The walking shoe or sneaker is the basis of the dad shoe. Trust Reebok to create one that not only pleases dads, but is also cool-looking too. The blue racing stripes give this sneaker a fashiony edge. The mixed leather and fabric upper sit on a wide chunky outsole. Inside is a cushioned insole for all-day comfort.
11. Nike Air Force 1 ’07 Sneaker
BEST OLD-SCHOOL STYLE
The Nike Air Force 1 is beloved by college students, dads and welp, everybody. It has clean lines which make it easy to pair with khakis and jeans. It has a removable insole and a nice thick outsole. It’s probably not the first sneaker that comes to mind when you think “dad shoe,” but when you break it down, that’s really what it is.
12. Allbirds Tree Runners
BEST NEW CLASSIC
Allbirds are great dad sneaks for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they have a minimalistic, shapely design that is eyecatching to both dads and street geeks alike. They come in an array of cool colors so they can match just about anyone’s style and are totally breathable through and through. Each pair of Tree Runners are also totally environmentally friendly and made from eucalyptus trees. Lastly, the Tree Runners are easy to clean — simply throw them in the wash worry-free and your sneaks are lookin’ sharp again in no time.