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Five ways to wear: Minimal trainers

Five ways to wear: Minimal trainers

As a general rule, it's tough to make technical shoes work outside the function they were designed for. Hiking boots, for example, tend to look awkward in the city. And air bubbles and neon logos can be jarring outside the gym. Fortunately, there's a breed of trainer that proves that when it comes to style, less is often more.

“The best minimal trainers work with almost anything in your wardrobe,” says Thread stylist Alice Watt. And by the best, she means styles in neutral tones; ideally white, black or muted shades like stone and navy. “Whatever else you’re wearing, you can be sure that your shoes won’t clash.”

Subtle shades should be echoed in your trainers' styling. Though high tops can work, it’s best to stick to an ankle-high silhouette, and avoid anything with sloped or stacked soles. “Think clean lines,” says Alice. “Nothing that’s really bold or out-there. Minimal trainers should be exactly that. You don’t want them making too much of a statement or everyone’s eyes will be drawn straight to your feet. Brands like Jigsaw, Common Projects and Selected are perfect.”

What makes the minimal trainer so versatile, however, is also its biggest danger. “You need to resist the temptation to wear them everyday,” says Alice. “They work so well with everything from shorts to suits to jeans, and it’s easy to fall into a trap of repetition.” Fortunately, the fix is equally simple: buy a second pair in a different colour or fabric. “Suede is a more luxury option, although it is a bit harder to look after.” Save them for sunny days.

Here, Alice breaks down five ways to style them, from work to play.

1. For a date night that isn’t stuffy

Outfit: Minimal trainers, long-sleeve polo shirt, smart trousers

Why it works: “The obvious shoe here is something more refined, like a brogue, but a pair of minimal trainers gives smart trousers a whole new meaning,” says Alice. “It makes them immediately less stuffy and a bit more fun.” If you keep a pair at work, you can also make light work of any desk-to-date transitions.

Minimal trainers date look

Photographed: Nigel Hall long sleeve polo (£110) Reiss charcoal grey trousers (£110) Selected white trainer (£70)

2. For a family meal where comfort counts

Outfit: Minimal trainers, striped tee, loose jacket, chinos

Why it works: “A minimal trainer is the key to making this more relaxed and comfy,” says Alice. The jacket and chinos keep things smart, but there’s enough sportiness in the shoes in case kids need playing with. “They’re just that much more versatile.”

Minimal trainers with chinos and jacket

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney blue linen jacket (£299) Armor-Lux blue/white stripe tee (£35) Peter Werth sand cotton trousers (£69) Superga white trainer (£50) Oliver Spencer tortoiseshell sunglasses (£185)

3. For the smarter way to do casual Friday

Outfit: Minimal trainers, textured blazer, white t-shirt, dark jeans

Why it works: The jacket-and-jeans combo is a dress-down Friday perennial, but most men pick brogues over trainers, which can tip the look into the smart side of smart-casual. “But a blazer and a t-shirt is quite a modern look,” says Alice. “It’s best to keep the modern vibe going by styling with trainers, which also help to make the blazer feel that bit more contemporary.”

Minimal trainers with blazer and jeans

Photographed: Hammond & Co textured blazer (£130) MVP crew neck T-shirt (£12) Lee indigo jeans (£80) Topman socks (£10 per pack) Selected white leather trainers (£70)


4. For Friday night drinks

Outfit: Minimal trainers, denim jacket, striped tee, jeans

Why it works: “Double denim is a pretty bold look,” admits Alice, “and you need something like trainers, rather than smart shoes, to keep it on the youthful side.” Not that it’s only a move for the under-20s. “If you’re nervous about wearing trainers then stick to more luxury materials like leather or suede. They stop the look being too sporty.”

Minimal trainers with denim jacket and jeans

Photographed: orSlow dark blue denim jacket (£285) SUIT black/white stripe tee (£30) Acne Studios indigo jean (£169) Selected white trainer (£70)

5. For a relaxed Sunday at home

Outfit: Minimal trainers, sweatshirt, pastel shirt, muted cords

Why it works: Minimal trainers keep your feet comfy but mean you style doesn't let you down if unexpected guests turn up. “The little bits of colour in the trousers and the shirt mean sporty trainers would clash,” says Alice. “There’s also quite a bit of texture, so the minimalism grounds the look. The entire outfit suddenly seems more considered, even if you’re just wearing it to do nothing.”

Minimal trainers with cords and sweatshirt

Photographed: MVP crew neck sweater (£25) Jigsaw Oxford shirt (£79) A.P.C beige cord jean (£169) Selected white leather trainers (£70)