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The Thread Guide to: Classic trainers

The Thread Guide to: Classic trainers

A plain white t-shirt. Straight indigo jeans. The simple Oxford shirt. Sometimes it's hard to beat the classics—and trainers are no exception.

While the likes of Adidas and Nike roll out new trainers year after year, they also reissue the tried-and-true styles that have stood the test of time. So although the pairs below might resemble designs from the '70s, '80s or '90s, they've been modernised enough not to look dated. And new technology means they're way more comfortable than the trainers you wore as a tween. 

But are they even right for you?

Potentially, if you ...

1. Usually dress casually—meaning your go-tos are jeans and trainers rather than chinos and lace-ups or boots, and

2. Don't mind making a statement with your shoes—not a Yeezus-style statement, more like a "Hmm, that's a nice combination," kind of vibe.

If you can't get on board with the above, you're best off sticking to minimal trainers, which are easier to wear well.

But if you're up for something a bit different, see if one of the styles below is right for you. As for how to wear them, it couldn't be simpler: they go with everything from your casual clothes (sweats to shorts to jeans) to—for the more daring—smart trousers.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 1. If you want to be comfortable, full stop

The trainers: Nike Internationalists (£67)

The reasons why: These are as bouncy and supportive as they are stylish. And if you choose black, they'll go with everything but will look extra polished with white, black and grey (for instance, black jeans and a grey t-shirt or sweatshirt). Sticking to shades of one colour is an easy way to look good.

The comfort level: 9/10. Cushioned, structured and made from hard-wearing technical materials, these are a nice choice when you're on the go. 

Seasons they work in: All year.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 2. If you want to be comfortable—and you're also allergic to trends

The trainers: New Balance M576PRW (£119)

The reasons why: There's arguably no more timeless trainer than New Balance. The brand's most iconic style, shown here, is particularly good for older guys because the shoes will never look trendy or "too young." Plus, though these (like the rest of the trainers here) work with both casual and smart-casual clothes, they're probably the least fashiony of the bunch—far less so than minimal trainers. 

The comfort level: 9/10. Cushioned and structured, these are the best choice if you're on your feet all day. They're particularly good for wide feet.

Seasons they work in: All year.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 3. If you're after summer shoes (and sandals are out of the question)

The trainers: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars (£45)

The reasons why: Made from light, breathable canvas, Converse low-tops are among the easiest summer shoes. They are so familiar and iconic it's hard to wear them badly; they'll add next to no weight or bulk to your holiday bag; they go well with the coloured clothes you pull out in summer; and, perhaps best of all, you can throw them in a cold wash with some detergent when they're dirty and they'll emerge like new.

Comfort level: 6/10. What you gain in lightness you lose in structure and cushioning.

Seasons they work in: Spring and summer. The thin canvas doesn't stand up to cold or wet weather.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 4. If you're a once or future skater

The trainers: Puma Suede Classic+ (£59)

The reasons why: The slim, suede construction of these Puma trainers makes them a smarter, more adult upgrade to your beloved Vans. They've still got a grippy, skateboard-ready sole, and they add a slight edge to dark jeans and white tees. 

Comfort level: 8/10. These get a nice balance between structure and lightness: they're not too narrow, and the suede helps them keep their shape longer.

Seasons they work in: Spring, summer, or whenever it's not wet; suede and rain don't mix well.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 5. If you err toward minimalism

The trainers: Adidas Stan Smiths (£75)

The reasons why: Whether you have five things in your entire wardrobe or just like our idea of a clean, pared-back style, Stan Smiths will match your less-is-more predilections. And, because of their sleek shape and white leather exterior, they can even work with your smart clothes.

Comfort level: 8/10. With a roomy shape and flexible leather, these mould to your feet so you want to live in them.

Seasons they work in: All year.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 6. If you're 27 or younger—and can get onboard with a trend

The trainers: Reebok Classic Leather R12 (£65)

The reasons why: They're classics all right, but these Reeboks are also the most right-now shoes of this bunch. If you're cool with a classic-turned-trendy shoe, these will be right up your street. Plus the leather is easy to keep fresh and clean, so they'll look new longer.

Comfort level: 8/10. We've heard from a borderline evangelical who's found them to be a solution for his ankle problems and wide feet.

Seasons they work in: All year.

Thread's favourite classic trainers 7. If you walk to work

The trainers: Adidas Gazelles (£89)

The reasons why: Light but sturdy, Adidas Gazelles are versatile enough to wear with your most casual and smartest clothes. Most guys wouldn't wear them to a business meeting, but if you commute in a suit plus bulky trainers, these will massively upgrade your walk-to-work ensemble. They're also easy to chuck in a bag when you're keeping your smart shoes on for after-work drinks.

Comfort level: 7/10. Again, the lightness keeps these from being very supportive. They're also quite narrow; go for the similar Hamburg style if you have wide feet.

Seasons they work in: Spring, summer, or whenever it's not wet; suede and rain don't mix well.