Feminine Dresses + Sneakers: Spring’s Favorite Uniform

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While there are some who have been declaring this Spring season as “the return of the high heel,” I have yet to see the evidence of this manifesting itself anywhere other than in articles I’ve read during fashion week. For the past few spring and summer seasons, flats have really been the thing, and continue to be popular with both the the fashion cognoscenti and those of us who simply love to dress. It’s a welcome relief from the sky-high, studded, and spiked “rocker chick” heels of a few seasons ago, and it’s going to be pretty darn hard to wrestle our colorful sneakers away from us now that we have really and truly learned just now much fun they can be to style (never mind the obvious comfort level). Even Victoria Beckham, once a die-hard fan of the sky-high covers platform stiletto, has eschewed high heels in favor of flats; every single one of her models walked the runway in flat shoes at her last shoe at Fashion Week.

Generally, talking about styling a look with sneakers would lead you straight into a discussion about the modern “athleisure” trends that have been so prevalent the past few fashion cycles, yet there appears to be a new trend on the rise that has been firmly embraced by the street style set; pairing sneakers with a floaty, feminine, or vintage (or vintage-inspired) dress.

This trend is particularly well-timed for the warmer months of the year in which we begin to see the emergence of longer hemlines on dresses, from midi lengths all the way to draped maxi dresses that leave a bit of a trail behind you as you walk. These longer hemlines can be tricky when trying to find the right shoe (raise your hand if you’ve never gotten a heel caught in a maxi dress before….nobody? Yeah, that’s what I thought.)  The key here is to strike a balance between the sugar-sweetness of a floaty dress and the modern edge of a sneaker; a style element that so many of us want to have in our looks now.

There are so many different possibilities when putting together a dress-sneaker combo, and it can be difficult to know where to start. However, there are a few tried and true combinations that work well on everyone.

The Blank Canvas: A Simple White Sneaker

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A more feminine dress in a lighter shade could be easily overwhelmed by a dark, heavy high-top sneaker or something with a lot of hardware or heavy metallic detailing. Pair your lighter, sheer, or any other floatier feminine pieces with a pair of simple white sneakers. As few stripes, or even a small logo here or there is okay, but leave the heavy embellishments off of this look. To really create a contrast, accessorise your dress with minimal but feminine accessories, like a simple strand of pearls or a pair of diamond studs.

The Color Pop: Peeking Out From Underneath a Maxi

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The draped formality of this maxi dress gets a modern facelift when paired with a pair of bright neon-yellow sneakers. The key to making this look work is to create a contrast between the shoe and the dress, whether that be with color or pattern (the choice is yours!) With a draped maxi, you can also get away with choosing a sneaker with a little more substance to it, like a high-top or wedge sneaker. metallics, pattern, it’s all fair game with this look, but whatever you choose, make sure that the look is balanced.


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Pairing a warm-weather little black dress with a pair of black sneakers instead of sandals or pumps takes the formality out of the look and makes it street style ready, as well as an excellent wardrobe-extender for travelling. A simple pair will do the trick, no need for a lot of bells and whistles.

Statement-Making Pattern Mixing

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For those who love the colors and prints of summer fashion, print-mixing is still alive and well! To make it work for you, pair a wilder, more colourful print with a more neutral one (like the bold, jewel tones of this dress against the cream and tan neutrality of the snake print sneakers).

To really nail your print mixing game, make sure that you choose two patterns that have a similar visual “weight”; that the prints are similar in proportion to each other.

Of course, these tips are only scratching the surface. If you  are still unsure whether or not you could pull off a dress with sneakers, there is really only one way to find out – try it. Trust me when I say that you may not be the first to become instantly addicted and never look back.