From their cozy oversized cardigans to their wire-framed glasses to finally, their heavily cushioned sneakers, we’ve been drawing style inspo from our proverbial grandpas for quite some time. And, hey, it’s understandable. If I’ve learned anything in my 28-and-a-half years on this planet, it’s that the older you get, the more comfort matters, and there’s a swagger inherent in embracing that fact. However, it’s still weird to see Victoria’s Secret models stepping out on the streets of New York and LA in a shoe that looks better suited for the halls of a retirement home. And yet, here we are. The so-called “grandpa sneaker” revolution has arrived, and your feet will be comfortable.
Like so many of our era’s most notable fashion trends, this look comes courtesy of It labels like Balenciaga and Yeezy, both of which have released a chunky-soled sneaker in the past year. Such pedigree has ensured the inevitable embrace of this unlikely look by street style stars, Kendall Jenner, and, yes, seemingly the whole Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show roster.
While everyone seems to have suddenly, collectively agreed upon calling them grandpa sneakers, the vibes they give me are actually more “pocket protector-sporting ’80s Mathlete.” You know, Revenge of the Nerds-style, with sweater vests and pleated khakis. There’s also—especially when paired with of-the-moment high-waisted, straight-leg denim—a healthy dose of Seinfeld-era Jerry Seinfeld in there. It’s not a traditionally “cool” look. But in today’s confusing world, uncool is cool, ugly is interesting, and the beautiful people are here for all of it. At least when it comes to footwear.
That’s not to say, of course, that you have to be a supermodel to rock the trend, as long as you take your cues from them. Brave grandpa shoe guinea pigs like Bella Hadid, Teyana Taylor, and Elsa Hosk have opted to pair the shoes with similarly normcore-inspired pieces, like classic sweatpants, tube socks, and the aforementioned mom jeans. Sure, sometimes sportier or more masculine-feeling shoes are best deployed to balance out a flirty dress, but these guys are so aggressively anti-fashion that it’s probably best to just lean into that. That being said, topping the whole thing off with a Chanel bag or Gucci socks doesn’t hurt either.