How to Wear High Tops

by Charlotte Davies
Model walking over zebra crossing wearing long maxi skirt with white high top trainers

Just when you’d worked out your high top from your hot top, you realise these super fashionable sneakers come in a huge range of styles. From thin high tops to heeled sneakers, here’s our guide to high top trainers and how to style them.

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What Are High Tops?

High tops are very much ‘what they say on the tin’: trainers with high tops which reach above your ankle. Within this broad grouping, they can be broken down into two main types – thin and thick.

Thin High Tops

  • As the name suggests, they are thin in shape and fit closely to the foot and ankle.
  • They are typically made of a light material like canvas, but you can also find them in alternative fabrics like suede, or, as Olivia Palermo stylishly demonstrates, leather.
  • The most-coveted styles are Chuck Taylor All Stars (in a rainbow of colours!) or white high top Vans.

Thick High Tops

  • As you may have guessed, a thick high top is a bulkier shoe that generally has a loose fit. They are the most like classic sneakers in style, just a lot bigger – a trainer on steroids if you will.
  • They are made with padded fabrics such as suede or leather with fabric accents. Black high tops made from leather gives a sporty look, whereas suede can be more chic.
  • A classic example is a pair of Nike Air Force 1.

Heeled High Tops


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High top sneakers can also have wedge heels cleverly hidden in the design – a god send for us shorter women! Wedges are some of the most comfortable heels to walk in so you can wear these sneakers on-the-go. You can get heels in both thin and thick high tops, but the thicker style – like Beyoncé’s Isabel Marant sneakers in her Love On Top video – are more fashionable and chic.

How to Tie High Tops

If you’ve always wondered how to lace up high tops, then you need to remember this simple rule: the lower you lace them and the looser you tie the laces, the more relaxed your look.

How to tie Converse

Photo Credit: Pinterest. Shop the look: Converse

Thin high tops typically have laces. High tops and shorts or skirts look great when the shoe is laced all the way up but, when wearing skinny jeans and high tops, keep the laces loose or tie them midway to avoid making your ankles look oddly thin and your legs wide. Converse’s laces are pretty long, so you can either tuck the excess lace into your shoes or wrap them around your ankles before knotting.

More self-explanatory are thick high tops which can come with straps, laces, or both.

Outfits with High Tops

How to Wear High Top Sneakers with Trousers

Thin high tops go best with wide-bottomed trousers – opposites do attract! For a cool, modern look, the best white or black Converse high top outfits comprise a pair of cropped trousers that show a little skin around your ankle. This will help balance your proportions and has a fashionable edge that will dress up the casual sneaker.
Avoid baggy trousers when wearing thick high tops as together they can make you lose your shape and appear bigger than you are. But, high tops with leggings or leather pants look great. They are also solid shoes to wear with skinny jeans. Tuck the trousers or leggings into a pair of black high top sneakers for a relaxed and cool look that will draw focus to your stylish shoe choice. High top aficionados, Rhianna and Miranda Kerr, are constantly snapped rocking this look.

How to Wear High Tops with Jeans and Shorts

Never tuck your jeans into thin high tops. Instead, follow style icon Sarah Jessica Parker’s example and wear a pair of white high top sneakers with turned-up boyfriend jeans for a casual and easy look.
Thick high tops look cool and relaxed with a pair of skinny jeans tucked into the shoe; this combo is perfect for the ‘oh I just threw this on’ look.
In the summer, swap your jeans for a pair of short denim shorts to make your legs look (almost) as long as model Cara Delevingne’s.
High tops and shorts

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How to Wear High Top Sneakers with Skirts

Together, a midi skirt and Converse create a really cute and youthful outfit. High tops can be worn with tights but, if it’s warm enough, bare legs and a simple pair of ankle socks are a great option.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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Thick high tops are a great investment if you have good legs as they go with almost all style of skirt. Paired with a mini skirt and simple t-shirt, they create a real rock-chick vibe.
Sincerely Jules wearing high tops outfit

Photo Credit: Sincerely Jules

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These sneakers also go with maxi-skirts. A mid-length jersey pencil skirt will create the perfect mix of street-style and fashion. You can even wear thick high tops with flowy maxi skirts á la Kate Bosworth and Zendaya Coleman.
Olivia Wilde and Kate Bosworth high top sneakers and midi skirts

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How to Wear High Top Sneakers with Dresses

As Dakota Johnson and Alexa Chung have shown, high tops go with almost any style of dress. In the spring and summer, Nike hi tops or a pair of classic Converse look great with a simple floral dress, adding a tomboyish twist to an outfit.
Dakota Johnson and Alexa Chung Summer dresses with converse outfits

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Choosing a Colour

All black high tops or all white high tops are the most versatile colours choices as they are easy to style and complement other colours and patterns in your outfit.
Red is also a popular choice: the bold tone will add a bright burst of colour to dark outfits while maintaining the shoe’s sporty edge.
Lots of fashion brands make patterned high top sneakers; you can even customise your Nike lace up high top sneakers! Choosing a patterned pair will help you put your individual stamp on an outfit. As well as patterns, some brands add tassels, studs and other extra embellishments which, when carefully selected, can really enhance a look.
Giuseppe Zanotti Devlin Wedge Sneakers £900.00
Giuseppe Zanotti Devlin Wedge Sneakers £900.00
ASH Vegas studded leather high-top trainers £169.00
ASH Vegas studded leather high-top trainers £169.00
Vans Suede Sk8-Hi Moc Shoes £75
Vans Suede Sk8-Hi Moc Shoes £75
Minna Parikka Bunny Glitter Sneaks £220
Minna Parikka Bunny Sneaks £220

How to Wear High Tops: Key Tips

  • High tops are an easy way of adding an element of cool to any outfit.
  • Keep your balance – the heavier and bolder the shoe, the simpler and sleeker you should keep the rest of the outfit.
  • The looser the laces, the more laid back your look.
  • Have fun with colours and prints, but whatever you go for, make sure they don’t clash with the rest of your outfit.

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