Figuring out how to wear Vans is an age-old conundrum, but this tricky shoe is actually extremely versatile and can be paired with multiple outfits in your wardrobe.
Vans are a classic shoe choice, but while they might make some of the best white trainers, this piece of footwear can be notoriously hard to style. Ever since Phoebe Philo sent skate-inspired slip-on sneakers down the runway at Celine in 2010, Vans sneakers have had a revival among the fashion pack, firming up their place as a wardrobe essential. With collaborations from J Crew to Opening Ceremony and BAPE, the cult skate shoe has been seen on many a front row foot ever since.
When it comes to how to style Vans, many can be left in a spin. From the infamous checkered slip-on sneakers to the classic Vans Old Skool, this youthful shoe is often associated more with teens than grown women. But rest assured, there is a pair of Vans for every outfit if you choose carefully. The popular checkerboard slip-on style is a cool finishing touch to monochrome outfits, while Vans Old Skool and High Tops in black make an excellent alternative to ankle boots in winter. As for the warmer months, trust us when we say you’ll soon want a pair of Vans Authentics to add to your capsule wardrobe.
How to wear Vans—according to a fashion editor
With their ability to give a youthful and relaxed twist to everything from tailoring to weekend-away ready looks, Vans might just be the comfortable flats that your wardrobe has been looking for.
How to wear Vans Old Skool sneakers with a suit
Wondering how to wear Vans with a suit or your best blazer and tailored trouser combo? The key to keeping it cool is to go for a relaxed vibe. Try teaming a trouser suit that has cropped trousers with a pair of Vans Old Skool or classic slip-on checkered Vans. Swap your starched shirt for your best t-shirt for a look that says laidback cool.
For an instant spring style update, opt for a suit in a bright color and if you’re feeling adventurous, swap monochrome checkered Vans for a colorful alternative such as white and yellow.
Mango Double Breasted Coral Blazer
RRP: $119.99 / £69.99 | A colorful blazer is a stylish addition to any wardrobe. This coral hue is flattering for all skin tones and will instantly make you feel more cheerful.
Mango Coral Suit Trousers
RRP: $59.99 / £35.99 | Bright trousers are a great way to freshen up your wardrobe. Try teaming with your best cashmere sweater on cooler days for a cozy finish.
2. How to wear Vans high tops with jeans
If you're looking to style Vans SK8-Hi High Tops with jeans, then it's easier than you might think. While high tops are a great style to wear when it’s chillier, you’ll still want to show off your cool kicks. The secret to balancing out your proportions while flashing your shoes is to look for a slightly cropped style of your best jeans. Ideally, they’ll finish around the top of your Vans high tops so you can really display your shoes.
Gap High Rise Straight Jean
RRP: $69.95 / £49.95 | This flattering style is available in three different lengths to help you find the ideal fit. Aim for a pair that sits approximately one inch above the ankle bone.
Zara Black Leather Jacket
RRP: $199 / £119 | A classic leather jacket is a style staple and will never go out of fashion. Shop around for the softest leather for a style that will age beautifully. A true investment piece.
3. How to wear white Vans
When it comes to new season dressing, there’s nothing guaranteed to put a spring in your step quite like a fresh pair of white trainers. The great news is that once you find your perfect Vans sneakers, virtually every shoe style comes in a plain white—making them the ideal finishing touch to style with a dress or skirt of any length, from mini to maxi. The Authentic lace-up trainer has a simple shape with a great lightweight plimsoll-like design, perfect for spring. This look will also work with a flattering jumpsuit—team with a pair of the best sunglasses and a denim jacket for an on-trend brunch outfit.
If they’re too flat for you or you prefer a chunkier style, the Authentic Vans style also comes in a Platform 2.0 version which has a thicker sole but all the chic style of the original.
River Island Striped Linen Dress
RRP: $102 / £55 | A linen striped dress is great for the city and the beach. A natural fabric, linen is ideal for keeping you cool on warmer days. Team with sneakers in town and sandals by the sea.
Free People Denim Jacket
RRP: $98 / £88 | We love the worn-in, vintage look of Free People’s denim jackets. Super soft, you won't want to take them off. Layer under an oversized coat in cooler months.
4. How to wear Vans with a midi skirt
Looking for another way to style Vans Old Skool? They make a stylish yet comfortable alternative to the best Chelsea boots, so treat them as such and automatically update your look during this tricky in-between season. Stylist Abby McHale offers this tip: “If you’re looking for a way to dial down an otherwise bold skirt or dress, add a pair of Vans Old Skool sneakers. They’ll immediately add insouciant cool to your outfit.”
Finish your outfit with an oversized trench—if you're feeling super-luxe try it with a Burberry trench coat, and leather tote bag for a cool daytime look. On chillier days, you can add a denim or leather jacket under the trench coat to keep you warm.
Boden Printed Midi Skirt
RRP: $110 / £80 | This printed midi is the color pop you need for spring and a great way to make a style statement. Keep the rest of your outfit neutral so it does all the talking.
Cos Oversized Trench Coat
RRP: $250 / £150 | A lightweight trench coat is a wardrobe must-have. Worried about being swamped? Size down for a slightly more fitted feel, or try adding a belt to highlight your waist.
5. How to wear Vans with wide-leg trousers
Wide leg and flared shapes are a key trouser fashion trend for 2022 and are great styled with Vans. Try teaming silk wide-leg trousers with Vans slip-on shoes or add high tops under more structured pairs. Add a fine knit tee in a complementary color for warm days.
Don’t be afraid to clash the print of your trousers with your Vans checkered slip-ons. Try florals, animal or abstract prints for a spring style update.
Cos Light Blue Knitted T-Shirt
RRP: $49 / £35 | Knitted tees are great for those cooler spring days—warmer than a regular t-shirt but you won’t overheat like you would in a sweater. We love the contrasting collar on this one.
Victoria Beckham Chain Print Trousers
RRP: $585 / £520 | Who knew a Spice Girl would one day design the perfect wide-leg printed trousers? The bold print on this pair will look great when teamed with pared-back, simple pieces.
6. How to wear Vans with leggings
Creating stylish leggings outfits just got easier. The best leggings are the perfect accompaniment when styling Old Skool Vans. While Old Skool Vans are more suitable for skateboarding than intense gym workouts, they are the ideal shoe to finish off a stylish all-black athleisure outfit, as seen on Victoria Secrets model Martha Hunt—abs are strictly optional.
Worried you’ll look too monochrome? Try adding a pop of color with a colorful gym bag.
Sweaty Betty Power Leggings
$110 / £80 | Looking for the perfect bum sculpting leggings? Step forward Sweaty Betty’s cult Power Leggings. You’ll look like you’ve hit the gym without even trying, these are fashion editor approved.
Next Black Funnel Neck Yoga Top
RRP: $43 / £30 | This funnel neck yoga top won’t look out of place at brunch, so from downward-facing dogs to drinking cappuccinos—it’s the perfect throw-over and go piece for your athleisure wardrobe.
Antonia Kraskowski is a freelance fashion editor with over 15 years of experience in the industry.
Having started her career at Conde Nast working for titles including Easy Living, Glamour and Vogue New Markets, Antonia went on to work in the fast-paced world of newspapers and weekly magazines, becoming Fashion Editor at Express Newspapers and Magazines in 2014, a role she held for five years before going freelance.
Her career has seen Antonia travel the world, shooting in 18 countries and styling campaigns for brands ranging from Ben Sherman and DKNY to Wallis.
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