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High tops are not the easiest shoes for women to wear, but they’re worth the struggle. Because of the height of their shaft, they conceal the ankle and create the illusion that the leg is a little shorter. However, women’s high-top sneakers are having a moment right now because much of street fashion is moving away from what is flattering to the male gaze. They are comfortable, trendy, and androgynous – if you can embrace that, then you should definitely embrace a new pair of high tops.
To get you rocking this awesome style, we’ve selected the best high-top sneakers for women that are currently available online, from the best shoe designers and brands. We then explain what makes hi-tops so unique, and give some advice on how you can choose the best ones for you. To finish things off, we added some styling tips that will help you incorporate high-top trainers into your look.
Women’s High-Top Sneakers: Contents
- 19 Best High-Top Sneakers for Women to Buy
- What Are High Tops and Where Did They Come from?
- How to Choose the Right High Tops for You
- How to Wear High Tops Without Looking Awkward
Whether you’re looking for a new pair of shoes to exercise in or just wanting to rock this casual style on a day-to-day basis, we’ve selected the best high-top sneakers around.
1. The Original Canvas High Tops
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars are the first thing that comes to mind when one imagines high-top sneakers. These shoes are iconic, with a design that was first released in 1917 and has been going strong ever since. They are made of durable black canvas, with white soles and an inner cushion. The vintage logo appliqué on the sides shows that they are originals. They are sold at Net-a-Porter.
2. Distressed and Studded High Tops for Women
These Golden Goose black leather high tops combine the edge of stud appliqués with a distressed finish, making for a very rock and roll design. These shoes are made of leather, so despite the distressed look they should last a while, and have a side zipper, which makes them extra easy to slip on but suggests you shouldn’t wear them to the gym. Buy them from Revolve!
3. Vintage White High Tops
These Vans are brand-new but they have a great vintage look that’ll make you feel like a character straight out of Stranger Things. They have a slightly cushioned design made of canvas, with some leather panels. The main color is white, but stripes of red, green, and orange add a punch of color in a ‘70s-inspired palette. Get them at Forward!
4. Baby Pink High-Top Trainers
These are the high-top sneakers you can imagine yourself wearing with a wedding dress, for a playful and quirky look. They were designed by Alexander Wang for Adidas, out of baby pink leather in bold geometric panels. The sole has a bit of a heel with a 1.5-inch platform, so they’ll add a bit of height to your silhouette. Find them at Nordstrom!
5. Tagged Distressed Hi-Tops
You can’t deny the magnetism of Off-White designs. They are eccentric and a little daring, playing with conventions by adding industrial embellishments. These distressed high tops, for example, are embellished with bright orange tags that stand out starkly against the distressed white leather. These shoes combine athletic and vintage elements with a slightly cushioned but otherwise old-school upper. You can order them from Net-a-Porter.
6. Platform Women’s High Tops
These women’s high-top sneakers are striking. They are made of stark white canvas with a sole to match, and they will add about 2 inches to your height because of their platform. They have minimal branding – just a small Superga tag. Otherwise, they are plain perfect for the modern, fashionable minimalist. Shop them at Revolve!
7. Orange-Soled High Tops for Women
The splash of color in these high tops is perfect for anyone who already has a warm-toned wardrobe. These Y-3 sneakers combine vintage and athletic elements perfectly, to make a comfortable and trendy shoe. They are made of white leather, with some black panels adding contrast. Pick them up from Shopbop!
8. Suede High-Top Sneakers
These suede hi-top sneakers from Isabel Marant are a great addition to a feminine wardrobe. Their color story is soft but modern, with a mixture of purple, gray, and white panels. The logo on the side is slightly distressed, which gives these an old-school feel. The sole is also a little distressed, which makes them less scary to wear. Purchase them through Farfetch!
9. Suede-Trimmed High Tops
The original Nike Blazer high tops came out in 1977, but this iteration of them screams that it’s 2019. They are made of cream-colored canvas, with a gray suede trim. The Nike swoop on the side is made of the same fabric as the rest of the upper, which lends these shoes a nice monochrome touch. They are available on Net-a-Porter.
10. Rubberized Black Hi-Top Sneakers
You will either love or hate this unique combination of old and new. The back part of the sole on these high-top shoes is oversized and made of bright yellow, semi-transparent rubber. Otherwise, these sneakers look pretty old school, with a plain black canvas upper and white laces. The Calvin Klein Jeans lettering along the side should please logo-maniacs. Grab them from Nordstrom!
11. Punchy Women’s High-Top Sneakers
All eyes will be on you when you go for a jog with these quirky high tops. They are made of white leather with the vamp covered by the punchy Champion brand name in blue and orange print. In case anyone misses that, they’ve also added a big C to the sides. They also have a velcro just above the laces, adding a bit of bulk. You can get them at Shopbop.
12. Pearl-Embellished Black High Tops
These Stuart Weitzman high-top sneakers for women are real standouts, with a design like nothing we’ve seen before. They combine a high-top silhouette with the romantic touch of faux pearls attached over the lace hooks. That makes them easier to pair with elegant dresses, even though the look will still be ultimately casual. Buy them from Moda Operandi!
13. Futuristic Women’s High Tops
Made by Chloé, these light gray high-top trainers have a unique feel that combines futuristic and industrial elements. Instead of laces, they are overlaid with orange grosgrain straps, with an upper made of a combination of suede, mesh and leather panels that come together in a color-blocked effect. The warm color pattern is distinctly ‘70s-inspired, which makes them even quirkier. They have a slightly elevated platform that helps balance out the leg. They are sold at Matches Fashion.
14. Black Hiker High Tops
You’ll feel sure-footed in these heavy black high tops. They are made of solid black leather with a raised sole to match. The design is clean enough to go with most outfits, but hiking-boot style laces add a unique touch. You will find these Veja high-top sneakers easiest to pair with an outdoorsy or dark wardrobe. Find them through Net-a-Porter!
15. Labeled Vintage High Tops
The design of these slim vintage high-top sneakers really echoes the original Converse, but with a twist. These white canvas sneakers are pretty stark, with the minor embellishment of two-colored eyelets and striped back strap in Thom Browne’s blue and red brand colors. The main embellishment here, however, is a playful zig-zag stitched tag that displays your shoe size. They are available at Nordstrom.
16. Distressed Varsity Hi-Tops
With these hi-tops, Saint Laurent combines heritage elements with the edginess of a distressed finish. These white leather shoes have a slim, vintage design that is pretty much a classic, and are even made more regal by a varsity logo on the side. You wouldn’t be faulted for feeling nervous to wear white Saint Laurent shoes out and about, so the distressed finish should take away some of that fear. Purchase them from My Theresa!
17. Chunky Pink Women’s High Tops
Despite how chunky these MSGM high tops are, they still look to be wearable and comfy. They have a thick raised sole that’ll add a couple of inches to your height while protecting your feet during exercise. Their upper is comprised of mesh and leather panels in pink, peach, and gray, while the rubber sole brightens things with a stripe of white. Order them from Farfetch!
18. Stretch Knit High Tops
Balenciaga totally changed the high-top trainers game with the stretch knit design. This unique design feels modern, even futuristic, and lends a unique twist to any outfit. It also makes them slip-ons, which is great for all the lace haters out there, with a bulky rubber sole that’s 1-inch high. We love this iteration of them in pink. Shop them online through Net-a-Porter!
19. PVC Panel High Tops
Who thought that PVC could be so darn luxurious? Well, Christian Louboutin did. The design of this vintage-inspired hi-tops relies on white leather to balance out the PVC side panels and vamp, which allow you to peek through at the torn shopping bag and red leather embellishments. Of course, the brand name on the shopping bag is loud and clear in its readability. Pick them up from Matches Fashion!
High-top sneakers, sometimes also referred to as high tops, are a category of athletic shoes that have a shaft, almost like a boot, that extends over the ankle. Traditionally, high-top trainers are usually the go-to style for basketball shoes, with the first pair of shoes to popularize the style being Converse All-Stars made for basketball players, all the way back in 1917.
Mainstream fashion went through a very slow process of de-formalization throughout the 20th century, but for the bulk of it the only time women would have worn high tops (or any kind of sneaker for that matter) would have been while doing exercises that required it. It was during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s that, along with the rise of athleisure, that women’s high-top sneakers became a regular sight to behold.
Not all hi-tops were made equal! Here are my tips for choosing the right pair of high-top sneakers for you, based on your style and your needs.
There are two main aesthetics when it comes to hi-top designs. The first is the retro, Converse-style design, which is thinner. The shoes can be made of canvas or leather, usually in one solid color and without too many panels of material.
These days, they are perceived as less athletic but still casual. They are usually constructed with a flatter sole, so they are also not ergonomic enough for athletic activity, though they will suffice for errands and city breaks.
The second aesthetic is more athletic, with a thicker upper and soles designed to protect the foot during exercise. The upper can be made of leather, mesh, synthetics, or any combination of the three, normally with multiple panels stitched together. These high-top sneakers fit in well with other athleisure garments and can be worn during exercise or as part of one’s street style.
These days, women’s high tops can be worn with nearly every outfit, so you should definitely choose the pair that you can pair with the most garments. You will probably get the most mileage out of neutral-colored high tops in black, cream, or white.
However, if you already have a colorful wardrobe or if you tend to gravitate to a particular color story, then perhaps a pair of colorful high-top sneakers will also work. Multi-color hi-tops are another great choice since you can rely on their color palette to work with a variety of different looks, especially if your wardrobe is very diverse.
All high-top trainers are made with rubber soles, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Since one of the drawbacks of high tops is that they shorten the leg, you might find yourself preferring a pair with larger soles.
In addition to traditional flat soles, high tops can also come with elevated soles and even angled ones that mimic the shaping effect of a pair of high heels. If your main goal is function, however, choose a pair of high-top sneakers with a chunky sole that can absorb the shock of exercise.
If you have read some of my previous articles covering sneakers, you may have noticed that I often single out low tops as a great outfit pairing, since they feel more feminine and are considerably easier to style. Because of their effect on the legs, high tops can be difficult to style, but rest assured, I have a few tips that will make it easier.
• One secret to making women’s high tops a little more flattering is to keep the laces mostly undone at the top. This gives the shaft a wider silhouette, which makes the leg look slimmer in turn. It also adds to the casual vibe of hi-tops and can be particularly cool with a more athletic pair.
• The easiest way to rock all types of high tops is with a pair of jeans. In most instances, you should probably stay away from super skinny jeans, since they can really emphasize the bulk of your hi-tops. Instead, embrace bootleg, distressed hem, and high-cut mom jeans, for a modern take on the vintage look. Having a bit of skin show between the hem of your jeans and high tops is crucial for keeping your legs looking a little more elongated.
• The main exception to the “no skinny jeans” suggestion is if your style leans towards more urban-streetwear, in which case more athletic high tops with a chunky shaft can look really cool with a pair of skinny jeans. You’ll get double points if your high tops have a bit of a heel to them.
• In general, an athletic look, including workout shorts, leggings, sweat pants, hoodies, sports bras, and T-shirts will always be a natural complement to a pair of high tops, especially if they are the more modern, athletic type.
• If you have a pair of trousers that is a little long you might want to roll their hems up just a smidge to show off the entirety of your high tops. This will also help balance out the bulk of your shoes.
• Wearing dresses with high-top sneakers can be a polarizing choice. You will see some influencers pair large or nearly-formal dresses with high tops, but we’re not totally convinced that this look works. If you’re into it, then go for it! It’s perfectly acceptable, even if we have our reservations.
• We find it easier to enjoy the combination of high tops with short, casual dresses or skirts. Showing a bit of leg is always sexy, and the combination itself is not as jarring since there is more neutral space in between the hem of the skirt and the shoes.
• You can also balance out the combination of hi-tops and skirts or dresses by throwing on a casual jean jacket.
• If you’re wearing your high tops with a skirt or shorts, you can add to the complexity of your look (and sometimes make a more cohesive color story) by adding a pair of socks that can stick out over the shaft. This look is also a little playful and girlish, which we love. You can do the same with tights or pantyhose for a warmer and more sophisticated look.
• When it comes to minimalistic, monochrome high tops, it is usually easiest to wear them if you already have a modern minimalist style. Think monochrome outfits with loose trousers, tunics, and a pair of futuristic high tops.
Photos via @mikutas, @collagevintage, @black_palms