Sneakers dominantly take their heritage from running, basketball, skate, tennis, training, hiking, and football. Still retaining a few of their performance-based technologies, these sneakers have transcended their respective niches and have successfully and popularly transformed themselves as staples of fashion footwear.
Sneakers designed for a laidback, "cool" vibe that is built for lifestyle wear right from the get-go.
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Brands are now blending elements of performance and casual appeal in basically every sneaker. One can hardly go wrong with a sports-inspired sneaker or a simple casual shoe.
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The high-top is a type of shoe construction that exceeds mildly over the wearer’s ankle. This construction is regularly seen on basketball shoes. It is a common mistake to be confused the high-top with the mid-top, as the mid-top extends up to the wearer’s ankle. It should also be not mistaken to be the same as the ankle boots, because boots are not necessarily referred to as athletic shoes, which the high-tops are.
Shortly after the invention of the game of basketball at the end of the 1800s, the rubber company Spalding released the first basketball sneaker. It is a canvas high-top with a thin rubber sole. After some time, Converse released the Chuck Taylor, which bears similar materials and profile to the one that Spalding released. The Chucks went on to become the most famous and timeless sneaker in history.
According to the Toronto-based senior curator Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum, the ankle protection feature of the high-top was not the main selling point. She said that it was because the ankle-covering aspect of the sneaker is a “reflection” of the ankle boots which men usually wore during that period.
Today, high top shoes are not only seen on the basketball courts, but also are a common sight in street fashion. We compiled a list of high top casual shoes that gained acclaim from reviewers and other relative topics.
Exceptional High Top Casual Shoes
Most of the shoes mentioned in this section are strictly design for casual lifestyle use. Prices and size range noted may not be entirely accurate all the time.
Timberland Killington Hiker Chukka Boots
Regular Price: $130
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 13
Notable Color Options: Grey / Grey, Wheat, and Navy Blue
As one of the recognized brands is street-style fashion, Timberland has a massive catalogue of shoes that defines its reputation of style and performance. Among these shoes is the Timberland Killington Hiker Chukka Boots, which sports a mix of ruggedness and sophistication. Despite the rigid appearance, the users found out that it is pleasantly light. It has a soft sole that works well for an all-day wear regardless of the season.
Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost
Regular Price: $350
Size Range: Men’s – 6 to 13
Notable Color Options: Light Brown / Carbon White – Light Brown, Triple Black, Glow in the Dark, and Chocolate
One of the most anticipated, hyped, and coveted sneakers in recent memory is the Yeezy 750 Boost. It is first Yeezy that is released after the sneaker line's departure from Nike. There isn't one single aspect that made the Yeezy 750 Boost desirable, but it is a combination of various design details. It has a boot-like minimized profile that locks fit via a full-length zipper across the side. Securing the foot further is made possible by a round rope shoelaces and Velcro strap enclosure on top and midfoot.
Another eye-catching detail is the perforated vamp that contributes to the shoe's breathability. Celebrities and music artists have been seen sporting the Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost. Kanye West, Big Sean, The Game, 2 Chainz, Travis Scott, and Kris Jenner just to name a few.
Ecco Soft 7 High Top
Regular Price: $170
Size Range: Men’s –5 to 14.5 / Women’s - 4 to 12.5
Notable Color Options: Black, Mahogany, and Deep Forest
Ecco has been known for its craftsmanship and the release of the Soft 7 High Top only solidifies the brand's reputation for it. This model is graced with full-grain soft leather and premium suede upper that makes it resemble a modern iteration of old-school basketball kicks. Style and comfort is never in question, according to the users. What may seem like a trivial detail, but the Ecco Soft 7 High Top's leather laces is a definite factor of this sneaker's elite vibe.
By having a feature of being softer over regular use, the shoe delivers a comfort that cannot be compared with others. The smooth leather lined construction and the Ecco Comfort Fibre System removable insole allows it to wick moisture. Built for all-season wear, the Soft 7 High Top has all the essentials for today's active lifestyle.
Timberland Killington Chukka Sneaker Boots
Regular Price: $125
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 13 / Women’s – 6 to 12
Notable Color Options: Black Full – Grain / Mesh, Wheat, and Buckskin / Scarab / Brindle Olive
Timberland added a dressier look to its Killington collection with a one-off blend of mesh and leather, the Timberland Killington Chukka Sneaker Boots. This stylish fusion of materials make this iteration more appealing. Optimal underfoot support is expected because of the SensorFlex™ tech, which is a comfort system that immediately adapts to uneven surfaces to provide a seamless and stable wear.
Thanks to its Ortholite insole, it gives moisture-absorbing properties and limits the growth of bacteria while delivering adequate cushioning. Timberland is also making its contribution to the environment by having this shoe's breathable mesh linings consists of 50% PET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). The PET is utilized to produce plastic bottles.
Ecco Soft 8 High Top
Regular Price: $190
Size Range: Men’s – 5.5 to 12.5 / Women’s 4.5 to 11.5
Notable Color Options: Indigo 5 / Powder 1, Black, and Titanium
A worthy follow-up to its highly-rated predecessor, the Soft 8 High Top by Ecco continues the theme of elegance and function. Aming to have an enigmatic pebbled texture, the Soft 8 High Top's leather upper has been re-tanned, while exhibiting a contrast with a Scandinavian-style sole. Its inlay sole follows the shape of the wearer's foot for enhanced stability.
Among its highlights are the sophisticated sculptured leather and leather lining. The brand's trademark insole is equipped with Comfort Fibre System™, which helps keep the foot fresh and dry during every season. It has a lightweight and flexible outsole that gives optimal grip and impressive durability. This modern-styled thick outsole has a direct-injected PU, which allows it to be supple but resilient as well.
UGG Cali Sneaker High
Regular Price: $170
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 15
Notable Color Options: Black, White, and Chestnut
The Cali Sneaker High embodies the relaxed and casual vibe of the most famous state in the West Coast. Thanks to its premium leather and suede upper, the shoe has a nice touch of elegance. The soft leather is constructed up to the high upper with perforations that gives ample ventilation. For cushioning, the open-cell PU foam at the insole makes it possible. Its built-in arch support minimizes foot discomfort and improves the stability. Many wearers are delighted that the UGG Cali Sneaker High package comes with flat cotton laces. UGG released a low-cut model of this sneaker, called the UGG Cali Sneaker Low.
Ecco Soft 7 Premium Boot
Regular Price: $200
Size Range: Men’s – 5 to 16 / Ladies could also wear it, just need to deduct 1.5 sizes from their regular measurement
Notable Color Options: Deep Forest Premium Leather, Mahogany, Black / Lion, and Whisky Premium Leather
The Soft 7 Premium Boot is a posh version of the Ecco Soft 7 High Top, with its elegant full-grain leather upper that exhibits a light distressed effect. This design feature resembles the unique wood aesthetic that several of its wearers found very appealing and distinctive.
Another astounding aspect of this shoe is the lowered heel collar that allows more mobility and an easy wear on and off. The brand's signature tech, the Comfort Fibre System ensures prime comfort. This tech provides moisture-absorbent properties that dampens the growth of bacteria and odor. Also, Ecco brandings are situated the lateral side.
Polo Ralph Lauren Tavis
Regular Price: $110
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 16
Notable Color Options: Charcoal and Tan
The moccasin-stitched toe box of the Ralph Lauren Tavis together with the rest of the design elements allows for a classic and sophisticated vibe. Adding on to that elegant theme are the metallic grommet eyelets and double-shaded laces. There is a back pull tab that offers an easy foot entry and exit. The tonal midsole also contributes to the overall classy looks of the Tavis Leather High Top.
An embossed Polo branding is seen at the tongue while the Polo Player emblem is placed at the sides, just below the collar. With its vintage-looking leather construction and other striking details, the Polo Ralph Lauren Tavis can be worn during semi-formal occasions or even holidays.
Polo Ralph Lauren Clarke
Regular Price: $90
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 13
Notable Color Options: Blue, Black, Tan, and Dark Brown
Ralph Lauren is one of those shoe brands that is more favored by older consumers because of the classic design it applies to most of its sneakers, and the Polo Ralph Lauren Clarke solidifies that notion. This high-top features a mix of canvas and leather upper with a silhouette that vaguely resembles the all-timer Chuck Taylor.
Due to the shoe's design, it blends with a wide variety of casual pants and different types of trousers. On the ankle area, a debossed Polo player logo is placed. Also, padded leather is stitched at the side which gives a classy vibe to this sneaker. Polo Ralph Lauren released a complete suede variation of the Clarke.
Keen Anchorage III Waterproof Boot
Regular Price: $135
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 17
Notable Color Options: Black / Raven and Dark Earth / Mulch
The underrated shoe brand Keen continues its consistent release of high-quality footwear in the form of the Anchorage III Waterproof Boot. This all-season shoe might not have the flair of others, but it is easy to see why the majority of its buyers have almost nothing but pleasing comments about it. It sports an upper that consists of full-grain nubuck leather that not only looks sleek but also providing an amount of water resistance.
Ideal during the cold weather, the Keen Anchorage III Waterproof Boot keeps the foot fresh due to the 200 grams of KEEN.Warm insulation on its interior and the thermal heat-shield insole. The outsole is made from KEEN. Freeze rubber, which provides traction on ice and snow. Because of these features, it is not hard to see why the high-top is favoured by many despite its nondescript exterior.
Puma x FENTY Chelsea Sneaker Boot
Regular Price: $220
Size Range: Men’s – 5 to 14 / Women’s – 4 to 11
Notable Color Options: White, Sterling Blue – Black – Limeade, and Triple Black
A-list music artist Rihanna and Puma look forward to continue its great collection of shoes in the form of Puma x Fenty Chelsea Sneaker Boot. It is released as part of the "University Collection," which highlights the blend of high-end fashion aesthetics with school-based elements. This high-top is an update of the popular Creeper shoe platform, but with an eye-catching shape and minimal decorations.
Best suited to sport during the winter season, the high-top not only provides the comfort but also the flair. One notable feature is the stretchable garter, which is located at the rear that offers a relaxed foot entry and exit. As a bonus, a dust bag is included in the package of the Puma x Fenty Chelsea Sneaker Boot.
Nike Flystepper 2K3 PRM
Regular Price: $90
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 15
Notable Color Options: Red / White, Hyper Cobalt / Chrome, and Black / Black / White
First released in 2014, the Nike Flystepper, together with the Nike Air Force 1 Low CMFT and Nike Air Up ‘14, are part of the Crescent City Collection. These shoes are all inspired by New Orleans’ traditions, culture, and wildlife. Inspired by the elements of the Flystepper and Zoom 2K3, the Nike Flystepper 2K3 PRM is an all-new high-top footwear that is released exclusively for males.
It features strap enclosures that are made from faux-alligator skin. Synthetic leeather coverings are used on the toe box as a tribute to the city’s kings of the bayou. The perforations all over the quarter panels of the model are taken from the Nike Zoom Flight 2K3. The style and fabric of the Flystepper 2K3 PRM varies on some colorways.
SeaVees Mariners Boot
Regular Price: $178
Size Range: Men’s – 7 to 13 / Females need to subtract 1.5 sizes from their usual shoe size to compensate
Notable Color Options: Black and Burnt Olive
The SeaVees Mariners Boot showcases an impressive combination of genuine Ventie duck canvas that is waterproof, cotton canvas lining, and sealed construction to give exceptional protection from hostile conditions. This high-top's footbed is equipped with hypoallergenic antibacterial canvas lining that aims to keep the foot fresh and odor-free. The brand's trademark herringbone rubber outsole give stability and cushioning. Design-wise, the SeaVees Mariners Boot features a streamlined silhouette and a no-nonsense design, which allow it to be versatile enough to be worn with a myriad of casual outfit.
Frequently-Asked Questions about High Top Casual Sneakers
What are the most popular casual sneakers in history?
The shoes listed below is not necessarily categorized as a lifestyle shoe. But due to their impact, the transition to lifestyle is inevitable.
Nike Air Force 1
One of Nike’s prized silhouettes, the AF1 series has come a long way. Originally designed to be worn on the basketball court, the original Air Force 1 is first introduced in 1982. Promoted with the slogan “Air in the Box,” six NBA players are chosen to endorse the sneaker. According to designer Bruce Kilgore, the inspiration behind the AF1 is Nike’s hiking boots.
Despite the AF1’s success in the market, the shoes was discontinued. Nike was initially reluctant on the idea of “re-issuing,” but after witnessing the consumers’ clamor for the shoe, the company gave in to the demand. With more or less 2,000 versions of the Air Force 1 released, it is without a doubt that it is among the best high top casual shoes for men on the market.
Here are the some AF1 sneakers that earned great remarks:
It may seem a little bit unfair to the AF1, but the shoe that made Nike what it is today is the release of the Air Jordan 1. Regarded by many as the sneaker that propelled the sneaker industry to worldwide success, the AJ 1 became a staple in lifestyle fashion largely due to the stature of its endorser, the back-then rookie Michael Jordan.
As Jordan quickly rose to NBA stardom during his rookie season, the sneaker gained notoriety not only in the courts but also on the streets. It is widely reported that people were getting mugged because of simply wearing the AJ1. Due to its overwhelming success in sales, subsequent models followed and the rest is history. The first Air Jordan is among the best men's high top casual shoes that was ever released.
Below are some of the latest releases of the Air Jordan 1:
Air Jordan 1 High Moto
Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG
Air Jordan 1 Retro High Zip
Air Jordan 1 XX Rebel
Union x Air Jordan 1
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Recognized by many as the quintessential sneaker in history, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star or Chucks for short, has been around since the early 1900s. Back then, the game of basketball is on its early stages of exposure, and the shoe was designed for the sport. Thus, not too many people are enamored by it. Even its endorser, Chuck Taylor, needed to have another job as the money aspect is not great at that period.
Not exactly an overnight success, it took some time before the Chucks became a household name. Because of the shoe’s comfort, inexpensive price tag, a universal appeal, countless colorways, iterations, collaborations, and limited edition sneakers are attributed to it. A bit of trivia, more than 60% of USA citizens have owned at least a pair of Chucks. It wouldn’t be necessary wrong to assume that it is the standard women's high top casual shoes.
Here are some notable Converse Chuck Taylor All Star models:
Popular online retailers such as Amazon, Nordstrom, and Zappos offer discounted offers of high top kicks. Brand websites are also giving agreeable prices.
How to wear high top casual shoes?
Wearing these shoes with fitted jeans is the most popular choice as it blends naturally with it. But, it is also common to sport these sneakers with baggy pants. Sporting them with jackets and coats are also viable, especially during cold weather.
Which high tops are popular with women?
The Vans SK8-Hi and Converse Chuck Taylor All Star and its respective subsequent versions are arguably the most popular women's high top casual sneakers. These kicks had withstood the test of time because of their versatility, comfort, and budget-friendly price.
What are some of the challenges that comes with wearing high top sneakers?
Pairing the high tops with clothes is not as effortless as the low tops. Long jeans may not look good for some casual high tops such as the AJ1 and AF1. Another is the foot entry and exit. Some shoes may give wearers a bit of difficulty when sliding their foot inside or while slipping it out.
Are high top casual sneakers bad for one’s ankles?
According to some studies, it is debatable as there are factors to consider. High top casual shoes may provide the feeling of ankles being more stable, but the question lies whether that feeling of extra support protects the users from ankle sprains. There is no correct answer, as per Dr. Miniaci-Coxhead. She advised that muscle strength minimizes the occurrence of ankle sprains, rather than relying on the type of sneaker construction.
Do high top casual shoes make the wearer’s legs look shorter?
Yes but it depends. If the wearer pairs the shoe with jeans that exposes the collar, then it is. But, if the jeans cover the collar, then it will not give an effect that makes the legs shorter.
Are high top casual sneakers durable?
There are always exceptions as not all shoes are created with the same materials. But on average, they are. Padded collars and reinforced soles are a common combination for high tops, so we can expect a greater degree of durability to them compared to mid tops and low tops.
Which high top casual kicks are considered budget-friendly?
Here are a few high top casual shoes for women and men that costs less than $100. Prices mentioned below may not be always accurate.