Columns, Opinion

Hofberg: Workout shoes and jeans

Listen up gentlemen, this one’s for you.

No longer can I keep quiet about a serious fashion faux pas that I experience on a daily basis: workout shoes and jeans. I’m sorry. I don’t care how comfortable or practical your Reeboks are, when you wear them as everyday footwear. You look ridiculous and you all need to take them off immediately.

In fact, there is only one instance I can think of in which workout shoes are acceptable and appropriate attire — and that would be when you’re actually working out. Wearing them for any other reason is just stylishly amateur and surefire lady repellent.

Why is the paring of jeans and workout shoes such an unattractive combination, you may ask? For starters, they’re clunky, and when you wear them with jeans you look more like a confused junior high schooler that hasn’t grown into his body yet. The chunkiness of the workout shoe isn’t the only problem. It’s also the futuristic look of the modern day workout shoe with weird neon stripes, honeycomb webbing and metallic logos that look like they were designed for space age performance. Are you headed to Mars in those shoes, or just to class?

I believe the problem lies in men not realizing how much women notice their footwear. But let me tell you fellas, we are definitely paying attention. A recent survey of 1,000 American men and women by the men’s footwear brand Allen Edmonds found that women judge men’s shoes twice as much as men judge women’s. And I hate to break to you men, but the survey not only found that 64 percent of women judge a man’s fashion sense based on his shoes but also that 52 percent of women say they judge a man’s personality by his choice in footwear.

So here’s what running sneakers with jeans say to women looking at you from head to toe: You are indifferent to style. Not only do you seem to lack a complete understanding of current fashion trends, but you appear lazy, boring and completely oblivious. When you’re repping your favorite pair of Asics, it shows us that you started to get ready and after all the work you put into picking out a shirt that went with your pants, you just gave up.

Laziness. It’s a trait that, I promise you, us females are not looking for in a mate.

But your New Balance sneakers are comfortable and practical, you say? Please. Stop it. We ladies wear four-inch heels on a regular basis because we understand the importance of looking our best, despite comfort and practicality. If we can stand to work, dance and walk on Boston brick in platforms, then you gentleman can make the simple effort of swapping your running sneakers for something a little less hideous like a classic pair of lace-up Vans or a discreet pair of Converse.

What really gets me is how frequently I observe this style crime. Unfortunately, it seems that a majority of men haven’t gotten the memo that pairing Nike running shoes with denim is the ultimate fashion sin. Walk down just one campus block and count the number of times you see a guy wearing the world’s most atrocious combination of denim and running shoes. Any number more than one should appall you because we live in a bustling, buzzing, cosmopolitan city in which fashion trends should be set, not set back!

It never ceases to amaze me how far from fashionable our city is, even being in such close proximity to New York, one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Do we live in Boston or Birmingham? Sometimes I can’t tell. If the men in this city want to be recognized and respected as contemporary and culturally competent individuals, then they better start dressing like it.

It’s not that I’m completely superficial. I understand that personalities are not totally defined by the way we look, but I truly believe in the power of dressing to impress. When you look good, you feel good, and who doesn’t want to feel good? We may not be in control of all aspects of our physicality, but we do have control over the way we dress ourselves and if our whole look can be transformed by something as simple as our choice in shoes, I don’t understand why jeans and workout shoes seem to be the rule, and not the exception.

So to those of you men who are reading this with New Balance running shoes on your feet, please, do us all, including yourself, a favor, and get some practical use out of them. Run to the nearest shoe store — and I don’t mean Foot Locker — and get yourself a new pair. You can thank me later for the free fashion advice.


Kate Hofberg is a graduate student in the College of Communication. She can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Great peice! I feel the same way about women who don’t wear dresses or take the time to apply makeup before they go out. They are giving the same message as those jeans-wearing men – “You are indifferent to style. Not only do you seem to lack a complete understanding of current fashion trends, but you appear lazy, boring and completely oblivious”

    And just like men and their sneakers, women should only be without make-up and pretty clothes in one instance “— and that would be when you’re … working out. … any other reason is just stylishly amateur and surefire [man] repellent.”

    Keep up the great commentary, Katie. Someday you’ll make some lucky guy a great wife!

  2. Another hard hitting piece of journalism. I look forward to you making my latte to pay off your worthless degree for the coming decade