General Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Why is it that only Americans tend to favor sneakers as their primary choice of "going out" shoes?

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30 Answers

Ivan's avatar

They’re comfortable, I guess.

chelseababyy's avatar

I don’t own a pair of sneakers, and haven’t in 3–4 years.

DominicX's avatar

What exactly are “sneakers”?

I’m not being stupid; I don’t use that term and neither does anyone else around here. Also, what do non-Americans wear when they go out?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Rebellion against adulthood, against dressing up like “sellouts”. The decades old idea that only a working stiff or “square” would take more effort with their appearance if not at work. Shoe companies have taken full advantage of this and given us every type of sneaker imaginable to choose from in order to express our anti dress shoes bents. So now, your old school Keds, Vans and Converse are avail in $200—$300. variations. Joy.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@DominicX Athletic shoes. Air Jordans as “dress shoes” is a funny concept. I guarantee that at least 5 people at everyone’s senior prom in the US (do other nations besides the US even have proms?) wore sneakers with a tux.

DominicX's avatar


Really? That’s ugly in my opinion. Most people at my prom and graduation wore dress shoes.

By “going out” do you mean going anywhere or do you mean more formal events? I believe dress shoes are best for formal events and I wear those to formal events, but I will wear athletic shoes anywhere else and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@DominicX There’s nothing wrong with that. I spend most of my day on my feet so I wear sneakers because they’re practical. Dress shoes all day kill my feet.

It was a discussion I had with some co-workers. We discussed how european fashions differ from American and how sneakers as fashion seem to be unique to the US.

Having been to europe, my experience was that people wearing sneakers was a rarity and the people who did wear those, were American tourists.

DominicX's avatar


You know, I’ve been to Europe many times but their shoes weren’t something I’ve ever noticed, now I kind of wish I had paid more attention…

What about shorts? Do Europeans wear dress shoes with shorts? That would look kind of cooky outside of the early 1900s…

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@DominicX I went to Europe in February. No one wore shorts.
The Americans were easily identified by their baseball caps, t shirts, fanatical devotion to denim and sneakers. No judgments, just observations.

DominicX's avatar


Man, I went to Europe in the summer and I still didn’t even notice…oh well…

What parts of Europe did you go to? I went to Italy, France, England, Germany, and Austria. This summer I’m going to go to Russia, but I know that Eastern Europe can be different from a lot of other places in Europe.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@DominicX It was several Februarys ago. I saw Belgium and Holland. I haven’t seen nearly enough of the world. I wish I were in a position to see more.

Likeradar's avatar

@The_compassionate_heretic Have you seen this in women too? I see lots of guys dressed up but in cool sneakers (I actually think it’s kinda hot) but I don’t see many women doing it.

Americans tend to be very casual. Sad, really.

DominicX's avatar


Why is being casual “sad”? Most of life is casual. Formal events are formal and special and should stay that way. If more things are made formal, what’s the point of differentiating more formal events in the first place?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Likeradar I don’t see many women wearing sneakers these days.

@DominicX In Europe Americans are seen as inappropriately casual and they actually do have a point. Recall the last time you went out to dinner. How many t-shirts did you see there?

Likeradar's avatar

@DominicX I’m a fan of dressing for an occasion, and I think it’s unappealing to get dressed up for a nice dinner and see other people in flip flops and shorts. I think it shows laziness. People have a right to wear what they want, but I also have a right to think it’s a sad commentary on society that people tend to not bother to dress for occasions anymore. :) I love seeing old movies and pictures where both sexes really do themselves up for going out. I think it shows pride in oneself.

This was written by someone who is happy she has a job where it’s appropriate to wear tank tops and flip flops.

DominicX's avatar


It just doesn’t bother me. I don’t consider it a bad thing. I wouldn’t even consider it bad if someone wore a T-shirt to the symphony. It’s not what I would do, but it doesn’t bother me. It would only start to bother me if people thought I was doing something wrong by wearing a suit to the symphony. Just like it would bother me if people thought I was overdressed by wearing a collar shirt to a nice dinner. But it doesn’t bother me that other people don’t. I don’t put that much emphasis on clothing; it’s just something that’s important to me personally. I have every right to think that.


I’m a fan of dressing for occasions too. I wasn’t sure what you considered to be an “occasion”. A nice dinner, a wedding, a formal meeting, a formal gathering, a graduation, a theatrical or classical performance, etc. Those are the kinds of things I would dress formally for and I do. But just walking down the street or going to a mall or a middle-tier restaurant, or going to a museum…I would dress casually for those and I would have no problem doing it.

robmandu's avatar

Why is it that people who don’t know what they’re talking about make broad, sweeping, stereotypical comments in an attempt to deride a population they disdain?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@robmandu I invite you to read the question and responses in their entirety before making such judgments.

robmandu's avatar

Yup. Re-did. And I stand by my statement.

You can say “no judgement” all you like, but it’s obvious you don’t mean it from your tone and choice of vocabulary.

Hey, I wish Europeans bathed more than once a week. No judgement. Smell like you want. Greasy hair and all.~

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Ok, so we’ll just leave this one where it is then.

jlm11f's avatar

Maybe the company I keep is just very different from yours, but I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. Can we see some statistics about sneaker usage in USA vs. other places?

If I saw someone wearing sneakers at prom, I would assume they don’t have the money to afford dress shoes rather than anything else. Also, I don’t remember a single person wearing sneakers at our prom, I obviously wasn’t looking out for this and could have easily just not come across those that were wearing it in the big hall, but if I did see it, it would have stood out in my memory. And I am sure I would have heard about it through other people too.

This is not to imply that I don’t like sneakers. I think sneakers are the most sensible choice of shoes in many occasions especially when it is traveling and touring.

Edit – In fact, now that I think about it, when I moved to USA, I was surprised by how much lesser people wear sneakers here as opposed to what I was used to.

shadling21's avatar

I take pride in choosing the nicest sneaks for whatever occasion. They’re comfy and cool. It’s a style, and one that I will probably grow out of, but let me dress how I want, okay? There is nothing wrong with dressing casual!

In answer to the question itself… Yeah, I’d need to see some stats, too. I believe that sneakers are popular around the world.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

No stats. Sorry.

I was hoping the tags on the question might alleviate any impressions of this being an ├╝ber-serious question.

As a sneaker wearing American myself, I was merely reciting an at-work discussion during a slow period during the day.

Facade's avatar

I only wear sneakers to the gym.

EmpressPixie's avatar

There were no sneakers at my prom. I promise. We had a pretty strict dress code when it came to formal dances. (Public school).

I wear sandals and boots. And sometimes black leather walking shoes. Definitely no sneakers. I’m not sure I even own a pair. None of my friends wear them either.

tinyfaery's avatar

To me sneakers are not athletic shoes. I wear my New Balance’s when I work out, but I would never wear them casually—that’s what Converse are for.

cookieman's avatar

‘cuz Gray Low Top Chucks go with (almost) everything.

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