My friend Chris emailed the other day, proudly showing off two new pairs of sneakers he recently ordered. “Send help,” he wrote. “J.Crew’s New Balances get me every time.”
Since starting Jeans & Ties, I’ve become a bit of a sounding board for friends—and strangers—on all things style. It’s flattering and fun and has led to the types of conversations I hoped to stimulate when I launched J&T. I’m far from a fashion expert, so I try to bring an everyman’s perspective to my advice. In this particular instance, however, I got a little picky.
“I love the bold colors, but not sure I can get on board with the super Abzorb padding,” I wrote my friend. “It reminds me of old people who buy outlet-mall New Balances for walking reasons.”
As it turns out, Chris was having the same thoughts. I sent him a link to a lower profile sneaker I loved—but that happened to be for 5-year-olds—and we agreed it was a much sharper look. A few hours later, a forwarded Zappos order confirmation arrived in my inbox.
My friend indeed might need some counseling for his shoe addiction (he comes by it honestly, having worked in a sneaker store as a teenager), but there’s an important lesson here. And that is: J.Crew isn’t the alpha and the omega for style. I love J.Crew’s stuff as much as the next guy, and find myself going there first when a need arises, but there are often better options for less money to be found with just a little searching.
The super-padded J.Crew New Balance 998s were $160 apiece, or $320 total for two pairs. The low-profile Zappos New Balance U410s were $65 apiece, or $195 total for three pairs. By spending some time clicking around the Internet, Chris was able to get three pairs of shoes he loved for essentially the same price as one pair he didn’t really love.
Chris’ rationale for buying all three:
I tend to wear sneakers a lot. I wear them on Fridays to work, to Whole Foods or running errands, to hockey games or just to a bar to meet friends. I wear them with jeans mostly, but in the summer, I’m a big fan of shorts with some nice sneakers and no-show socks. My style has changed over time. Right now, I love Nike running shoes and Adidas, but New Balance has always been my favorite. And I like having different options for different looks. Three of the same shoe might be overboard, but I’m keeping them since I just got a bonus and #treatyoself.
Hard to argue with that logic. And as Chris said signing off, “Nobody’s sneaker game will be more on point this summer.”