Dad Shoes: From Meme to Mainstream

dad shoes

There are some styles of fashion that are infamous for being specifically worn by dads. Dad jeans, dad shirts, and of course, the dad shoes. Some guys you see out, you can tell just by what kind of shoes they’re wearing that they’re a father of little (or grown) ones, and you’re observing a man that prioritizes comfort over everything. 

What are Dad Shoes?

At their core, dad shoes are a nostalgic nod to the footwear favored by suburban dads of yesteryear. Think chunky silhouettes, oversized proportions, and a healthy dose of orthopedic-inspired design elements. These shoes are not about sleekness or athleticism; they’re about practicality and comfort, often featuring features like ample cushioning, sturdy construction, and supportive arches.

But what sets dad shoes apart from your average pair of sneakers is their unapologetic embrace of their “uncool” aesthetic. While traditional sneakerheads might turn up their noses at their clunky profiles and retro colorways, dad shoes revel in their unabashedly unpretentious vibe, celebrating the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them a favorite amongst dads.

The Dad Shoes Meme

Of course, no discussion of dad shoes would be complete without acknowledging their origins as a meme. It’s no secret that dad shoes were once the subject of much mockery and ridicule, with social media gleefully poking fun at their unfashionable appearance and ‘dorky’ design. But what started as a joke quickly morphed into a full-blown trend, as fashion-forward dads began embracing the irony of sporting footwear that was once considered the epitome of uncool.

Famous People Known For Rocking Dad Shoes

From beloved TV characters to real-life icons, there’s a diverse array of famous individuals who have left their mark on the dad shoe phenomenon.

Jerry Seinfeld

As the titular character in the iconic sitcom “Seinfeld,” Jerry Seinfeld often sported dad shoes as part of his signature casual-cool style. His preference for chunky white sneakers became synonymous with the character’s laid-back persona and everyday aesthetic.

Steve Jobs

The late co-founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs, was famously photographed wearing New Balance 991 sneakers, cementing his status as a pioneer of the dad shoe trend. Jobs’ affinity for comfortable, no-frills footwear reflected his practical approach to fashion and his focus on innovation over aesthetics.

Barack Obama

The former President of the United States, Barack Obama, was frequently spotted wearing New Balance sneakers during his time in office. His choice of dad shoes exemplified his down-to-earth demeanor and relatable sense of style, endearing him to voters and fashion enthusiasts alike.

Bill Gates

Similar to Steve Jobs, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been photographed wearing dad shoes on numerous occasions, reflecting his pragmatic approach to fashion and his focus on comfort and functionality over trends.

Jerry Garcia

The legendary Grateful Dead guitarist was known for his eclectic style, which often included chunky sneakers reminiscent of dad shoes. Garcia’s laid-back aesthetic and love of comfort made him a natural fit for the dad shoe trend, inspiring generations of fans to embrace their own unique sense of style.

Why is New Balance the Ultimate Dad Shoe?

When it comes to dad shoes, few brands have embraced the trend with as much gusto as New Balance. Known for their timeless designs and comfort, New Balance sneakers have long been a favorite among dads and trendsetters alike. But it wasn’t until the resurgence of the dad shoe trend that the brand truly began to shine.

With their iconic chunky silhouettes and no-frill, retro-inspired designs, New Balance dad shoes strike the perfect balance between style and substance, offering a nostalgic nod to the past while remaining firmly rooted in the present. Whether you’re pounding the pavement or just kicking back on the weekend, these sneakers are sure to keep you looking and feeling your best.

The Best Dad Shoes

To help you navigate the wide world of dad shoes, we’ve rounded up five of the top-rated options available on Amazon, each offering its own unique blend of comfort, style, and durability.

New Balance Men’s 990v5 Sneaker

Made from premium pigskin suede and mesh, the 990v5 offers max comfort and support, with a cushioned midsole and supportive arch designed to keep you comfortable all day long. Plus, with its classic silhouette and understated colorways, it’s sure to pair perfectly with any outfit.

Nike Air Monarch IV

The Air Monarch IV is a true classic, with its chunky design and iconic Swoosh logo making it an instant favorite among dad shoe aficionados. Featuring a leather upper and Air-Sole unit for maximum cushioning and support, these sneakers are perfect for everything from weekend errands to backyard barbecues.

Adidas Originals Men’s Yung-96

With its retro-inspired design and bold colorblocking, the Yung-96 is a standout choice for those looking to make a statement. Constructed with a mesh and nubuck upper and lightweight EVA midsole, these sneakers offer both style and comfort in equal measure, making them a must-have addition to any sneaker collection.

ASICS Men’s GEL-Kayano 5 OG

Combining retro styling with modern technology, the GEL-Kayano 5 OG offers the best of both worlds. Featuring ASICS’ signature GEL cushioning system and breathable mesh upper, these sneakers provide superior comfort and support with every step, making them ideal for long days on your feet.

FILA Men’s Disruptor II Sneaker

With its exaggerated sole and chunky silhouette, the Disruptor II is a bold take on the dad shoe trend. Crafted from durable leather and featuring a padded collar and tongue for added comfort, these sneakers are as practical as they are stylish, making them a go-to choice for fashion-forward dads everywhere.

How to Style Dad Shoes

When it comes to styling dad shoes, the key is to embrace their laid-back vibe and pair them with casual, relaxed pieces. Think jeans and a t-shirt for an easy weekend look, or dress them up with chinos and a button-down for more dressier occasions. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and textures – after all, dad shoes are all about embracing your individuality and having fun with your style.

Every Day Look

dad shoes
  • Pair your dad shoes with a comfortable pair of slim-fit jeans or jorts and a relaxed T-shirt for a casual, every day look.
  • Layer on a flannel or denim jacket for added warmth and style.
  • Complete the look with a baseball cap or beanie for a casual, cool finish.

Sporty Casual

dad shoes
  • Opt for a pair of joggers or hoochie daddy shorts for a sporty twist on the dad shoe trend.
  • Pair with a simple T-shirt or tank top for a comfortable yet stylish look.
  • Finish off the outfit with a sleek bomber jacket or windbreaker for an extra dose of athleticism.
  • Accessorize with a sporty backpack or crossbody bag for added functionality.

Smart-Casual Ensemble

dad shoes
  • Dress up your dad shoes by pairing them with tailored chinos or cropped trousers for a smart-casual aesthetic.
  • Layer on a button-down or polo shirt for a business casual finish.
  • Top it off with a casual sports blazer or chic jacket for a touch of sophistication.
  • Complete the look with minimalist accessories like a leather belt and classic watch for a refined touch.

Streetwear Fashion Look

dad shoes
  • Embrace the streetwear trend by styling your dad shoes with baggy or oversized pieces for a relaxed, urban vibe.
  • Opt for a pair of loose-fitting cargo pants, distressed denim jeans, or joggers for a casual but trendy look.
  • Layer on a clean, graphic T-shirt and chic jacket to dress up your relaxed style.
  • Finish off the outfit with a stylish accessories like a bucket hat and leather bag.

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Mark Lim

Hey there, I'm Mark Lim! My journey began with a passion for helping people become the best versions of themselves. As a personal trainer and dietician for 10+ years, I've had the privilege of guiding countless individuals on their health journeys. From designing tailored workout routines to curating personalized nutrition plans, I've seen the transformative power of a holistic approach to well-being. I'm an avid reader and love to cook. I try to live my life as natural and clean as possible and am all about the synergy between health, intellect, and style. Traveling is another hobby that I don't get to enjoy enough anymore. I cherish the days of my early 20s backpacking Southeast Asia and hope to explore more countries soon.

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