Find Your Swagger With the Best Men’s Black Sneakers

Tuesday Bote — Aug 20, 2020

Oliver Cabell Low 1 Jet Black sneaker

As summer winds down, we can all look forward to wearing darker colors, and the black leather sneaker is the ticket to fashionably transition to a cozy autumn wardrobe. There’s a reason why black is the color of choice for many well-dressed men, but few fail to fully take advantage of its versatility, for day time casual looks. Black is still the “new black” and no other color can dominate style as much as it does.

The No-Fuss Appeal of Black Sneakers

Unlike the nervous energy around pristine white sneakers, which is, let’s face it, a high-maintenance shoe - casual black shoes have all the confidence of a pouncing black panther. It doesn’t take any prisoners, and just grabs your attention. Black sneakers make their presence felt, and laughs in the face of everything a white shoe might want to hide from: dirt, mud or anything that can mess up its stylish vibe. The black sneaker is just as iconic; it’s a no-fuss staple shoe that just serves up looks without a care in the world.

Which Casual Black Shoe is Best?

While black is such an understated color, there are many black kicks to choose from so that you can get that black magic feeling, whatever you do each day:

- Athleisure Sneakers for Streetwear Aficionados

Think the latest collabs of commercial brands with the trendiest designers. Designs are usually out there with the aim of providing the most shock value – or it can be a riff of a vintage design as a reimagined classic. Some black sneakers may look like athletic sports shoes, but are not built for actual training. The word you’re looking for is “statement” - sneakers that scream for attention with their crazy size (mostly chunky), color, pattern or futuristic silhouette.

- Smart Casual Dress Sneakers for Dapper Dudes

In this category we have everyday black leather sneakers with minimalist details, that can be dressed up for work or business casual occasions, or can be dressed down to go with jeans. These black sneakers go give off a clean but classy, ‘just going to get coffee, but I still look hot’ look. Examples are:

platform sneakers, with thick soles
slip-on black sneakers
minimalist black dress sneakers
hybrid black sneakers that look like a cross between hi-tops and boots

- Black Trainers for Sporty Types, or Serious Sneaker Collectors

Going into serious sneakerhead territory, here we have collectible pieces that feature high-performance sports shoes. They will cost you an arm and a leg. Equally ironic is that most collectible black trainers might not see the light of day, as any chances of being used outside (of a display case) will be slim to none. Runners and basketball kicks belong to this category.

Hallmarks of a Great Black Sneaker for Men

Oliver Cabell Merton Black Sneakers

And now we get to the main event! If you’ve chosen the best shoe category for you, it’s time to see the finer points for selecting the best black sneaker for men that you can possibly get:

1. What is your price point?

When it comes to buying the best black casual shoes for men, cheap is a relative term. Each price point, whether it’s the low- end, mid-range or high-end market, can offer their own advantages and disadvantages. The goal is to get the highest quality you can buy at that price point.

We advise that you read up on what makes the best shoe materials, so that you can keep track of what brands use - or how much of the good stuff goes into their own version of a black sneaker.


2. What are you looking for in terms of built and construction?

As always, stitched is better than glued, and an all-natural leather lining will provide better wear in the long run. Lining is such a big deal for men’s sneakers because it’s the biggest cause of, you guessed it – stinky feet! Look out for black leather shoes with good leather lining. If you’re not that particular, buy a black leather shoe that at least put some thought into containing odor as much as they can.


3. What leather quality can you be happy with?

Oliver Cabell Merton

The upper is another deal maker or breaker, depending on how often you can afford to replace worn-out black shoes. An affordable luxury black sneaker can bridge the gap between having the best leather shoe without (literally) paying the price for high-fashion. Good quality leather is thick and has a more natural-looking finish. “Genuine” leather is one of the low-end kinds of leather. Look for Italian leather if you can, as they have the distinction of being one of the best in the world.


4. What overall value do you want?

Now that you’ve taken the closest possible look at the shoe, it’s time to turn that inward and ask yourself, “What kind of commitment can I make to this pair of dope shoes?”. Factor in the quality of materials and the kind of construction, plus how often you wear and take care of them.

If you don’t want to spend that much, you’ll have to buy a lot of shoes to put on rotation. Now if you have the kind of coin to invest in a great pair of staple black leather shoes, you can enjoy just one pair for as long as you can. The caveat is of course, you’ll have to know how to take care of them. With great quality comes great responsibility.

Styling Men’s Black Sneakers Without Overdoing the Monochrome Look

Styling Oliver Cabell Black Sneakers

There are fast and hard rules to styling black casual shoes, whether you’re using statement black sneakers or mens black dress sneakers:

- styling for a black sneaker with a white sole
That white sole can open up a lot of color possibilities for dressing black shoes, so it's no biggie if you want to wear a long checkered top and jeans with a black sneaker that has a white sole. Keep prints to a minimum and stick to neutral chinos so that your black sneakers don’t awkwardly stand out.


- styling for an all-black sneaker

Now an all-black shoe will need a more monochromatic black look so that it doesn’t break the style continuity of your outfit. A good example would be to wear dark colors as close as possible to black; a deep gray perhaps. You can wear a white shirt underneath a dark pullover, and pair with black slim-fit pants to go along with an all-black shoe.

As a final note, we answer the most burning question about black sneakers: is it ever okay to use black leather sneakers as dress shoes?

The styling here can be tricky as it boils down to the finish and details of your black dress sneaker. A black leather sneaker with patent leather details can pass for a dress shoe with the right outfit. Some hybrids even have oxford detailing even though they have an athletic looking sole.

To be safe, always make sure that the pant hem covers most of the shoe. Keep a slim silhouette and details to a minimum.