15 Best Shoes for Teens of 2021: Style and Substance for the Modern Teen

Bets shoes for teens

No matter who you are, you can empathize, or at least should be able to do unless you are emotionally stunted, with a teenager.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.  You want to be cool, and if you can’t be that, then you want to at the very least look cool.  One way to stand out, or to blend in, is with shoes.  Looking cool and feeling cool can go hand in hand with shoes, no doubt.  But that’s also not the only thing you have to look at.  Today, our topic is the best shoes for teens.  This doesn’t mean the most popular, or the best looking.  Instead, it’s the best.  Since there are a lot of challenges for teens, we will take an approach that blends together a few things, giving you a much better picture.  In our guide, we’ll break down the ins and outs of shoes, and then we will take a look at the top ten in our reviews to give you some ideas to jump off from.  So, let’s get started!

Top Shoes for Teens Comparison Chart

ProductTypeMaterialPriceWhere to Buy?
1. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Low Top SneakersCasual ShoesTextile$$$Check Price On Amazon
2. Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate ShoesCasual ShoesCanvas$$$Check Price On Amazon
3. Ked’s Women’s Champions Original Leather Lace-Up SneakersCasual ShoesLeather$$$Check Price On Amazon
4. Nike Women’s Benassi Just Do It SandalCasual ShoesSynthetic sole$$Check Price On Amazon
5. Adidas Superstar ShoesCasual ShoesLeather$$$Check Price On Amazon
6. Nike Men’s Revolution 3 Running ShoesTrainersMesh/Phylon Foam$$$$Check Price On Amazon
7. Crocs Men’s Santa Cruz LoaferCasual ShoesSynthetic$$Check Price On Amazon
8. Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Women’sCasual ShoesLeather/Synthetic$$Check Price On Amazon
9. TravelNut Summer Juliette Heel SandalsFormal ShoesFaux suede leather$Check Price On Amazon
10. Rockport Men’s Northfield OxfordFormal ShoesLeather$$$Check Price On Amazon

Shoes for Teens Buying Guide

Style and Substance

In our guide today, we are going to be taking a look at a ton of information for shoes.  However, when it comes down to it, there are going to be two main things that we examine: style and substance.  Both of them are incredibly important, especially to the teenager.  While we as adults might find one or the other to be lesser than its counterpart, this will not be viewed the same way by a teen.  Loving and respecting their wishes can get you to a very nice place in your relationship, and this is something, that albeit might seem small, that can really make their whole month- or year- if you’re lucky.  So, don’t neglect either of them, and you will be on good footing.

Style is going to, obviously, refer to how the shoes look.  Do they match what the individual’s own personal style and leanings are?  If not, then you need to take a step back and have a rethink.  Does the color match what they like, is it trendy or out of favor, and other similar questions.  For some crowds, being out of style is what is preferred, while some people would loathe you if you didn’t get them the latest and greatest pair that everybody has to have.

Substance, on the other hand, is going to refer you to how the shoes feel when they are being worn and how they act.  Nobody wants the coolest shoes under the sun only for them to fall apart in a matter of days or weeks.  They also don’t want to wear shoes that are just wholly uncomfortable, either.  Some people will sacrifice one thing for another, that’s only natural, after all, but you have to keep these facts in mind.  Overlook this at your peril, because you will not leave a teen with many choices if either of these ‘needs’ are not met.

Crowd and Occasion

Before you can get too deep into the muck, you have to figure out what the occasion is going to be and what group the person is ‘running’ with.  This even goes for teens that are reading this.  You need to accept who you are and be able to identify that- not just for buying shoes but also for life in general.  So, first and foremost, just take some time to think about what kind of social group you are in.  This could have a tremendous say on what you want to wear.  Whether you are an athlete or an artist, there is something there that will make you happy and will make you, or your loved one, feel like they are wanted and fit in.  Fitting in isn’t everything, as we have already touched on and will continue to touch on, but it is important nonetheless.

The occasion is also vital to take a look at.  If the shoes are just going to be the everyday pair that they wear to school, then you are going to have to make sure that they are comfortable and can be worn over the course of the day.  While it is true, perhaps, that they will be sitting quite a lot, you should also remember that wearing uncomfy shoes even while sitting can be taxing and get old real quick, so try to steer clear of that sort of thing.  Maybe you are looking for shoes that are going to be a little bit more formula.  They don’t necessarily have to be for a dance or Prom or anything, but maybe you want them to be able to double for that sort of thing as well.  Also, you could potentially turn to something that also will allow you to be nimble and agile, so you might want something more athletic in that case.

Kind of Shoes

The kind of shoes- or ‘class, if you will- is going to make or break your level of enjoyment wearing them.  Some will be a downright no-go for you right away, while others will be acceptable, or could be until they are tried on at least.  Here are a few ideas for you to take a look at, if you are trying to narrow down what you or another individual might like to wear.


Trainers are going to be just about any shoe that falls into the category of a tennis shoe.  Basically, we’ll just say it, they are tennis shoes.  This is an older term that some might not understand, so it’s essential we break it down.  Tennis shoes, for some reason, are any shoe that looks like it is made for athletic purposes.  This can get tricky, given the names, which both imply mean they are made for competition, games, etc.  Trainers are cool because they look sporty but often are extremely comfortable.  Many of them are great in the event you have gym class, want to skateboard, or just want to walk around without too much pain.  Some, however, are not what they appear to be.  There can be more ‘casual’ trainers on the market, so be aware of that.  These are typically heavier, making them not as ideal for athletic training, despite what the name implies.  This is more of a style thing, so you will have to look a little harder when you get inside this subset in order to find the best pair for you.

Casual Shoes

Casual shoes could technically be anything that you wear that is both comfortable and also meant for pleasure situations.  When you aren’t trying to be formal, then this is the way to go, right up there with trainers.  With that said, we have an idea of shoes in mind that fall under this category.  Things like loafers, slip-ons, and sandals are examples of what we are looking at here.  These are super plush, usually, and are basically emphasizing comfort and the like over other things.  This is not a bad thing, it’s just a fact.  This type is also good for being cooler (literally, since your feet are being aired out) and can be nice to wear to show off your feet, too, if that’s your kind of deal!


Flats are another choice that have to be mentioned here, since they play such a big role in modern teenage wear.  Flats, are you could guess, are shoes that are literally flat to the ground.  On top of that, they are almost always minimalist, weighing very little and feeling very cushy on you as a result.  They also are pretty classy looking on the feet, and thus make for a great choice in the event of a formal event, as well as more casual wear.  This is the choice of many teen girls, since it can double from one event to the next.  One of the things to look out for here is the lack of support that these shoes give you.  There isn’t a whole lot to them, so they are going to make you suffer if you wear them constantly.  So, be careful to not put too much strain on yourself, should you go this route.

Formal Shoes

Then we have, of course, the next step in the progression, which would be formal wear.  Also known as party shoes, these shoes are made with more official events in mind, though they can be worn a lot by the more ambitious student.  Perhaps you are wanting to be the class president, or already are, or you just want to dress really well and go above and beyond everyday in class.  These are the sort of things for you.  For guys, Oxford shoes and brogues are good choices.  For girls, shoes with some heels on them are a good choice.  It’s up to you, but this is going to be the most limiting choice you have among the general classes we have looked here!

Comfort, Cushion, and Beyond

When it comes to feeling good in your shoes, there is a whole lot more than meets the eye, and it can be extremely confusing for you when these various terms are thrown out toward you.  We call these confusing because people get them mixed up with one another because they all sound and seem to be the same but in all honesty are not the same because they are totally different concepts that add up to make a shoe what it is.  Here is where we start to break it down and tell you how they are similar and how they are different from the others.

For our purposes, we are going to define comfort as the overall level of comfort-ability that you have in your shoes.  This is an all-encompassing term.  If one thing is not right with how your shoes feel ON you, then they are not comfortable, at least in part.  With many shoes, you are sold because they are laced with what is called cushioning.  This is a concept where companies take their shoes and line them with some sort of material in order to make them feel better and for you to have support.  The latter is the main job of cushioning in your shoes.  If you find that your shoes are making you ache after a long day of walking, standing, sitting, or running in them, then it’s probably for one of three reasons.  You are either not used to doing that, they are not broken in, or they are just not very supportive for your own feet.  Some shoes can be great for certain groups of people but not so good for others.  For example, if I have flat feet, I may not be able to wear the same shoes for as long as you can if you have neutral arches.  Aside behind us now, cushioning is going to refer to the support that is given.  A lot of people think this means that it is automatically comfortable.  This simply is not true.

What you are thinking of is padding.  So many of the shoes we see on the shelves nowadays have padding that is made out of foam in them. They are soft to the touch, and you instantly get this idea in your mind that they are going to feel tremendous on you.  But you have to remember that it’s not the case.  The part directly under your feet is only half of the story.  You could have a very well padded shoe that is not comfortable due to a lack of support or something else.  There are plenty of shoes that are like this, so you have to take it at face value when you put some on (or hear someone talking about them).  It’s unfortunate, but sometimes you have to go through trial and error and only then realize that a pair of shoes do not feel very good on you.

All of this is said to help you differentiate the terms that have been laid out above.  Support, cushioning, comfort, and padding are all very similar in the way they sound, but each of them actually do play a vital, telling role in the lifespan and overall feel of a pair of shoes.  One does not necessarily equate to the other, and to have true comfort, you need to have aspects of all of those met.  Comfort is something that is about a total view, not just one thing in particular!


It should go without saying that a big part of comfort is also going to be controlled by you and how well you are able to size yourself.  This is a very big issue in the world of teens in clothes, and you’d have to wager that it also extends to shoes as well.  Sometimes, you just want to squeeze into a swanky pair of shoes that don’t fit.  This, though, is not wise and is actually going to be hard for you to handle.  In fact, it’s dangerous in a lot of cases, as it can cause a myriad of health problems.  Shoes that are too large for you can cause you to fall, they can come off of you at random times, and they can cause you to start to develop a walking pattern- or gait- that is not natural.  This ends up causing you to overcompensate, putting a larger load on your knees and spine.  You won’t even know it.  Shoes that are too small can cause blistering to form, as well as being generally uncomfortable.  They can also cause your feet to hurt very badly, apart from potential blisters, and they can also cause you to develop similar health problems as those that are too big.  These are all very good reasons why you need to make sure you size yourself, or loved one, appropriately.

In the age of the internet, this is easier said than done, we are all well aware of that.  None of us seem to have the time nor desire to go to the store and try on shoes anymore, but you really should do so.  Even if you don’t buy the shoes there, or even find anything you like, you can get an idea about what your size is.  It’s a good idea to size yourself frequently, since changes tend to occur rapidly with teens.  You can do so at basically any shoe store with a Brannock device.  It’s also good to try on different brands as well, since each of them do run differently.  Some are more narrow than others, while some are made for wider feet.  Some companies tend to run half a size or so large, while others are going to cramp your feet if you try to go like for like.  This is valuable information to have as you go online.  If you can’t do any of this, then reading reviews is pretty helpful, too.  We’ll make sure to point out any sizing issues, since it is really a very big deal that can change your whole outlook on your shoes.

As for the act of actually sizing yourself, you need to take a look at the pair you like and put them on.  You want them to be, if they have closed toes, to the point where you have about a half a toe- or maybe slightly more- of wiggle room.  If you have this present, then you will have some space to move around with.  This is important, since you have a number of tasks to accomplish and will not appreciate them cramping you.  Also, check to see about the width.  If you are unable to splay (spread) your toes, you may want to avoid them.  Some shoes are curiously more narrow in the toe bed than in the rest of the shoe, so this is something to watch for and examine.

Another good tip to go with is to make sure you try on shoes toward the end of the day.  No matter who you are, or what you do, your shoes are going to fit you differently after a long day than they would have in the morning.  This is because of swelling to the feet.  They way to mitigate this is to go in at the end of the day, or after some exercise, to make sure you have the right fit.  So many forget to factor this into their equation, and they end up being uncomfortable for large parts of the day.  Also, make sure to wear socks, or whatever you normally wear with them.  It wouldn’t do much good to wear something totally different, since it would throw off the whole thing and make it pointless!


The materials that are used to make the shoes will have a very big say about how well the shoes last, how long they continue to look as good as possible, and also contribute greatly to breathability as well.  They also have a big role to play in terms of determining the price of a pair of shoes.  By looking at the whole picture, you can get the best idea of what it is you want and need.  Many companies offer different ‘lines’ of shoes, effectively giving you the same shoe at different price points.  One or two things might be stripped as you go down the line, but you still get the same sort of shoe.

Synthetic or leather is the big choice that you have to make.  Each of the two have a lot of reasons that they should be considered and ultimately chosen.  Leather is the older, more traditional choice of the two.  Leather used to be the only choice because it was readily available in nature via animals.  It’s super durable and is considered to be premium, especially in today’s market.  Many, many shoe types have left leather behind, but you can still see it out there and buy shoes derived from it as well.

Synthetic leather is a human made attempt to mimic leather.  This type used to not even be thought of, but it has gained a ton of traction, particularly in the last couple of decades.  Many athletic shoes have moved in this direction, since they are now much more comfortable than they once were.  These shoes are also cheaper to buy and usually very cool to look at and much easier to clean.  They last much better in adverse conditions when compared to leather, since leather is notoriously bad when it gets wet.

Mesh is another material to consider.  Mesh is a material that is great if you are looking to stay cool.  By using mesh, you will see tiny perforations made in the shoes, allowing your feet the chance to breathe out.  This means you can play sports, or just walk in general, without having sweat clog up in your socks and shoes.  It’s also more flexible, too, so you can move around a bit better inside of your shoes, promoting more freedom.  Mesh does make your shoes more flimsy, but it can really come in handy.  Just be aware that if it’s raining hard, then they can let in water as well, so there are two sides on this blade to keep an eye on.

There are other types of materials that can be used, but these are by and large what you are going to be seen used for the ‘uppers,’ the top part of the shoe.


We have talked about durability off and on throughout our guide, but this is where we summarize it all in one spot.  Durability is going to come down to not only the materials that the shoes are made out of and the quality at which the workmanship is done, but also how well you wear them.  If you have the best, most supreme pair of shoes, with the best materials imaginable, you’ll only get so much out of them if you decide to wear them roughly.  Look, there’s only so long you can keep your shoes fresh and looking brand new.  We all want them to be as white (or whatever color) they were when we got them.  That’s going to go away.  But if you use them for their purpose, they will last longer.  Also take note that some kids, and adults for that matter, are just harder on shoes than others.  The way you walk, which we can’t really do a whole lot about, is going to say a lot about how long they last for you.  So, regardless of price and materials, you do have a big role to play in the life of your shoes (or lack thereof).


Before we begin our reviews, we also need to briefly touch upon traction.  This is something that is essential, no matter what style or type of shoe you are wearing.  If a shoe doesn’t keep you locked into the ground and prevent you from sliding, then it’s simply not doing its job.  Rubber is a big time consideration here, for obvious reasons, since it also does a good job at helping cars grip the road and stop when you need them to do so.  We’ll make sure to point out if a shoe doesn’t have great traction.  Sure, some are going to be better than others, that’s down to purpose and style, but all of them should have a semblance of safety and security to them.

The Top Ten Shoes for Teens of 2019 Reviews

  1. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Low Top Sneakers

Girl or guy, you all know these shoes and will have seen them up and down the halls and sidewalks. Whether you’re the coolest kid in school or not, these shoes are pretty universal when it comes to teens. They have a ton of different colors and looks to pick from, they are super easy to clean, and they are comfy to wear while being very casual.  While you do get a lack of support when you are constantly on your feet, you still get a lot of comfort and cushioning via their Ortholite insole that also helps to reduce the amount of weight they are, further contributing to their comfort.  Unlike the traditional high tops, these low tops are going to give you max freedom, allowing you to move around more naturally.


  • Lots of colors
  • Very old school
  • Versatile and freeing


  • Not ultra supportive
  1. Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes

Everyone wants to be a skater nowadays, even people that don’t skate, and these unisex shoes are great for anyone that wants to look cool while staying cool. With a canvas upper that has been constructed to be comfortable and durable and their patented ‘waffle’ outsole making them flexible, these are great both on and off the board. On top of all of that, they come in a plethora of colors and looks, letting you mix and match, all while being able to easily keep them clean and pristine like the day you first unboxed them.  These are a little different from the regular skate shoes you see, since they are just about a mid top, meaning you have slightly more support and protection, never a bad thing to have, though it does make you a little bit more locked in.


  • Classic skate style
  • Tons of colors
  • Flexible and has great traction


  • Not the most support ever
  1. Ked’s Women’s Champions Original Leather Lace-Up Sneakers

These shoes are just a nice, casual and classy look for the teen girl to have. Made from all leather and with a low top, these offer support for the arches, making them a great call for someone that has issues with their feet. They even have a slight upward curve to them to help take some of the middle bottom’s pressure off.  With a lot of widths to pick from as well, you get a range of options to ensure you get the best possible fit.  On top of that, you see a few different colors to pick from.  These shoes have some breathability built into them, and the upper part of the leather is super easy to keep clean, provided you do that as you get.  They are very soft inside and will feel good on.  Sizing issues are present, so be careful with purchasing them!


  • Multiple widths
  • Good for arches
  • Soft and breathable


  • Sizing issues
  1. Nike Women’s Benassi Just Do It Sandal

If super casual is the way you want to go, then you can’t go much further toward casual than with these. These sandals are made with cool and comfort in mind, above and beyond all else. With a ton of colors and styles, these synthetic sandals are going to be perfect for those warmer days in the sun, or after a hard game.  With a slight drop from the front and the rear toward the middle of them and a sole infused with foam, you can count on comfort and support, contrary to oh so many sandals on the market.  With the band running across, with the traditional swoosh, it’s comfortable to wear all while keeping them on you at all times.  The biggest negative here is that these won’t be acceptable in every instance, due to dress code or possibly the weather!


  • Very comfortable
  • Tons of colors and styles
  • Great casual wear


  • Not for the cold
  • Might not meet dress codes
  1. Adidas Superstar Shoes

These shoes are basic ‘tennis shoes,’ and they are made for a little bit smaller audience. These shoes are made for ‘big kids,’ meaning those that haven’t quite grown into larger sizes yet, and that group also needs attention. These shoes have a range of colors to pick from, all of which utilize Adidas’ classic three stripe look.  They are made from all leather, meaning they feel absolutely great on you and will be easy to clean.  With rubber on the bottoms, the traction is great. They scream casual out loud as you look at them, helping you to stand out or fit in a bit better.  Despite their appearance, they are not really intended for athletics, so be aware of that.  They also are not for people that wear bigger sizes, so that could be a potential problem for some.


  • Great for smaller, younger teens
  • Classic three stripes look
  • Super plush leather


  • Not for athletics
  • Only smaller sizes
  1. Nike Men’s Revolution 3 Running Shoes

Not all running shoes are good for everything, contrary to what some might believe, but this pair does a good job at being versatile and deserves a shout out here. These shoes come in an array of colors, from the plain to the wild and vibrant, and are great for a ton of purposes. You would be able to very easily use them for both ‘regular’ class and for PE, as well as just wearing them around the house. While they are not going to be as good from side to side as other athletic shoes, they will still be much better equipped than more casually made shoes.  With mesh used as well as foam, they are breathable and comfy, while the insole also uses foam to make sure you have cushioning without overdoing it with the weight.  It’s a good choice if you want a mixture of things, including support.


  • Good general pair of shoes
  • Lots and lots of colors
  • Breathable and comfy


  • Not great for all sports
  1. Crocs Men’s Santa Cruz Loafer

If you really just want to signify that it’s time to lounge around and do nada, then these are the shoes for you. For any so-called ‘preppy,’ these would just about be guaranteed to go along with your attire, seeing as how they are made to just look cool and match about anything that is slightly above casual. With a fully synthetic makeup, these shoes are designed to be very freeing.  They are flexible so you can easily move your toes around and also have a relaxed fit, meaning you get more room than usual with them.  There is no harassing form of closure on them, either, so you are just basically wearing an enclosed sandal, if you will.  The only issue with these is that doing anything athletic is, or should be, out of the picture for sure.


  • Casual lounge shoes
  • Flexible and relaxing
  • Tons of room


  • Not best for rapid movement
  1. Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Women’s

Adidas reenters the list with this offering, which is another of their classic three stripe-inspired looks. With just a couple of colors, your picks are a little bit limited, but you still get a ton from them. The biggest thing you’ll like is the use of Cloudfoam, which is prevalent in a couple of areas.  First, it’s present in the sockliner, using memory foam to remember your feet, making it possible to fit to your ergonomically as you go step by step.  Then, you have it present in the midsole, which is done to make sure you get cushioning and are ultimately supportive. Cloudfoam is just so comfortable, and it’s no surprise at all to see so many people loving it as a result. The drawback to these is likely to be that they don’t have much use athletically, so that is something to think about.


  • Classic Adidas looks
  • Memory foam inside
  • Cushioned and comfy


  • Not great for arduous activity
  1. TravelNut Summer Juliette Heel Sandals

If you are a young lady and want a little bit more style to bring to the table, then look no further than these heeled sandals. These sandals come in a few different colors, and while they do have a heel, they are not huge or pronounced, meaning you can conceivably get through a day while wearing them and just looking plain out cute. With room to shoe your feet and toes, too, these are great for a lot of seasons.  They are easy to slide on and off, with a wide foot area and a buckle that is easily adjusted.  You even have the option of three different heights for the heels, which is sure to help you make up your mind.  The greatest thing about these is the range of environments you can wear them in.  It can be a casual sort of gathering, or you can wear them in a more formal setting, so these are super versatile and a good, solid choice for those ventures.  They might not be the best for all day wear, so that’s the strike we’d caution you about here.


  • Casual or formal
  • Cool and comfy
  • Adjusts easily


  • Not great for all day wear
  1. Rockport Men’s Northfield Oxford

If you are a guy, and you just can’t stand to wear tennis shoes or casual sorts of loafers and want to stand out by dressing nicely, then these Oxfords are the choice for you. They are made out of 100% leather and have a rubber sole. That means they are going to be premium and plush up top, though comfy, while still giving you some flexibility down beneath, unlike so many that do not use rubber soles in dress shoes.  With a few different colors to pick from, you can match whatever it is you are wearing fairly easily, all while looking like the gentleman you are.  They are laced with hydroshield protection, which is going to waterproof them in the event that you run into rain or puddles.  The bottoms are slightly raised, too, so you can count on them being loud, just as you’d hope from a good pair of dress shoes.  These are a little much for some people outside of formal occasions, so that is the biggest downside to them.


  • Very sophisticated
  • Flexible and comfy
  • Waterproofing abilities


  • Too formal much for many

Conclusion And Final Shoes for Teens Recommendations

Whether it’s looking hip or feeling as good and comfortable as possible, or perhaps getting the best performance from your shoes, there is a whole lot more to the situation than meets the eye.  There isn’t one single thing to look for with shoes.  You could have seemingly the very best pair you’ve ever seen only to find out that one single flaw is enough to change your mind and make you hate them.  But you don’t know about that until you dig in and do your research.  Or, of course, try them on.  Who does that anymore, though, right?!  At any rate, our guide today will have helped any teen, or someone buying for one, to weigh the pros and cons of shoes and to ultimately decide upon what is best for them.  While there are a ton of factors to consider, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.  So, get to shopping and find just that perfect pair!

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