Best Shoes For Middle School

Middle school is a time of change, growth and discovery. It’s also a time when students start to develop their own style. If you’re shopping for your middle schooler, you want to find something that they’ll love and wear often. And, if they’re anything like me, it needs to be cute!

Here are a few tips on finding the best shoes for middle schoolers:

Shop online

Before you head out to the mall or department store, shop online. You can find great deals on shoes at places like Amazon or eBay. Plus, you can see what other customers have said about their purchases and what sizes fit correctly. This will save time and money!

Buy pairs that match your child’s personality

Does your child love hiking or running? Does she love pink or green? Find shoes that fit with her style so she’ll be proud to wear them every day! I’ve found that girls tend to prefer sparkly flats while boys prefer athletic shoes and sneakers. But everyone has different tastes so don’t feel like you have to stick with one type of shoe just because it’s popular right now!

Try them on before buying them

You might think this is common sense but it’s actually easy to forget when you’re shopping online! Make

Best Shoes For Middle School

Best Back to School Shoes and Sneakers to Buy
Image via Complex Original

You knew this was coming. It’s that time during summer break when the words “back to school” get louder by the day. The three words many students dread to hear in the same sentence, but it’s not all bad. Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold. After a year of online courses being the norm, you get to see some friends you haven’t seen in a while, participate in new activities, and best of all, you have a reason to grab a new pair of sneakers. 

We’re all familiar with that feeling we get when prepping our first day fit. Sometimes it’s butterflies, sometimes it’s excitement. A lot of the time this sentiment comes from what our choice of footwear will be when we walk back into those homeroom front doors. Some students want a sneaker that makes them feel the flyest on the first day, some want to be comfortable, and some just want a shoe that won’t fail them.

If you fit any of these categories, check out this list we’ve made of some of the best sneakers you can buy for the upcoming school year without the use of bots. Whichever shoe resonates with you, be confident that it will be a useful addition to your wardrobe.

Converse Chuck 70

Converse Chuck 70
Image via Converse

Retail price: $85
Buy it now: Converse

“Classic” can be a cliche word in today’s sneaker scene, but undoubtedly few sneakers come close to living up to that title like the Converse Chuck Taylor. Introduced in 1917, these shoes have earned their iconic status in pop culture, been replicated from a number of high-fashion brands, and gone through many iterations, with this Chuck 70 version being the best the brand has to offer at the moment. Mixing the old with the new, the Chuck 70s share the look everyone recognizes, elevated with a vintage midsole and better comfort than standard Chucks. The default black or cream colorway are shoo-ins for anyone looking for a good school shoe, but if you want to spice things up, Converse also offers 70s in interesting patterns, materials or occasional collaborations from Tyler, the Creator to Commes Des Garçons (comedic geniuses, please save your “funny heart shoe” comments for the end of the list). 

Converse Chuck 70

Converse

Nike Dunk

Nike Dunk Low UNLV
Image via Nike

Retail price: $100
Buy it now: StockX

Let’s be real, it wouldn’t be a “Back to School Sneakers’’ list in 2021 without mentioning the Dunk. Its impact on sneakers in recent times has been real. After its huge resurgence in 2020, it’s become one of the more sought-after sneakers on the market and your social media algorithm. With good reason: Travis Scott wore them. That factor alone completely justifies spending over $600 for Syracuse Dunk Lows, no questions asked. All jokes aside, it’s a silhouette that looks good with various types of pants or shorts. “How to Style” Instagram Reels have made that abundantly clear over the past few months. Coming in limited Off-White collaborations to traditional “Be True to Your School” colorways, there’s plenty of options for students looking for a good go-to shoe or something to flex on your AP English teacher with. Its SB Dunk counterpart is another option for those who like creative themes on their shoes or something you don’t typically see. 

Nike Dunk UNLV

Nike

Nike Dunk UNLV

Nike Blazer

Nike Blazer Mid 77 Vintage
Image via Nike

Retail price: $100
Buy it now: Champs Sports

Nike Blazers are a good alternative for those that are looking for a more readily available sneaker. It’s not hard to find a regular Mid 77’ Vintage pair with different colored Swoosh options that are essentially styled the same way one would style Dunks. This doesn’t mean the Blazer can’t hold its own weight, as it comes in various unique colorways and even has its share of hyped collabs from Sacai, Cactus Plant Flea Market, and Off-White (although… let’s not talk about that Blazer Low that leaked). Backpacks, textbooks, and online access codes are not cheap, so at the $100 price point, or $85 for the low top iteration, it’s hard to beat a clean silhouette that meets affordability. It’s also worth noting that if you are a college student, those student discounts come in handy giving you a chance to purchase this shoe below retail. Balling on a budget doesn’t get much better than this.

Nike Blazer

Nike

Nike Blazer

Air Jordan 4

Air Jordan 4 Retro 'Taupe Haze' DB0732 200 Release Date
Image via Nike

Retail price: $200
Buy it now: KicksCrew

The Air Jordan 4 is up there as one of the best models in the entire Air Jordan lineage. Top 5. This is a take almost every sneaker enthusiast can agree on. The signature wings, netting, and Jordan Flight patch on the tongue is tough to compete with. 2021 has been a good year for Jordan 4s with the new Taupe Haze (or “Travis Nots” as some people would call them), University Blue, and White Oreo colorways releasing. We even got a sequel to Union LA’s love/hate collab from June 2020. Then to take it up another notch, after years of rumors and anticipation, Jordan Brand is finally bringing back the highly coveted “Lightning” colorway this Saturday. Although some of these colorways may be louder than others, 4s are well-respected, unfuckwithable, and are easily a great candidate for the school rotation. In general a good pair of 4s are an essential for casual footwear. With Jordan Brand showing no signs of slowing down on new releases, there’s a lot of flavors to choose from when looking for the right pair just for you.

Air Jordan 4 Taupe Haze

Jordan Brand

Air Jordan 4 Taupe Haze

Adidas Yeezy Quantum

Adidas Yeezy Quantum OG
Image via Adidas

Retail price: $250
Buy it Now: StockX

The Yeezy Quantum is an interesting shoe. When it debuted during the 2020 All-Star Weekend, the hype was at an all-time high after Kanye West wore them and had Yeezy Sherpa trucks deliver pairs around Chicago. It was a moment, but a moment that the Quantums seem to not have been able to recapture since. Whether it was the wait for this shoe since 2018, retail price, or confusion between what distinguishes a lifestyle to a basketball version, what it has done is make this shoe more accessible for people that want it. 

Of course, it’s a Yeezy, so it will sell out, but with pairs going for under or a smidget above retail in the aftermarket, this furthers Kanye’s promise of “eventually everybody who wants Yeezys will get them.” Its futuristic design mixed with great cushioning and accessibility makes this an underrated shoe in the Yeezy line, but a gem, nonetheless. For those looking for a casual sneaker that you can also get buckets in, the Quantums got you.

Adidas Yeezy Quantum

Adidas

Adidas Yeezy Quantum

Adidas Yeezy 380

Adidas Yeezy Boost 380 'Alien Blue' GW0304 Lateral
Image via Adidas

Retail price: $230
Buy it now: StockX

The popularity of the Adidas Yeezy 350 V2 has made it a staple in sneakers and brought Kanye West’s Yeezy brand to new heights. With as much success as it brought, it’s also created much anticipation and demand for a third installment. Although there is no sign for a 350 V3 coming any time soon, in 2019 we were met with the 350’s unofficial successor: the Yeezy 380. 

The Yeezy 380 features a sock-like upper the 350s started with, but builds on it with a futuristic, organic design language that Kanye and the Yeezy team have been into lately. Unorthodox colorways like the Blue Oat, Hylte, and Azure make this shoe stand out from its contemporaries. Its tendency of being pretty easy to grab on release day or bought for under retail on the secondary market has made it accessible like the Yeezy Quantums. If you want a comfortable, new shoe that you can find in neutral and unconventional colorways, perhaps the 380s are suited for you.

Adidas Yeezy 380 Blue Alien

Adidas

Adidas Yeezy 380 Blue Alien

Adidas Yeezy Foam Runner

Adidas Yeezy Foam Runner 'Sand' FY4567 Release Date
Image via Adidas

Retail price: $80
Buy it now: StockX

Foam Runners are one of the more polarizing designs Adidas and Yeezy have released so far. Some may even say it’s Kanye’s Yeezus of sneakers for how experimental it is. Still, the mixed reception and debates on if it can be deemed a sneaker have not stopped it from being one of the most hyped footwear silhouettes at the moment. 

With Foam Runners being more widely released in 2021 after the limited “Ararat” colorway debuted last year, it’s become a sneaker people are having fun styling in different ways or using for different purposes. Although the Bionicle shoes and Nerf football jokes are funny, we can’t dismiss the risk-taking and innovation Ye is focusing his footwear on. It might not be something you want to wear in the rain, but if you want to stunt in the upper echelon of Crocs, this is the one that you may find yourself having in rotation more than you imagined. 

Adidas Yeezy Foam Runner

Adidas

Adidas Yeezy Foam Runner

Nike Air Huarache

Stussy x Nike Air Huarache 'Desert Sand' DD1381 200 Release Date
Image via Nike

Retail price: $120
Buy it now: Goat

It’s 10:58 AM. You’re frantically waiting for Geometry class to end at 11 so you can go to lunch period and hope that the teacher doesn’t assign homework in this two-minute window. Thankfully, luck was on your side today. The bell rang before the teacher could finish the lesson, you grab your stuff and head straight for the door. You enter the hallway, where ZX Fluxes, KD 7s, joggers, and floral Young & Reckless tees are everywhere you look as you’re walking to 4th period. On the horizon, a pair of all-white or all-black Huaraches couldn’t be missed. That was 7 years ago, feel old yet? Although many of those trends have stayed trends that faded out, Huaraches seem to have transcended the joggers era and are back in 2021. 

Last year, Nike gave the Air Max 90 a special treatment dubbing it the Air Max 3, retroed the “Infrared” colorway (alongside several new colorways with the same color blocking) and included its original box. The same attention to detail since its 1991 introduction is being given to the Nike Huarache in 2021. Kicking it off by bringing back the enigmatic Stussy collab from 2000 and retroing the original “Scream Green” colorway with its original tongue tab, there’s indication of exciting things to come for the 30th anniversary of the line. Despite this treatment, these shoes seem to go under the radar for many hype consumers. If you are one that tends to gravitate towards the sleeper shoe, or want one of the most comfortable sneakers you can find on this list, grab a pair of Huaraches for the rotation this year. 

Nike Air Huarache

Nike

Nike Air Huarache

Nike Air Presto

Nike Air Presto
Image via Nike

Retail price: $130
Buy it now: Champs Sports

“T-shirts for your feet” as Nike dubbed them for their debut in 2000. The Nike Air Presto’s sock-like design was ahead of its time, paving the way for minimalist sneakers like Pharrell NMDs and Adidas UltraBoosts. They also have probably the most interesting sizing on this list as you may notice. Instead of the traditional numbered sizing, Prestos can come in XS-XL sizing like you’d find on actual T-shirts. This is due to the fact that Nike uses spacer mesh for this particular shoe. This means a size 10 could fit a size 9 and vice versa. No insole removal or double socking needed. This also makes it the perfect shoe for people who think their feet are still growing. From standout renditions like the “Sunset” colorway, to a more subtle and sleek black/white pair, it’s likely you’ll find a colorway that you’re feeling. The colors matched with comfort and a one-fits-many sizing make it fair to equate the Presto to your favorite everyday hoodie. 

Nike Air Presto

Nike

Nike Air Presto

Nike Air Max 95

Air Max 95 Grey Volt
Image via Nike

Retail price: $170
Buy it now: Champs Sports

For dope runners and students who have even the slightest knowledge of sneakers, the Air Max 95 is a tank of a shoe that won’t give out on you. The Sergio Lozano design, inspired by the human body, is a standout from the Air Max line. Its bulky, hiking boot shape makes for a shoe that’s stylish yet built for all weather occasions. This is one of those shoes that looks good paired with jeans for snowy winter days or high crew socks and shorts in spring afternoons. The signature gradient upper is responsible for beloved colorways like the OG “Neon” which has been retroed over an impressive ten times. Besides the originals, 95s tend to have more hits than miss colorways (Happy Pineapple, Triple Black, Commes Des Garçons collab to name a few) meaning that finding a valid pair shouldn’t be too difficult. Air Max 90s and 97s seem to be the more common Air Maxes people wear nowadays. As good as those shoes are, if you’re looking to switch it up on your peers a bit, and have a durable shoe that’s comfier than the 97, consider grabbing a pair of these.

Nike Air Max 95

Nike

Nike Air Max 95

Nike Waffle One

Nike Waffle One Summit White
Image via Nike

Retail price: $100
Buy it now: Champs Sports

Somewhere between Sacai-ish and iconic, the Nike Waffle One builds on Nike’s heritage of waffle sole sneakers such as the Nike Daybreak and Nike Waffle Trainer 2. The see-through mesh upper and TPU molded heel gives this model a refreshing new look reminiscent of the Off-White Vaporflys and Sacai Vaporwaffles, while being nowhere near as difficult to attain. Trust, avoiding the $500+ resell on Sacais and having extra bread in your pocket for whatever life may bring at you is the move. Colorways like the “Summit White” will get you through those days when you’re looking for an easy shoe to be worn on the regular, while the “Volt” take on the Waffle Ones can be suitable when you want the shoes to be the highlight of your attire. It should be pointed out that the fine mesh upper makes for a well ventilated shoe if breathability is something you take into account when looking for new footwear. For those seeking out a modern runner without breaking the bank, the Waffle One is a frontrunner for the role.

Nike Waffle One

Nike

Nike Waffle One

Adidas UltraBoost 21

Adidas Ultraboost 21 Grey
Image via Adidas

Retail price: $180
Buy it now: Adidas

The Adidas UltraBoost has come a long way since its debut in 2015. Regarded as one of the most comfortable sneakers on the market, the UltraBoost skyrocketed in popularity becoming one of the most casually worn sneakers at the time. The Kanye West cosign played a good role in its success, too. After years of new versions of the UltraBoost looking fairly similar, it was bound to lose its momentum. Even with Adidas retroing once hyped up colorways like all-white 1.0s and Chalks couldn’t save it much. The future of UltraBoosts felt uncertain, but with the latest revamp, they seem to be on the right track again.

The Adidas UltraBoost 21 has reworked the line’s DNA with a new design that doesn’t alienate itself from its roots. They feature 6 percent more Boost foam than the already beefed up UltraBoost 20, which had 20 percent more Boost than its predecessors. The redesigned outsole features a new LEP torsion system with Continental rubber for sturdy traction. To top it off, the upper is made with Primeblue recycled materials making it eco-friendly while retaining an UltraBoost 1.0 esque toebox we know and love. This new iteration furthers the UB’s initial vision of being a performance shoe at its core, while also maintaining a casual appeal. Now, we’re not saying to bring the zipper denim and scoop tees back out from your closet, but it is safe to say that this is a shoe in 2021 that’ll look good with athleisure and jeans just like the older ones did.
 

Adidas Ultraboost 21

Adidas

Adidas UltraBoost 21

New Balance 550

New Balance 550 Green
Image via New Balance

Retail price: $120
Buy it now: StockX

Worn by art students in SoHo and dads in Ohio. The New Balance 550 is a retro silhouette designed by the godfather of dad shoes, Steven Smith. It launched in 1989 and is now one of the most prominent sneakers out in 2021. With aged retro sneakers being one of the bigger trends in fashion, the Aime Leon Dore collab added more fuel to the fire, propelling it to high resale prices on the aftermarket. This rarity is one of the signs that New Balance’s wave in sneakers right now is undeniable. Gone are the days when people generally toss up New Balances as the cookout specials. Alongside models like the 990v5 and 992, the 550 is a versatile shoe that comes in a bunch of simple yet clean colorways. If you want the aesthetic that a Nike Dunk gives your outfit, but don’t necessarily want to wear the Dunk, the 550 is another option you have to get fly. 

New Balance 550

Adidas Campus 80

Adidas Campus 80 Grey
Image via Adidas

One of the sleepers on this list. The Adidas Campus is an unsung hero of Adidas silhouettes, also Nigo’s favorite shoe. It perfectly meets the middle ground between the Adidas Stan Smith and Adidas Superstar. While they’re not as mainstream as those shoes, the uncommonality of choosing to wear the Campus is a statement in and of itself. This is one of those toned down sneakers that serves as the backdrop and lets the rest of your outfit do the talking. Sometimes when you come across a piece that you want to be the emphasis of your fit, wearing a distinctive sneaker clashes with it and takes away from the overall look. The Campus 80 is an alternative that does not compromise the simplicity and timeless look that other Adidas Originals designs bring. Coming in several colorways done up in a leather lining and nice suede materials (or Towels sometimes even), this is an all-around shoe that looks good on and off campus. 

Adidas Campus 80

Adidas Forum

Adidas Forum Low OG
Image via Adidas

Adidas has been on a roll with the Forum this year. Although it feels like the Three Stripes has been pushing this model to rival the Nike Dunk, they’ve at least done this shoe justice by retroing it as close to its original form with premium ’84 High and Low cuts. Playing their cards right, they even made some noise in the sneaker collector community with their collaboration with Reggaeton superstar Bad Bunny. The Adidas Forum is a shoe that fits in with today’s vintage trend of folks wearing Dickies 874s with whatever aged sneaker they can find. Yet with more notable collabs and well-executed general release colorways releasing, expect this to be a shoe that’s here to stay and can be worn year-round. The blue and white OG colorway in mid-top form can be found in a full size run most of the time on Adidas’ website, and expect more high and low variants to come for the remainder of the year.

Adidas Forum

Reebok Workout Plus

Reebok Workout Plus
Image via Reebok

A good amount of sneakers on this list were selected because they look good even when they’re worn in. At the end of the day, you’re at school to get educated, so having sneakers that don’t look bad when they’re a little cooked is useful to focus your mind on more important matters. And trust, the “shoes look better with character” trope can be a bit annoying, but if there were a shoe that embodies this theme to the fullest, it would be the Reebok Workout Plus. It’s that subtle daily shoe that can get beat up in the weather or the gym and still look as good as it did fresh out the box. Additionally, it’s an economic sneaker at $80 that’s readily available if you ever need a new pair. Built with a comfy cup sole, definitive window box branding, and really plush leather, the Workout Plus is truly an ideal sneaker that’ll get you the most bang for your buck. 

Reebok Workout Plus

Puma RS-Dreamer

Puma RS Dreamer White
Image via Puma

There are few artists who have their own colorway of a shoe, let alone their own signature model. Alongside Kanye West’s Yeezys, Rihanna’s Fenty Pumas, and 50 Cent’s G-Unit Reeboks, add J. Cole to the honorable list of original artist designs with the Puma RS-Dreamer. In a collab era where partnerships can seem random many times, the Dreamers make sense because before fully pursuing music, Cole was a baller. In fact, he was talented enough to be a walk-on player for St. John University, but never took the offer to play college basketball, opting to go triple platinum with no features instead. If that storyline couldn’t be more goated, Jermaine would go on to make his pro basketball debut this year with the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League. Although his time in the league was short lived, it’s still admirable to see someone live out their dreams. 

The Dreamers arguably use Puma’s RS design language the best, giving it a casual appeal with sweats, while inherently being a performance basketball shoe. Most new hoop shoes fail to check both boxes, LeBron would know. If you’re looking for a two for one type of sneaker, be a part of Cole’s legend and try out a pair of Dreamers. 
 

Puma RS-Dreamer

Puma

Puma RS-Dreamer

$125puma.com

BUY NOW

Vans Authentic

Vans Authentic Navy
Image via Vans

Vans are essential to “Back to School Sneakers” lists as alarms are for people who start class at 8 am. Its plethora of colors and quality you get at an affordable price point makes it the ol’ reliable of sneakers. They also don’t get uncomfortable after wearing them for hours which is a huge plus. There’s nothing worse than having a shoe that hurts your feet after your first two hours of school and you still have four more to endure. Coming from a surf and skate background, Vans are meant to be worn in and are shoes that one doesn’t really have to worry about keeping clean all the time. Singling out the Vans Authentic, its minimal design makes it flexible to wear with almost any outfit you thought of the night before, or 20 minutes before class starts. For those that like individuality in their shoes, the blank canvas upper allows for many patterns to be printed or customized. With all that Vans has to offer, it’s a sneaker that you can’t go wrong with for the first day back and months to come. 

Vans Authentic

Nike Pegasus 38

Nike Pegasus 38
Image via Nike

The Nike Pegasus is a people’s champ and also Nike’s longest running line in history. The 38th edition is a good shoe for running, but its lightweight upper and soft React foam cushioning makes it a fine choice for those who simply want to be cozy in class, too. It’s not the craziest shoe out the bunch, nor is it meant to be. By no means is this the shoe you want to intentionally get up in to go sharpen your pencil in front of the whole class to check the feets. The Pegasus wins in its practicality. Honestly, would you wear Travis Scott Nikes to school every day? Or even Jordan 11s? Most likely not, but more power to those that would. Clearly we’re not on your level. If you’re looking for a shoe that’s simple, with proper cushioning to get you through hours of walking, and not trying too hard to be the loudest in the room, it’s worth giving the Pegasus 38 a shot. 

Nike Pegasus 38

Nike Air Force 1

Air Force 1 Low White

Finally, the OG of the OGs. The big stepper. Loved by gatekeepers and TikTokers everywhere. A sneaker that needs no introduction, yet I’m still writing one. Whether it’s a list of back-to-school sneakers or greatest sneakers of all time, expect the Nike Air Force 1 to always have its spot. The white on white lows are unquestionably one of the most versatile sneakers you can wear. It’s one of the few shoes that would never brick your first day outfit. Ever. Although they’re easy to crease and comfort is moderate, rest assured you can almost always find pairs readily available at $90 if you need to reup. With different versions like the Air Force 1 Craft, Air Force 1 Crater, Off-White x Air Force 1 and different cuts from low, mid and high, there’s truly something for everybody. Although this is a sneaker essentially everyone wears, AF1s are one of very few sneakers—like the Chuck Taylors—that are timeless. If you leave this list with at least one fundamental back-to-school sneaker on your mind, allow the Forces to be one of your top contenders. Guaranteed, it’s an elite shoe that will work this time, and time and time again.

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