Best Sneakers for Women: I Tried and Reviewed 4 Viral Pairs of Sneakers


Graphic by Kayleen Dicuangco

Here are my honest reviews, including sizing, support and how much they caused blisters.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your feet. Yup, me too. I have what I call “unhappy feet” — tootsies that are overly sensitive, always complaining and very prone to bleeding and blistering. As a result, I’ve been denied many things: chunky loafers, boat shoes, affordable ballet flats (insert sad violin).

But I’ve learned to survive, nay, thrive. I’ve come up with rules like only don one new pair of shoes a week, wear said footwear in short bursts to get your feet used to them and ALWAYS invest in blister socks. But recently, that all went out the window as I tried four pairs of TikTok’s trendiest spring sneakers.

All anyone seems to want to know on TikTok (besides why aren’t there more songs about Joe Alwyn on Taylor Swift’s new albums) is what shoes the girlies are wearing this spring. You see, last year, it was all about the Adidas Sambas. Honourable mentions also go to the Nike Dunks and New Balance 990s. But after you’ve worn those into the ground, what happens next? Simple: We need to pick a It shoe of spring/summer 2024 and after extensive research, in the running are the Adidas Gazelles, New Balance 550s, Puma Palermos and Vans Classic Slip-Ons.

Enter me sacrificing my feet for the sake of fashion. The experiment: Wear and style all four spring shoes for a week. The rules: Go about my day-to-day life and bare my soul (pun intended) in the review process. The results: A few blisters, lots of cute outfits and many *thoughts*. Read on for my honest reviews of some of spring’s best sneakers for women.

Day 1: New Balance 550s

spring shoes
Photography courtesy of Annika Lautens

I started the week on rather an unglamorous note: grocery shopping. Wearing the New Balance 550s, I paired them with my go-to errand running outfit: Beyoncé Renaissance cap, white tank from Gap, Aritzia button-up, Lululemon leggings and crew socks.

As someone who needs orthotics (I swear I’m not 85 years old!), I was pleasantly surprised by the arch support. The New Balances were super comfy and gave me a literal spring in my step. Bonus: I felt very Hailey Bieber-coded while wearing them and even spotted a teen eyeing my sneakers with approval.

Pros: You can survive a full day of walking in NYC in these and that’s saying something.
Cons: Nothing about the style felt new — a bit been there, done that.
Sizing: True to size.
Support: Physical and emotional support provided in spades.
Blister status: Zero.

Day 2: Adidas Gazelles

spring shoes
Photography courtesy of Annika Lautens

There are a lot of perks to being a fashion journalist and one of them is getting the occasional free facial. Heading to the spa (which didn’t allow photos, hence this stairwell pic and lack of makeup), I opted for the Adidas Gazelles and went full Americana: COS trench coat, red Amazon bodysuit, Banana Republic cropped white button-up and very worn-in Zara jeans.

And let me just say, I got a lot of attention. Maybe it was the red? Maybe it was because of my extra confidence as I quickly became OBSESSED with these? But I got a lot of looks and people held the door open for me at two other locations. However, these are not long distance shoes. Think more fashion than function.

Pros: The aesthetic! I felt like I was a cool girl in the U.K., which is the dream, isn’t it?
Cons: These sneakers will take a while to break in and there might be some pain in the process.
Sizing: These run a bit big.
Support: Very little physical support but my confidence was off the charts.
Blister status: Imminent. Not full blown bumps but some red, irritated skin made an appearance.

Day 3: Puma Palermos

spring shoes
Photography by Jenna Marie Wakani

Truth be told, I changed multiple times before leaving the house in these Puma Palermos. I think this might be my first pair of blue shoes and it took me a second to wrap my head around the ensemble. I ended up going to an evening press preview in a vintage polka-dot dress from Poshmark and a matching blue croissant bag from A Bronze Age.

Hot tip: People love a colourful purse and sneaker combo! From the minute I arrived, I was bombarded by compliments. My takeaway for coloured sneakers is you have to lean into the colour and embrace the pop. As for the Puma Palermos, they were comfier than I thought they’d be and the design is to die for.

Pros: Adorable design and available in a lot of fun colours.
Cons: They are very narrow so beware if you have wider feet.
Sizing: Size up if your feet are on the wider side.
Support: Not great but also not terrible.
Blister Status: By the end of the night my heels were getting a little irritated but it took a few hours to get to that point.

Day 4: Vans Classic Slip-Ons

spring shoes
Photography courtesy of Annika Lautens

If I’m being honest, these Vans Classic Slip-ons were the shoes I was the most nervous to wear and style. The thought of them immediately conjures greasy 14-year-old boys skateboarding in the hallways as I’m struggling to avoid them on my way to class. Inspired by Katherine Singh’s article and Morgan Stewart’s viral Instagram post, I embraced my preppy roots and went super classic with my Aritzia Effortless Pants and a thrifted J.Crew shirt.

And Morgan Stewart was correct — this is an unexpectedly good fit. It’s professional but casual and the checkered pattern goes really well with striped button-up. I even influenced the PR woman I met for lunch to purchase them! That said, these were painful. I walked maybe 40 minutes total and my feet were blister city.

Pros: An unexpected slay that serves serious nostalgia.
Cons: These hurt — a lot!
Sizing: True to size.
Support: None.
Blister status: Invest in bandaids!

Conclusion: Combine colour + comfort

After my experimental week I have concluded that colourful sneakers are going to become my new personality. The key is to style these spring shoes from the feet up — don’t be afraid to match your accessories or add another pop of pigment somewhere else in your ensemble. Aesthetically, the Adidas Gazelles and Puma Palermos were my favourite, and the shoes that received the most attention. Nevertheless, I’ll be saving the New Balances for any long walks or travel, and am happy to report that the Vans were the biggest surprise and much more versatile than anticipated. Consider these feet happy!

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