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How To Properly Style and Wear Air Jordan 1s

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Sneakers were around long before 1985. But it isn’t hyperbole to say that sneaker culture as we know it today began in large part due to the arrival of Michael Jordan’s first signature sneaker, the Air Jordan 1, in the mid-’80s.

Over three decades later, the Air Jordan 1 is arguably bigger than it’s ever been. While OG colorways like the “Bred,” “Royal,” or “Shadow” are still the gold standard for plenty of people, Jordan Brand hasn’t slowed up its efforts to add to the extensive catalog of colorways. These days, 60+ colorways of the 1 releasing in a year isn’t uncommon. Music’s biggest stars like Travis Scott and J Balvin have outfitted the high-top with their own unique colorways.

 Even luxury fashion houses like Dior have been able to put their own spin on the classic sneaker. But you don’t need to be a stylish celebrity or spend thousands of dollas to rock some 1s. Chances are, even your homie who knows nothing about sneakers has added a pair to his wardrobe at this point. Along with white Air Force 1s, black Chucks, Adidas Superstars, or Nike Dunks, the Air Jordan 1 is the model that symbolizes sneakers as a whole for many people.

We could go on for much longer about the Air Jordan 1. Actually, we did. But the next step after you acquire a pair of 1s is knowing how to rock them. By no means is this meant to be a definitive ruling on the matter. Consider it more of a gentle nudge in the right direction if you find yourself looking for some answers.

With 1s hitting new levels of mainstream exposure each passing week and becoming even harder to cop, we felt it was time to give some tips to the masses. And with Jordan 1 Lows and Mids being back in style and a surplus of collaborations coming out, there are plenty to choose from.

All things considered, the 1 is pretty versatile, but there are still a few pointers to keep in mind. Whether it’s the right pair of pants, proper lacing method, or experimenting with some paints and dyes to make your pair of 1s stand out from the pack, check out our guide on how to wear Air Jordan 1s below.

High, Mid, or Low?

Yes, posing this question might be sacrilege to some people, but the fact of the matter is, all heights of the Air Jordan 1 are fairly popular these days.

The OG Air Jordan 1 High is still far superior to the others, but the stigma around Mids has completely faded for some people. The mid-tops are even reselling on sites like StockX and Goat now. The same goes for Air Jordan 1 Lows. Once guaranteed outlet fodder, Travis Scott (shocker) and his Low collab from 2019 put some juice into low-top 1s.

If you take a scroll through TikTok, you’re guaranteed to see some creators bragging about their new pair of Mids. Not everyone abides by this rule of thinking, so you may still get roasted for bragging about your new 1s to your friends and showing up to the party in a pair of Mids.

Still, it isn’t as clear cut of a rule as it once was. Collabs from Blue the Great and Melody Ehsani are perfect examples of respectable Mid options that have hit the marketplace over the past few years. A pair of Lows can be a solid choice for a laid-back summer fit, too.

 Choose wisely and combine it with the right shirt and pants, and you’ll be in the clear.

OG or New Colorway?

For purists, there are a very select few colorways that are acceptable to lace up. As they say, “Mike didn’t wear those.” Are the OG color schemes still the best option? Pretty much. But there are still plenty of solid new colorways that you should not stray away from for the sake of a purist’s opinion.

Wear whatever you like. The younger you are, the less the historical significance likely means to you anyway. That’s why pairs like the “Obsidian” from 2019 flip for $500+ on StockX with no historical context whatsoever. Some people just want a shoe they think looks cool. History is important though, especially for a shoe like the 1s. Do a bit of research. It will make your favorite pair that much more important to you. However, there are still 1s that are best left off your feet like these, for example. Leave these on the shelf, too.

Make Sure You Buy the Right Size.

Yes, creasing is an inevitable part of wearing shoes. No matter how much you try to avoid it by walking around like a duck, eventually the toebox is going to show some signs of age. The good news is, Air Jordan 1s are one of the sneakers that don’t immediately look disgusting when they get a little creased up. However, we still don’t want the toebox looking like a balled up shirt you just pulled out from the bottom of your closet. One of the easiest ways to do this, believe it or not, is to make sure you are buying the proper size. Trying them on is the best way to find out, but generally speaking, 1s run a bit narrow. If your foot is wider, go up half a size. If there are two inches of space between your toes and the front of the shoe, size down. Sure, the store’s last size might have been a 12, but remember, you wear a 10.5. If you can’t help yourself, use foam inserts to combat the creasing process. They don’t keep them completely uncreased forever, but they’re a worthwhile investment at around $10 per pack. Just remember, they make things a bit snug.

Make Sure They Compliment the Fit.

This one might go without saying, but please don’t just wear your multicolored 1s with everything because you spent a few paychecks for them on StockX.

If you can only afford a pair or two of sneakers, make sure to stick to neutral colors like black, white, or grey. We know the “Shattered Backboard” 1s are an amazing colorway, but you can’t be wearing orange shoes every day. If you can’t resist temptation, there is another solution.

Keep your fits neutral. A black or white T-shirt, blue or black jeans, and you will be set. A lot of times, this looks much cleaner than trying to match the exact shade of red or blue from head to toe, anyway. Overly coordinated fits tend to do the opposite of their intended purpose and can look a bit cheesy, but there are always exceptions.

Match the colorway of the shoes to an accessory like a hat or a bag. Find a graphic T-shirt with subtle details that use the same colors instead of buying a brightly colored T-shirt to go with your 1s. There’s a sweet spot to hit right in the middle of “matchy matchy” and “got dressed in the dark.”

Show Them Off With Some Tapered Pants.

For plenty of sneakerheads, this feels like a given, but this still needs to be explicitly stated. The right pants can make or break your fit. Too tight, your feet look like boats. Too baggy, then you might look like Michael Jordan.

The perfect medium is a tapered pant that sits just right on the top of the tongue. You want to be able to put on your shoes and that’s that. Having to constantly adjust your pants to make sure they are falling right means you may need some new pants.

Denim with a slight stack usually looks best, but you don’t want too much excess length. It will overbunch and look like this. We don’t want that. Elastic cuffs are acceptable still, but only if you’re wearing sweatpants. Maybe you should keep those denim and khaki joggers in the closet at this point.

Don’t Be Afraid to Rock ’Em With Baggy Pants Too.

No, we aren’t talking about fugly #NTDenim. This is not a suggestion to go buy some Wrangler boot cuts from Target to complete the fit. But there are plenty of stylish baggy options on the market, especially now that the baggy look seems to be fully back in vogue.

The best part is, this is super affordable, too. Black or khaki Dickies work pants or generic army surplus cargo pants can easily be scooped for under $40. If you’re feeling bold, some slouchy trousers like Virgil Abloh rocked to the 2017 Met Gala could also suffice.

If you are still on the fence about baggier fitting pants, just trust us. Try it once and you’ll understand. At the end of the day, roomier pants are just more comfortable, too. It’s worth it.

Wearing Shorts? Find the Right Socks.

Some people wear pants all year-round. But plenty of us cannot afford to step outside in the summertime without rocking some shorts. If you fall into the latter category, you know that proper socks are a crucial piece of the puzzle.

This is especially true with Air Jordan 1s. Don’t overthink this one. Standard black or white Nike crew socks get the job done here. Better yet, find some pairs with no logo at all. If you want to wear something a bit more unique, don’t get too crazy. You still want the kicks to be the star of the show, right

 The only absolute DON’Ts when it comes to socks: Don’t wear another brand’s logo and don’t expose your ankles. Few things look goofier than rocking some no-show socks with high-tops. When it comes to shorts, we recommend something simple like a black mesh or nylon pair that falls right at the knee, but feel free to take your own liberties here.

Just Wear Them.

Don’t get us wrong, everybody loves to keep their sneakers as clean as possible. We don’t recommend going and jumping in puddles or participating in a mud run in your 1s.

However, one of the best parts of 1s is that you don’t need to put in the maximum effort to make sure they look crisp at all times like a pair of white Air Force 1s. Sure, pulling out the sneaker cleaning kit when you get a gnarly scuff or accidentally end up caking your pair in mud is encouraged, but don’t be afraid of the natural wear and tear. Just wear them.

With the exception of certain colorways, 1s age like wine. They look as great with some creasing as they do the first day you put them on. Customizers like Philllllthy are even distressing pairs to look like they have been thrashed for decades. It isn’t for no reason. It looks good.

We get if it isn’t your vibe, but don’t be afraid to wear your shoes, people.

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Aaron Deinel Mandap
Aaron Deinel Mandap
1 year ago

Very helpful! Thank you, Complex.

Do Better
Do Better
1 year ago

Learned absolutely nothing from this article, just a bunch of basic information that goes without saying. buzzfeed article lookin ahh

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