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How To Properly Style and Wear Air Max 1s

Styling Air Max 1s
James Francisco

On the themes of sneaker timelessness, the coveted Air Max line remains at the peak of the conversation. Conceived through the genius of Tinker Hatfield, the Air Max 1 was the first sneaker to showcase a windowed sole, integrating state-of-the-art air technology.

Sneakerheads have recently witnessed the retro of the ill-forgotten Air Max 1 ‘86 ‘Big Bubble’ this past 2023 Air Max Day, featuring a bigger visible air unit along the midsole and sporting four circles rather than the usual three. Speculations that more special releases and collaborations are bound to arrive with the resurgence of the historical pair.

Nowadays, the iconic model has been somewhat overlooked by its more recent Swoosh counterparts in Jordans and Dunks, though the Air Max model will always remain relevant.

If it’s not for you, then hey, it isn’t for you, though if you copped a pair, here are a few recommendations on how to breathe life into the classic silhouette.

OG or New Colorway?

Despite the anticipated ‘Big Bubble’ release, the Air Max 1s seems to be regarded more as a general release (GR) than what one categorizes as ‘heat’ or ‘exclusive.’ The classic pair has been wrapped in various colorways and materials, extending beyond its initial running nature.

Whether stunting an OG colorway or a unique collaboration, we recommend scouring the market to see which speaks best to you. You definitely can’t go wrong with a sleek neutral-toned piece or one that speaks volumes (you do you, brother!).

Make Sure You Buy the Right Size, Material, and Utility

The Air Max model features standard sizing unless partnered with a wide foot, as we recommend going half a size to a full size larger for a more comfortable feel. Built initially for runners by runners, it would be a go-to for everyday wear in most collections, though given its inception in the 80s, its comfort may be “outdated” compared to recent models.

Concerning materials and utility, the Air Max 1 continues to delve into several sporting categories and collaborations. I would recommend looking into which ones—whether quality, usage, and even advocacy, resonate with you the most and start from there!

Make Sure They Complement the Fit

When flaunting “that air bubble, that mesh,” personally, a very monotone or neutral-palette fit would accentuate the masterpiece on feet—considering the colorway to be of more unique colors and vice versa.

Whether rocking cropped trousers, straight-cut cargos and denims, to even mesh shorts and jorts (yes, I said it) partnered with a plain or vintage tee, it’s generally safe to say that what is on foot is bound to stand out. Though in terms of styling prints, I’d go for more of a graphic top and plain bottoms or the other way around. The Air Max 1 would do its thing on your toes, so it's best not to clash in picking out your fit’s color scheme.

The Air Max 1’s relatively active and casual appearance insinuates a similar approach regarding probable accessories. Try to go with something subtle—a staple bracelet and chain to a cross-body bag or a nicely fitted cap will do the trick.

If choosing to go with a fresh pair of shorts, a scrunched-up pair of Nike or plain crew socks may elevate this classic look. You can also sport ankle-cut and no-show ones though be wary not to commit any of these cardinal sins when selecting your socks. It may turn heads, though not for the right reasons.

Rock them with Straight Cut/Wide Fitting Jeans

The re-emergence of the “baggy” or straight-cut bottoms would probably be a personal favorite fashion trend in recent years, setting nicely above the tongue. This familiarity not only [corresponds] to Air Max 1s but is also suitable for your favorite silhouette (Jordan 1s, Dunk Lows, New Balance 990s, you name it!).

Be wary of the pant length and width of the leg opening (would recommend around 8” in diameter) to ensure that the bottoms enclose the upper of the sneaker, exposing the iconic swoosh and transparent air unit. I recommend purchasing a piece or altering pre-owned ones, ensuring the bottom hem stacks nicely. We don’t want any peeking laces now, do we?

Wear Until the Air Bubble Pops

The Air Max model was constructed to brave the naturals, with the air unit able to withstand various surfaces with constant wear. Despite its primordial utility, we don’t recommend going on long runs or using the shoe for your next workout, as Nike continues to produce and innovate more trainers suitable for your active needs.

Sneakers are meant to be worn and if you can justify the extensive price tag on some of them, there isn’t a reason why you should not slip your foot into the iconic pair. With its material and structure, the Air Max 1 may be more reasonable for getting a bang for your buck than other models.

Feeling “lost if it pops” may be inevitable, so better to get as much usage as you can out of the pair for the time being.

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