Written by Matt Welty (@MatthewJWelty)
It's prom season. Every spring, teenage boys across America get struck with the idea that it would be legendary to wear their sneakers to prom.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with having a healthy passion for kicks. Why should someone who's accustomed to only wearing sneakers, day-in and day-out, be forced to put on a pair of grownup, hard-bottomed shoes?
Because it's the right thing to do.
Too many times, this attempted stunt goes wrong.
This is the time to leave your Js in the box and show the world you know how to dress. It's understandably tempting to un-deadstock that pair of XIs from last year's holiday release and pair them with your rented tuxedo—most likely of the ill-fitting variety from the local Men's Wearhouse—so the patent leather and icy-soled sneakers shine as their picture is snapped all night.
Too many times, this attempted stunt goes wrong. It looks foolish. It's not easy to mix formal attire with something like basketball sneakers—or even worse: skate shoes—if you don't know the rules.
Instead of trying to figure out how to pull this look off, avoid it all together.
It's not hard to spot the perpetrators in group prom photos. There will be a row of girls, smiling hard, in their various pastel dresses. They'll be next to their dates, who might get a matching tuxedo (which is never a good look) and pair it with well-shined shoes. Then, somewhere in the middle of it all, there's a kid who looks like he's jumped from the pages of NikeTalk into his high school prom photo. That's where it all goes wrong.
Air Jordan 1s, IIIs, Vs, and XIs are sneakers that stand out, but that's not always a good thing. If a sneakerhead wants to be the talk of his prom, it's easier to buy a tuxedo from ASOS that fits well and invest in a pair of benchmade shoes. Chances are that the rest of the guys they know are going to dress like shit. It's easier to one-up them with clothes that fit rather than a pair of sneakers purchased at Flight Club.
If you don't feel comfortable in a pair of shoes that were Made in England, there's always the compromise of wearing Cole Haan Lunargrands. They have the look that's right for prom, but the comfort of your favorite runners.
When you look back at your prom photos in 10-15 years, you'll be more impressed by how well you dressed (and the fun night you had) than the fact you broke out your Yeezys. Kanye West doesn't wear sneakers when he goes to the Met Gala— and at the age of 17 or 18, the senior prom is your Met Gala.
Think about your date: Does she want to be the girl who went with the guy who couldn't dress the part for a few hours? Probably not. At the end of day, your date is what prom is all about, right?
Prom is practice for attending weddings in the future. The biggest rule to learn is don't outdress your date. It's her time to shine, and you're lucky enough to go with her. Let her own the evening. If this means that you have to leave your latest sneaker pickup at home, so be it.
It's fun to take #wdywt or #kotd photos, but you can do that after the formal side of prom is over. Round your boys up and snap sneaker circle photos while the after-party goes down. Those are the moments you want to remember. Nobody wants to be the guy who made himself a "Grape" V tuxedo and has become the butt of every Internet meme. The collective sneakerhead Internet doesn't look at those guys and think, "Wow, those guys are really down for the culture." These guys are viewed as hypebeasts, and, to some people, as what's wrong with sneaker culture.
People aren't going to question your credibility if you're not wearing heat to round out your high school career. If you did it right, they'll remember that you wore the best sneakers everyday in the hallway or in class. This is one of those instances where life is bigger than sneakers. So put your grown-man shoes on, make sure your tuxedo fits, pick up your date's corsage, and get ready to have the night of your life. And it can be done in footwear that didn't take winning a raffle or beating a bot to own.
Because, who wants to un-deadstock their sneakers, anyway? Michael Jordan didn't wear Air Jordans to his prom, so neither should you.