Best Top Rated & Popular Shoes Reviewed for Style

While the type of footwear we opt for highly depends on personal preferences and requirements, there are simply those shoes which are popular and highly rated due to timeless designs, top quality materials, or unparalleled levels of comfort. From boots, to sneakers, to flats and sandals, there are only a few dozens of shoes that can be considered to be the best popular shoes.

More often than not, the popularity of these styles will depend on current fashion trends, and models like Yeezis or UGGs will shine. Other times, you’ll find that people still tend to gravitate towards tried and tested designs released decades ago, such as the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star or the Nike Air Force 1.

The list below features ten of the best popular and top rated shoes currently available for purchase.

Standout Picks

Nike Air Force 1
If you want to purchase the absolute best popular shoes, then you're in the right place. Not exactly a new model, the Nike Air Force 1 is a staple fashion sneaker first introduced in 1982. Originally designed to be a basketball sneaker (and the first shoe for this sport to use Nike’s Air cushioning technology), the Air Force 1 has since become a ubiquitous pair of footwear you’re likely to see often. But, what differentiates this model from others listed is the fact that it is available in such a large array of colorways and upper variations, that you’ll look completely unique, no matter which of the versions you go with.
Amazon Link
Ugg Classic
You may not believe this, but the famous Ugg boots were first created for surfers, to keep their feet warm after their early-morning sessions with the waves. Since then, they have been adopted by celebrities, and then by the entire world, becoming one of the most popular models on our list.
Amazon Link
Birkenstock Arizona
Continuing the trend of footwear with questionable stylistic appeal but unequivocal quality and comfort, the next in line is the Birkenstock Arizona. A sandal which has been around for over two centuries, updated and improved to fit the modern world, but with all its heritage as a solid foundation of its construction.
Amazon Link
Crocs Classic
This list wouldn’t be complete without the Crocs Classic clog. Yes, it may not win many style points - we all have our preconceived notions about people who wear Crocs on the regular, don’t we? - but they are, without a doubt, worthy of being in this guide of the best popular shoes. And here’s why.
Amazon Link
Sorel Joan of Arctic
When the winter sets in, cold and unforgiving, when harsh winds pick up and blankets of snow cover everything, you need footwear that will both keep you warm and keep you protected from the elements. If, at the same time, the design is stylish as well, that’s certainly a nice bonus. Fortunately for you, the Sorel Joan of Arctic happens to be all three.
Amazon Link
Bostonian Ipswich
Bostonian is a brand which has been in business for over a century. That’s right, they have over 100 years of experience in making only the finest dress footwear money can buy. And the Ipswich oxford is a great example of their impeccable craftsmanship and a silhouette which can not be any more elegant than this.
Amazon Link
Converse Chuck Taylor
When you picture an iconic or popular sneaker, it is likely that an image of the Converse Chuck Taylor pops up in your mind. Because yes, this is a popular design, by all standards. Similarly to the Adidas Superstar, the Chuck Taylor was also created for the purpose of playing basketball, but it slowly migrated from the courts and onto runways, becoming an invaluable fashion declaration instead.
Amazon Link
Adidas Superstar
A look which originated in the 70s and is still going strong - perhaps now more than ever, with the retro vibe overtaking the fashion scene - Adidas Superstar is one iconic sneaker. You will recognize it by its shell toe, the three Adidas signature stripes on the sides, and a logo-stamped heel patch - a popular design everyone is familiar with.
Amazon Link
Toms Classic
In a span of only a few years, the Toms Classic “Alpargata” design became one of the most sought-after, and most popular silhouettes in the world. This is partly because the slip-on itself is addictively comfortable, and partly because there is a noble cause to buying a pair of these. Namely, Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms, vowed to donate a new pair of footwear to a child in need for every purchased pair of Toms. Making the world a better place, one pair of footwear at a time!
Amazon Link
Sanuk Yoga Sling 2
Summer will never feel the same after you try stepping out in the Sanuk Yoga Sling 2. If Nike changed the game for sports footwear, Sanuk definitely upped the ante when it comes to easy, lightweight designs that you can wear all the time in warm weather. The one that stands out in terms of comfort and that easy, breezy feeling is the Yoga Sling 2.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Comfort

What makes a shoe comfortable is a rather complex topic. Dozens, if not even hundreds of little factors go into determining this characteristic, and they are different for every style, every brand, and even every person. If one design is comfortable for you, it doesn’t mean that the same one will be comfortable for your friend or family member.

All items on our list are considered comfortable in one way or another. They wouldn’t be the most popular options if they were hard on our feet, if they regularly caused blisters or were otherwise difficult to wear. And different designs here achieve their comfort in different ways.

Some, like Crocs and Toms, for example, rely on their materials and construction to provide a cushioned, supported feeling. They come with contoured footbeds which fit the form of your feet, and as such they support the natural movement of your foot, as well as provide relief from foot fatigue. This is especially true in those which have ample arch support, such as the Birkenstocks. It is what makes them so popular and well-loved.

Arch support is essential in preventing the foot from rolling inward as you walk - what is called overpronation - and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced gait.

And then there are designs, most notably those which come from brands such as Nike, which include a list of special features, or technologies, that turn up the volume on comfort. Nike’s famous Air Technology is truly an outstanding work of innovation, one that has completely restructured how footwear works, and how sports sneakers are supposed to perform. It is also what made them popular for casual wear, not just sports.

While you may not be an avid basketball - or any other sports - player, you are undoubtedly going to love the compression and rebound that Nike Air Force 1 offers, as it will feel like walking on clouds, quite literally.

At the end of the day, which product you land on, and which comfort type suits you the best depends entirely on your preferences, as well as the shape and the size of your foot. While the Converse Chuck Taylor is amazingly comfortable for most, for you it could be too narrow. Where many consider the Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 easy and lightweight, you might find it too flimsy.

It would be best if you could try out the design before you purchase it, and decide for yourself if you feel comfortable enough to walk, or even to stand in it for longer periods of time. Make sure that no part of the shoe rubs against your skin or leaves marks, and that the footbed feels natural and supportive. Try walking for a few steps, test out the feeling, and only then commit to the design. This way you'll get not only a shoe that's popular, but also that feels great when wearing it.

Features

By ‘features’ in this section, we mean ‘characteristics unique only to that specific item, or that specific brand’. In this competitive footwear industry, each manufacturer has to fight for their place on the market. They have to set themselves apart, to be bold and creative, to discover something no one else has ever done, and to do it successfully.

This includes coming up with new, never-before-seen materials, such as the Crocs Croslite, a resin foam that didn’t exist before Crocs came up with it, or the Sanuk yoga mat footbeds that have taken the world by storm. It also includes downright science, such as Nike Air Technology we have mentioned before.

This comfort system is the only one of its kind in our list. Back in 1970s, Nike teamed up with a former NASA engineer to work on repurposing an aeronautics technique called blow rubber molding. This method was used in the construction of astronaut helmets for the Apollo missions, and then later helped Nike create midsoles which were hollowed-out and ready to be embedded with sacks of pressurized air. Science suggested that running on air provided the ultimate shock absorption, since these gas pouches couldn’t wear out no matter how long they were used for.

And the rest, as they say, is history. The first Nike design featuring this technology came out in 1978, the Nike Tailwind, and the sports footwear world has never been the same since. Air cushioning remains, to this day, one of the most popular forms of shock absorption in footwear.

While some of the items from this list do come with these one-of-a-kind features that can’t be found anywhere else, it is important to stress that original and creative doesn’t necessarily mean better. Footwear such as the Sorel Joan of Arctic, the Adidas Superstar, and the Bostonian Ipswich don’t feature any unconventional materials, or any science-backed technologies.

They are simply a combination of high-quality fabrics and reliable construction methods which are the result of decades of experience in producing only the best designs possible. As such, they are not in any way inferior to Nike, Crocs or Sanuk, and you are equally as likely to enjoy wearing those as you are some of the more advanced designs.

Materials

Now here is where things get interesting, and we get to explore all that these amazing items have to offer. Because materials can make or break a design - they affect its comfort, durability, breathability, flexibility and any other characteristic you can think of. If the materials are subpar, it is almost guaranteed that the design itself will not amount to much.

And this is why all of the popular products we’ve looked at utilize only the highest-quality, premium materials available. It doesn’t matter if it’s leather, suede, canvas, wool, cork, rubber, felt, or even faux fur - all of them are carefully selected and brought together to complete these top designs.

There are also a few that we touched upon earlier, that are an integral part of the footwear brand and also represent a unique feature of the product. Let’s look at those first:

  • Crocs Croslite: Croslite is a special foam resin material that is outstandingly lightweight, and yet providing just the right amount of cushioning and bounce. After each strike of your heel, this material springs back up to absorb more shock, making you feel light and free on your feet. Crocs are outfitted with Croslite footbeds that are a great mix of soft and firm for that all-day cushioned comfort.
    There are several different versions of the Croslite, such as the Iconic Croslite, the Dual and the Triple Croslite, each with its own set of properties that builds upon the same foundation. And this is mainly why Crocs are considered one of the most comfortable styles you can get. There is no material out there which is just as durable, just as water-friendly, and yet just as supportive as this one. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the Crocs Clog is one of the best popular shoes available on the market.
  • Sanuk Yoga Mat: When it comes to Sanuk, the innovation doesn’t necessarily involve a laboratory, chemical reactions and the discovery of something revolutionary, as it is mostly centered around thinking outside the box. Because have you ever heard of a yoga mat used as a footbed before? Neither did we.

    And yet this popular brand really showed us the meaning of comfortable sandals by introducing a piece of exercise equipment into their designs. Sanuk products are definitely peculiar and definitely amazing, and we’re grateful for their forward thinking.

All other popular items in this list are outfitted with regular, well-known material choices that we listed above. They determine the purpose of the design - if it will be cooling or preserving heat, waterproof or water-friendly, elegant or sporty - and your final choice largely depends on what you expect to achieve with your new footwear.

One thing is for sure, however - no matter which option you go for, you can be certain that the materials in the construction of that design are top-notch, and that they have been manipulated in such a way that allows you to use the most out of them.

Durability

Sure, it’s nice to show off your plush new Uggs or your cool retro Nikes, and they might be comfortable and made out of high-grade materials, but how durable are these popular designs, anyway? Once you buy them, how long can you expect them to last? Because what is the point of wearing footwear that everyone recognizes, being hot and on trend, if they’re going to fall apart by next season and you’ll be expected to get yourself a new pair.

Well, the good news is that one of the criteria we used for rating the best popular shoes in this guide is durability. We looked at the quality of the shoe’s construction, as well as all the customer reviews we could find to gauge just how solid the design is, how long it lasts, and what are potential problem areas.

And the good news is, that all of these popular products are quite durable. This is understandable, as we have already described how they are made out of sturdy materials. Anything constructed out of suede or leather - especially if it’s in more than one layer - is built to last for decades.

More lightweight materials, such as canvas and other fabrics, are not as strong, and can get easily stained, scuffed or frayed. However, even designs such as Converse Chuck Taylors and Toms Classics are surely going to last for at least several seasons.

The absolute champion in durability, however, is the Birkenstock Arizona. This is mainly due to the fact that its footbed represents a solid blend of suede-lined cork and an EVA outsole, a combination which easily withstands the test of time. Its leather straps are sturdy as well, since they are made from genuine leather and won’t snap off or lose their shape anytime soon.

However, none of the other designs in this guide are too far behind. If you’re looking for something to grace your wardrobe for many years to come, opt for leather and suede designs, as well as those which have solid rubber shells and outsoles, such as the Sorel Joan of Arctic or the Ugg Classic.

If you’re leaning more towards that lightweight feeling and don’t mind if your footwear doesn’t live to see the next year, then don’t be afraid to go for more breathable, softer fabrics such as the Sanuk Yoga Sling 2.

Style

We already talked about this briefly in the individual reviews, but we have to repeat it here - some of the best popular shoes are not the most fashion forward. They don’t follow the current fashion trends, they’re not winning any style awards, and they won’t put you on any best-dressed lists.

However, that is not to say that the fashion world has turned its back on these pieces. Quite the contrary; despite being simple in design, many of these best popular shoes have found their place in fashion magazines and fashion blogs, and many a celebrity swears by wearing these timeless, comfy footwear.

Because ultimately, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Timelessness. If a design is going to defy the passage of time, remaining largely unchanged for years, decades, even centuries in the case of the Birkenstock, it has to be straightforward, minimalistic, and to fit in seamlessly with many outfits, many seasons and to meet the demand of many, many people.

Sure, you wouldn’t necessarily say that Crocs are attractive. Or that Chuck Taylors are appropriate for a formal gathering. And yet still people wear Crocs all the time, and Chuck Taylors have become a cool, rebellious touch on the red carpet, paired both with evening dresses and sharp suits.

At the end of the day, the appeal of a popular design is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t feel restricted by fashion rules or guidelines - go for whatever feels good to you, experiment, embrace your own creativity and aesthetic! Whichever option you go with from this guide, you can be sure that you will have a popular shoe that will always be a classic and that you will never get tired of wearing it.

Sources

  1. GQ, 50 Best Sneakers, Style Blog
  2. Amir Ismael, 27 most Instagrammed sneakers , List Article
  3. Success Story, 10 Most Popular Shoe Brands, List Article
  4. Tyler Lauletta, Popular slip-on dress shoes , Fashion Article
  5. Travel and Leisure, Stylish Comfy Shoes That Celebrities Wear , Style Guide