Summer trainers for ladies: my tried-and-tested best buys


Summer trainers are fast becoming a wardrobe staple. It’s no wonder when you think about how versatile they can be. So, let’s enjoy this enduring trend as kicks can work for every occasion, from the boardroom to the bar – even your daily commute. I must admit I don’t have far to travel, as my working studio is in my back garden! Still, I’m wearing trainers more than ever before. Chunky kicks are easy to team with jeans while a tennis-shoe style can complement a long, pleated skirt. Maxi dresses can look more laid back with a metallic summer trainer. Or why not add feminine appeal to a skirt and a tee with pastel footwear?

Summer trainers 2023

New summer kicks have been high on my radar these past few weeks. I’ve actually been looking for summer trainers, which won’t let me down in the style stakes and comfort is still key. I think supportive footwear should come under plenty of consideration. Even more so, if you’re planning to put your trainers through their paces all day and evening. So, I’ve tried and tested four pairs of summer sneakers by putting them through their paces. My activities have varied greatly from a walk in the park and a trip to a bar to a day spent working in my studio and dining out with friends.

There are a variety of distinctive designs, which will help you move effortlessly into summer season. Colours tend to be lighter and brighter and there’s still plenty of call for box-fresh, white or cream trainers this year. You can even jazz things up a bit with a green stripe. Or simply opt for a metallic finish instead for a bit of sophisticated bling? One of the latest trends with longevity (who wants fast fashion?) is for natural textiles and meshes; these breathable materials are brilliant because they can help you keep cool. I’m also a big fan of vegan options, which allow you to tap into cruelty-free footwear. So, whichever trainers you’re currently considering (now’s the time to buy), I’ve got you covered with my essential summer trainers round-up.

Are sneakers bad for the planet?

Did you know most mass sneaker production features plastic and many of these trainers aren’t recyclable? The ways in which they are made can contribute to the environmental crisis, too. My recent research has discovered that trainers cause 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This also appears to be down to the use of non-environmentally-friendly materials, such as nylon and plastic, and a manufacturing process, which is energy intensive. Vegan summer trainers tend to be a more sustainable choice than animal leather. However, some of the materials, which can be used in the production process, aren’t biodegradable. They can also release toxins in landfill for years to come. So, it’s best to choose your summer trainers wisely.

Retro styling

The beauty of retro-style summer trainers is that they are so easy to style. Are you a fan? Personally, I’m loving every minute of this wonderful revival. Sporting classic good looks, these trainers are easy to wear and I think they’re guaranteed to make you feel good. However, the look you’ll achieve will depend on the type of summer trainer you pick and your own personal style. They are so versatile, they can make a perfect pairing with a long, pleated skirt or jeans for a more relaxed vibe.

SAYE Modelo ’89 Vegan Trainers

Sarah wearing SAYE vegan summer trainers

Made with bio-based vegan napa, recycled insoles and 100% organic cotton lining and laces, SAYE even delivers to your door using biodegradable packaging. Their trainers are PETA-approved and renowned for using innovative and certified bio-based and recycled materials. Every time you buy a pair of sneakers from SAYE, they fund the growth of two trees. I think this sounds like a fantastic collaboration with the NGO We Forest. Thankfully, these summer trainers don’ t disappoint in terms of comfort either, as they feel super-soft with brilliant cushioning underfoot. I absolutely love the retro look too, which makes these summer trainers highly versatile and a win-win for me. Its easy to see why this style is one of their best-sellers.

Once you have picked the trainers you like directly from SAYE online, simply scroll down and you’ll discover information on their environmental impact and a handy eco score. I think this is brilliant because you can really see what’s what. This brand says it was set up to offer an alternative to the conventional footwear industry and they make a clear commitment to providing quality, sustainable products.

Sarah wearing SAYE vegan summer trainers with long skirt
These Modelo ’89 Vegan Green Trainers, £120, are bang on-trend, kind to the planet and cruelty-free. I also love the retro look with the green stripe and heel detailing. If you hurry, you may catch your pair in their current sale for £99

Helly Hansen Furrow Sneakers

Sarah wearing Helly Hansen sneakers

I first discovered the Helly Hanson brand, when I bought a pair of snow boots from them more than a decade ago. I must admit these have worn incredibly well and they still look super-stylish. In terms of Helly Hansen’s sneakers, it seems classic styling comes naturally to the Furrow. I picked their Syrin/Dus colourway (there are three to choose from), featuring the distinctive HH logo.

If you’re also looking for breathable footwear, Helly Hansen’s Furrow Sneakers collection could be perfect for you. They feature a special mesh that covers most of the upper part of the trainer, which will keep your feet cool when the mercury rises. These summer trainers feel extremely lightweight too thanks to the HH Lite-Frame, which makes them perfect for holiday packing or if you wear them for style (and comfort) on the plane. And, if foot odour concerns you in boiling hot weather, these kicks come with an antimicrobial treatment, so you won’t have to worry.

The Furrow Sneakers also feature HH’s Quick Dry technology, which makes them ideal for our British summers when, let’s face it, dry weather is never guaranteed. Their eco-friendly credentials include 100% recycled toe box and heel reinforcement, lining and laces – more than 70% of the upper is made of recycled materials. Helly Hansen say they constantly work to develop and choose materials with the lowest environmental impact.

Helly Hansen Furrow sneakers
Helly Hansen’s Furrow Sneakers, £85, feature classic styling and are breathable and quick-drying for summer fun, whatever the weather. I particularly love this colour! They are also so light-weight, they won’t weigh down your holiday bags either

Styling chunky trainers

Sarah wearing smart shirt and HOFF summer trainers

If you want to make a statement, chunky summer trainers will do just that. The key is to wear them with confidence. In fact, knowing what to wear with your chunky kicks all comes down to personal choice. These summer trainers are hugely versatile. So you can style them just as well with classic blue denim jeans, silk joggers, trousers or shorts. Keep it casual with a jacket and tee or you can smarten up your look slightly with a shirt. Pick a trainer styling a cool collection of pastel colours to add a more summery vibe to your outfit.

HOFF’s Griffith Skyline Sneakers

I’m loving HOFF’s new SS23 collection. If you haven’t yet heard of HOFF, it’s a Spanish brand which was founded in 2016. They are renowned for creating casual, sustainable trainers in gorgeous, popping shades. Their summer trainers blend style and substance and I first discovered this brand when holidaying in France last year. Now, in the UK, they really seem to be making their mark as I’m noticing them popping up in all the reputable UK fashion outlets.

I chose HOFF’s Griffith Skyline Sneakers, which feature suede leather and textile details on a super-pretty colour palette. I picked the Griffith colourway from Skyline, the name of the collection, and this summer trainer delivers on all fronts. These sneakers provides a snug fit with superior comfort and style. This sporty style has a panelled design with a super-cosy removable memory-foam foot-bed. The comfy rubber sole even features a midsole air unit. This not only helps to create a lighter trainer but it provides supreme sneaker cushioning, too. HOFF claims to use vegan and recycled materials in its products where possible.

Sarahs HOFF sneakers
I’m wearing HOFF Griffith Sneakers, £150, from the Skyline collection. Their name comes from the Griffith Observatory, a grand and awe-inspiring Hollywood Hills monument featuring telescopes and interactive exhibitions. I love their memory foam insole, which makes these super comfy and suitable for all-day wear

Adding a bit of bling with metallics

Hardly subtle, metallic summer trainers are made to be the statement piece for any outfit. My advice it to choose warmer tones, such as gold, which will add to summer appeal. These summer trainers are so easy to wear with skinny jeans and a crisp white shirt or you could choose a chic, evening look with a smart, silk shirt and tailored trousers. And you could really bring on the bling at a summer party if you pair a gold sequinned skirt with matching sneakers.

Feather & Sole’s Wide fit gold leather trainers


If you have wide feet and you struggle to find trainers to fit, you’ll love Feather & Sole. All their footwear is handmade and it has been designed for women with wide-fitting feet. Are you planning to add a little sparkle to your summer outfits for the season ahead? Then you’ll love their wide fit gold leather summer trainers.

Made with 100% leather upper, sock and lining, striking features for me include a white sole with gold stripe insert and off-white laces. I also love the thick sole and padded inner, which provide extra comfort. Their ethos is to create shoes that are made to last, not for landfill, avoiding chemicals which are detrimental to the environment.

Feather & Sole sneakers
The Feather & Sole Wide fit gold leather trainers, £119, are ideal if you struggle to find sneakers to fit. The padded inner brings additional comfort to these kicks, I love a bit of bling on a trainer and gold adds a luxurious finish

AD: Huge thanks to SAYE, Helly Hansen & Feather & Sole, who have kindly collaborated with me to produce this blog.

Now you are all kitted out for summer, if you’re looking for something to update your home instead, head on over to my blog on patterned tiles now.