Did you know people have been stepping out in Chuck Taylor High Tops for over 100 years?
If you walk down the street anywhere in the world, you’re likely to see people old and young rocking the iconic shoe. You can dress them up or down, and there’s something about the vintage look that makes them so effortless and cool.
So what has given Converse brand shoes its enduring style while so many other trends come and go? What’s the history behind these simple yet stylish shoes that never seem to go out of style? And how can you rock a pair yourself?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Chuck Taylor High Tops.
Table of Contents
The Birth of Chuck Taylor High Tops
Mr. Marquis Mills Converse founded The Converse Rubber Company in 1908 in Massachusetts. As fate would have it, he built the factory less than 100 miles away from Springfield College, the birthplace of basketball, in 1891.
In those days, rubber was a hot commodity. The Converse factory made just about anything possible out of rubber — car tires, high-heeled shoes, galoshes, and tennis shoes.
Converse tennis shoes enjoyed almost immediate success. By 1915 they made up 80% of the sneaker industry in America.
According to an article on Kicks Crew, the Converse factory only made rubber products in the fall, winter, and spring. Mr. Converse wanted to find a way to keep production going in the summer, so he decided to try out a line of basketball shoes. In 1917, he released the first Converse All-Star high top basketball shoe.
For more on the early days of Converse shoes, there are all kinds of resources available on the web. Read article on kickscrew.com, chucksconnection.com, and hoophall.com.
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
Charles “Chuck” Taylor joined as the coach and salesman of the Converse basketball team in 1922. It sounds like a strange title, right? Back then, it was common for shoe brands to own sports teams and use the players to promote their sneakers.
In his new role, Chuck Taylor started holding basketball workshops all over the country where he would give players and coaches advice about how to play. And, of course, he would suggest Converse shoes as the preferred brand to get an edge on the other team.
In later interviews with basketball players and coaches, whenever someone asked who taught them how to play basketball, the answer was always “Chuck Taylor.”
While we cannot credit Chuck Taylor himself for the shoe’s design, his undisputed contributions to the sport of basketball helped his namesake sneaker gain dominance over the competition.
The sneakers had another edge — the now-iconic round heel patch on the inner ankle. Converse marketed the patch as protection players’ ankles. In 1934, the signature “Chuck Taylor” was added to the patch. If you look at any pair of Converse sneakers today, it’s still there.
With the advent of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the Converse brand soared in popularity and reigned supreme as the hottest basketball shoe for 50 years.
The Evolution of Chuck Taylor Sneakers
Over the course of the 20th century, the Chuck Taylor basketball shoe went through a series of phases that led it to become the ubiquitous lifestyle shoe that it is today.
During WWII, the Converse brand switched to manufacturing military shoes before returning to basketball sneakers. Next, the original design underwent a few modifications and tweaks over the years, including new canvas weights and adding grooves to the rubber soles.
Despite changes to the design, the shoe has remained essentially unchanged. If you look at Chuck Taylor ads from the 1930s and 1940s, you will immediately recognize the shoe as the one you see on the street today.
By the 1970s, Chuck Taylor High Top’s popularity as a basketball shoe was fading. However, thanks to the release of the low-top style in 1957, Converse had already transitioned to a fashionable shoe off-the-court. Then with the rollout of the first line of Chuck Taylor colors in 1971, the brand evolved into a symbol of self-expression in streetwear.
Converse has also been popular among counter-culture movements. Its no-frills design and low cost earned its reputation as an anti-consumerist brand. The high top was embraced by the punk movement in the 1970s, hard rockers in the ’80s, and the grunge scene in the ’90s.
Today, folks from all walks of life love the Chuck Taylor sneaker. Converse remains among the top 10 best-selling sneakers of all time.
Choosing a Pair of Chuck Taylor High Tops
Do you want to own a slice of Americana and snag a pair of Chuck Taylor High Tops for yourself? Chuck Taylors are a stylish and sensible addition to any wardrobe, so everyone should have at least one pair.
Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right Chucks for you.
Are Chuck Taylor Shoes Unisex?
Yes! Men and women alike have adored Converse shoes for decades. The Chuck Taylor High Top shoe comes in unisex sizing, but certain designs come in male and female sizing.
Converse tend to run larger than average by about half a size. Try going down half a size for your first pair of Chucks. If you wear a larger shoe size, consider going down a full size.
If you’re still unsure, you can measure your foot in inches or centimeters and check any Converse size chart.
Here’s How to Measure Your Exact Shoe Size:
Stand on a piece of paper with your back straight against a wall. Ask someone to mark the top of your foot and back of your heel with a pencil. Measure the space between the two lines for your ideal shoe size.
Chuck Taylors also have a toddler and kids line called First Stars. They’re made with a soft sole and come available with laces or velcro. Kid sizes tend to run true to size.
Styles of Chuck Taylor High Tops
Do you want a pair of classic Chucks or something with a modern spin? The Converse brand has released new styles of Chuck Taylors that deviate from the original. You can buy Chuck Taylors in any color or pattern that fits your personal style.
Here is our guide to all the styles of Chuck Taylor high tops on the market.
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High Tops
These are the original high-top sneakers. They are quite similar to the basketball shoe that reigned supreme for the better part of the 20th century. These are perfect for those who love a vintage look and have nostalgia for the past.
Converse All-Star 70s
The 70s All-Stars have a thicker canvas, added cushioning, and a thicker sole. They are overall a more rigid and structured fit. The rubber has a glossy, off-white coat that also sets them apart from the original high tops.
Converse One Stars
While the original All-Stars rose to fame in basketball, the Converse One Stars were born in the world of skateboarding. They’re a contemporary take on the classic Chuck Taylor with thicker soles, and they are not made with canvas. One Stars come in low top and high top styles.
Converse Move High Tops
Converse Move shoes put a modern edge on the classic high tops with a platform sole. The chunky soles are made with lightweight rubber and offer a bold twist on the otherwise retro look of the shoe.
Specialty Converse High Tops
If you’re after a spin on the old classics, there’s an endless variety of Converse out there. You can find Chuck Taylors in every color under the sun, in bold patterns, and as part of design collaborations with big names like COMME des GARCONS, Joshua Vides, DRKSHDW, Golf Wang, and more.
Styling Your Chuck Taylors
You can rock a pair of Chuck Taylors with almost any outfit for any occasion. You can dress them up, dress them down, and they look awesome on men, women, and kids of all ages. Converse last for years, never go out of style, and only look cooler with age and wear.
Some couples even wear Chuck Taylors at their wedding!
Whether you have a loud, funky style or like to keep your look classic and neutral, there is a Chuck Taylor out there for you.
Here are some ideas for how to style your Chuck Taylor high tops.
If you like to dress in classic colors, have a minimalist sense of style, or prefer to keep a capsule wardrobe, the Chuck Taylor white high top is a must-have. Other classic colors are black, red, and blue.
Styling with Jeans
Converse and jeans go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t go wrong — whether you’re pairing them with a skinny leg, a wide-cut fit, or cropped jeans, this pairing is never out of style.
On top, you can go casual with a T-shirt, a simple button-down, or a leather jacket. Or you can dress up your look. A cool style for men is to wear jeans with a blazer and Chuck Taylors.
Styling with Dresses and Skirts
Chuck Taylors are a cool addition to any dress or skirt outfit because they can immediately make the whole look more laid back. For a casual day outfit, pair your Chucks with a sun dress, a simple cotton dress, or a skirt and T-shirt. This casual look is perfect for hitting the street with friends, a day of shopping, or going to brunch.
Dressing Up Your Chucks
Converse can be an ultra-cool addition to a suit, a date-night dress, or a business casual look. Fashionistas everywhere are pairing Chuck Taylors with business attire for a laidback yet professional appearance. They also look cute with slinky dresses for a night on the town.
Caring for Your Chuck Taylor High Tops
So you’ve snagged a pair of Chuck Taylors, and you love wearing them. How do you keep them looking fresh for years to come? Here are some tips for the care and keeping of your Chuck Taylor High Tops.
First, do not machine wash your Converse because the washing machine drum can damage them. Also, machine washing them isn’t as effective as doing it by hand.
Here are our tips:
- Remove the shoelaces
- Brush off loose dirt with a toothbrush
- Soak a fabric brush in warm water and mild soap to soften bristles
- Mix together baking soda, laundry detergent, and water
- Use the fabric brush to scrub away stains
- Wash laces in soapy water
- Lay shoes and laces out to dry
If you have suede Chucks, do not use water. Instead, brush away excess dirt with a fabric brush. For leather, we recommend using a leather cleaning solution designed for leather shoes.
Remember, it’s okay if you can’t keep your Chucks perfectly clean. They are durable shoes that are made to last. Some people even like them to look a little bit worn in!
The Legacy of Chuck Taylor High Tops
Chuck Taylor High Tops have a lasting legacy in fashion, athletics, and pop culture. They are an iconic look that was as popular 100 years ago as they are today.
Converse shoes are a staple in any wardrobe. We hope this guide has helped you determine which Chucks to add to your closet, how to find the right size, and how to keep your sneakers looking as good as new.
Do you want to learn more about fashion, style, gift-giving, and other lifestyle topics? You’ve come to the right place. Check out the other lifestyle articles on our website for more need-to-know information.