I have never been known as a “sneaker girl.” Up until fairly recently, I was all about heels…the higher the better. People thought I was at least 2 inches taller because I was never without my heels. And then I got older.
And had kids.
And started visiting Shana in Philadelphia (and actually, now that I think about it, that was probably the biggest contributing factor to my becoming a sneaker girl…those Philadelphians, man…they walk EVERYWHERE. We’re talking miles a day.) And between walking all over, chasing after the kids and my feet “settling” with age (as my mom calls it–UGH) I canNOT with the heels like I used to (Am I the only one watching Real Housewives wondering How. Can. They. Do. That??)
Ironically, despite my desire to spend as little money as humanly possible on sneakers, I’ve ended up spending HUNDREDS of dollars on them. It started with buying whatever was on crazy clearance at any store we happened to be walking by in Philly because my feet were killing me.
Unfortunately, there was a reason they were on sale and most weren’t actually comfortable to walk in. So I moved on to some favorite go-to brands: I love my Converse, but can’t wear them for any long period of time because they’re too stiff and rub on my ankle. (Found that out the hard way at the airport one day.) I bought these Vans because they’re cute — but so rigid I’ve never been able to actually walk around long enough to break them in. And while I actually love these leopard-print sneakers (and they’re super comfy), they’re not exactly a pair that will go with everything.
So that became my goal:to find one pair of sneakers that are comfortable (like really, really comfortable), that will go with all the things and allow me to stop spending money on cheap(er) tennis shoes that I end up wearing once or twice.
Golden Goose Or Dupes? Superstars vs. Steve Madden
So a little background is necessary, I think, to explain why I decided to try those expensive Golden Goose sneakers in the first place: I had drooled over Stuart Weitzman boots for years before I finally took the plunge and bought them (on sale!). I had done the same thing with those boots that I did with my search for comfy sneakers — I ended up spending lots of money on cheaper alternatives that weren’t exactly what I wanted but were good enough. And every time I wore those cheaper boots, I would find something I didn’t like: the construction, the quality, the fit, etc., I’ve always had a hard time with investment pieces because they’re so expensive, but I also forget to take Shana’s price-per-wear into account. So I ended up with multiple pairs of boots that I only wore a handful of times and could have saved a lot of money if I had just bought the ones I wanted in the first damn place.
I Walked A Mile In These Sneakers
But that price tag on Golden Goose is crazy expensive (IMO), SO I bought a pair of less expensive Steve Madden sneakers to compare and contrast. I mean, the two pairs look very similar, and I could always return the GGs if they weren’t all they were cracked up to be. I was very “scientific” about the whole thing (using that term pretty loosely–see my Insta stories here), and brought both pairs to the Superior Dome (a big sports rec center where people go to walk when the snow is everywhere). I decided to test them out by walking a mile in each pair–straight out the box and with no socks. (I mean, if you can wear a pair without socks that’s comfort, right?). Here are my thoughts:
First Up…Steve Madden Dupes
So these were actually pretty comfortable, even without socks. They didn’t rub on my ankle (a problem I often have,) and the glitter wasn’t right on my skin so it wasn’t scratchy. The lining is like a softer textile–almost like a terry cloth?–so I think that helps with the comfort. They do squeak, though, which drove me a little nuts. Not a huge deal, but kind of annoying. They’re definitely warmer than the Golden Goose (which is good for me right now in the cold weather,) but I imagine they’ll be hot in the summer. They felt more like your typical athletic shoe and were made with leather and man-made material. I usually wear a 7.5-8 and the 8s were perfect. There is a slight amount of distressing that doesn’t come through as much in the pictures as it does in person–more on that later. (Sidenote — my daughter Greenlea was obsessed with the glitter!)
Or…Golden Goose Superstars
So when I first put these bad boys on, they fit just a bit lower than the Steve Maddens around the ankle, which I liked. They also felt lighter, but somehow more substantial, if that makes sense. They felt more like regular “shoes” than your typical athletic shoe.
They’re made from 100% leather and are vented on the side thanks to decorative perforations which makes them a lot more breathable (and not as hot). I like that the sole is ever-so-slightly thicker at the heel (1″ at the heel and 0.8″ at the toe, instead of 1″ all around like the Steve Maddens,) because I think it looks more flattering and leg-lengthening somehow.
And, of course, I have to address the distressing: I know a lot of people comment on the silliness of buying expensive shoes that already “look dirty,” but I kind of like that there’s a slight amount of distressing on these. I worry less about wearing them outside and getting them dirty. You know when you get a brand new pair of white sneakers and are constantly watching where you step to avoid any mud or water?(It can’t just be me, right?) But I think the ones I chose have a perfect amount of distressing that looks less dirty and more broken-in. (It’s not for everyone, though, and I totally get that!)
I think my FAVORITE part of these sneakers (aside from the comfort–that’s the #1 most important thing, IMO) is that I will literally be able to wear them with everything. EVERYTHING. They look good with jeans, shorts, joggers, etc., but also with dresses and skirts--long or short. (And I plan on coming out with a post on all the ways I’m wearing these soon, so stay tuned).
OK, So — Golden Goose Originals OR Steve Madden Dupes?
If you’re looking for high-quality, really well-made, comfortable sneakers that will go with everything and stand the test of time, the Golden Goose sneakers really are a good investment. Think price-per-wear…they’re expensive, but if you want one-pair-fits-all that will get lots of use, it might be worth the higher price tag. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the sneaker style and aren’t sure if it’s for you, the Steve Maddens are a great option. Some quality is sacrificed for the price, so they may not last as long as the GG, but they are comfortable and come in a bunch of funky prints and patterns.
jeans: Everlane Authentic Stretch High-Rise Skinny Button Fly (size 27 regular, these are one of our favorite pairs of jeans at TME . . . see how we’re all wearing them here)
sweater: Lord + Taylor Cashmere Crewneck (size small, I can’t say enough of these sweaters–I wear them alllll the time AND they’re on clearance right now)
Uh…Tips On Tying Golden Goose Laces
Also…I admit I was confused on how to tie these. So I turned to my husband, a sneaker-lover himself, and asked him to help. He had me loosen the ties just a bit and then tie them in a knot right behind the tongue. That way I didn’t have a ton of extra lace to tuck into my shoe, but I still avoided that giant bow on the front that I didn’t really want Do any of you have any tips on how to best tie these Golden Goose sneakers? Let us know!
Shop My Favorite Golden Goose Sneakers
While you can find Golden Goose at Shopbop or Nordstrom, I found the selection at SSENSE and Farfetch to be MUCH better (especially for size selection). They both offer free express shipping too–I ordered mine from Farfetch and didn’t really believe they’d reach me so fast from the UK, but they did–even in Marquette where everything takes so much longer to get too.
Shop My Favorite Steve Madden Dupes