The Cool Classic Black Sneaker for Grown-ass Women

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The most stylish black sneakers and how to style them as a grown woman over 40 by Wardrobe Oxygen

When I shared the best white sneakers for grown women, I had a few reach out saying they don't like wearing white sneakers and prefer a darker sneaker with their wardrobe. Well, there is a cool classic black sneaker that has come back in style, it's usually under $75, and it may be perfect for you!

The Adidas Samba is the Cool Classic Black Sneaker for Fall

If you're a grown woman like me, you may remember Adidas Samba sneakers. Worn by soccer players and soccer enthusiasts, these sneakers first came on the scene in 1950. Named after the fancy footwork soccer players could achieve in these sneakers, the Adidas Samba saw increased popularity in the '90s and early 2000's.

collage of celebrities and fahsionistas wearing street style with black Adidas Samba sneakers
The Adidas Samba sneaker as seen on tastemakers like Kate Moss, Hailey Beiber, and artist and influencer Anouk Yve.

Soft, flexible, and low-profile, The Adidas Samba is a great choice if you're looking for a cool yet classic black sneaker. The black with Adidas' three white stripes on the side is iconic and works so well with the fall fashion trends we're seeing in stores.

Don't get me wrong, the Adidas Samba comes in a range of colors, but it seems the black version with the white stripes is the hot sneaker ticket this season. And because it's a classic brand, a classic style, and pretty simple, it's chic to be worn by folks of all ages.

Why Are Adidas Sambas Back in Style?

British-Jamaican fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner (seated) and model wearing pieces from her collaboration with Adidas. Image via Porter.
British Jamaican fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner (seated) and model wearing pieces from her collaboration with Adidas. Image via Porter.

Why in the world would this shoe over other styles of sneakers have a return to fashion? Sure the '90s and Y2K fashion are back in a big way, but the return of the Samba is also in thanks to some high-profile Adidas collaborations. The one that really took the fashion world by storm was the Adidas x Wales Bonner collaboration.

A promo photo from the 2020 Jonah Hill x Adidas Samba collaboration.
A promo photo from the 2020 Jonah Hill x Adidas Samba collaboration.

Prior to that collab, in late 2020 Adidas collaborated with actor Jonah Hill for a collection of colorful Sambas and coordinating apparel. Those shoes were so popular they're being resold at five times the price.

The Adidas Samba is the cool classic black sneaker you can rock for fall and beyond.
Adidas Sambas sneakers seen on stylish celebrities like Rihanna, Kristen Stewart, and Bella Hadid. While many colors are worn, black proves to be one of the most popular.

This year, It Girl celebs started rocking Adidas Sambas with everything from dresses to activewear. Folks like Bella Hadid, Frank Ocean, Kate Moss, Rihanna, Kendal Jenner, A$AP Rocky, and Kristen Stewart have been seen in this iconic sneaker, and most of them are wearing them in the classic black with white stripes version.

Because this is a hot trend, your size and style choice may be currently out of stock. But be patient, retailers are replenishing as fast as they can. The perk to purchasing a classic shoe like the Samba is does come back in stock. Researching this trend, I found that Amazon often replenishes sizes faster than other sites, even faster than the Adidas site which waits to have a greater size run before opening back up sales.

How to Style the Adidas Samba Sneaker?

What makes the Adidas Samba great is the low profile. This adds versatility to the shoe, making it work with leggings, baggy jeans, and dresses alike. And by looking at celebrities, they are wearing their Adidas Samba sneakers with activewear, casual dresses, and trendy ensembles with ease.

Styling the black Adidas Samba sneakers with a shirtdress and graphic tote
Style the Adidas Samba sneaker for now with a poplin shirtdress, faux leather bucket hat, polarized sunglasses, and a graphic print tote.

Unlike the white sneakers I recommended, the Adidas Samba looks cool a bit roughed up with wear. No need to be precious with your Sambas, let them get creased and scuffed and broken in, even if you're styling them with your favorite dress or a chic pantsuit.

Consider a no-show sock to let the show take the spotlight or an ankle sock that complements the color of the shoe. Yes, a hint of sock, if athletic with athletic shoes, is chic this season! For such shoes, my favorite lightweight no-show socks are from Bombas, my favorite cotton no-show socks are from Comrad, and my favorite almost no-show (with a little tab to keep them in place) are these from Feetures.

You may also like: the best Bombas socks for our family

Which Style of Adidas Samba Sneaker is Cool?

The Samba comes in a range of styles. The Samba OG is a traditional street shoe sneaker without the tall tongue and details more for sports. If you prefer a vegan shoe you are in luck – Adidas has a vegan version of the Samba that has all the style of the Samba OG. If you are a bike commuter, the Velasamba Cycling Shoe is super cool looking while accommodating SPD cleats and still being wearable shoes off the bike. And the Samba ADV is a bit more reinforced for skaters but just as cool.

How Does the Adidas Samba Sneaker Fit?

IMO, the Samba runs a bit more narrow than a lot of Adidas styles. But unlike the Stan Smith, the Samba is a bit more flexible and you may find it more comfortable. It is a very low profile shoe and may not fit insoles into the shoe and be too snug for those with high arches or high profile feet.

The Samba is sold as a unisex shoe. Most sites offer information as to what size for women vs. men sizing. But for those who only promote the Sambas to a male clientele, go down two sizes for men's sizing. For example, If you are a size 10 in women's shoes, you would be an 8 in men's shoes.

Those with smaller feet may fit into youth/big kid shoes which are not only wider but usually cheaper. Some size charts say go down two sizes from women to kids (for example, if you're a size 8 in women's you'd be a size 6 in big kid's shoes) and others say only go down one size or 1.5 sizes. I usually find 1.5-2 sizes to be most accurate. I found the biggest size range of big kid Sambas at Amazon.

Are Other Colors of Adidas Samba Sneakers Cool?

Yes! Celebs are wearing all sorts of color – gray, maroon, white, camel, you name it. Grace Wales Bonner and Jonah Hill's collections offered amazing colors that are coveted by sneakerheads and Adidas does offer Sambas in non-black neutrals. I am focusing on the black Sambas because it is a cool classic black sneaker and I know many have been looking for such a shoe. But honestly, you wear what makes you happy, you fabulous grown woman!

What About Other Black Sneakers?

Black sneakers are a bit trickier than white. They can easily look like uniform shoes or the comfort sneakers sold in the back of the American Legion catalog. I recommend going with a classic brand (Adidas, Nike, VANS, Converse, New Balance) and a relatively classic style so the black sneaker looks purposeful. I also recommend choosing a classic sneaker that has a hint of white (Adidas' stripes, VANS' iconic swoosh, New Balance's N, a white sole, white shoelaces) which will make the shoe feel fresher and lighter.

That being said, if you are choosing black sneakers because you want a solid black effect with comfort, choose what is best for your wardrobe, your body, and your life. Wardrobe Oxygen is guidance, not gospel and whatever you wear that makes you happy will be best!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. In a rare moment after reading this post, I made an instant decision that I need black Adidas Sambas. But can I find them? Nooooo. I need a women’s size 6, maybe even a 5.5 if these run large. I want leather (or suede), but not faux leather. And I cannot find them, alas. I want to give Wardrobe Oxygen the “click” credit, but I cannot locate them either through affiliate links or elsewhere. Maybe cool is not in the cards for me.

  2. Don’t forget Harry Styles! Adidas + Gucci collaboration. So many colors. I hear the model he’s been wearing on tour will be available for $850 ….. which is not an amount I care to pay… but they are pretty.

  3. Okay, Ally, you have to stop reading my mind. This is the umpteenth time I’ve thought about a topic and the very next day you come up with a post! In reality, of course, I LOVE what you do! As a grown-ass woman of 72, I really appreciate your advice to “choose what is best for your wardrobe, your body, and your life,” but your posts help me to do this and still look current.

  4. Thanks for reminding me, I have a black pair with a platform gum sole that are in the closet somewhere. Maybe I just need to find some laces in a fun color to make them feel fresh for end of summer/autumn! Love these styling suggestions as well.

  5. This is so funny to me because my son actually wears these for indoor soccer. They were only indoor soccer shoes that were wide enough for him! When he needed shoes to wear with black pants I tried to tell him he could wear those but he went with something else.

  6. Love these — and yes, I wore them (and have continued to wear them) since the 80s. You touched on this, but a tip for women with size 9 or above feet — buy these shoes from the men’s shelves at Nordstrom Rack. There’s usually a far better selection and the prices are lower.

    1. Yup I’ve been wearing these forever too! Good call on the men’s sizing and if you wear an 8/8.5 in womens or smaller the Big Kids sizing will work too, and they are the same shoes.

  7. I agree that a low profile helps keep black sneakers from looking orthopedic. The other two factors I’d say can help are, yep, white walls and/or a really unusual shape. I have two pairs of black sneakers right now- Nikes with a white swoosh and white walls, and a pair of all black New Balance XC-72s. The NBs go with way more stuff than I gave them credit for. They have cool, techwear vibes that really punch up a black blazer and jeans, for example.

  8. I remember these sneakers from middle school so I don’t think I can do this trend again. Whenever I see something I wore in middle school or even something I wore in the early 2000s (like flared yoga pants coming back), I just cringe. It makes me feel like I am reverting.

    I have been wearing the Naturalizer Morrison sneakers in black to commute to work in the fall/winter. I bought them because they come in wide sizes but I can’t say they have a lot of arch support. I had to add a padded insole but I do live in NYC so I walk a lot more then most people.


    1. They are a nice looking shoe!
      I’m going to take the hint about going to Nordstrom Rack and see if I can try the shoes on there. I have foot issues, almost every shoe I wear requires a separate insole, and I”m leary of ordering something in a men’s size.
      I do think a black sneaker is more my Fall style. As A. pointed out, they can get dirty without immediately requiring an un-scuff.

      I always think back to the shoes my Mother and MIL wore – the ‘Easy Spirit’ oxford. When I was in my 30s that was the quintessential Old Lady shoe. Now that I’m an Old Lady I wonder if what I’m wearing is fitting that bill.

      Then again, everyone looks old when their feet hurt.

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