What Are Lifestyle Shoes?


Young pair in sporty clothes and lifestyle shoes standing in front of their house

Imagine a neatly organized shelf containing one pair of every general type of footwear. If you were asked to identify sneakers, boots, casual shoes, or flip-flops, you’d have no problem. If you were asked to identify lifestyle shoes, however… well, it’s kind of a trick question—one that might cause you to flounder.

The phrase “lifestyle shoes” doesn’t hold the same weight in the collective unconscious as, say, “sandals” or “slippers.” Still, if you’re out shopping for new kicks, it’s good to have an idea of what you might be buying.

The short answer is that lifestyle shoes are meant for casual wear—in the sense that they’re not built for strenuous activity. Ready for the full story? Read on to learn all about lifestyle running shoes and why you should add a pair to your fashion shoe rack.

So… What Makes a Lifestyle Shoe?

Remember when you learned in geometry class that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square?

Lifestyle shoes follow a similar principle: “lifestyle shoe” is more an umbrella term than a specific kind of shoe—a rectangular category filled with specific shapes like sneakers, ballet flats, and espadrilles.

So, while the definition encompasses a veritable smorgasbord of footwear, each style with its own unique origins and uses, there are two reliable indicators:

  • Lifestyle shoes are not necessarily a performance shoe. That means they are not specifically designed with sports or activities in mind (as opposed to, say, basketball shoes or running shoes).
  • Most lifestyle shoes strike that perfect balance between casual and professional style. You won’t usually find anyone wearing them at black-tie events (although athleisure is on the rise). However, they’re ideal for hopping between your couch, the office, and that hot date.

Next, we’ll take a closer look at the distinction between a lifestyle tennis shoe and an athletic shoe that’s actually designed with a tennis player’s needs in mind.

Family having fun in the backyard, wearing comfortable shoes

Lifestyle Shoes vs. Performance Footwear

Perhaps the best way to understand what lifestyle shoes are is to understand what they aren’t: performance footwear.

Why is the distinction so important? Because many lifestyle shoes come in the form of lifestyle sneakers, which may look like your average athletic shoe, but are decidedly athleisure.

There are several points of difference:

Design and Utility

From lifestyle running shoes to trainers, performance footwear is made with—you guessed it—performance in mind. You may have even heard of them being called sports shoes. These athletic shoes can take the heat of intense practice, and are also designed to help you take the heat, taking the brunt of your maneuvers and allowing your feet to breathe.

Indeed, without the support a solid pair of athletic shoes provides, you’re prone to short- and long-term health issues related not just to your feet but also your knees, legs, and hips.

Lifestyle shoes aren’t designed with performance in mind. Not that you can’t beeline to the bus stop at the end of the block if you’re running late, but this footwear isn’t built for traditional workouts and sports practice. They’re better suited for more everyday activities.

Price Point

A healthy amount of research, testing, and technology all go into ensuring performance shoes live up to their name.1 For that reason alone, they often sit on the pricier side of the fence, sometimes costing upwards of $130.

The various kinds of lifestyle shoes come at various prices, but speaking strictly about lifestyle footwear, pairs are generally in the sub-$100 range (depending on the brand and designer, of course). They may look the part, but they often don’t require the same degree of manufacturing specificity as their performative counterparts.


The Golden Rule is as true of shoes as it is of people: take care of them, and they’ll take care of you. Learn how to clean your sneakers so that they last even longer. Yet even your favorite pair must be replaced after so many steps. How long that takes depends on your shoes’ material, quality, and how you use them.

  • Running shoes are a good metric for performance footwear, as they are among the most common. A trusty pair should last you somewhere between 300-500 miles worth of running, though terrain and local weather can affect that estimate.2
  • Lifestyle shoe longevity is harder to track in miles, but generally speaking, you’ll need to pick out a new pair around once per year.3 If you’re not out and about all that much, however, or work a desk job, they have the potential to last even longer.

Types of Lifestyle Shoes

While what is a lifestyle shoe and what isn’t may still be a matter of some debate, laying out specific types might help sway some votes.4, 5

Continue below for the (non-exhaustive) lowdown on espadrilles, ballet flats, and different kinds of lifestyle sneakers.


You can wear espadrilles—unmistakable thanks to their braided soles—whenever you want, but something about them screams summer. Maybe it’s how breathable they are, helping you beat the heat, or maybe it’s their elegant simplicity, which complements a wide range of outfits.

Usually flat, espadrille wedges are perfect for taking things up a notch, as are open-toed sandal espadrilles for summer’s sweatiest days.

Ballet Flats

In spite of what it may sound like, you don’t have to know how to pirouette to wear ballet flats—quite the opposite, in fact.

This style of flat shoes for women is tailor made for wearing all day and all night, from the office to happy hour. Strapless, laceless, and slip-on, ballet flats are optimized for comfort and arch support—because nice shoes shouldn’t hurt to wear.

Lifestyle Sneakers

What are lifestyle sneakers? Hopefully, you already have the sense that they differ from performance sneakers.

But just as performance sneakers run the gamut from tennis to basketball and beyond, lifestyle sneakers span a range of categories, including the following:

  • Slip on sneakers. Exactly what they sound like, slip on sneakers are athleisure footwear at its simplest. They’re ideal for when you need to get up and go, leaning toward the more casual side of the lifestyle shoe spectrum.
  • Walking shoes. A step up from slip-ons, walking shoes provide a touch of extra support to your heel and instep, ensuring the footwear lives up to its name. Walking shoes for women and for men come in a number of styles to go with your outfits.
  • High tops. Some have laces, some look like boots, but all have one thing in common: that instantly identifiable raised tongue. It’s a look unlike any other, brimming with personality most other sneakers lack.

The Benefits of Lifestyle Shoes

Aside from the sheer variety of lifestyle shoes available—and, by extension, the sheer variety of outfits they go well with—there are a number of benefits to wearing lifestyle shoes.


The last thing anyone wants are shoes—lifestyle or otherwise—that cause cramped, aching feet. That’s why Vionic’s lifestyle shoes are designed with comfort in mind. Our Vio-Motion Support technology prioritizes arch support that keeps your foot aligned, impact-ready cushioning, and stability from toes to heels.



Healthy Feet Are Happy Feet

Comfort is nice enough on its own, but comfortable lifestyle shoes also come with impressive health benefits, including:6

  • Alleviation of orthopedic issues like plantar fasciitis and heel pain
  • Improved circulation thanks to their breathable, non-pinching nature
  • Better posture, since your joints and muscles won’t hurt as much wearing these shoes

Getting Noticed

Although less tangible than comfortability and health benefits—and partially dependent on how you carry yourself—it’s hard to deny that a well-picked pair of lifestyle shoes (paired with an equally well-picked outfit) is bound to be noticed.7 They can easily give off the impression that you’re well put together, that your stylistic sensibilities are on point, and that you care about what you wear.

When Should You Wear Lifestyle Shoes?

One thing is already abundantly clear: lifestyle shoes aren’t meant for that nightly jog by the riverside, or that game of ultimate Frisbee, or that marathon you’re running next week. Performance footwear is performance footwear; lifestyle shoes are lifestyle shoes.

With variety comes versatility, though, making lifestyle shoes suitable for all sorts of situations.

  • Trips to the grocery store and strolls in the park alike call for walking shoes. They’ll keep you comfortable and reduce the strain you’d otherwise feel.
  • Ballet flats aren’t too stylish for the office, and are just stylish enough for a fun night out. They’re walkable, too, great for exploring new cities and seeing the sights.
  • Espadrilles are the essence of summer, but they work for any season. Don’t trudge through two feet of snow with them, but slip them on all year round otherwise.

What to Wear with Lifestyle Shoes

In a similar vein, lifestyle shoes go with clothes from across the spectrum—but what works with slip on sneakers might not work with moccasins.

Take the occasion, the season, how the colors sync up, and, of course, your personal preferences into consideration when pairing. That could mean wearing a sundress with your espadrilles, or a denim jacket with your high tops.

Vionic Lifestyle Shoes That Fit Your Lifestyle

Let’s circle back to the original question: What are lifestyle shoes? Well, they’re many things: casual footwear with a touch of class, not meant for performance, split into myriad types, beneficial for your feet, and wearable in more scenarios than you can shake a stick at.

If asked what one thing defines lifestyle shoes, however, this is as good an answer as any: they fit your lifestyle.

That’s where Vionic has you covered. Our trendy selection of lifestyle shoes—designed with comfort and support in mind, and constructed with top-of-the-line materials—caters to lifestyles of all kinds. Order a pair that fits yours and get to breaking them in today.



  1. Lappe, Meg. “What You Need to Know About Lifestyle Vs. Performance Sneakers.” Gear Patrol. 9 August 2018,.https://www.gearpatrol.com/fitness/a477877/performance-or-lifestyle-sneakers/#
  2. Triola, Paige. “How Long Do Running Shoes Last?” Runner’s World. 14 June 2021, https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a33233314/how-many-miles-do-running-shoes-last/
  3. Thompson, Steve. “How Long Do Shoes Last? The Answer Might Surprise You.” Boot Mood Foot. 12 april, 2020,https://bootmoodfoot.com/how-long-do-shoes-last/
  4. “Women’s Shoes Style Guide: The Lowdown On Types of Ladies Footwear.” ShoeZone. https://www.shoezone.com/Womens/Womens-Shoe-Styles
  5. “Men’s Shoe Style Guide” ShoeZone.https://www.shoezone.com/Mens/Mens-Shoe-Style-Guide
  6. “Health benefits of comfortable shoes.” Pitillos.https://blog.calzadospitillos.com/en/lifestyle-en/health-benefits-of-comfortable-shoes/
  7. “The Top 3 Benefits of Women’s Casual Shoes.” Walking on a Cloud. 7 April, 2017,http://www.walkingonacloud.com/blog/the-top-3-benefits-of-womens-casual-shoes/

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