By Davis Polito
As every student knows by now, shoes worn out quickly become worn-out shoes. Inevitably someone spills a drink on you, or as is normally the case for myself you spill your own drink. On top of the spills, that kiddie pool of beer you walk in at every party only serves to form a layer of stickiness atop the dirt and grime. Quickly those bright, white Nikes that you promised yourself to clean everyday fade to a questionable mix of dirt and drinks. You now have beaters.
Beaters are an integral part of every man or woman’s closet. The trouble with them is that it is often an unconscious choice as to what shoes will become your partying shoes. If you are not careful you will end up like me with an unrecognizable pair of shoes that you spent too much money on to end up in the beater category. In order to avoid this catastrophe, one should set out to purchase a pair of shoes with the sole intent being to ruin them. In this guide I will lay out several pairs of shoes that I believe to make great beaters. This list is by no means comprehensive and is not ordered in anyway, but it is good baseline for shoes that can withstand the escapades of your drunken alter ego.
Adidas Stan Smiths/ Converse / Van
It seems that everyone and their mother has a variation of these two shoes and Penn’s campus is no exception. There’s no question as to why these shoes are so common. They are simple, sleek, and relatively cheap ($50-$100). These shoes can go with any outfit without taking attention away from the other, more important, articles of clothing. The simplicity and lack of attention that these shoes bring are foundational to their appeal.
The reason these shoes look great beat up is the same reason they look good in the first place. No one looks at them. They’re so common and outplayed that they could be covered in a layer of vomit and I’m not sure they would get a second glance. On top of being common, they’re cheap. Whenever your pair inevitably falls apart after a year or so of constant use or the stench of the weekend’s escapades gets to be too much, it’s not a travesty to throw out.
Air Jordan 1 / Converse Chuck Taylo
These two shoes might possibly be the most easily recognizable high top shoes on the market. Both made famous by titans of sport, the Air Jordan by Michael Jordan and the high top Converse by Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez, these shoes have withstood the test of time and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Air Jordan reminds us of the “glory days” of basketball while the Converse Chuck Taylor brings out the basic white girl in all of us.
What makes the Air Jordan a great beater is the exact opposite of what makes the Chuck’s great. When you put on a pair of Air Jordan 1s you feel like you just laced up to go court stomping. Spoiled by lighter and lighter footwear, I cannot imagine playing basketball in a pair of these, but I can see myself stomping down Spruce to head to some fraternity and be confident my toes will remain clean thanks to the leather behemoth on my feet. When these shoes get dirty, the dirt seeps into the creases you’ve made from wearing these bad boys every day. So on top of looking great the dirt just gives them that added early aging which can smooth the edges of a well put together outfit and show that you know how to dress and have a good time.
Chuck’s canvas upper gives these lightweight shoes the raw simplicity needed to make great beaters. You may have to deal with the occasional spilled drink seeping through or ripped toebox, but once these shoes start to get down and dirty they really shine. The bright white will quickly become a muted grey allowing it to simply blend with whatever you wear while still retaining a semblance of its former white. These shoes are also incredibly lightweight compared to the Air Jordans which can come in handy when leaving parties at a dead sprint for whatever reason that may be. Although these shoes aren’t for stomping, they are definitely great for a get-away.
All things considered when it comes to a choice between these shoes it is a matter of taste. The Air Jordans offer that clunkier heavy look that works well with more relaxed looks, not to say they can’t be pulled off in a clean look, while the converse lends itself to a more designer look.
The Max Comfort
Adidas Ultra Boost
The Ultra Boost holds a special place in my heart because my personal beaters are an Ultra Boost colorway. What used to be cream has now turned to a splotchy grey and the sole has more brown than anything else, but they are hands down my best shoes. I never intended to beat them up, but day in and day out I kept wearing them because no shoes was more comfortable. Whenever I lost them out on Halloweekend, I looked at all the shoes in my closet and just couldn’t bring myself to wear another pair. If I hadn’t found them at one of the frats the next day, (because apparently I walked back without shoes) I probably would have dropped the $180 to get a new pair without a second thought.
What makes these shoes so incredibly comfortable is the Ultra Boost material in the sole. Formed from clouds and bonded together by the tears of angels, Boost soles have changed the comfort game forever. Forget the Nike Free. Forget the Lunarlon. The only name in comfort is UltraBoost. Wear a pair for a day and try to tell me any different. Atop the heavenly sole of an Adidas UltraBoost is a primeknit lining that makes these shoes ultra-lightweight and almost sock-like. Now one major downside of this primeknit upper is that it is easily stained and difficult to clean, but since these are your beaters you want them to get that grimy look. As long as people think you bought them grey let them turn grey. Who cares? At the end of the day, their feet will hurt and yours won’t.
The Frat Cruiser
New Balance 990 v1-v4
These shoes are the crème de la crème of Frat shoes. These shoes, when destroyed, form a Magnum Opus of the college experience. No one shoe has better captivated the term “Frat” than these shoes. They are truly the Mac Daddy’s.
Now let me clarify that these shoes are not necessarily the best beaters for everyone. I would say most of you readers would not purchase these shoes of your own volition, but allow me to state my case to those of you interested as to why these shoes are so amazing.
The 990 is the quintessential Frat boy shoe. Almost every member of any fraternity at an SEC school (or honestly any school in the south) has a pair of these shoes. It’s even part of the pledge pack in some fraternities. The clunky retro-grandpa look of these shoes is rivaled by none. By simply putting these shoes on one knows that they are in for a great night. They are truly the 4x4 of footwear. Light enough to run in with enough weight behind them to kick in that door to the party your ratio couldn’t get you in, this all-terrain footwear will quickly become your bestfriend.