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Watch Out Birkenstocks, the Minimalist Sneaker Trend Is Happening

By far the biggest shoe story this year has been "ugly footwear," but there's a new trend biting at its heels: stripped-down sneaks.

By far the biggest story in footwear this past year has been the rise of "ugly" shoes, most notably earthy, outdoorsy styles from Birkenstock and Teva (ushered into the fashion land by high-end versions from from Céline, along with Marc Jacobs and Prada, respectively). While that was seriously such a heartwarming tale of fashion's least likely to succeed rising to the top, there's another trend nipping at its heels (heh): minimalist sneakers.

Consider it the evolution of everyone's current fixation on colorful Nike Air Max's or Free Runs -- or even the skate-inspired slip-ons that Céline turned into a "thing." These new sneakers are sleek, monochromatic dreams, crafted out of leather with only the teeniest bit of branding. And they are lace-ups, that's important.

But it's not only the shoes themselves that look so fresh, it's the way they're being styled. Our interest was immediately piqued last summer by a story in Interview magazine on Sofia Coppola, styled by Karl Templer. There she was, wearing a casual pair of Adidas Match Play sneaks with more luxed-up pieces, like suits and sumptuous camel coats. She appeared absolutely effortless. Then Michael Kors just hit us with his excellent Pre-Fall 2014 collection (pictured above), in which his take on the shoe was paired with equally elevated separates, such as silky pajama pants and tailored trousers. We don't know how else to put it except that this combination just looks so...right.

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If you're eager jump on the bandwagon, we suggest you start with a pair of Boubous from Twins for Peace, which go for about $200 on its site. (My Wardrobe also has them in select sizes for $177.88). Or you could splurge for some Saint Laurent Court Classics if you can part with $570. And while the exact Adidas Coppola was wearing were limited-edition and have long sold out (sad, just sad), we found them in black for $72. The really patient can wait for the next delivery of the Achilles low top by Woman by Common Projects, which are so good, but alas, so sold out until spring.