I’ve worn the Nike Free sneaker for years. Every time they came out with a new style, I bought it, too! I just went through my closet and purged about five pairs of Nikes, because I kept all of them for ages. I wear sneakers for the majority of the week; I’ve never been a heel type of girl, because they give me major back pain and I’m often driving, walking, running around with my kids. So when I decided to buy a fresh pair of sneakers, I actually decided to take the leap and get a pair of Black New Balance 501 Classics. I have been wearing the Nike Free sneaker in Black, but wanted something a little more vintage-styled and not as sporty.
I bought my first pair of New Balance last year, when they did a collaboration with JCrew. I liked them, and still wear them, but they were taupe and orange, which is a difficult color combination to match. So, I decided to get a pair of black, taupe, and cream colored ones this time (the white is just slightly off pure white, maybe more of an eggshell). The photos were taken straight out of the box, but I’ve already worn them 4 out of 7 days this week, so they’re ummm….broken in now.
How do they hold up to my Nike Frees?
Short answer? Beautifully. Long answer? I feel they fit my feet better. They are cushioned, a little sturdier (read: warmer for our Oregon temps), and they look a little bit more fun with basic outfits. They came with alternate color laces, as well, which was a nice touch and an option to change up the look. Obviously, my Nikes are comfortable and sportier, and they look great with more athletic wear.
How do they fit?
Both fit me true to size, but the Nikes were on the more snug side. If you are between sizes in those, size up, or wear a thin sock.
The New Balances were more roomy, so order your regular size or even size down. The New Balances are wider in the toe, so if you have a wider foot, go for those…they will likely be more comfortable. I’d also say the New Balance 501’s are ideal for someone who needs high arch support.
Which is a better value?
Nike Free’s are just at touch more expensive, but I think that price is reasonable if you’re a runner/athlete who will get a ton of use out of them. If you’re wanting a fashionable sneaker for every day use (like me), I think the New Balance’s are just a little bit more versatile, and can be worn with more types of outfits. I wore them the other day with my LuluLemon leggings and a tee, and then the next day with black, high-waisted skinnies and a denim jacket. So, if you can only squeeze one pair into your budget, the New Balance 501’s are a great buy.
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