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What to wear with the Nike Air Max 97

Air Max 97 History

The Nike Air Max 97 is one of the most popular sneakers to ever release and played a significant role in the running shoes resurgence, at a time when basketball sneakers were king. Designed by Christian Tresser, who has recently been working alongside Kanye West on the Adidas Yeezy 700, the Nike Air Max 97 is said to have been inspired by mountain bikes and water. The shoes “waves” that cover the upper are said to resemble the ripples that occur when a stone is dropped into a pond, and the reflective detailing is said to be inspired by the metallic finish of 90’s mountain bikes. This streamlined upper is then paired with a full-length Max Air unit, that has stood the test of time, looking just as modern now as it did 23 years earlier.

The Nike Air Max 97 has come out in almost every color imaginable over its two decades of existence, and is versatile enough to look good no matter what you pair it with. With that being said however, if your struggling to decide how to style your Air Max 97’s, here are our suggestions:

Outfit #1: Athletic Wear

The first outfit we recommend wearing with a pair of Nike Air Max 97’s forces you to embrace its origins as a performance running shoe, by matching it with athletic wear. Sweatpants are the easiest bottoms to wear for this look and we would suggest finding a pair from brands like Nike and Adidas, but we also recommend Uniqlo if you are looking to save some money. It is also worth mentioning that you can swap the sweatpants out for leggings if you want something more form fitting. A tip is to avoid any bright colors or any kind of patterns, as the focus should be on your sneakers. In terms of tops, a sports jersey would look great for the summer, but in the colder months a light sports jacket or Nike Tech Fleece would work just as well.

A look Drake has often been spotted in, the key is to find a balance of wearing sporty clothing, but not looking like you are about to go jogging. Some helpful tips are to try and find sports clothes that naturally fit your body shape, and try and choose simple colors like grey, navy and black that are easy to pair with any Air Max 97 colorway. In terms of situations where you can rock this look, it is suitable for meetups with friends, enjoying a day off, or any kind of informal event.

Outfit #2: The Night Out

The second outfit to wear with the Nike Air Max 97 is almost the opposite of the first outfit, as it pays no attention to the sneaker's past as a running shoe, and instead treats it as a lifestyle silhouette. For this look you will want to avoid any sports brands, or athletic gear in general, and go for a smarter look that you could wear on a night out. In terms of bottoms, any pair of light jeans would work, but a distressed or even ripped pair would add a bit more style to your outfit. For the top, you want a plain t-shirt, preferably in white, that you can wear a bomber jacket over. Other jackets are available, but the nylon shine of a bomber jacket complements the Nike Air Max 97’s reflective 3M panels, as well as the shoe’s often reflective finish. If your pair does not come in a metallic colorway however, then you can always swap the bomber for a denim jacket, as long as it’s a different shade to your jeans.

This look allows the Nike Air Max 97 to be worn in settings where athletic clothing is off the table, but also the casual nature of the outfit means that you can add whatever accessory's you want to the look. If you're into watches, or like to wear any kind of jewelry, this is the outfit for you.

Outfit #3: Ath-Leisure

Our third and last outfit to wear with a pair of Nike Air Max 97’s is a mixture of the first two styles, taking aspects from both the lifestyle and athletic outfit to create an “ath-leisure" look. Like the first outfit, it also requires a pair of sweatpants, but they no longer need to be nearly as form fitting, with baggier, less sporty pairs working just as well. This can be paired with a loose-fitting t-shirt, but hopefully it is cold enough that you can wear a hoodie over the top. Like the sweatpants, the hoodie can be as baggie as you want, as the focus of the outfit is very much on comfort. The outfit works well in black and white, but lighter pastel colors are also welcome.

The ath-leisure look is extremely popular at the moment, and especially with the pandemic constraining us to our homes, the comfier you are, the better. It is the perfect outfit for a lazy day in, or for short trips out and about, so it is no wonder LeBron James is often spotted sporting the look during the NBA tunnel walks.