Bensimon sneakers

These simple lace-ups are the French alternative to Chuck Taylors.

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Some might say that a person of any age can wear Chuck Taylors, and that’s part of their charm. As a woman in her early thirties though, I wonder, Can’t I find something a bit more sophisticated? Enter Bensimon sneakers. I first saw these simple lace-ups in the window of one of my favorite shoe stores, Tani (31 W 72nd St between Broadway and Columbus Ave (212-595-1338), on the Upper West Side. Displayed in an artfully unruly heap, the rubber-soled canvas numbers were available in every color of the hipster palette (slate, mossy green, coral...), the saturated hues are offset by a simple white rubber sole and reinforced toe. Exactly what I was looking for. Cute as the kicks were, they looked woefully flimsy—could I justify spending more than $60 on these babies (they are French...and I am a total Francophile)? Then I saw the ones meant for me: a high-top in gray suede, delightfully monochromatic, basic enough to match with cuffed jeans or patterned tights, offering a bit more support than its cloth counterpart. They were a bit pricey for such basic footwear—$77 on sale—but these were the ones. I bought them and have been wearing them with pleasure ever since. It doesn’t hurt that Serge Gainsbourg apparently used to wear Bensimons too—not Chucks. Tani has since sold out of these kicks but you can purchase them for $88 at freepeople.com—Gabriella Gershenson

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