White, rubber-soled shoes are giving girls (and guys) a chic boost this spring as athletic wear continues to get a dressy makeover.

The trendlet

Navy or neutral. Marsala or metallic. Leopard-print or white. Kicks of any color with thick, white bottoms are cool and comfortable. Meant to be worn without socks, the shoes look fantab with cutoff denim. Girls get a needed lift with the maxi dress. Guys should slip on a pair when an event calls for a linen or cotton-twill, slate-gray suit. (Slate gray, by the way, is the new khaki.)

Where's it come from?

Today's white, rubber-bottomed casual shoe is a direct descendant of the Converse All Star. Founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse as the Converse Rubber Shoe Co., the manufacturer soared to popularity in 1921 when basketball player Chuck Taylor became its brand ambassador. Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in a 1962 battle against the New York Knicks while wearing the high-tops, forever cementing Chuck Taylor's place in the shoe game.

Brothers Paul and James Van Doren introduced Vans sneakers to the market in 1966. Those, with even thicker soles, would prove popular with skateboarders.

Over the years, Converse-style athletic shoes have served as a go-to for street-inspired looks, from hip-hop to grunge.

When Tory Burch made a slip-on canvas sneaker with a thick, white sole for her spring 2014 collection, the once-casual shoe was catapulted into the ladies-who-lunch realm. Other brands, including Vince, Joie, and Stuart Weitzman, produced versions. Kanye West added a swath of color to white soles for his Air Yeezy collaboration with Nike in 2009. But he went solid white and thick-soled for the Yeezy 750 Boost, released in February with Adidas.

Who's wearing it?

These sneaks are versatile. Jennifer Garner rocks them mommy-style with jeans. Rihanna prefers a more futuristic approach, pairing metallic ones with clean silhouettes. Kylie Jenner is festival chic with cutoff shorts, tassels, and maxis. Ellen DeGeneres has a more corporate, comfy look with her signature pantsuit. And Dan Stevens takes his rubber soles to the red carpet.

Would Elizabeth wear it?

Yes. Slipping into a chunky slip-on with a maxi is the answer to my sometimes painful, sad summer feet. Finally, an alternative to the flip-flop! I'm planning on buying multiple pairs this summer.

Should you wear it?

Definitely. We should all take advantage of this rare time in shoe fashion history when comfort collides with style.

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(Clockwise from top right) Black-and- white bouclé slip-on, Sam Edelman, $110; tan slip-on, Aqua, $350; leopard print, Sam Edelman, $130; white on white, Vince, $198. All available at Peter Kate, 3830 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Del., 302-656-7463, www.peterkate.com.