If your kids are like mine, and want to express their personality through cool kids’ sneakers, you’re in luck. That’s pretty much what’s on the shelves these days, and they’re not just the so-called fashion brands. Even the big athletic sneaker brands are getting loose with design, which means we don’t have to compromise between sturdy fit for our kids and the fun styles they want.

Here are just some of my picks for some of the more fun sneaker designs for boys and girls, toddlers to big kids, that can take them back to school in style this fall. All affordable too, meaning no collectors edition $200 sneaks here, either. (Oy.)

Oh, and just a note to you fans of classic simplicity. Take a deep breath. Deep, deep yoga breathing. There you go. Now remind yourself that fashion tends to come full circle, and no doubt in a few years we’ll be back to navy and khaki on your kids’ closet floors once again.

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Cool kids sneakers: Converse Chuck Taylor Zipbacks

Chuck Taylor All-Star Zipbacks  ($40, Converse)
Leave it to Converse to bring back an 80’s neon-meets-pseudo-punk design on the same classic high tops that I may have worn back in my 80’s neon-meets-pseudo-punk days.



Cool kids' sneakers: Tween Puma Carson floral shoe

Puma Carson flower athletic shoe   ($49.99, Journeys)
I love seeing all the various floral designs on shoes this year. I know these Pumas are made for girls, but there are going to be some hipster boys sporting floral accessories too this year, guaranteed.


Cool kids' sneakers: Nike SB Stefan Janoski Sneaker

Nike SB Stefan Janowski   ($69.99, Footlocker)
See? What did I tell you. though maybe this print is more ferns and forestry than florals, but still…pretty awesome. Like a Hawaiian print 2.0.

Related: The hottest fall fashion trends for kids. Warning: You may want them for yourself


Cool kids' sneakers: Vans Skeleton "Bone Dance" slip-ons

Vans Skeleton Bone-Dance Slip-On Sneakers  $37, Zappos
Another retro sneaker throwback: Vans. Only you can get more than the classic checkerboard pattern these days. How fun are these skeletons? They’re billed for boys, but our girls like them too.

Cool Kids' Sneakers: Nike Roshe One sneakers in preschool and little kid sizes

Nike Roshe One ($54.99, Footlocker)
Perfect for little kids or big kids like mine with smaller feet, these fun Nikes go up to a size T13.5, and also come in a black and white leopard print option with a silver metallic accent.


Cool kids' sneakers: Chuck Taylor Party High Top with tulle accent at the tongue

Chuck Taylor All Star Party High Top  $34.95+ Nordstrom
Party in the top…no no no! Not going there. But I do love these sneakers for older kids with some subtle social media references (“tag me”) worked into the design, and some not so subtle layers of lace tulle cooly peeking out from behind the laces.

Cool kids' sneakers: Youth + Twen Adidas ZX Flux

Adidas ZX Flux leopard athletic shoe  ($69.99, Journeys)
I still believe you can get away with leopard prints and look modern, providing you don’t mix and match it with zebra and cheetah prints too. Pretty sweet shoes and I love that they’re from Adidas.

Cool kids' sneakers: Vans Digi-Shark Slip ons for big kids

Vans Digi Shark Slip Ons ($32 for little kids at Zappos; big kid Shark Vans $40-45 at Vans)
The trend of photo-real prints is not going anywhere (did you see that awesome donut backpack we recently featured?) and, sharks are still pretty hot too. Combine them and you’ve got one cool pair of Vans for kids of all ages. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the closet…

Cool sneakers for kids: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star ShineChuck Taylor All-Star Shine ($45, Converse)
I admit these are the shoes I want for myself this year. How fun is that metallic texture? Fortunately they run from sizes T12-Y6, which means I could actually probably grab myself a pair.


Cool kids' sneakers: Marvel Avengers Captain America Sneakers for little kids

Stride Rite Marvel Avengers Sneakers ($56, Macy’s)
For those kids who can’t get enough of superheroes Stride Rite is out with a fun Marvel collection featuring these cool Captain America sneaks, complete with a comic book CLANG on the side. (Though BIFF and POW are still my favorites.)

Cool sneakers for kids: Converse Chuck Taylor Americana high tops

Chuck Taylor All-Star Americana High-Top $39.95, Nordstrom
If you like the all-American look but maybe not so much the licensed characters, this offering from converse is pretty fantastic for boys or girls.

Cool kids sneakers: New Balance 890 Running Shoes are fantastic for growing feet

New Balance 890 Running Shoes ($39.98 on sale, Macy’s)
If you and your daughter are debating between style and comfort, that ends right here. I find there is nothing like New Balance for kids in terms of fit and support, especially if they’re doing a lot of running. How great that the brand is serving up fun fashion colors now, and on sale no less. (As if neon could go out of style in the fall when you’re a kid. Pshaw.)


Cool kids' sneakers: Vans vintage floral slip-on

Vans Vintage Floral Slip-On $31.95+ Nordstrom
Okay just one more floral. Because I can’t resist the allure of this pretty vintage pattern in a classic, easy Vans slip-on style sneaker. Another one I might try to squeeze into myself. Uh…so I can hand it down to my kids, soon.