I Styled the Iconic Adidas Samba Like Rihanna and Hailey Bieber
My obsession with the Adidas Samba first began in fifth grade. One of my classmates wore the OG classic in black nearly every day, teamed with a pair of Soffe shorts that were rolled precisely three times at the waist. She always beat the boys at soccer during recess. I admired her fashion sense from a young age, and I think that's because she wore her outfits with confidence and exuded a certain toughness — especially in her Sambas. It's possible she was even my very first style crush. Today, retro sneakers are having a resurgence, and that certainly doesn't exclude the iconic Samba, a low-top with three recognizable stripes, the Trefoil-embossed logo at the heel, and a gum rubber outsole. It was, in fact, created as a versatile soccer shoe by the brand in 1950.
Particularly impressed by the quirkiness of Hadid's outfit and the bold brilliance of Rihanna's, I aimed to settle on the answer to an age-old query: how to wear Adidas Sambas.
The celebrity support of the Samba is at an all-time high, with models, Hollywood A-listers, and Rihanna (she deserves her own category, right?) reinventing the wheel when it comes to outfits with a tomboy twist. While pregnant with her first son, RZA, in April 2022, Rihanna updated her maternity wardrobe with a pair of white Samba shoes that offset a navy-blue Alaïa ribbed set. They were played up by pearls and the accents on her Dior Saddle Bag, and complemented by an LAFD trucker hat. That might have been the street style look to spark the cyclical trend — Bella Hadid wore her Sambas in Paris around the same time, taking a dark-academia approach. And Katie Holmes and Hailey Bieber rocked them with denim this past summer, stepping out in New York and LA, respectively.
Seeing as school is back in session — and that's where my love for Sambas began — it felt like the right time to pick up the sneakers (which start at $90), and take them for a spin. Maybe it's because the shoes represent my early passion for admiring someone else's style, but I promptly schemed to re-create the celebrity outfits I'd found. Particularly impressed by the quirkiness of Hadid's outfit and the bold brilliance of Rihanna's, I aimed to settle on the answer to an age-old query: how to wear Adidas Sambas.
As it turns out, you don't have to harbor millions of Instagram followers to wear the shoe in precisely the same way Rihanna, Hadid, Bieber, and Holmes did. All four outfits work for achieving athletic appeal like a fashion girl — it just depends how relaxed, or, conversely, how extra you want to stray. Ahead, I review the original Adidas Samba shoe in the context of each celebrity outfit I tried and ultimately choose a favorite look. Scroll to see — and shop — the pieces cut out for the job.
How to Wear Adidas Sambas Like Rihanna
What I love most about Rihanna's look is how relaxed yet considered it feels. You can tell she loves each of her pieces — even the sportier ones — enough to dress up the details with pearls and an ornamental bag. Rihanna's casual street style always feels true to her eccentricity in that way. I'd been eyeing this cutout ribbed set by Henne for a few months, and never did I think it would flow seamlessly with comfortable walking shoes until I put everything on together. "Wow, this really works," I thought to myself. I contrasted the lighter shade of my coords with denim touches but felt effortless as can be. Needless to say, this instantly became my favorite Samba outfit.
My outfit: Henne Romee Knit Tunic ($112) and Henne Romee Knit Skirt ($119). Lele Sadoughi Sparkling Navy Raffia Baseball Cap ($85). Effy 925 Sterling Silver Freshwater Multicolor Pearl Necklace ($298, originally $425). Ettika Timeless Pearl 18K Gold Plated Necklace ($55). Adidas Originals Samba OG Shoes ($100).
How to Wear Adidas Sambas Like Bella Hadid
Hadid's outfit has dark-academia schoolgirl influence with a plaid pencil skirt, multicolor spectacles, and braids. While my own miniskirt isn't quite as long, it boasts a similar texture, and a graphic sweater feels like a no-brainer way to bring the sporty Sambas full circle. A shoulder bag and hoops just feel like an obvious fashion-girl touch.
My outfit: BDG Carter Recycled Pullover Sweater ($69). Urban Renewal Vintage Y2K Plaid Mini Skirt ($49). Calzedonia Ribbed Socks With Wool and Cashmere ($6). Warby Parker Andre Glasses in Striped Inkwell ($195+). Adidas Originals Samba OG Shoes ($100).
How to Wear Adidas Sambas Like Hailey Bieber
Bieber's outfit is the perfect example of her street style prowess. She manages to make the most simple wardrobe basics — baggy jean shorts, a cropped baby tee, and an oversize denim jacket — look like something out of a luxury campaign. Gold hoops and '90s sunglasses are her signature, so I was sure to accessorize as such. My favorite detail? Surprisingly, the delicate anklet clasped loosely around the folded-over sock. That tiny little move (along with the slip of midriff) made this outfit feel sexy, and it became a close runner-up for first place in my Sambas styling journey.
My outfit: Levi's Contemporary Type II Trucker Jacket ($79, originally $98). Sunday Best Bliss Cropped T-Shirt ($25). Grlfrnd Quinn High-Rise '90s Short ($133, originally $168). Calzedonia Ribbed Socks With Wool and Cashmere ($6). Urban Outfitters River '90s Slim Rectangle Sunglasses ($15, originally $20). Ettika Baby Double Dangle Hoop 18K Gold Plated Earrings ($35). Adidas Originals Samba OG Shoes ($100).
How to Wear Adidas Sambas Like Katie Holmes
Holmes dresses like a classic New Yorker, whether she's casual or event-ready. It was her effortless Khaite bra and cardigan combo that made headlines in 2019 and gave way to the coord movement. In my opinion, all her outfits are sexy without drawing attention — but this might be her sportiest look yet. Altogether, the outfit feels very grab-and-go. You start with the foundation of a white tee, jeans, and Sambas, and simply throw on the first bag and pair of sunglasses within reach. It's hands down the easiest of the four looks to master.
My outfit: Perfectwhitetee Harley Cotton Boxy Crew Tee ($70). Levi's Ribcage Straight Ankle Women's Jeans ($108). Parisa Wang Charmed Baguette Bag ($218, originally $349). Miu Miu 11WS Sunglasses ($530). Adidas Originals Samba OG Shoes ($100).