It was among the most pleasant fashion experiments I'd ever undertaken: pairing sneakers with things I wouldn't ordinarily wear together — an ankle-length dress, wide-legged trousers, a sleeveless sheath.

But I did.

It was something I was seeing everywhere, a trend that started in menswear three years ago on celebs from Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon to Pharrell Williams to Justin Timberlake. They were wearing Air Force Ones, Adidas, and Tom Ford kicks with their red-carpet-worthy labels.

With each passing year and social-media post, more celebs, more bloggers, and, finally, those with a fearless fashion sense began to embrace soft, sporty soles with made-to-measure suits and metallic maxis.

"I'm a 21st-century woman, so I want to be stylish and comfortable at the same time," said Ljupka Neducsin, 32, owner of designer consignment store Remix on Main in Manayunk.  I recently whizzed right by Neducin during the grand opening of Arthur Kirsh's salon at the Bellevue but backtracked with a quickness when I caught a side-eye glimpse of the shiny Gucci sneaks she expertly paired with a long, lacy, pink dress, custom-made in Macedonia.

Impressive.

"It's about melding two worlds together: high fashion and practicality," Neducin said. "When there is no trend to support what you want to do, you make your own."

According to the most recent specialty-store sales numbers by the NPD Group, Neducin is one of many adopting the new style rule.

Though sales of performance-only athletic shoes (such as basketball sneakers) and fashion footwear (everything from ladies' pumps and ballet flats to classic men's tie-ups) are declining, leisure footwear sales have increased 9 percent, from 16.3 billion in the 12 months ending March 2016 to $17.9 billion for the same period this year.

"It's a simpler, more refined look," Beth Goldstein, industry analyst of fashion footwear for NPD, said as she gleefully admitted to wearing  high-top sneakers, a blouse, and Theory leggings as she chatted with me on the phone.

"The recent athletic craze is resulting in a modern blend between dressy and casual," Goldstein said. "Our lifestyles are forcing fashion to meet us in the middle."

Athleisure may be one driving force behind today's comfy-meets-chic movement, but kicks also are finding corporate acceptance because the sneakerheads of the early aughts — you know, the guys who would stand in line for vintage Jordans or Pharrell Williams' Billionaire Boys Club jawns — have grown up some. And, in the process, they have refused to give up Air Max-like comfort for pinching, classic hardbacks.

"I think they communicate to people that I err on the side of whimsical, not stodgy," said Nigel Richards, a 46-year-old Philly menswear designer whose once completely athletic 611 Lifestyle brand now includes tailored button-downs and close-fitting drawstring trousers. He was wearing a pair of those pants with shoes that were much more sneaker than tie-up at Thursday night's Neiman Marcus charity fashion show.  "But the truth of the matter is, we [guys] are really walking. And this is just more comfortable."

All this sneakers-with-everything love has helped classic brands such as Tretorn, Converse, and Keds find new relevance.

"It's been great for our business," said Emily Culp,  Keds chief marketing director. The easy-walking footwear trend is behind a 25 percent climb in Keds e-commerce sales in the last year. And, said Culp, a Wyndmoor native, the brand has been sought out by designers such as Kate Spade and Rifle Paper Co. for collaborations: Keds' floral print sneakers by Rifle sold out at Anthropologie this spring.

Now, companies that typically would never have toyed with tennis shoes are getting in on the action — even Tory Burch introduced a collection of enviable sneakers two years ago with her Tory Sport line. Luxury labels Gucci and Prada have dressed down their traditionally all-business shoes. And a multitude of brands, from Converse to Tom Ford, all seem to offer a chocolate suede sneaker. (Note for next fall.)

"It's reached a tipping point," said Emily Evans, Ann Taylor's style expert, who also fessed up to wearing sneakers during our phone interview. Ann Taylor released a marketing campaign this spring featuring models in chambray shirtwaists, sleeveless jumpsuits, and wide-legged trousers paired with plain white tennis shoes.

"And women aren't taking the sneakers off when they get into the office, like they did in the 1980s," Evans said. "The look is firmly entrenched and accepted in their lifestyle."

Which brings me back to my personal style experiment. Could I pull this off? We all talk a good game about breaking rules, but would I look like I was trying too hard? There was only one way to find out.

I pulled out a floral maxi that I don't often wear because I tend to think it requires painfully high heels and wore it to the grand opening of the Moshulu deck with white slip-on sneakers I got from Target.  Instead of wobbling from from stem to stern, I glided. The next night, instead of carrying a pair of black T-straps to an after-work fashion show, I wore the same sneakers. And, just like that, my dress was versatile.

Not to mention, my feet were in heaven when I had to walk across the mall parking lot after the show.

I'm a fan.

Not sure how to make the sneakers-with-everything trend work for you? Here are some looks to duplicate, worn by Donovan Holloway, 19, of Philadelphia, and Mely Duong, 25, of Lansdale — on your own budget, of course.

Cocktail-party comfy 

Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Sneakers with that? That’s different. Donovan Holloway blazer, Malcolm, $695; trousers, Marlo TU, $265, both at Theory; winter floral button-down, Soulland, $245, at Uniq The sneaker: basic white tie-up, Common Projects, $415, at Theory Mely Duong. Summer floral high-low, Marni, priced available upon request,<NO1> $2,225<NO>, silver necklace, Cynthia Desser, $415, at Joan Shepp.The sneaker: MM6, $415, at Joan Shepp ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Ed Hille
Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Sneakers with that? That’s different. Donovan Holloway blazer, Malcolm, $695; trousers, Marlo TU, $265, both at Theory; winter floral button-down, Soulland, $245, at Uniq The sneaker: basic white tie-up, Common Projects, $415, at Theory Mely Duong. Summer floral high-low, Marni, priced available upon request, $2,225, silver necklace, Cynthia Desser, $415, at Joan Shepp.The sneaker: MM6, $415, at Joan Shepp ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Cute, casual, and affordable

Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Affordable. Model Mely Duong. Strawberry print capped-sleeved sheath, Maison Jules Mommy and Me, $69.50, at Macy’sThe sneakers: Converse All Stars, $64.99, at Macy’s. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer.
Ed Hille
Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Affordable. Model Mely Duong. Strawberry print capped-sleeved sheath, Maison Jules Mommy and Me, $69.50, at Macy’sThe sneakers: Converse All Stars, $64.99, at Macy’s. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer.

An ’80s look with a millennial fit

Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Sporty--Model .Donovan Holloway. Light wool black joggers, Han Kjobenhavn, $129; white button down shirt, Sylvain, $195, at Theory; tomato red track jacket/bomber, $603, Stone Island, at Ubiq The sneakers: Adidas Originals NMD, $220, at Ubiq.ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Ed Hille
Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Sporty--Model .Donovan Holloway. Light wool black joggers, Han Kjobenhavn, $129; white button down shirt, Sylvain, $195, at Theory; tomato red track jacket/bomber, $603, Stone Island, at Ubiq The sneakers: Adidas Originals NMD, $220, at Ubiq.ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Cold-shouldered and cool

Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here,Larkspur blue off-the-shoulder blouse, Ulrika, $235; Capri pant in sky blue, Nadeema, $235, at Theory. The sneakers: Sky blue sneakers, Woman by Common Projects, $449, at Theory. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Ed Hille
Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here,Larkspur blue off-the-shoulder blouse, Ulrika, $235; Capri pant in sky blue, Nadeema, $235, at Theory. The sneakers: Sky blue sneakers, Woman by Common Projects, $449, at Theory. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Tailored and tan

Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Monochromatic and Cool -- Donovan Holloway Short-sleeved button-down shirt in khaki, Sylvain, $175; flat-front pant in Khami, Jake W, $245, both at Theory. The sneakers: Khaki Nike Air Force One, $150, at Ubiq. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer
Ed Hille
Friday May 5, 2017 Elizabeth writes about millennial and their footwear of choice -- sneakers. Here, Monochromatic and Cool -- Donovan Holloway Short-sleeved button-down shirt in khaki, Sylvain, $175; flat-front pant in Khami, Jake W, $245, both at Theory. The sneakers: Khaki Nike Air Force One, $150, at Ubiq. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Styled by: Mark Barkdsdale

Hair and Makeup:   Hector L. Rodriguez

Clothing and Accessories:

Joan Shepp, 1811 Chestnut St., 215-735-2666; Macy’s, 1300 Market St., 215-241-9000;  Theory1616 Walnut St., 215-735-1034; Ubiq, 1509 Walnut St., 215-988-0194.