Whatever your fitness levels, colourful trainers can be the finishing touch to almost any casual outfit

There is a change afoot in fashionable circles. Where once a casually dressed creative's regulation trainer was a pair of Converse – usually low-tops, the original optical white mellowed to a less blinding hue – there is now something far more eye-catching in its place.

Bright trainers with their flashy connotations of speed and sporty endeavour are having something of a moment – unsurprising, given the event that kicks off tomorrow. In the countdown to 2012, the streets of London have filled with people finishing off their usual look with a splash of neon chosen for the comfort factor – a rubber sole will be useful when you've been instructed to walk to work and leave the transport network to the surge of expected visitors.

Nike leads the pack with the Free Run +3, which combines streamlined design with technical proficiency in a myriad of neon colour combinations to create a functional shoe that still looks great. Reebok's retro-fabulous Freestyle Hi Reignbow, meanwhile, recalls a style first popularised when wearing a thong leotard for a step-aerobics class over the top of a pair of leggings was all the rage. Now though, the fruity colours are most likely to be spotted at the cutting edge of east-London hipness.

Sporty trainers may have been detoxified by a lick of bright paint but there are still certain outfits for which they are not an acceptable accessory. They can be the bright cherry on the top of a breezy summer dress, shorts and even smart trousers, but worn with a pencil skirt and shirt they will immediately transport you to commuting secretary territory. On those occasions, stripping back to a canvas plimsoll – Vans, Superga and Converse excel at their own distinctive styles – is hardly limiting your choices. It's putting your best foot forward.