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Are Sneakers Business Casual?

Sneakers are incredibly comfortable and offer numerous opportunities to show off your taste in style and personality.

Because of this, it’s natural for people to want to wear their favorite sneakers into the office, which brings to question – are sneakers business casual?

The short answer is that, yes, sneakers are business casual.

Let’s dig deeper into this and provide you with some further information as to the types of sneakers that you can wear with business casual attire, as not all sneakers are a good fit for a business casual dress code.

Can You Wear Sneakers with Business Casual Attire?

Sneakers make for a great addition to your business casual wardrobe. They’re great not only because sneakers make for an excellent fashion choice, but they’re also super comfortable!

We’ve already answered the burning question, are sneakers business casual? Now we can have some fun and show you what kind of sneakers work in business casual dress scenarios as well as what kind of sneakers would not be a good fit for business casual wear.

What Sneakers are Acceptable for Business Casual?

When it comes to determining whether sneakers you own (or plan to own) are acceptable for business casual wear, The Gentleman’s Playbook has a few rules you can follow.

Here are our criteria for whether your sneakers or tennis shoes would qualify as business casual appropriate:

  • Minimal Patterns
  • Neutral Colors
  • Spotlessly Clean
  • Mainly Cloth, Knit, or Canvas Material; Some Leather Acceptable

We wanted to give you some ideas on what kinds of shoes make for great business casual sneakers. Not all shoes that fit the four criteria above are suitable for business casual – the ones we will show you below should give you an idea of what we mean by the criteria we outlined:

All-Star Converse

Converse are a classic, timeless sneaker. The flat bottoms and solid color canvas body on the shoe with the white (or black) rubber tip on the toes make these a very neutral sneaker to wear with business casual.

a pair of converse as business casual sneakers

Converse are some of our favorite shoes for business casual wear, as you can get them in a wide range of colors that match your various work outfits and they are a shoe that never goes out of style.

When choosing Converse as your go-to business casual sneakers, make sure you’re picking either the ankle height or high-top Converse and that they’re made of canvas. You don’t want any made with shiny or leathery materials (some are, but they aren’t as common as the standard Chuck Taylor’s you always see people wear).

If you have any doubts when selecting your converse, compare what you’re looking at to the ones we have an image of in this article – if they look far too different, you may want to dial it in. Think minimal, simple, and avoid anything that has too much “character.”

Nike Air Max 270 or Similar

Our next example is another performance sportswear shoe powerhouse – this time, from Nike.

Nike’s Air Max 270 line offers an alternative business casual sneaker that is similar in appearance to the Adidas NMD R1, but with a more sleek and sporty look.

The Air Max 270s have a little lift in the heel, adding to your height by about 1.3 inches, which works well for men who may be a little height-conscious.

This is a phenomenal example of the upper boundary you’ll want to stay at when it comes to design complexity. While the shoe has interesting design elements, it keeps it minimal enough to both show character and keep things professional.

Adidas NMD R1

Another favorite at The Gentleman’s Playbook (why would we show you anything other than the best?!), the Adidas NMD R1s are a great business casual sneaker.

are sneakers business casual

They’re super comfortable, keep your feet nice and cool, and meet our criteria of being minimal in appearance, available in neutral colors, and are made of Adidas’ knit Primeblue material, which is a material made from Parley Ocean Plastic.

What makes these shoes great aesthetically is the simple, charging design. They give your feet a sleek, angled appearance which works well with your slacks or jeans. We love to see the striking white Adidas NMD R1s paired with olive chinos and a white button-down or white t-shirt as a great business casual outfit.

Vans & Canvas Shoes

Additionally, when it comes to sneakers for business casual attire, a great option are flat bottom, canvas shoes such as Vans!

As long as the shoes are a solid color and don’t have too much design going on. Simple patterns could be okay, but avoid things like skulls and unicorns projectile-vomiting rainbows. Shoes such as the kind Vans is well known for would make a fantastic and affordable option.

Leather Sneakers

Lastly, there are also leather sneakers that could make for great business casual shoes.

Initially, we weren’t going to cover leather sneakers in this post, as those start feeling a bit more “professional” than what people tend to think of when they are asking if sneakers can be business casual.

If you go the leather sneaker route, make sure whatever sneakers you purchase are made of real leather. Cheap, faux leather will look cheap and tacky and wouldn’t be good for business casual attire!

Wearing Sneakers with Business Casual – Can You Do It?

So you wanted to know – are sneakers business casual? The answer is a resounding yes.

Sneakers can be great for business casual wear, as long as you follow a few rules:

  • Minimal Design
  • Mostly Solid Colors
  • Knit, Cloth, Canvas, or Real Leather Materials
  • Nothing too Bright or Decorated

As long as you follow those rules, you shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding the perfect business casual sneakers for the office!

Some great places to start are the Adidas NMD R1, Nike Air Max 270, All-Star Converse, or even Vans.