How To Wear Sneakers for Work
There was a time when sneakers were reserved just for the daily commute, only to be ditched under the desk and swapped out for more traditional office footwear. It used to be that formal ballet pumps, tasselled loafers, or heels were our only workwear options. But as styles of sneakers have developed into sleeker silhouettes in premium materials the humble sneaker has become a fast favourite for the working week style.
Considering recent events too – working from home and spending most of our days in slippers – the thought of returning to heels has us wincing at the mere memory of the aches and pains they can cause.
As we return to the sidewalk, to the train platform, or to the gas pedal, it’s well worth having a shoe that can keep up with you. Formal, statement sneakers are the perfect middle ground between slippers and heels, if you’re looking to keep up the comfort factor while also maintaining a slick business style. A pair of platform sneakers can give you a boost of height and confidence, helping you make those all-important power moves as you climb up the career ladder.
The difference between casual weekend sneakers and weekday champions can be down to a simple matter of styling. The same sneakers that have you stepping through Sunday adventures, can see you step into that pressing Monday meeting – as long as they are squeaky clean. It’s best to avoid more sporty styles and plimsols which look too casual for the office setting. Although work appropriate sneakers can be worn outside of the office, it’s their leather construction (and platform soles) that make them work appropriate.
Whether you’re looking for classy and comfortable sneakers for work, a splash of colour or white leather sneakers, for high-tops or low-cut kicks, you can make sneakers work for you. If you’re looking to incorporate sneakers into your workwear wardrobe, we’ve got some styling tips to help.
FORMAL SNEAKERS FOR WORK: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When looking for a pair of formal sneakers for work, consider their construction.
A platform sole will take you to new heights and elevate your outfit in a similar way to heeled shoes. Chunky soles are a statement piece that will lend gravitas to your appearance and give you a welcome lift if you like to feel a bit taller in the office.
Make sure you keep the sneaker style sleek and clean-cut in premium leather or smooth suede for an expensive looking, well-considered footwear choice.
Consider the unique features of your sneakers. Details such as zips, buckles, hardware, chunky laces, and quilted leather exude a decisive and casually in-control attitude.
Hidden comfort features, such as padded cuffs, arch support, and cushioned footbeds will support your feet throughout the day without sacrificing on style. Proper support will help eliminate distracting aches and pains, so you can concentrate on striving for your work goals instead.
You can’t go wrong with classic black or white leather sneakers. But that isn’t to say you should be afraid to switch it up with some colour (as long as you keep it monotone and minimalist in style).
Try nude or brown sneakers with an all-neutral outfit for a clean-cut appearance. Or, if you want to inject some colour, why not choose a pair in sage or pale pink, which will look elegant contrasted with an all-black outfit. Demonstrate keen attention to detail, by matching the gold or silver hardware of your sneakers to the tone of your jewellery to complete your look.
HOW TO WEAR A SUIT WITH SNEAKERS
Because suits are inherently formal in appearance you can afford to wear sneakers that are a little more out there. Choose an all-black suit with a pair of statement white sneakers to radiate easy-breezy confidence.
Alternatively, match the colour of your sneakers to the pattern of your suit. A grey checked or dogtooth pattern pairs perfectly with silvery kicks.
If a full suit and sneakers isn’t for you, sneakers look just as elegant with tailored trousers and classic knitwear. Pair your sneakers with wide-leg trousers, belt, and an oversized jumper for a slouchy yet sophisticated look.
Cigarette or other slim-fitting styles of trouser go perfectly with a white shirt and pair of well-constructed sneakers. Choose ankle grazing trousers to accommodate high-tops or opt for low cut sneakers to show a little skin. With low cut sneakers, sneaker socks or no socks at all work best as the defined edges between your sneakers and ankle-grazing trousers will lend your outfit structure, contributing to your overall formal aesthetic.
When wearing sneakers for work, it’s important that they are squeaky clean with minimal creasing. The look won’t work if there’s still weekend mud caked on the sides. You should present your sneakers like you would do your office heels and loafers.
If your office has opted for more relaxed rules (and jeans are acceptable) a smart casual look is the way to go. A simple pair of jeans, such as wide or straight-leg, look great with trim sneakers to achieve a sense of balance. Top with a formal shirt and structured blazer for a polished appearance.
How to Wear a Dress and Sneakers
A tailored dress goes especially well with sneakers in the workplace. Look for squared shoulders and tapered skirt, in materials like boucle or wool-blend, for a sense of structure to balance out your sneakers. Choose a platform sneaker to lengthen the appearance of your legs.
A looser fitting dress, perfect for a laidback weekend look, can be given a sense of structure by adding a waist belt, chunky costume jewellery, and a boxy handbag to contrast your sneakers. Opt for a blazer, rather than a cardigan, for an overall clean-cut silhouette and to keep the chill off your shoulders.
How to Wear a Skirt and Sneakers
Layering your skirt-based outfit will likewise add structure to your look. Try a silky skirt, knitted jumper, and wool overcoat with your leather sneakers to add a touch of interest through contrasting materials.
For a glamourous take on the sneaker, opt for a tailored skirt, shirt, and a simple silver or gold chain necklace. Throw on a slouchy handbag to contrast your slim-fitting skirt. On brighter days, don’t forget to slip on some sunglasses, to pull the whole look together.
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