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The definitive guide to wearing a suit with sneakers

Class up your sneakers and dress down your suits

man in suit and sneakers
Thomas Nguka / Pexels

A man’s suit is the pinnacle of elegance that can be worn in the office or on the street. They can make a man feel like a million bucks the moment they slide their arms into the sleeves. On the other end of the spectrum, sneakers are the unsung hero of the casual wardrobe. Sneakerheads around the world worship these pieces of cultural representation. While the two may feel far apart on the spectrum, they can actually come together as one of the most stylish looks in style. But it isn’t as easy as throwing them together, so we have put together this little guide to teach you to wear your suit with sneakers.

Sneakers and dress pants
Prayoon Sajeev / Pexels

The perfect mix of elevated and casual

Why is wearing suits with sneakers a tricky proposition? Because you are melding the highest form of dress (except a tuxedo but we’re talking daily wear here) with the basic framework of casual wear. Sneakers can get dirty during daily wear, and you do things in sneakers you would never do in dress shoes. That means they can start to look a little rough much sooner than the suits. The trick to working this look is to keep your sneakers as clean as possible, treating them as you would your dress shoes.

Couple wearing suits and sneakers

Tips on perfecting the sneakers-with-suit fit

  • Pant length: A tapered, straight-legged pair of trousers will almost always look good with low-top sneakers. If they’re not tapered, you could add a cuff to the end of the pants, which should break just below your ankle.
  • Shoe color: Your best bet is a neutral color that will complement most of your suits. We recommend a black colorway with a white midsole or a clean all-white leather sneaker. You can deviate a little by going into blue or brown if you want to have some fun with it.
  • Shoe silhouette: You can always count on a low-top leather sneaker design. Mid-to-high-tops are a bit more tricky, but if they’re simple enough and coordinated well, they can be pulled off. The lower the rise on the shoe, the more they will resemble a dress shoe. The higher the ankle, the more it will resemble a boot. The higher the rise, the more casual the shoe.
  • Suit: Sneakers with suits have a modern look, which means your suit needs to be a modern cut. A slim fit with a little flare is the best bet here. Pleated pants or cuffed hems are old school and are going to battle your look.
Man in dress pants and sneakers
Jean-Daniel Francoeur / Pexels

Suit and-sneaker combinations

Low-top leather sneakers with a light suit

A modern Don Draper fit, a textured gray blazer with these contrasting trousers is punctuated by a pair of low-top leather sneakers. Feel free to taper your pants just above your ankles to bump up the cool quotient.

Low-top leather sneakers with a colorful suit and t-shirt

You don’t always have to go neutral. Take cues from this salmon suit, which veers from full-on peacock thanks to a pair of minimalist white kicks. Worn over a t-shirt, this fit will add a pop of style and color to your Zoom calls and virtual happy hours.

Chunky sneakers with a layered suit

If you’re looking to go bold, opt for a pair of chunky sneakers. Since these sneakers can be so focus-pulling, we advise staying away from pairing them with classic garments like peak lapels in neutral colors. Opt for quirky suit details like a shiny fabric and a boxier silhouette to anchor the look. No, we’re not telling you to cop a full Will Ferrell in Night at the Roxbury look, but this plan of attack will call attention to your accouterment as a whole instead of letting your sneakers steal the show.

Man carrying Nikes
Ray Piedra / Pexels

Our favorite suit-ready sneakers

Beckett Simonon Geller Trainer
Beckett Simonon

Becket Simonon Geller Trainers

Your basic white sneakers are going to be perfect to wear with nearly any suit you wear when you want to rock the sneaker look. They are low profile and will look stellar with a bright navy suit and a white dress shirt. These are also the perfect choice for summer-weight linen and cotton suits.

Thursday Boot Low-Top
Thursday Boots

Thursday Boot Low-Top

Another way to approach the sneaker look with a suit is to go with something that is a sneaker by construction but looks more like a dress shoe. The Thursday Boot Low-Top is the kind of sneaker that doesn’t have any bells and whistles. They are straightforward and sleek, making all of your Earthtone suits modern and trendy.

TAFT Woven High-Top

TAFT Woven High-Top

Finally, pick yourself up a pair of high-top sneakers to go as casual as you can get away with when you pair them with a suit. The woven texture and boot shape get your suit to a place of casual excellence. Of course, when you are wearing TAFT you will always look better than the guy next to you.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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