When you’re off work, it’s easy to express yourself through your personal style. But when you’re on the job, it’s not always as easy—especially within the parameters of a dress code. If your office has a business casual dress code (sometimes called “smart casual”), you’ve got a lot of flexibility. And yet with this flexibility comes some gray areas because casual attire can mean many different things to people.
If you’re like a lot of people in the workforce, you might be wondering, are sneakers business casual? Tennis shoes can be appropriate for business casual attire, but ultimately, it depends on a few factors. Your employer might have specific guidelines about which types of footwear are allowed. For instance, some require closed-toe shoes, while others allow all sandals other than flip-flops. However, without clear guidance, many business casual dress codes are up for interpretation.
So, can you dress for success in sneakers? In many instances, you can. As the world of fashion evolves, many “rules” are no longer relevant, like wearing white after Labor Day. The professional landscape has also changed which means the typical business casual dress code has changed. A lot of offices are now more lax and less traditional about things like dress codes. Here’s what you should know about incorporating business casual sneakers into your 9-to-5 wardrobe.
What Are the Best Business Casual Sneakers?
A business casual shoe can take on many forms. Sneakers generally fall into one of two categories: active and casual types of sneakers. Active styles are engineered for performance, while casual tennis shoes are designed for streetwear. On your days off, you can rock either or both as everyday wear. But generally speaking, streetwear styles are the best business casual sneakers.
This includes fashion sneakers, Mary Jane sneakers, slip-ons, and dress sneakers and boots. We have options for men’s and women’s casual sneakers that can pass as appropriate for work attire. Find guidance on what to look for with each type of casual shoe below.
Fashion sneakers are laid-back and sporty, with features that align with current trends. Some have vibrant designs, while others are more subtle, but all in all, fashion sneakers are worn to make a statement. If your office dress code allows athletic sneakers or tennis shoes, you certainly don’t have to choose a subtle pair—that is, unless you want to. As long as they’re comfortable and supportive, a bold style can be worked into a smart casual look at work. Even a simple white sneaker can turn business attire into a sleek, professional look. Looking for tips on styling dress sneakers? Check out our blog on how to wear sneakers fashionably.
Vionic carries stylish fashion sneakers in a wide range of colors, prints, and styles. From retro silhouettes with textile uppers and leather detailing to modern designs with sleek metallics, animal prints, and camouflage accents, we have it all. You may be wondering, what are the most comfortable sneakers? With dual-density soles, cushioning, and arch support all hidden within the design, our streetwear sneakers are engineered for comfort.
Mary Jane Sneakers
The Mary Jane sneaker is the dress shoe of tennis shoes. Inspired by Mary Jane flats, which have a single strap across the instep, these stylish sneakers present a sporty yet polished vibe. That’s why they’re a perfect addition to your business casual wardrobe.
As long as they’re comfortable, Mary Jane sneakers can make you look and feel more put-together in a business casual outfit. The Mary Janes from Vionic are built for all-day support. They are one of the best sneakers for plantar fasciitis. Our podiatrist-designed styles have breathable uppers, adjustable straps, removable textile-wrapped footbeds, and flexible rubber soles. Mary Janes make a great business casual shoe for women.
Casual slip-ons might be the most versatile type of dress sneaker, which is why they’re ideal for a smart casual dress code. Both men and women can look effortlessly cool at work in a pair of slip-on tennis shoes. Since they don’t give off an athletic vibe, laceless casual styles with textile or leather uppers can be styled with various business casual ensembles.
Check out the selection of casual slip-on sneakers from Vionic. You’ll discover numerous designs for men and women, including options with soft leather, suede, and eco-conscious cotton uppers. We carry statement slip-ons with fun embellishments, eye-catching metallics, animal prints, fierce camo, and bright colors, as well as neutral styles in black, white, gray, taupe, and tan. Plus, Vionic’s slip-on sneakers are engineered to promote natural alignment by providing stability, arch support, and orthotic contouring. This is why some of our slip-on sneakers are perfect slip resistant work shoes for the office, restaurant business, or medical professionals.
Sneaker Boots and Booties
Sneaker boots and booties make perfect business casual shoes, as they combine sporty elements with fashion-forward streetwear aesthetics. They’re a practical pick for fall and winter, and they’re easy to dress up or down. We love Chelsea-style leather boots with active outsoles for a business casual look. For a more polished appeal, opt for leather sneaker booties with an elevated heel.
At Vionic, we carry leather sneaker booties and boots for men and women in a variety of styles. With supple nubuck and nappa leather uppers, they’re definitely sophisticated enough to work as business casual shoes. When you browse our boot collections, you’ll find lace-up booties, slip-on Chelsea boots, and chukka boots with performance outsoles, slip-on ankle-high boots with pull-tabs, and zip-up styles.
How to Dress for Success in Sneakers
High heels and dress shoes certainly have a place at the office, but if you can get away with sneakers, why not work them into the rotation? One of the best parts about wearing business casual sneakers is that, if you walk or take public transportation to work, you don’t have to change into your fancier shoes when you get there.
Now that you know what types of sneakers work in an office setting, let’s go over how to incorporate sneakers into your business casual attire. It can be tough to know exactly what to wear with tennis shoes at work. You don’t want to get carried away with a business casual outfit that’s too laid-back for the office, but you also want to avoid clashing with formal attire. Believe it or not, business casual sneakers can be worn with a dress, a skirt, a jumpsuit, slacks, menswear, dress pants, or jeans. Here’s how.
How to Wear Business Casual Sneakers With a Dress
Dresses and sneakers make an excellent pair. For a feminine yet spunky look, opt for a maxi dress with laceless tennis shoes. We also love flared midi dresses with fashion sneakers instead of ballet flats. A Bold dress shoe is a fun twist on a business casual shoe for women.
With a Skirt
Like dresses, skirts can be styled with sneakers for a business casual dress code. However, we recommend a style that falls past your knees, like a high-waisted pleated skirt, a pencil skirt, or a flowy midi skirt. Sneaker booties, Mary Janes, or simple white sneakers are perfect for this look.
With a Jumpsuit
Though a romper might be a little too short and easy-breezy for the office, its long-legged cousin is a safe choice. We’re talking about a jumpsuit, of course, which can be paired with almost any business casual sneaker for an assertive yet approachable look. Throw on a blazer to complete the ensemble.
Slacks, trousers, chinos, khakis, dress pants—whatever you want to call them, non-denim pants are business casual staples for men and women. And while you might think loafers, flats, or oxfords are best with slacks, sneakers are also an option. Try sneaker boots, casual slip-ons, or Mary Janes with your favorite tailored pants and a collared shirt or polo shirt on top.
Menswear isn’t just for men anymore, and it doesn’t have to be worn with dress shoes. Both men and women can wear suits, separates, and dress shirts to the office. Not only that, but menswear actually looks great with tennis shoes, especially fashion sneakers and sneaker boots.
Whether jeans are allowed every day at your office or only on casual Fridays, pairing them with sneakers is a no-brainer. The main thing to keep in mind is not making your work outfit too casual. Your best bet is sneaker boots or booties with dark-wash, black, or colored jeans.
Make Sneakers Work at Work
Before pairing your casual work outfits with sneakers, it’s important to confirm they’re an approved footwear style. If you’ve seen one co-worker wear sneakers, you might think you’re in the clear. But unless you see multiple people in your office wearing athletic sneakers or tennis shoes regularly, we suggest asking your boss or referring to your employee handbook. When it comes to work matters, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Also, when you do wear sneakers to the office, make sure they’re clean and in good shape. This isn’t the time to put on beat-up old sneakers, even if they’re your favorite pair. Similarly, the rest of your smart-casual outfit should be clean, ironed, properly fitted, and free of holes. So, ripped jeans are most likely a no-go. Also, avoid athleisure clothes, sweats, hoodies, and other leisurely or athletic styles. So, are sneakers business casual? Short answer is yes, they can be, but the idea is to dress your best sneakers up, not down.