Streetwear has been big on the menswear scene for a good ten years or so at this point. The “how do you style sneakers with a suit?” debate has been going on for the same amount of time – some are into the look, and others are squarely against it.
Our take on this, as with everything, is to keep your audience in mind and be strategic about how you employ the look.
Sneakers & Suits – A Quick Guide
Clothing gives us an opportunity to showcase our personalities, but our tastes don’t always align with the dress code for some events. Sneakers are faux pas for occasions that require anything resembling a “formal” dress code. In a nutshell, anything from “dressy business casual” or dressier will simply not be sympathetic to sneakers. But if you are looking to dress down and/or spice up an outfit at a business casual or social event, then it might be time to take a peek at StockX (a popular sneaker resale site).
Think of it this way: if you’re applying for a loan at a bank, you’d better be wearing dress shoes with that charcoal grey suit. On the other hand, if you’re having drinks at a beer garden on a Friday night, feel free to throw some sneakers on with that khaki suit.
What Sneakers To Wear (Or Not) With What Suits
Not all sneakers are created equal. The sneakers you can wear with suits should be limited to the following:
- Streamlined designs: That means clean lines – nothing chunky or clunky
- Simple color schemes: Keep it to one or two colors at an absolute maximum. White is best, but black or brown can also work depending on the context.
- Nothing athletic: Running shoes are for running. Basketball shoes are for basketball. You get the idea.
Below are the types of suits you can wear with sneakers:
- Cotton, linen, flannel, or a blend of these: The idea is to keep is casual. Worsted wool, the textile most commonly used in suitings, is too dressy for sneakers. Flannels and woolen wool, on the other hand, would lend themselves nicely to sneakers.
- Solid colors or VERY bold patterns: Solids, bold chalk stripes, and loud plaids work with sneakers. Business-y pinstripes and subtle windowpanes won’t work well.
- Be careful about your tie: Sneakered suits look best without ties. If you choose to wear a tie, make it cotton or a silk knit, and leave your collar button unbuttoned and don’t pull the tie up all the way.
Sneaker Style Guide
Just like suits, there are many different descriptors that describe the various aspect of shoes. In this blog, we will break down the difference between high, mid, and low top shoes as this is important to understand the aspect ratio to style your outfit properly.
- High-tops – These are kicks that come past your ankle. Think basketball shoes like Jordan’s, boots like Doc Martins, or classic Chucks.
- Mid-tops – These are shoes that come up to your ankle. Nike Low Dunks, modern athletic shoes, and early 2000’s era skate shoes (Osiris, DC)
- Low-tops – As you might have guessed by this point, these are shoes that hit below your ankles. Mocs, most dress shoes, boat shoes, and Vans.
Pay Attention to Size & Break
The point at which your trousers meet your shoe is called the break. It’s important to be cognizant of how low your pants fall so you can pick an appropriate shoe.
- No Break – These are pants that are hemmed to fall just above the shoe. This style would give you the maximum view of a high-top shoe. With low-tops in the summer, opt for no-show socks for an updated classic look.
- Quarter Break – These are trousers that fall just at the lip of the shoe with little contact. A very nice way to wear a high-top sneaker, without having an awkward shoe to pant ratio while sacrificing a bit of visual real estate.
- Full & Half Break Pants- The pant legs will reach the lip of the shoe and begin that classic fold-in look. Mid-top shoes excel here along with high-tops. Just keep in mind you might lose the visual of the ankle portion of your shoes.