Are Sneakers Business Casual?

Are Sneakers Business Casual?

Times have changed. Businesses used to be very stuffy and formal environments. Today, many offices have adapted the more casual dress environments that originated on the west coast. Many office workers might be wondering: are sneakers considered business casual?

Employees can now express more personal style. You might be excited by the thought of wearing your favorite sneakers to the office. Not only are they are comfortable, but they complement your clothes perfectly. An important question to ask though – are sneakers business casual? Although what you wear doesn’t reflect how good of an employee you are, if you break dress code you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. It depends on several factors.


Some people do not care about footwear or even fashion that much. But footwear is a big part of personal style. Some people are even “sneaker heads” and have a large personal connection. Since most days you’ll probably be wearing the same drab work clothes, a fashionable pair of sneakers can really change your look.

As previously mentioned, sneakers are far more comfortable. Most days you’re at the office for a whole eight hours. That’s a long time. If you have tight leather formal shoes on, it can add to the exhaustion. Your feet might hurt at the end of the day. Sneakers are quite cozy and can make an office feel more like home.

Sneakers also tend to be more durable than formal weather. Walking to work in leather shoes isn’t good for the footwear, particularly in the rain. Many people don’t probably treat their leatherwear with the sprays that are needed.

By using sneakers, you’ll probably save money over time. Leather shoes often cost hundreds of dollars. Sneakers are durable and can be bought from discount stores or online for a fraction of that.

It’ll make it a lot more convenient to go to the gym during lunch or after work. Instead of having to lug a pair of bulky sneakers in your gym bag every day, you can just use the one you are wearing.

Lastly, many people simply don’t have much formal leather shoes. Some even only have one pair. On the other hand, most people have a couple sneakers. If your office allows sneakers, you’ll have more of a selection of footwear to choose form. One day it could be your Air Force Ones, another day it could be your Adidas track sneakers.

It really depends

Now, to the main question.

Unfortunately, there is no strict definition of what qualifies as business casual. It probably means no suits or ties, except for upper management. But some offices will want button-up shirts and slacks while others just require simple jeans and a collared shirt on Casual Fridays. So whether you can wear sneakers in a business casual setting really depends. But we have plenty of advice regarding how to discern whether you can wear them. According to theStreet , it’s a list of nos, rather than yeses. That means you’ll need to do some investigating. The Chicago Tribune points out that this ambiguity is great for freedom but can create a little confusion.

Sometimes, it depends on the industry. If you’re working for a start up, it’s likely you can go casual. But if it’s a prestigious law firm, they might desire a more formal work environment.

Use your best judgement. What are other people wearing? If it’s just one person wearing sneakers in a large office, you might want to be hesitant. Some people don’t care about breaking dress code and you probably don’t want to be associated with them. Think about it: is the person wearing sneakers a “good worker” or do they not fit into the office culture very well? If you join them in wearing sneakers, your colleagues will unconsciously associate you two together.

If you’re new to the office, you might not want to be too aggressive in your style. It might help to go under the radar for a few months.

Think about asking your boss. The responsibility of managers is to maintain a healthy work environment. They’ll know what is permissible and isn’t.

Sometimes, the human resources department can be a great resource. Often large offices will have a general email address for questions and you can get a response back in a few minutes. Otherwise, just give them a call or speak to them in person.

What type of sneaker?

If you can, go with sneakers that are suede or leather. They look much more dressier than the simple athletic selection. Remember, it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. These are somewhat more expensive than simple athletic shoes but they might be worth it.

You might want to avoid wearing your bright neon orange sneakers. Wear something neutral in color if it’s a more formal environment.

Many, if not most offices will want closed toe shoes. If your office is more permissive, wear sandals. Avoid flip flops.

Use your best judgement when wearing something very fashionable like Chuck Taylors. While it has a classic look, it might not be acceptable in your business environment.

Footwear in good condition

Everyone has their favorite pair of sneakers that they’ve kept with them for years. But make sure the sneakers you wear to work are clean and in good shape. There shouldn’t be stains or tears. You might want to buy a cleaning spray and give it a good wash before bringing them.

First time

If it’s your first time, you might want to bring dress shoes with you. If you get weird looks from your co-workers, you can easily and quickly slip back into what you were wearing the day before.

Wearing sneakers in your office is great. You’re at work most of the day, so being comfortable really helps. You can also express your personal style better.

One thing that’s important to know if Shoes stretch over time