by Nathan James August 18, 2022

With workplaces becoming more casual, you have likely noticed a new style of relaxed footwear cropping up in the office - shoes that have sleek leather uppers and appear to be dress shoes until you notice their thick, casual sole. Known as dress sneakers, this new category of men’s footwear is exploding in popularity. This article will explain what dress sneakers are and, most importantly, how and when to wear them.

Questions We'll Answer
 (click to jump)
What are dress sneakers?
How do I wear dress sneakers?
What socks can I wear with dress sneakers?

What are Dress Sneakers?

As the name implies, dress sneakers are a hybrid of dress shoes and sneakers. This style of footwear has a leather upper similar to traditional dress shoes but is finished with a thick rubber sole.

infographic explaining what dress sneakers are

The leather upper gives the shoes a polished, formal look while the sole provides a level of comfort that is unsurpassed with traditional dress shoes. This thicker sole is helpful if you’re facing a long day on your feet in dress shoes or if you’re simply looking for a more casual appearance.

How to Wear Dress Sneakers

Walking a fine line between the casualness of sneakers and the formality of dress shoes, dress sneakers can be tricky to pull off. Below we’ll take a look at frequently asked questions around how to wear sneaker dress shoes.

Can you wear sneakers to the office?

Traditional athletic sneakers are absolutely not acceptable to wear in the office, however, if your office dress code permits jeans then wearing dress sneakers will likely also be perfectly acceptable.

In an effort to not look overly casual, try dressing up the rest of your outfit. For example, wear more conservative socks and a sport coat; this will add more balance to your outfit and project an office-appropriate level of professionalism.

Can you wear dress sneakers with a suit?

Yes, done the right way, wearing dress sneakers with a suit can be a great casual look. Just like we mentioned above, the key to pulling off this look is balance. Avoid wearing a tie with your suit and consider adding a colorful pocket square, both of which will tone down the formality of the suit to make the dress sneakers more appropriate.

If you’re planning to wear a tie with your suit, ditch the sneakers and opt for a more formal pair of dress shoes.

What Socks Do You Wear with Dress Sneakers?

When it comes to picking out socks to wear with hybrid dress shoes, there are really only two options:

1. No-Show Dress Socks - For a more relaxed casual look, opt for no-show dress socks. These socks allow you to sport the stylish no sock look while enjoying all the benefits of wearing a pair of socks.

man wearing grey no show dress socks with dress sneakers and jeans

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2. Regular Dress Socks - For a more polished look, opt for traditional dress socks. Wearing dress socks will elevate your dressy sneakers and help make them more appropriate for office attire.

forest green dress socks with brown leather dress sneakers and khakis

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Dress Sneaker Brands

As workplaces have become more casual, hybrid dress shoes are exploding in popularity with most dress shoe brands now offering a line of dress sneakers.

Cole Haan

Cole Haan’s Zerogrand was arguably the first hybrid dress shoe that really hit the mainstream. While the company still produces dressy sneakers that would be a good fit with a lot of relaxed workplaces, many of their offerings are beginning to look more like traditional sneakers.

Allen Edmonds

One of our favorite shoemakers, Allen Edmonds, recently began producing a line of business casual sneakers. While Allen Edmonds are best known for their classic American made dress shoes, they have been consistently expanding their collection of dress sneakers. The brand offers a wide variety of sneakers that would be appropriate for most casual settings.

These are only a couple of the many brands that offer hybrid dress shoes. If you already have a preferred brand of dress shoes that fit you well, odds are that they also offer an array of casual styles as well.

Other Resources for Mastering Your Casual Style

If hybrid dress shoes are a key component of your attire, be sure to check out these additional resources on casual style:

  • Our article on wearing jeans and dress shoes will help you avoid common mistakes when combining these two wardrobe staples.
  • No outfit is complete without a great pair of socks. Our article on business casual socks will guide you in the direction when it comes to picking out appropriate socks.
  • Dressing casually gives you greater flexibility to add in bright colors. For inspiration on adding a pop to your socks, read our article on how to wear colorful dress socks.

We hope that this article has been helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

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Nathan James
Nathan James

CEO, Boardroom Socks

Nathan is an eighth generation textile professional, passionate about producing quality hosiery right here in North Carolina. His favorite dress socks are our burgundy merino wool socks. You will also frequently find him wearing our no-show socks. Outside of the office he enjoys fishing, reading and exploring Charlotte with his wife, son and Golden Retriever.

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