Sneakers Can Be Worn to the Office-Here’s How You Can Get Away With It
Hit the balance between relaxed and polished.
While the rules of style have loosened up over the years, many of us still can’t get away with jeans and a T-shirt at the office. Even in younger and more progressive fields, vestiges of the traditional office dress code remain: Men are expected to clock in wearing a collared long-sleeved button-down shirt and pressed trousers, maybe even a coat and tie, and always proper dress shoes.
That said, one of the keys to great style is balance: between smart and casual, between formal and relaxed, between reverence and irreverence. In the context of the workplace, this can mean shaking things up with a printed shirt, a colorful tie, or—this might be the most popular maneuver—a pair of crazy socks.
But perhaps the simplest and most elegant way of walking this tightrope is the most comfortable: Wear sneakers. A man of style can break one of the cardinal rules of the office dress code by busting out a pair of rubber soles once in a while.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when wearing sneakers to the workplace:
Classic pieces never go out of style.
When it comes to office-worthiness, not all sneakers are created equal. Basketball sneakers are entirely out of the picture in this case. Many of today’s performance running sneakers won’t work, too. Go for something as classic as the suit-and-tie, but not nearly as stuffy. Classic designs that remind you of the ‘80s and earlier are often the most appropriate.
Sleek and simple lead the race.
If you’re going to break the rules, do it with finesse. No matter how popular they are with today’s streetwear crowd, chunky sneakers are just not meant to be paired with office clothes. Instead, pick out a pair of streamlined sneakers that reminds you of the silhouette of your favorite pair of oxfords. You’re aiming for understated and elegant, but still sporty and laid back.
Craftsmanship and luxe materials will light the way.
Sneakers can be made of leather. Try not to wear anything with sports mesh to the office; instead, go for sneakers made with premium leather. Excellent craftsmanship and the right materials will go a long way in keeping your outfit sharp and distinguished. Wearing sneakers at work should be a deliberate choice and not just a lazy alternative after hitting the gym.
Wear something that tells a story.
Most important—and this goes for style in all forms and for all seasons, not just the workplace—wear something that says something. A man of style knows the importance of building relationships at work, and that sometimes, a good outfit can be a useful conversation piece. Engage a new client by tracing your sneakers’ Japanese heritage. Impress anyone who takes notice of your kicks by pointing out the fabrics and finishes that complete the look. In other words, wear something that isn’t boring.
Master these maneuvers and you’ll be well on your way to wearing sneakers at the office. And while nothing wrong with following the dress code to the letter, at some point, you can’t help but ask: Where’s the fun in that?
Sneakers from the Onitsuka Tiger Nippon Made collection fit the bill. As with anything made in Japan, these bear a promise of excellent quality. Painstaking attention goes into the stitching and construction, and all the materials are thoughtfully considered. There’s also a certain reverence to heritage, such that all the silhouettes are shaped like classics. You really can’t go wrong with them, even in the office.
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