Emerging as a trend with younger generations, over the past few years we have seen the domination of sneakers in the arena of men’s shoes. Bright and bold, sneakers from Nikes to Toms are being paired with everything, finding no boundaries in their invasion of menswear. Breaking the boundaries of formalwear, in the last two seasons, we’ve seen menswear fashion houses, like Valentino, shake up simple, classic suits by ingeniously pairing them with sneakers. Although the trend of dressing up or dressing down sneakers has been seen without boundaries, there are a few notes to remember when you’re lacing up for a night out.
First, remember the focus of this look is the suit. Always keep things clean and simple. Patterned suits, like pinstripes or tweeds, contrast sneakers too heavily — the formality of the suits underplayed by the informal sneakers. Any vibrantly-colored suits should not be paired with sneakers, as they detract from the suit as the focal piece of the outfit — simplicity is key. Stick to the traditional suits of black, navy, gray, or khaki, and your sneakers will shine brighter.
Fitting is another key element to this look. The suit must fit especially well for this to work. Slim-fit suits with a slightly shorter inseam are ideal options for the summer months, and paired with sneakers with no-show socks, a simple suit can be transformed into a casual summer treasure.
With so many styles of sneakers to choose from, it’s no easy task to find a pair with the right look for a suit. The shoe should be streamlined and simple, never gaudy nor high-topped.
Stick with the classics, like Adidas Stan Smith’s, Converse, Superga, Spring Court, and Vans, in the traditional colors of black, white, and gray. If you cannot decide which color of kicks to wear, white sneakers will be a surefire way to give your look a crisp and clean-cut edge.
However, don’t be afraid to add a few bits of character. For instance, swapping the laces on your white Converse for a bright red pair can definitely add a great pop of color and freshness to the look. Just remember that slight adjustments in the detailing of the footwear are key in defining outfits.
This look is the most appropriate when people aren’t expecting you to wear a suit. Suit with sneakers is usually thought of as an unlikely combination, though it’s possible to pull it off and look stylish at the same time. This trend has been gathering momentum in the past couple years; maybe it is time you tried pairing your suit with sneakers and get that casual chic look for that cocktail party on the rooftop this weekend!
Originally published May 2013. Updated June 2016.