In cities like Halifax, casual clothing seems to be the preferred style choice for men. A lot of men are opting for casual shoes, due to their overall comfort. A standard dress shoe might be too formal under current living conditions. So, Is there an alternative to the standard dress shoe? What shoe can we wear that feels comfortable and looks good? Is there a perfect shoe for all occasions? The dress sneaker is the answer to these questions. The dress sneaker can take you from your office, at Purdy’s Wharf, to a first date, on the Halifax Board Walk. 

In this week’s blog, I’m going to explore the popular concept of the dress sneaker and how it can maximize your wardrobe. 

The Importance of Shoes 

Shoes play a major role in completing an outfit. They become a focal point. It’s the first thing people look at, when examining your outfit from a glance. A good shoe can be an ice breaker on a first date, or a conversation piece when attending a cocktail party, or business meeting. This is why it’s important to have great shoes in your wardrobe.

sneakers with suit
Denver Broncos Free Safety, Justin Simmons (Image from @gentsplaybook)

Everyone has, or should have, the typical brown and black dress shoes in their closet. There will be times when a regular sports sneaker will not be appropriate. If you want to make a statement with your clothing, you need to choose a shoe that says remember me. Here are three new options that will do this for you. Before we look into the options we should look at what exactly a ‘dress’ sneaker is.

A New Staple For The Closet

Dress sneakers are very popular right now for a good reason. They combine the comfort and casual charm of sneakers with the power and distinction of a dress shoe.

What exactly is a dress sneaker? The dress sneaker has the sole of an athletic shoe and the upper portion of a dress shoe. They have no heel and a pliable rubber bottom. This is the perfect shoe to wear with smart casual attire. Think chinos or denim, paired with a light weight sport coat, or quarter zip sweater. 

Sneakers with Suits?

When you are getting used to wearing the dress sneaker, try wearing it with a suit. Go open collar for an office-casual look. It needs to be the right suit. Think a light grey casual one; with a sleek, tapered pant. Don’t try to wear these with a business suit, as it will look out of place. Instead, choose a casual suit, in a unique colour and fabric. They would look great with a linen suit, or a brown check. A suit in postman blue, paired with a contrasting dress sneaker, makes a great outfit.

sneakers with suit
Dallas Cowboys Running Back, Ezekiel Elliott (Image from @gentsplaybook)

To be able to pull off the dress sneaker, your clothing needs to be properly fitted. Never wear these with baggy pants. You want your pant bottom to sit at the top of the shoe. If the pant is too wide, the look becomes messy. It comes off like you just threw on the first shoe you found in the closet.

Since the dress sneaker is to create a laid-back casual look, you’ll want your accessories to do the same. Choose a pocket square in cotton, or linen. It should be patterned with a square fold. If you choose to wear a tie, go for a knitted one; using a four-in-hand knot. This will perfectly compliment the causal shoe.

A Trend With Athletes 

Dress sneakers
Denver Broncos Outside Linebacker, Bradley Chubb (Image from @gentsplaybook)

Many celebrities and athletes are picking up the trend of pairing dressing sneakers with suits. Some athletes are re-writing the rules of fashion and sporting a solid white dress sneaker with custom made suits. NFL players pull off this trend very well. Football players like Ezekiel Elliott, Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons are known to sport sneakers with suits. The dress sneaker plays on the customized look and creates an outfit that is truly unique. 

The Rules 

Not just anyone can throw on a sneaker and expect it to look well with their outfit. Before you can start experimenting with dress sneakers you need to know some basic rules. Below, I have created a list of the most important rules to follow when selecting your dress sneaker. 

Here are the rules for selecting a dress sneaker:

  • Think minimal and simplistic. They should have minimal two tone colouring.
  • No logos or visible branding. 
  • They should be low top, showing off some of your ankle; don’t go for high top: you’re not shooting hoops. 
  • They should be sleek and sized correctly; avoid chunky and blocky shoes. 
  • They should be leather, or suede. Avoid canvas, as they will appear too casual. 

Choosing Colours 

Choosing the right colour for your dress sneaker is all about versatility. Choose a colour that is neutral, or that will compliment the main pieces in your wardrobe. Good starting points would be cognac, navy, burgundy or black. Remember, your sneaker is going to be the focal point of the outfit, so if the shoe is brighter coloured, the outfit should be toned down. You can show off your sneakers by rolling up your pants at the bottom. When you have mastered the basics, try adding a solid white dress sneaker to your closet. 

Brands to Shop For

Here are a few styles that I recommend for anyone looking to add a dress sneaker to their wardrobe. Three very different styles for you to experiment with. 

The Original Grand by Cole Haan.

Cole Haan Shoe

This is one of the best dress sneakers out there. For someone just getting into dress sneakers this is the one for you. On top, it looks like a wingtip Oxford; on the bottom it has a contrasting rubber sole. This is a very versatile shoe. It’s quality is impeccable. The main benefit of the Original Grand is that it comes in a wide variety of colours. Most styles are available with different coloured soles. There are so many pairings to choose from. If you like this shoe, you can update it, or add variety to your closet by selecting it in a different colour. The fit and the comfort of this one is spot on. 

The Dezmin Plain by Bostonian 

bostonian shoe

Bostonian Shoes, owned by Clark’s, are known for their high quality soles and pure craftsmanship. It only makes sense to add one of their dress sneakers to your closet. The Dezmin Plain is perhaps the dressiest version of the dress sneaker. Its sleeker and has a lower profile than the Original Grand. The sole is sturdy and light weight. It also has a removable ortholite footbed, for added comfort. This shoe looks great with denim. If you’re looking for a shoe to complete a business causal look, this is the one. It also comes in staple colours such as: brown, navy and black.

The P-Yester by Steve Madden 

Steve Madden P-Yester

This my be a riskier choice for some. This is the most causal dress sneaker. There are so many variations of this shoe, from different brands, on the market. They are clean, simple and sophisticated; low profile with a leather upper. If you love wearing sneakers this is one that can take it up a notch. They highly resemble a classic canvas shoe, but with a dressy, modern twist. If you want to experiment wearing a sneaker with evening wear, this would make a great selection. Wear it with fitted black slacks and a dinner jacket to create an edgy look. This variation of the dress sneaker is the one most athletes are wearing.

Now that you know the basic fundamentals of the dress sneaker, it’s time to get out there and make your selection. Remember to think minimal, follow the rule book and colour guidelines to make the right choice for your personal style. 

Stay Stylish