When Is It Appropriate to Wear Sneakers?

When I attended elementary school in the late 1960s, sneakers were banned from the classroom. If boys were scheduled for gym class, they typically carried their Converse high-tops to school by tying the laces together and throwing them over their shoulder.

While sneakers have become an acceptable footnote just about anywhere and everywhere today, there are still some occasions when your partner might send you back to the bedroom to change your shoes before heading out.

To avoid any embarrassing shoe moments, here is some easy-to-follow sneaker etiquette.

Job Interview: If you’re not applying for a job at a tech company in Silicon Valley, leave the sneakers at home. While there are lots of firms today with relaxed dress codes, first impressions still count. That’s not to say you need to dress banker-style in wingtips; however, athletic shoes may be a stretch. Wait until you get hired to see what the office dress code is before taking a wrong step.

First Date: It’s all about first impressions. On a first date, sneakers are an acceptable option, but make sure they’re not a pair of basketball shoes that have seen a game or two, or three. Opting for a pair of leather cup-sole sneakers from accessibly priced brands such as Koio, Greats and Creative Recreation will leave enough money for dinner, while similar looks from designer labels such as Lanvin and Christian Louboutin could set you back $500 to $1,000.

Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneaker

This made-in-Italy cup-sole design has tonal laces and a comfortable rubber sole.

Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneaker
CREDIT: Barney's


Gucci New Ace Loved Sneaker

An embroidered appliqué adds a twist to this classic lace-up style made in Italy.

gucci New Ace Loved Sneaker
CREDIT: Nordstrom


Party Time: We’ve all seen celebrities show up on the red carpet in tuxedos with sneakers. It’s increasingly become the rule rather than the exception. However, sneakers may not work at every event or celebration. For those heading to a destination island wedding, a pair of brand-new Adidas Originals Stan Smiths always looks right with a linen suit — no tie, of course. But if you’ve agreed to be best man at your brother’s nuptials, ask before wearing a pair of kicks, even if it’s a designer brand in basic black.

Giuseppe Zanotti Logoball Croc-Effect Leather Sneaker

These luxury kicks are made from crocodile printed leather, set on a chunky rubber sole and detailed with sleek gold hardware.

Giuseppe Zanotti Logoball Croc-Effect Leather Sneaker
CREDIT: Mr. Porter


Adidas Originals Stan Smith Sneaker

This iconic style features clean lines and the same sturdy rubber cupsole as the 1970s original. The perforated stripes on the side are a nod to the brand’s heritage.

adidas originals stan smith
Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers.
CREDIT: Adidas


T.G.I.F.: If your office maintains a “Dress Down Friday” policy — and assuming there isn’t a “no sneaker” clause — its OK to wear athletic shoes to work. Here, you can refer back to the first date suggestions for some options. Remember, while there are some cool looks from power players such as Nike, Vans and Adidas, it’s always safer to dress up rather than down.


Vans Luxe Leather SK8-Hi Reissue Sneaker

The legendary style has a vintage vibe and features a sturdy leather upper, reinforced toecaps for enhanced durability and a padded collar for support and flexibility.

Vans Luxe Leather SK8-Hi Reissue


Prada Spazzolato Leather Platform Brogue Sneaker

The dressed-up sneaker picks up a wingtip detail, then gets a touch of whimsy with a tri-colored sole.

Prada Spazzolato Leather Platform Brogue Sneaker
CREDIT: Bergdorf Goodman


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