Sneakers. Tennis shoes. Tennies. Call them what you will, but they're the beloved rubber-soled footwear we often associate with working out.
This has changed dramatically in the years leading up to the pandemic and then climaxed in 2020.
High fashion houses like Chanel started showing sneakers on the runway. Clunky and (like a lot of fashion) impractical, these 'ugly sneakers' paved the way for acceptance of mass-market tennies in the workplace.
Tennis shoes don't work in all workplaces. If you're a corporate lawyer- you probably can't wear tennis shoes. If you are advertising director- then yes, you might be able to get away with it. If you're unsure whether sneakers are allowed in your workplace, check the dress code manual or ask HR.
If they are allowed...then keep reading for the 3 tricks to making sneakers work in the workplace (without risking your professionalism).
TIP #1: Dress up everything else
Intuitively, you know this. If you wear sloppy clothes and tennis shoes, you'll look sloppy. If you wear nicer clothes and tennis shoes, you'll look okay. The key is to keep your cuts really modern. A suit with cropped pants is better for tennies than a suit with full-length pants. Likewise, a button-down shirt dress looks great with sneakers, while a wool suit dress may be harder to pull off.
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of my favorite outfit ideas from Pinterest. I personally love the suit with tennies look.
TIP #2: Keep it clean
This seems really obvious, but bright white shoes will beat dingy shoes any day. You wouldn't wear boots with mud on them into the office, and you shouldn't wear sneakers stained in dirt either. I actually haven't worn my tennis shoes in weeks because they are in need of a good clean.
Look at the pictures above. The reason why the shoes look so good is that they are bright white. Even the black shoes have bright white soles. This blog post features a couple of ideas on how to keep your shoes looking clean and happy.
I'm going to do a few experiments myself and see which is best. Stay tuned!
TIP #3: Choose fashion over function
This is very important- resist the urge to wear your running shoes to work.
Here it is one more time for the kids in the back...no running shoes to work!!
This is definitely a time to choose fashion over function. When you buy running (or workout shoes in general), you are shopping for a specific foot and activity type. Fashion tennis shoes are much more generic but much lovelier and just as comfortable. Here are a few that I'm in love with right now:
These Banana Republic tennies are in my shopping bag as we speak. I love the blue color, but if it's too much for you, the shoe also comes in 3 neutrals.
The ultimate white cool kid sneaker comes from Everlane. Bonus- it's also available in men's sizes.
Lastly, this wonder from DSW (and made by Gucci) shows that you don't have to go stark white in the shoe department to look great.
Experiment a little and have fun!