Last week, I worked with a client whose workplace dress code changed from sneaker-friendly to no longer allowing shoes with white soles, a.k.a. sneakers. Even though my client is a lawyer, she is an in-house attorney and the dress code is more business casual and one where you expect sneakers to be an appropriate shoe choice. As I write this post about sneakers for work, I feel like I am adding insult to injury to my poor client who is grappling with her shoe choices.

At the same time, I feel like this post is necessary because I have learned that just because a person follows dress code guidelines doesn’t mean they are dressed well. A company once called me in to chat with a young woman who was struggling with adhering to dress code rules. As I sat in the lobby waiting for my meeting, I counted quite a few employees who met the company’s dress code but who looked horrible. While companies want to think that dressing appropriately for work is all about checking a bunch of boxes, it’s not as simple as that.

This is not to say I’m arguing clothing that is inappropriate for a workplace. If sneakers, even worn professionally, aren’t acceptable for work, I’m not going to sit on the sideline championing for the right to wear them. My point is, that in work environments where sneakers can pass, there are ways to do it professionally. In today’s post, I am showing you some looks.


A suit is a cool dichotomy because when both ends of the spectrum meet, you create this sweet spot of business casual. I styled this Argent cotton suit (link to blazer, like to pants) with a pair of sneakers from Cole Haan. Under the suit, I styled this sleeveless wrap top from The Fold and accessorized the outfit with a toggle necklace from Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry.


I played with stripes for this business casual look. I styled these pull-on pants from Theory with a striped tee from Kule. Over the tee I added an ivory cropped cardigan and the look is finished with these classic Adidas sneakers and black earrings from Mabel Chong.


A crisp shirt dress and sneakers are a great combination. I styled this striped cotton shirt dress from J.Crew with classic Stan Smith sneakers. I finished the look with a pendant necklace from Ettika.


A tailored midi skirt is another perfect way to wear sneakers for work. In this outfit, I styled these sneakers from Veja with a cotton midi from A.L.C. and a blue cotton button-up from Frank & Eileen to create an effortless business-casual appropriate look. The outfit is finished with a tortoise bangle, huggie hoop earrings, and a fine beaded station chain.


In this last look, I used these classic sneakers from Rothys to create a professional look that can work in any professional environment that allows these types of shoes. I styled the look with a pair of ivory pants from Everlane with a navy belt, a silk tee from Quince, and a blazer from Veronica Beard.


At the end of the day, companies have the power to make decisions on what employees can and cannot wear. If a company allows sneakers in the workplace, wear them responsibly, don’t be the person who causes a company to roll back on their dress code. While sneakers are casual shoes, it does not imply that a casual look is okay. Be sure to work your sneakers into your outfits in a way that complies with the guidelines set by your workplace.