Crack the Code: How to Wear Men’s Sneakers with Formals
Tuesday Bote - February 1, 2021
Once upon a time, it was unheard of to wear sneakers with a suit. In the last few decades, it became practical for commuters to pair their office wear with sneakers, and soon, luxury designer labels put their runway models in sneakers for fashion week. Short of wearing them with a tux, sneakers with formals is now considered a refreshing, edgy look, as its appealing unconventionality still manages to grab attention. In this article, find out how to crack the code in wearing sneakers for formal occasions.
Sneakers and a Suit: Why Not?
Of course, not all sneakers can be worn with a suit, and both elements - sneaker and suit - are equally responsible for the whole look to work. Not even your most expensive Italian leather sneakers will save you if your formal wear is ill-fitting, poorly made, or crumpled. Pants legs that slouch over your sneakers is just plain sloppy. Just because you’re wearing them with sneakers doesn’t mean your formal wear can relax. For this look to work, you should have excellent tailoring - this is a basic requirement.
It would be best if you also opted for a slim-fitting suit. The pants should taper and be long enough to stop just right above the shoe. If this is your first time wearing formals with sneaks, keep everything minimalist and stick to neutral colors, such as blacks and grays, until you crack the sneakers + formals code and gain the confidence, that swagger as the kids call it, to take more risks.
What is the Code of a Formals Sneaker?
Color is only one of three essential points to choosing the right sneaker to wear with a suit. The other two are silhouette and materials. Finding the keys to all three points will unlock the code to wearing sneakers with formal wear, and they’re actually easier than you’d think.
Code 1: Choose the Right Color
Blacks and grays are indeed recommended, especially for exceptionally formal events. They blend well into your overall look, and only upon close inspection will they draw gasps of surprise that, hey, you’re wearing sneakers! If you choose the right sneaker, hopefully, these will be pleased reactions.
For less formal outings, going monochromatic is not a strict rule. White may be more pronounced than blacks and grays, but instead of looking juvenile, it evokes a classic cool that has made them a favorite pair with formal wear. Neutral browns and navy blues are also good colors for the formal sneaker outfit.
Code 2: Silhouette
Don’t even think you can get away with wearing your bulky basketball high-tops. Silhouettes have to stay low to accentuate the full sleekness of your look.
Code 3: Materials
Leather sneakers are more luxurious and elegant, and therefore much better “suited” to formal wear than canvas. Suede and nubuck make for suitable formal materials, as well, because of their velvety texture.
The Best Formals Sneakers Named
The best example of a sneaker with all three elements to crack the Sneakers + Formals code is Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 line, obviously so named for its silhouette. The clean, minimalist lines, curving long around the toes, are what makes them exceedingly handsome. They’re sleek from heel to toe but also from heel to ankle. The heel cup adequately shows off your ankle and won’t gather the hems of your suit trousers.
Low 1 sneakers and many Oliver Cabell shoes are made of hand-stitched Italian calfskin leather and soles by Margom, an Italian company known for their lightweight yet durable rubber. The range of colors and designs are also precisely the colors that work best with suits.
Here is a list of Oliver Cabell sneakers that look best when you suit up.
Earlier, we mentioned brown as a color block you might be able to pull off, inspired by swanky signorinos and their smart dress sense, wearing their Lion shoes Italy signatures with exquisitely tailored suits. Oliver Cabell’s Lion sneakers are rich brown versions of the Low 1 sneaker and may pass off as dress shoes because of the sleek silhouette and the luxurious leather. The buttery leather is most apparent in this Lion version, which is what gives it an air of sophistication as if this is how they’ve been wearing Lion shoes made in Italy all this time. Wear Lion sneakers with a suit in a similar shade of brown and lighter and darker shades for a subtle contrast.
Low 1 White
Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 white sneakers have actually been called the best sneaker to wear with formals, for every reason we’ve discussed so far. It’s also their bestselling sneaker because of its versatility: without a doubt, it goes well with any outfit. Again, because of the silhouette, these white sneakers are more elegant than your average tennis shoes.
Then again, if the tennis shoe look is what you’re after, you should check out Oliver Cabell’s Court sneakers, which are slightly more elaborately designed to evoke that era when everyone went gaga over tennis shoes. It has a similar silhouette as the Low 1 and is made of the same material. For formal wear, we recommend Court White, Black, and Ocean 1 sneakers.
Ocean is a minimalist design, basically a white sneaker with navy trim on the tongue and the heel pad just beneath the ankle. The design is seen on both Low 1 and Court sneakers and allows punctuation to your white sneaker + formal OOTD while maintaining its classy elegance.
Low 1 Black
If White and Lion sneakers are too attention-grabbing for your taste, you can never go wrong with black, particularly Jet Black 1, which has a black outer sole, and the more classic Black Low sneakers. These sneakers take your formal event seriously while also allowing you to play with color. Consider wearing a pastel shirt under your blazer or adding a loud red scarf to an all-black ensemble.
Low 1 Camel
This sneaker is getting special attention in this list because it’s more daring and playful than the other sneaks we’ve listed so far. Camel color sneakers aren’t typical for formals, which is precisely why you should wear them! These kicks are made of Veneto soft split suede with an Italian 70 Shore A rubber sole and calfskin leather trimmings, so it still maintains the exquisiteness needed for formals, but the color pops!
Oliver Cabell’s Phoenix shoes are not made of leather or suede, but what makes them remarkable is that they’re 3D printed from recycled water bottles. They’re light, breathable, so comfortable that it feels like you’re walking on clouds, and excellent for the environment. They’re also sleek enough to wear with formals. Expect them to be part of your dinner conversation, though. Phoenix sneakers are available in black and white.
GATs shoes or German Army Trainers were legit training sneakers issued by the West German army, later achieving cult status as a minimalist sneaker design. Oliver Cabell’s GATs follows the original design’s silhouette but using far more luxurious materials than the original German sports shoe. The mix of suede and leather exudes a savoir vivre that is a must when wearing the sneakers + formals set. Suit up with GATs in White, Black, Jet Black, Navy, and Charcoal.
Start Wearing Sneakers With a Suit
Wearing sneakers with your formal wear has gained traction of late. You can appear respectable while being accessible at the same time. However, not all sneakers are a welcome addition to your suit. With a pair of Oliver Cabell shoes we’ve shared with you, you’re off to a good start. Pro tip: begin with the pristine yet casual Low 1 White leather sneakers.