I’ve written plenty about how easy it is to wear flat shoes to work and still look totally professional (it seems crazy to think that this is still an issue that needs discussion!) but I thought it was about time I wrote about wearing trainers to the office. I’m very lucky because I’ve always worked in industries that have pretty flexible dress codes – first TV and then fashion – but I really do think that there has been a massive shift in the last few years, and you can dare to be even more casual with the footwear you wear to do your job, even if that’s a job you do wearing a suit.
In fact, there’s not much that looks better with a trouser suit than a pair of trainers, in my opinion. Of course, I realise that waltzing in to work sporting a pair of neon runners with your pinstripes is not really a realistic option for most people. Ditto your grubby Asics that you wear to the gym (my personal bugbear!). But a well-chosen, good quality pair of sneakers, kept as clean and shiny as you would a pair of expensive brogues, is often just as appropriate as, well, an expensive pair of brogues.
4. Axel Arigato ‘Skate’ sneaker, £145 (axelarigato.com); 5. Freakloset ‘Kimo’ customisable Velcro sneaker, £147.53 (freakloset.com); 6. Walsh ‘Seoul ’88’ trainers in Prince of Wales check, £105 (second-store.com)
The selection I’ve chosen here is pretty broad. I’ve opted mostly for darker colours like black and navy, since they are easier to integrate into a tailored wardrobe, though if your work environment allows it I would highly recommend trying a white leather sneaker instead. Many of these styles, such as the Seven Feet Apart 172 (9), Clarks Originals Trigenic (2) and Axel Arigato Skate (4) do come in white as well as the colours shown here.
I also love that you can find checked and tweed fabrics this season, like Walsh’s Seoul ’88 (6) and Marks & Spencer’s ludicrously well priced trainers (10) – these will feel right at home in the boardroom with their heritage feel. For something more edgy though, head to Vagabond, which has a cracking selection of sneaker boots including the Camille (below; 11) and the Jessie (top), which will be available to buy later this month.
READ MORE: WHY I WEAR DON’T WEAR HEELS
As a general rule, I would pair tennis shoe styles with trousers, while runners, such as the Saucony Jazz Originals (below; 15) look better with skirts. Slip-ons, like Grenson’s Sneaker 8 (3) are a bit more versatile and fall somewhere in the middle, but as with everything, what suits me best doesn’t necessarily work for you, so do experiment. You might be surprised!
As usual, there’s something for every budget here, so hopefully you will find something for you if you fancy dipping your toe into sporty workwear.
A wool trouser suit
A checked maxi shirt dress
A statement sweater