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Until recently, wearing a suit with sneakers was a major fashion faux pas. Nowadays, however, trends in athleisure and an endless array of sneaker styles have made this combination possible. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr. to Will Smith has experimented with — and perfected — this iconic look, and you can, too!
That’s right. Any man — tall, short, big, small — can pull off the short-sneaker style. Once you pair these two seemingly contrasting elements, you can achieve practically any look.
So how do you master this bold fashion fad and become a stylish trendsetter? Put on a brave face, follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Check Your Pant Length
The most basic rule of wearing a suit with sneakers is to wear cropped trousers. Whether you roll them, tailor them or purposely buy them short, it’s smart to keep the hem anywhere from a half-inch to one and a half inches above the top of your shoe. There should be no break between your pants and shoe collars, so adjust your pant length accordingly. Remember to choose the right color of socks because a higher cut will definitely show them off.
2. Wear Tapered Slacks
The tailoring of your suit is also critical. While you don’t want your sneakers to steal the show, wearing the right proportions can make them a stylish focal point. Slip into some tapered pants to eradicate bulky hems and really showcase your shoes. Donning a slim-fitted suit will also define your silhouette and even make you look thinner if you wear darker colors. Hint: Not a fan of the tapered look? Try straight-leg slacks instead.
3. Pick the Right Shoes
You’re already breaking the number one rule in fashion, so you might assume you can wear any kind of sneakers with a suit. Well, we hate to break it to you, but your comfiest pair of dad shoes simply won’t do. Instead, stick with retro trainers, low-tops, high tops and skate shoes as they lend themselves well to both formal and casual settings. They also look great with a suit as long as they’re paired correctly.
4. Choose the Best Shape
The shape of your sneakers matters, too. How can you possibly pair high-top Converse and playful Adidas low-tops with the same suit? While completely different in look and feel, they’re both slim-fitting and feature a rounded toe. These features make them look more streamlined with your pants. Of course, you can get away with chunky sneakers, too, but you might have to break a few more rules — like donning a looser suit — to pull this one off.
5. When in Doubt, Wear White
The classic Oxfords are available in just three colors — oxblood, black and brown. Sneakers, however, come in all different kinds of hues, which leaves much more room for error. That’s why many beginners break into the suit-sneaker world in a pair of white sneaks. You can’t go wrong with this quintessential, classy look. They work perfectly for semi-casual business meetings, a night out on the town and everything in between.
6. Keep It Casual
When it comes to sporting a suit and sneaker combo, don’t assume you have to keep everything formal. If you’re attending a laid-back wedding or work in a relaxed office setting, you can dress down a bit and adopt a more casual look. Nix the tie and, if you’re going to wear a belt, keep it subtle. Now’s not the time to bring out your statement cowboy belt with the horseshoe buckle. You can even trade in your dress shirt for a crisp white tee.
7. Try Color Blocking
If you’re tired of following the same old rules for pairing shoes and suits, try color blocking. This technique combines two or three solid colors in distinctive, separate blocks. It’s a bold look that’s easy to get wrong, so start with two complimenting colors and add in a third only when you feel confident enough to do so. Then, you can play around with clashing colors and riskier combinations.
Sporting Your Suit-Sneaker Combo
Sporting subtle to show-stopping suit-sneaker combos is all about swagger. Whatever you wear, wear it confidently and hold your head up high. Sure, the fit might feel a bit strange on you at first, especially when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. However, as long as you have the right attitude and follow the tips above, you’ll look good no matter what.