The Best Work Sneakers for Your Business-Casual Wardrobe

Pick up a pair of formal sneakers is the office hack you didn't know you needed

Updated September 1, 2023 11:29 am
a collage of the best office sneakers for men on a grey background
The best office sneakers bridge the gap between causal and business.
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If you count yourself among the millions of corporate worker-bees shuffling around and dreaming of summer Fridays gone by, you’ve probably been back in the office in some capacity for the better part of two years. (We certainly are. Yuck.) And whether you’re posted up in your cubical or still working from your “home office,” there’s little denying that the rules of officewear have irrevocably changed. And in this new era of business-casual — emphasis on the casual — And no item is more important for surviving the in-person nine-to-five than the best work sneakers.

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What Exactly Is a Work Sneaker?

A staple of everything from casual Friday to the inevitable can’t-bear-to-wear-brogues-again day, the dressed-up sneaker is just that — a classic tennis shoe shape, draped in work-friendly colors, cut from luxe materials, and embellished with the typical fixings of your classic dress shoe. Much like their loafer cousins, they’re less buttoned-up than your typical Allen Edmond Oxfords, but remember, that’s now okay.

How to Choose a Work Sneaker

Unfortunately, the formal sneaker has also been noticeably and unfairly pigeonholed into a truly terrible excuse for a shoe. Far too often, the default “causal office kicks” is a monstrous knit-derby-hybrid. Think early-season Roman Roy in Succession (team Kendall for life), or that buddy who’s married to his Patagonia vest and company-branded Nalgene. Poorly constructed, thoroughly uncomfortable and a general eyesore around the workplace, it’s time to put the faux-dressy footwear to bed and grab a genuinely appropriate pair of work sneakers.

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Unlike the typical office abomination, the best work sneakers are concerned with craftsmanship as much as they are with comfort, with a soft-grain leather or high-quality suede benchmarks of the business-casual-bracket. Likewise, easy-pair colors — white, black, navy, and beige — are the name of the game when it comes to wearing casual kicks to work.

Now that you’re equipped with the hands-on training to spot a solid pair, the only thing left to do is actually buy a pair, which is where we come in. We’ve surveyed the corporate landscape and pulled a variety of styles that best suit most fellas in 2023. Browse our picks below for the best pairs of office-friendly sneakers. Whichever pair you choose, your feet (and your co-workers) will thank you. 

The Best Work Sneakers for Men in 2023:

A great(s) shoe at a relatively affordable price (remember, you’re paying for leather quality here), The Royale 2.0 from sustainably-minded GREATS is about as low-key as you can go for an work sneaker, boasting an updated full-grain leather and premium footbed for maximum comfort in a minimalist package. It’s minimal, timeless and totally versatile, and with over a dozen colorways to choose from, there’s a pair for every work wardrobe.

You wouldn’t know it by just looking at them, but SeeVeas’ Sixty Six Sneakers clock in at just $57 bucks, making the low-profile sneaker incredibly sensible for anyone looking to level up without cashing in. A re-creation of an iconic SeaVees style from 1966, these soft flannel sneakers have a memory foam bed and a universal wool-grey outer that would treat you right, even on the rare Saturday office visit.

Take a peak at the 23-year-old intern’s kicks, and the chances are they’ll be wearing Stepney Workers Club. A spiritual successor of Converse and Vans, the East London brand integrates premium canvas and rubber into objectively causal designs — SWC is known for a signature chunky sole — producing high-low footwear for the ages. This particular pair is trimmed with a ribbon of cream herringbone down the heel, too, and finished with a debossed rubber brand plaque. Que guapo!

As much as it pains to say us, there is some validity to the tech-bro’s cult-favorite Allbirds and their immense popularity. The San Francisco-based company’s Tree Runners are cushy and breathable and at just $100 a pop, a fairly solid value, too. They won’t you any best-dressed superlative, but if you’re looking for a Meta-approved pair of sneakers to get you through summer days, look no further.

Looking to make a splash? Zegna’s Triple Stitch Suede Sneakers are just about as luxe as a business-casual shoe can get, with beautiful supple and tactile Italian suede and a lacing pattern that basically says, “I’m too rich for laces.” You probably can’t afford them, but hey, that’s what credit cards are for, right?

More Work Sneakers We Love:

Cole Haan has a chokehold on the business-casual sneaker market like no other brand, and while we’re not a huge fan of all their styles, some of their offerings, like the Grandpro Tennis, make perfect sense for the corner cubby guy.

Draped with luscious, vegetable-tanned leather that shapes to your foot with each wear, Koio’s Capri looks right at home with some means-business tailoring, and maybe a tiny cup of espresso, too.

A stylish homage to the golden-standard German Army Trainer, these gum sole trainers from Beckett Simonon combine a retro appeal with modern sensibilities.

Clarks low-cut Desert Treks draw inspiration from the must-have Desert Boot, while offering a more causal feel for easy office days.

Channel some Fed confidence with The Rodger sneaker, the king’s shoe collaboration with fellow Swiss performance brand On Running. Drawing from the court but ready for the office, you’ll ace workplace wear with a pair of these bad boys.

The Mr. Porter in-house brand, gentlemanly as they are, know that what makes a formal sneaker great is attention to detail and a suave (or suede) profile.

In case you haven’t heard, mules are office-appropriate now, so take full advantage and slip on FOG’s backless sneaker. Really, these are the only shoes you should own if the words “creative” or “director” apparel in your job title.

The Collins just gets everything you could want in a workplace-ready shoe right – an easy-on-the-eyes look, contrast soles, and genuine smooth leather make it a top contender for any guy in the market.

Common Projects are generally considered the best formal kicks money can buy, and one look at the Achilles should tell you why.

A hybrid boat shoe-sneaker combo, the Brooks Brothers name alone means that these A/O Cup shoes get an office pass despite their nautical casualness. Sorry, we don’t make the rules.

Okay, we’ll be honest — Clae’s Malone Sneaker is basically just a nice-looking leather kick. But hey, in today’s office, that should scrap by…and you can wear ’em to the bar after work.

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