Are Tennis Shoes Business Casual Simple Styling Guide In 2023/ Featured Image

Are Tennis Shoes Business Casual? Simple Styling Guide For 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Defining Business Casual: A blend of formal business wear and relaxed clothing, sitting mid-spectrum between full suits and casual attire.
  • Tennis Shoes Debate: Acceptance varies based on:
    • Shoe Style: Neutral, minimalist designs fit best.
    • Outfit Pairing: Best with tailored attire.
    • Workplace Norms: Some industries, like creative fields, are more lenient.
  • Industry Trendsetters: Notable figures like Steve Jobs have sported casual footwear in professional settings.
  • Tennis Shoe Tips: Opt for clean, minimalist designs in neutral colors and pair with appropriate attire.
  • Top Picks: Recommendations include Converse Jack Purcell, Clae Bradley, and Adidas Stan Smith for a business casual setting.

Are tennis shoes business casual? Now there’s a question to get the office buzzing! In this style-savvy guide, we’re untangling the fashion faux pas and serving up game-changing tips to rock your tennis shoes, 9 to 5.

Let’s get started!

Related Post: Can Volleyball Shoes be Worn Outside

What Does ‘Business Casual’ Actually Mean?

At its core, business casual attire typically combines elements of traditional business outfits and more relaxed, casual clothing.

This means you can ditch the three-piece suit and tie but still maintain a professional demeanor. The key here is to strike a balance between comfort and professionalism.

The distinction between business casual and other dress codes can be rather elusive.

Compared to formal business attire think full suits, ties, and leather shoes, business casual is a more relaxed approach.

However, it’s still a step above purely casual wear that includes t-shirts, shorts, or flip-flops. If you imagine dress codes on a spectrum, business casual sits comfortably in the middle.

Are Tennis Shoes Business Casual

Are Tennis Shoes Business Casual: The Great Debate

Now, we arrive at the burning question: Are tennis shoes business casual?

In the world of fashion, this query has been the cause of many a spirited debate. The truth is, the answer largely depends on a number of factors.

To some, the mere idea of tennis shoes in a professional setting is an abomination. These are the purists who argue that business casual should lean more toward ‘business’ than ‘casual‘.

However, the winds of fashion are ever-changing, and many now argue that tennis shoes can indeed fit within the business casual framework.

Here are a few considerations to help you navigate this tricky fashion dilemma.

The Type of Tennis Shoes

Not all tennis shoes are created equal. When it comes to incorporating them into business casual attire, the style and condition of the shoes are paramount.

Sleek, minimalist tennis shoes in solid, neutral colors can often slide into the business casual territory. They bring a touch of modern style without sacrificing professionalism.

In contrast, brightly colored athletic sneakers or worn-out shoes should remain in the realm of casual wear.

The Overall Outfit

The ensemble you pair with your tennis shoes also plays a critical role. Even the most refined tennis shoes can appear too casual if teamed with jeans and a T-shirt.

Instead, consider pairing your tennis shoes with tailored trousers, a crisp button-down shirt, and maybe even a blazer.

This mix of casual and formal elements can create a balanced business casual look.

Workplace Norms

Lastly, you should consider your specific workplace culture. Some companies are more relaxed and encourage individuality, while others hold fast to a more traditional dress code.

Consider your workplace norms, the industry you’re in, and the expectations of your role. It is always best to overdress if you are in doubt.

When Are Tennis Shoes Acceptable In A Business Casual Environment?

Let’s delve into the various scenarios where tennis shoes might be more acceptable as business casual wear.

Certain industries have a more lenient approach to dress codes. The creative industry, for example, values self-expression and originality, and it’s not uncommon to see tennis shoes being sported in creative workplaces such as advertising agencies, design studios, or tech start-ups.

Similarly, the entrepreneurial realm, characterized by its innovative and unconventional ethos, also tends to have a more relaxed dress code.

Many successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, have been seen sporting casual footwear in professional environments.

As real-life examples go, consider the case of Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple. Jobs was known for his trademark black turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance sneakers, proving that you can be both casual and influential in the business world.

In a similar vein, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella has also been spotted in colorful sneakers, adding a modern twist to business casual.

Remember, the key is to gauge your work environment and industry norms. When in doubt, always veer toward more formal attire.

Tips On How To Wear Tennis Shoes For Business Casual

Ready to experiment with tennis shoes in your business casual attire? Here are a few tips to help you pull off this look.

Choose a minimalist designStick with tennis shoes that are understated and have a clean design. Avoid bright colors, extravagant logos, or chunky designs.
Keep them cleanDirty or worn-out shoes are inappropriate in a business casual setting. Clean them regularly to maintain a professional look.
Select neutral colorsChoose tennis shoes in black, white, grey, or navy. These neutral colors blend better with business casual attire.
Pair with appropriate clothesNo-show or ankle socks that aren’t visible above the shoe line keep the look clean and professional.
Avoid sporty clothesAthletic gear or overly casual clothing like t-shirts or sweatpants are not suitable for a business casual setting with tennis shoes.
Consider the occasionWhile tennis shoes can work for daily business casual wear, they may not be suitable for more formal business meetings or events.
Wear no-show socksNo-show or ankle socks that aren’t visible above the shoe line keeps the look clean and professional.
Invest in high-quality sneakersHigh-quality, stylish tennis shoes in materials like leather or suede, or even high-end fabric can enhance your look. Avoid performance athletic shoes.
Accessorize wellMaintain a professional look by pairing your shoes with smart accessories like a watch or a leather bag.
Prioritize comfortOne of the advantages of tennis shoes is comfort. Ensure your shoes fit well and provide the needed support.

5 Best Tennis Shoes For Business Casual Dress Code

1. Converse Jack Purcell Classic Low Top: These shoes are a timeless classic with a clean and minimal design, making them suitable for a business casual environment. They are comfortable and versatile, pairing well with chinos or dress pants

2. Clae Bradley: The Clae Bradley is a sleek and sophisticated sneaker that features a premium leather upper and a modern silhouette. Its minimalist design allows it to blend seamlessly with business casual attire, making it a great choice for the office.

3. Seavees 06/64 Legend: The Seavees 06/64 Legend is a stylish and comfortable sneaker with a vintage-inspired design. Its simple and clean aesthetic makes it suitable for business casual settings, and it can be easily paired with a variety of outfits.

4. Adidas Stan Smith: This classic white tennis shoe has been a popular choice for the style-conscious office worker since its debut in 1971. It’s a great option for a semi-formal workplace and can be paired with a variety of outfits.

5. Veja Esplar: This sustainable sneaker is made in part from recycled plastic bottles and organically grown cotton. It’s a great option for sustainability-minded folks and can be worn to a casual workplace.


In the final analysis, the question “Are Tennis Shoes Business Casual?” has no universal answer. It depends on a variety of factors, including the type of tennis shoes, the overall outfit, and the specific workplace norms.

However, with a nuanced understanding of business casual, a sense of style, and a keen eye for balance, it’s certainly possible to incorporate tennis shoes into your business casual wardrobe.

As in any fashion-related discussion, there’s room for creativity and personal expression.

So feel free to experiment, and most importantly, have fun with your style!


What Shoes Are Considered Business Casual?

Business casual shoes generally include loafers, Oxford shoes, brogues, and other closed-toe shoes made of leather or suede.
They strike a balance between formal and casual, pairing well with slacks, khakis, or chinos.

What Not to Wear for Business Casual?

Avoid wearing overly casual clothing like flip flops, t-shirts, jeans with rips or heavy fading, or workout clothes.
Also, stay away from clothing that is too formal, such as full suits, formal dresses, or tuxedos.

Can White Sneakers be Business Casual?

White sneakers can fit into a business casual outfit, provided they are clean, unscuffed, and minimalistic in design.
They work well with trousers or a skirt for a modern, relaxed look, depending on the workplace culture.

Can You Wear Sneakers to a Business Casual Interview?

Although it can depend on the company culture, generally, it’s advisable to avoid sneakers for a business casual interview.
Opt for more formal shoes such as loafers or brogues, which can help create a more polished first impression.

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