Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yes, You Can Do Sneakers With Suits. Here's How.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Love, Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column tackling your hard-hitting fashion issues and addressing a different fashion glitch each week. Submit a query here.


Dear Frank,

Man here. How does one pull off the sneaker and suit look? Does one pull of the sneaker and suit look?

Which One of These Goes With the Other

Dear Which,

I think you can wear sneakers with a suit, but they need to be the right sneakers, of course. And I don't think it's appropriate for formal affairs—weddings, funerals, interviews, what have you. But it's a fresh, irreverent look that makes the wearer seem breezy and secure and generally comfortable in his own skin.

The sneakers, or course, shouldn't be your gym shoes. Bulky sneaks, anything performance-minded, anything athletic: Save them for your work outs. Further, they should be crisp and almost new. Save the wrecked and ruined pairs you can't bear to part with for your Levi's.

The sneakers you pair with a suit should be trim and basic—a classic silhouette. Try the Era or the Authentic by Vans; the All Star or Jack Purcell by Converse; or the Stan Smith or Samba by Adidas. Look for something on the tonal side; look for leather instead of canvas; stick with black, white, brown, or gray (or navy or burgundy, obviously).

Let's buy all the Common Projects at the Corner.

Another option is one of the crop of designer sneakers that have been flooding department stores of late: Paul Smith, Prada, Lanvin, Dior, Gucci, Valentino, you name it. All are doing ultra-luxe trainers. Exorbitant price tags aside, the same rules apply: Go with the simple, slim, solid. That said, at that price point, I vote for the classic Common Projects sneaker. With beautifully crafted supple leather, these cult sneakers are virtually unbranded for those who appreciate a little stealth luxury. I wear my indigo pair with anything and everything, but usually save the white ones for shorts looks.

Now, the suit. Your most classic, dressiest suits? The black, the navy, the charcoal? In my opinion, these are not the suits you pair with sneakers. I love an unlined cotton twill summer suit in beige or camel or olive or dark blue—and like the idea of pairing something like that with a pair or white or brown kicks. Do you have a wacky suit? A windowpane check? A bright, bold color? A nubby, tweedy, elbow-patched number? Maybe a seersucker? These could all work with the right sneakers.

As for what's under that suit, again, this isn't a formal look. If you're wearing a classic white dress shirt and a clean, all-dressed-up, sartorial tie, stick to you wingtip. Pair sneakers with jaunty ginghams, over-sized plaids or fun prints. And don't wear a tie at all. Or, select something in cotton or linen. Or something in bold polka dots. Or something with printed birds or woven anchors. Get whimsical.

So, yes, it can be done. Just have fun with it—because that's the point, right?

Got a style question for Frank? Leave it in the comments or email one in here. Then buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, because it's going to be ? Something.
· All Love, Frank posts [Racked]