Every now and then, we like to help a guy out in the office wardrobe department (remember our handy business suit blog?). Arguably, men have it easier when shopping for clothes and accessories than women — there is less to worry about and the coordination tends to be easier since you fellas typically like to stick to a color palette of blues, grays, browns and blacks. Maaaybe some green and red thrown in there. And for the super-progressive (or prepster), add in some pastels.
Where men’s shoes are concerned, you can often get away with wearing the same brown or black pair over and over and over since they match with everything in your office wardrobe mix. While we ladies (and our bank accounts) are somewhat jealous of this shoe-chameleon ability, we also implore you to learn about what shoes are appropriate for the office and what are not. Below, a list of dos and don’ts.
Do: Wing tips
According to Esquire magazine (the fashionable man’s handbook), “not all wing tips look right with suits,” but the style experts recommend looking for closed-lace construction, slim leather soles and a rich brown patina.
Don’t: Scuffed, dirty dress shoes
If you have to wear a suit to work, make sure your shoes dress the part and keep them well shined and clean.
This men’s shoe style can be very dressy or it can be quite casual, depending on the finish. For example, a shiny black oxford is meant for a dressier outfit while brushed brown leather is more casual and might go with a pair of khaki slacks. Look for oxford shoes that aren’t too pointy or too round (which can look club-foot-ish) and not square toed.
That’s right, you know them as man sandals = mandals. Unless your “office” is the great outdoors, avoid sandals in the workplace completely. That said, there are select workplaces that are very casual, where flip-flops (note: we still did not say mandals) might be acceptable. Your company likely has an employee handbook that spells out what’s kosher and what’s not, even on casual Fridays, so make sure to read that thoroughly before opting to show your tootsies.
A black-leather boot is always dressier than a brown one, and works really well for your office wardrobe as a staple throughout the fall through the spring when it’s still cool outside. Note: Keep these puppies polished and seek out a more refined than bulky style. You’re not in a rock-n-roll band! (Or are you??)
The experts at Esquire say, “When forgoing laces altogether, a hand-rubbed, artfully shaped pair of look-at-me loafers are just the kind of shoes that command respect.” Sounds like the kind of shoe that you want to wear in the office, doesn’t it?
Maybe Do, Maybe Don’t: Sneakers
These made both lists because there are lots of different kinds of sneakers and office cultures. If you are in a creative or edgy field, like graphic design or web development, there’s a good chance your company is “cool” and doesn’t really mind a dressed-down office wardrobe. There are tons of really fun and appropriate “street” sneaks that work in this case. What’s never appropriate, however, are tennis sneakers or sports sneakers of any kind. If you’re going to wear them to play ball after hours, then know that they are big don’ts for the office. And vice versa, you shouldn’t be playing tennis in your flat-soled Pumas, either.