As we enter the warmer months of the year, we’re taking a look at some of the ways guys can give a suit a breezier, less buttoned-up edge—”dress it down,” if you will. One oft-debated method: pulling on a pair of sneakers instead of the weightier dress shoes you reflexively opt for.
Now, there are some serious caveats to this move. Never, ever should you do like Russell Simmons—nothing at all against the man, but the padded, clunky sneakers he favors on the red carpet belong only on basketball courts and skateboard enthusiasts. It’s a faux pas that’s only exacerbated when paired with a suit’s (generally) slimming silhouette. So stick with low-top canvas (or, maybe, suede) sneakers. You know the usual suspects: Superga, Spring Court, Converse, and Vans. Even Adidas and Nike’s slimmer varieties will work here. There’s a fine line of wear and tear you need to walk, as well. You don’t want your sneakers to look “fresh out of the box,” but you also want to avoid having to lean on one go-to pair of worn-into-the-ground Vans. Let’s go with a “lived-in” vibe, perhaps subjected to a wash or two. And when you’re wearing sneakers with a suit, forget any notion of wearing socks.
The suit you’re pairing with said sneakers should be of a lighter fabric, and on the slimmer side of the fit range. Remember, you’re adhering to summer casualness, not sloppy informality. Lighter wools and cotton twills work great. Wool flannel? That’s a big no.
Last point: “Dressing down” may be a bit of a misnomer. The sneakers shouldn’t be the focal point of your casualness. In other words, wearing sneakers with a suit is most appropriate on occasions when people aren’t expecting you to wear a suit at all.