Men's Business Casual

What Shoes to Wear for Men’s Business Casual Attire

Men's Business Casual

Business casual dress codes can be tricky to navigate, especially when it comes to shoes. You want to look polished and put-together, but not too formal. The right business casual shoes can pull your whole outfit together and make you look sharp without going overboard. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best shoes to pair with business casual outfits.

What is Considered Men’s Business Casual Shoes?

casual shoes

The most versatile and safe option for business casual shoes are oxfords and derby shoes in darker leather colors like black, brown, tan, or burgundy. These lace-up shoes have a classic, timeless style that works well for many business casual environments. Loafers and monk straps are also suitable choices that provide a polished look. Chelsea boots are another nice option in cooler weather. For more casual offices, you may be able to get away with suede desert boots or chukka boots.

Shoes to Avoid for Business Casual

There are certain types of shoes that should be avoided for business casual dress, including:

  • Athletic Shoes: Sneakers, running shoes, and other sporty footwear are too casual for most business casual office environments. The exception is if you work at a very laid-back startup or creative field that allows ultra-casual wear.
  • Flip Flops and Sandals: Open-toed shoes don’t convey professionalism. Save these for the beach or weekend wear.
  • Work Boots: Heavy-duty boots designed for construction work or hiking are too clunky and casual for business casual.
  • Overly Formal Shoes: Patent leather dress shoes are too shiny and formal for most business casual needs.
  • Eccentric Designs: Unique shoes with loud colors, prints, or unusual shapes are too distracting.

Are Sneakers Acceptable for Business Casual?

In most traditional office settings, sneakers are considered too casual to wear with a business casual outfit. There are certain exceptions where fashionable leather sneakers in muted colors may work, but it’s better to err on the side of caution and wear proper oxfords or loafers. If your office has an ultra-relaxed environment, dark wash denim or khakis with white leather sneakers can potentially work, but know your office culture. Creative fields tend to have more leeway with stylish sneakers than corporate environments.

What Sets Business Casual Apart from Casual?

Business casual dress is meant to convey professionalism while still being comfortable. It sits between formal business attire and casual everyday wear. Here are some of the differences:

  • Fabrics: Casualwear may include heavier fabrics like hoodies and fleece. Business casual sticks to lighter fabrics like cotton, wool, linen, or high-tech blends.
  • Colors/Patterns: Casual clothes come in bright colors and bold prints. Business casual favors muted, neutral colors and minimal patterns.
  • Silhouettes: Casual clothes have relaxed, loose silhouettes. Business casual opts for a more tailored fit.
  • Details: Casual clothes have visible logos and graphics. Business casual eliminates loud branding.
  • Shoes: Sneakers, sandals are fine for casual. Business casual requires leather shoes.

Where to Buy Business Casual Shoes

When shopping for business casual footwear, look for retailers that specialize in men’s dress shoes, such as:

  • Amazon: Amazon is the Best place to buy business casual shoes.
  • Allen Edmonds: High-quality leather oxfords and loafers made in America.
  • Cole Haan: Famous for shoes that marry traditional styles with comfortable soles.
  • Johnston & Murphy: Offering classic men’s shoes at an affordable price point.
  • Mezlan: Known for finely crafted Spanish leather shoes.
  • Nordstrom: Large selection of menswear including oxfords, monk straps, and Chelsea boots.
  • Zappos: Online shoe retailer with a vast inventory of business casual styles.

Finding the Right Business Casual Shoes

Choosing shoes for a business casual look doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to leather oxfords, loafers, or ankle boots in colors like black, brown, tan, or burgundy. Avoid very casual shoes like sneakers, sandals, and work boots. Shop at retailers that specialize in men’s dress shoes for high quality and timeless styles. The right business casual shoes will pull your whole look together and convey professional polish, without being too formal.

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Acceptable Men’s Shoes for Business Casual Dress

Loafers or Slip-Ons

Loafers or slip-ons are one of the most popular and comfortable styles of shoes for business casual attire. They are dressy enough for the office but casual enough to wear with chinos or khakis. Look for leather loafers in brown or black with no perforations for a more polished look. Loafers with tassels or braiding can also work depending on your office environment. Make sure to keep them clean and polished.


Oxfords are another classic business casual shoe option. They are versatile enough to pair with dress pants or chinos. Look for leather oxfords in brown, black or tan. Wingtips or cap toes add interest but plain toe styles work too. Oxfords should have laces so you can adjust the fit. Be sure to alternate between several pairs so they last longer between reshoeing or replacement.

Boat Shoes

In warm weather months or more casual office environments, boat shoes can be a nice choice. They are very comfortable and breathable. Look for topsiders or other boat shoes made of leather rather than canvas for a more polished appearance. Boat shoes pair well with chinos, khakis or linen pants. Stick to basic brown or navy colors rather than bright or patterned styles.

Desert Boots

Desert boots are another comfortable option that walks the line between dressy and casual. Look for leather or suede boots in brown or tan colors. They have a low profile and lighter weight than leather boots so are great for warmer weather. Desert boots pair nicely with khakis, cords or jeans. Buckles or laces work depending on your personal style.

So in summary, some of the best shoes for business casual include loafers, oxfords, boat shoes and desert boots. Look for leather versions in basic colors to mix and match easily with your bottoms. Focus on comfort and versatility while maintaining a polished, pulled together look. With some basic high-quality pairs in your rotation, you’ll be dressed for success no matter what your day brings!

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