Sneakers as dress shoes sound like an oxymoron. After all, sneakers were initially intended for casual occasions. People use them for everyday situations like running errands or doing sports. They’re usually not the top-of-mind choice when it comes to formal events.
However, this attitude is evolving. Fashion no longer frowns on “casual” as a sloppy word. The opposite is true, in fact. Fashion movements like athleisure and minimalism have advanced casual wear into a deliberate fashion choice, even for more formal settings.
High-end brands have also gotten the memo. It’s no longer unusual for luxury houses to have their sneaker products. Celebrities or designers frequently collaborate with athletic brands, raising the profile of sneakers even higher.
These circumstances are the perfect storm for sneakers to be viewed as well-constructed, high-end status symbols – utterly appropriate for more formal occasions.
The Evolution of Sneakers
The first representation of sneakers happened in the 18th century. The Liverpool Rubber Company sold rubber-soled shoes with canvas tops for people to wear to the beach.
Aside from the materials used, these shoes had very little in common with the modern sneakers. They were very basic and shapeless. The shoes were even interchangeable for each foot.
In 1892, a US-based company produced a similar product called Keds. Mass production followed, and its popularity surged.
One of the significant turning points for sneakers occurred in 1917. Marquis Converse created a basketball shoe called Converse All-Stars. It would go on to become the most famous basketball shoe in history.
Since then, the sneaker industry has grown to become a billion-dollar industry, with no signs of slowing down.
Sneakers Make a Statement
Sneakers enter dress shoe territory by fulfilling two requirements: quality and style. The laxer rules of social dressing don’t mean you can wear your gym shoes to a formal event. They need to be sneakers – only elevated.
The material can spell the difference. It’s difficult to justify common materials–for example, canvas–for a special occasion. However, sneakers made up of more luxurious skins can fit right in.
Take the Vasco as an example. Its materials are a Hornback crocodile and soft calf leather. A soft cushion insole lines the interior for a comfortable wear. The rubber soles ensure that it falls under the sneaker category, but it looks more polished because of the rest of the materials.
Using sneakers as dress shoes is already a statement. Its why simpler silhouettes work better. An understated design also captures the essence of the equally minimal styles like the monk strap or brogues.
An example of such a sneaker is the Paulo. The style comes in an array of solid colors, with not much adornment. The laces are sleek. The simplicity of the shoe works to its advantage because it echoes the design of more traditional shoes, making it look timeless.
Finally, the casual shoes can be a modern interpretation of traditional styles. Constructed from genuine ostrich and calf leather, Irvin is a sneaker that comes in cognac and white. The contrast of the colors is reminiscent of the two-tone spectator shoes made famous by the Duke of Windsor in the 1930s.
Fashion is in constant motion. As the trend of casual wear surges forward, it is now possible to swap your dress shoes for a pair of sneakers. –But, good fashion still reigns supreme. Make sure you nail the look by choosing the right sneaker.