Smart casual. Two words every man dreads to hear (along with ‘alcohol-free’ and ‘children permitted.’)
Luckily, relaxing dress codes and the rise of the smart-casual trainer has unearthed some much-needed middle ground. Just as sportswear has been embraced up top, similarly the minimalist trainer has become an increasingly common anchor to smart trousers and tailoring.
In a bid to combat dress code confusion, we’ve selected some of the best offerings that’ll work whatever the occasion.
Reiss x Clae Bradley Sage Sneakers
Minimal design is usually what makes a smart-casual sneaker so versatile. Therefore, swapping high-fashion logos for high street design is a safer bet. These washed suede shoes, a collaboration between British footwear brand Clae and premium retailer Reiss, are a refined take on the more ubiquitous offerings.
Available at Reiss, priced £110.
Mango Lace-Up Leather Sneakers
Lazy days at the beach may still be months away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little sand on your feet right now. These nappa leather kicks by Barcelona-based fashion giant Mango are handmade in Spain and will bring a Catalonian kick to your plates of meat.
Available at Mango, priced £49.99.
Undandy ’92 Cornell
Move over ‘mankle’ and ‘bromance’, the ‘trunkstrap’ might just be 2017’s portmanteau-in-waiting, especially if Undandy’s Cornell hybrid is anything to go by. The bespoke shoemaker has welded the traditional double monkstrap to a classic trainer sole unit, resulting in a surprisingly solid kick for the best of both worlds.
Available at Undandy, priced £124.
Converse Jack Purcell Signature
Inspired by a Canadian, made by an American, worn all over the world – the Converse Jack Purcell is a modern classic. Updated in recent years to include Nike’s Zoom Air Technology on the footbed, this is one time when multiple cooks make for a better broth.
Available at Converse, priced £80.
Common Projects Retro Slip-Ons
Once the go-to shoe of emo pop bands, the slip-on sneaker is now a firm sartorial stablemate. Able to dress down a full suit (sans tie), these smooth black leather examples from headliner brand Common Projects hit all the right notes.
Available at MatchesFashion, priced £310.
Selected Homme Suede Sneakers
Suede: a nightmare to clean, but a dream to wear. The clean design of Selected Homme’s sneakers can be paired with any polished outfit thanks to cool as concrete uppers and a perforated heel for breathability. Just give a quick treatment spray and get ready for sweet dreams.
Available at Selected Homme, priced £80.
Grenson Tennessee Blues
In the five decades since its 1970s heyday, the trend for tennis shoes has swung in and out more times than Andy Murray’s racket. Luckily, this update from heritage shoemaker Grenson combines the comfort of the sports style with the craftsmanship of a luxury loafer – making them an ace addition to a smart-casual wardrobe. Advantage Grenson.
Available at Grenson, priced £195.
Lacoste Pique Lace-Up Trainers
French style is revered globally for one reason – simplicity. To add some je ne sais quoi to your shoedrobe, tap these pared back pumps by Paris’ finest sporting brand, which are crafted in Lacoste’s signature polo shirt pique material and unadorned except for the famous crocodile logo.
Available at Dune, priced £75.
Valentino Garavani Bi-Colour Trainers
Designer trainers aren’t always guaranteed to be sharper than high street sneakers, but Valentino’s Garavani model is a stylish case in point of when they are. The contrast elastic vamp gives this otherwise minimal design a flash of colour that can be tied into smart navy trousers.
Available at Style.com, priced £470.
Axel Arigato Clean 90 Sneaker
Outside of monochrome, few tones in a man’s wardrobe are as versatile as blue. This rule applies to trainers, too. Swedish brand Axel Arigato’s Clean 90 sneakers are guaranteed to make for a solid tonal look alongside sleek tailoring. Less Boys In Blue, more natty in navy.
Available at Axel Arigato, priced £150.
Kenzo Tennix Trainers
Sure, Kenzo is known for the roar of its loud Tiger motif, but the Parisian brand does also offers subtler pieces. The Tennix trainers typify laid-back-luxury with quality calf leather and tonal branding.
Available at Zalando, priced £194.99.
Adidas Stan Smiths
Despite being one of the most iconic trainers ever made, there’s more to Stan Smiths than simple, white tennis shoes. Iterations in pigskin and nubuck offer a subtle pivot from the classic model, yet remain firm smart-casual friendly choices.
Available at End Clothing, priced £69.
Givenchy Urban Tennis Sneakers
Givenchy became a street staple with its Rottweiler print, but for something with less bark, go for walkies in the French label’s understated tennis sneakers. With the ability to roll over from smart to casual with ease, these clean white kicks are best in show material.
Available at Luisaviaroma, priced £350.
Topman Black Woven Trainers
All-black is a safe yet impactful look, but it pays to work in a twist now and then. These contrast sole examples from Topman feature woven uppers that take them from high-street to high-end and adds a touch of craftsmanship, without adjusting the price.
Available at Topman, priced £38.
Dr Martens Dante Venice
‘Basic’ may be an insult in the Twitterverse, but it’s a compliment in the sneaker world. Simplistic kicks, like Dr Martens’ Dante shoe, can flit between civvies and semi-formal looks with ease, packing a clean design that’s equal parts wearable and classic.
Available at Dr. Martens, priced £85.