These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Whether you’re looking to add some texture to your tailoring, or you’re upping your suit’s casual credentials, here are the best trainers to buy…

Trainers and tailoring! Suits and sneakers! Can casual kicks ever work with fine formalwear? Of course they can — you’ve just got to know which pairs to reach for. Because, whether you’ve got a penchant for pinstripes or you’re more of a tweed man, there’s a pair of trainers out there that’ll unlock unknown style potential in your suit.

But it’s a tricky one. Go for the wrong style or colour and a sneaker-suit combo can come off looking too try-hard. There’s a fine line between insouciance and incompetence, so we’ve laced up five footwear commandments below to help you experiment with casual suiting and smart sneakers…

Go for a high-contrast pairing

The first rule of sneakers and suiting is the most important; keep things simple. If your suit is light, try dark sneakers. If you suit is dark, try light sneakers. We’d opt for a navy suit, itself sitting closer to casual on the smart spectrum — and perfectly deployed on Paul Smith’s modern icon, ‘A Suit To Travel In’. With its woollen handle and slimmer fit, it’s a versatile option that will look as slick with sneakers as it will with Oxfords.

For the footwear, go for similarly simple designs. Full white can be a little too bright, so try to find duotone trainers, with subtly contrasting colours in either the rubber outsole or the side cushions. We’d go for either Unseen Footwear’s ‘Helier’ design, crafted from premium Italian leather, or Oliver Cabell’s ‘Low 1’ trainers; based on a timeless tennis shoe silhouette.

These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Unseen Footwear ‘Helier’ Sneaker

£215

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Paul Smith ‘A Suit To Travel In’

£730

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Oliver Cabell ‘Low 1’ Sneakers

£175

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Always pair texture with texture

Slightly further along the smart-casual spectrum, you’ll find textured tailoring. Whether your suit is cut from corduroy or trimmed from tweed, nothing accentuates the texture of a fabric like a textured sneaker. And there really is only one option. So, once you’ve chosen you suit (we’d go for Sid Mashburn‘s wool-flannel ‘Virgil’ design) it’s time to seek out some suede.

This brushed, napped material will carry on the dress-down look of your tailoring — in much the same way a pair of brown brogues or boots would. But invest in a pair of sneakers, such as Aurélien’s low-cut ‘Cambridge’ kicks, and you’ll be infinitely more comfortable. We’d also recommend trying out Scarosso’s ‘Ugo Marrone Scamosciato’ sneakers. With brown suede and a white rubber platform sole, they’ll add a fresh, modern touch to any formal look.

These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Aurélien ‘Cambridge’ Sneakers

£195

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Sid Mashburn ‘Virgil No.2’ Suit

£1260

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Scarosso ‘Ugo Marrone Scamosciato’ Sneakers

£215

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If you’re wearing pinstripes, go for two-tone trainers

Another lesson in two-tone dressing, the pinstripe is a classic suit fabric style. Traditionally very formal tailoring, pinstripes have been changing of late — springing up in casual collections and making a more informal name for themselves. A suit then, such as this double-breasted offering from Kingsman, is no longer the stiff, starched option it once was, and can be easily dressed down with the right pair of sneakers.

But be careful. There are rules when it comes to pairing pinstripes with trainers. Chiefly, follow that two-tone rule. If your suit is navy and white, your sneakers should follow the same pattern. That means looking to Uniform Standard, and the British brand’s block colour ‘Series 1’ style. Or, more cleverly, to Unseen Footwear’s ‘Clement’; a shoe with contrast stitching that looks uncannily like a pinstripe itself. 

These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Unseen Footwear ‘Clement’ Sneakers

£99

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Kingsman Navy Pinstriped Suit

£1495

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Uniform Standard ‘Series 1’ Sneakers

£140

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Darker shades will turn your sneakers into dress shoes

But sneakers with suits don’t have to be casual — there’s a case to be made for formal trainers. And, if you choose correctly, your shoes can blend in seamlessly with a trimly-tailored, thoroughly elegant ensemble. Of course, that starts with the suit, and we’d recommend going for an off-kilter grey if you’re going to play the suit-sneaker game straight. From Thom Sweeney, this slim-fit wool option is a good start.

Because, once you’ve buttoned up a lighter shade of suit, any sneakers you lace up will automatically darken down. Our eyes naturally adjust the contrast, and will give any pair of trainers — from the chocolate suede of Uniform Standard’s ‘Series 1’ sneakers to the slick, midnight blue hue of Oliver Cabell’s option — that formal edge they need. 

These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Uniform Standard ‘Series 1’ Sneakers

£140

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Thom Sweeney ‘Weighouse’ Suit

£1295

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Oliver Cabell ‘Low 1’ Sneakers

£175

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If you’re ditching the shirt, go ultra-casual

And, finally; full-blown casual. There’s nothing stopping you whipping off your shirt and tie, and instead pairing your tailoring with a T-shirt. In fact, with the temperatures rising and summer on the sweaty horizon, we’d encourage it. But make sure you change your footwear accordingly (and invest in a decent suit; Prada’s design below may be wool, but it’s as flexible as it is breathable).

On the sneaker side, go for something retro and athletic. The bright white colours will put a spring in your summer step, and the eye-catching contrast panels make for the perfect casual cornerstone. The best to buy? Either Oliver Cabell’s ‘GAT’ sneakers, inspired by German athletic trainers, or Scarosso‘s ‘Ryan’ kicks, handcrafted with soft white leather with grey suede details.

These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Oliver Cabell ‘GAT’ Sneakers

£200

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These are the best sneakers to wear with a suit

Scarosso ‘Ryan’ Sneakers

£185

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Want more solid footwear? Introducing the new ‘Boston’ loafer from Gentleman’s Journal x Crockett & Jones…

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