Sneakers and Suits: No, thank you
Last week, Evolving Style mused about wearing sneakers with a casual suit, saying, “Done well, it just looks good.” (Yes, he said much more than that and wrote a follow-up, too. Go read both, as they’re the reason why I’m writing this post.)
One may argue the look is “trendy”, “fashionable” or even “stylish” in the most broad sense of the term, but it doesn’t present a look of being well-dressed in a “classic” sense. And that’s my objection to the look.
I’m not entirely sure why people enjoy the sneakers and suit look. Perhaps these synthetic, rubber-soled, radioactive-neon tumors show their keen sense of rebelliousness and creativity — so eager to break rules! — where the contradiction is the appeal.
But I don’t share those values and it’s my preference to wear clothing where each item shares a similar level of formality and function.
The visual effect of looking at a tailored suit and then ending at the sneaker is a jarring one. This comes from the inherent contradictory realms the pieces occupy. To be dressed well, all elements must work in concert, not in chaos.
It should be understood that while sneakers are for casual wear, a casual suit is simply just a less-formal type of suit. This doesn’t diminish the suit’s importance and reason for being worn to that of a situation where casual athletic sportswear is appropriate.
A casual suit requires a more casual shoe, however, not the most casual shoe. Bucks, saddle shoes, spectators, suede brogues and even the controversial loafer are appropriate for the casual suit. I feel this achieves a harmonious look and is best.
I find the look a bit childish, like what a teenager or disaffected college student would do in a situation where they’re forced to wear a suit but hate the idea of dressing up.
I like wearing the appropriate clothing for the situation. I see no personal need for fashionable rebellion.
I have had the same reservations about the look of wearing sneakers with a causal suit. Although I thought it would be one of those trends where after a while you begin to appreciate what the look represents or is trying to convey, the style still seems to bother me. For me, the sneaker and suit combination tries to integrate two articles of clothing that are so far apart in style that they never homogenize and therefore become contradictory. This, to me, diminishes the whole outfit.
I am not saying that individuals who wear the suit and sneakers combination are not “stylish” (or whatever you want to say). Some of the people I respect most pair these two together at times. Patrick Johnson is one example. He looks extremely comfortable and more at ease when he wears a causal suit that anyone else I can think of. If there was one person who I thought could make this look an aesthetically pleasing one, it would be him. However, I do not think it can be done.
Kiyoshi makes a great point that no real situation calls for wearing sneakers with a suit. To me combination is not functional and, as Kiyoshi points out, the sole purpose seems to be rebellion.
A “causal” suit does not necessarily invite the casualness of sneakers. No matter how you wear your suit, it is still inherently formal in a way that sneakers can never be.
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