Can a man wear trainers at work?

Stephen Doig
Suiting with trainers as seen at Brunello Cucinelli

The news this week that Goldman Sachs had issued a decree relaxing its dress codes comes as no surprise; formalwear has taken an almighty battering in the last decade, with a huge decline in suit sales and millennials opting for casual, sports-inflected attire.

Which is perhaps appropriate; fewer of us sit behind mahogany desks these days like Captains of Industry. Our lives are much more dynamic and fluid than those of the be-suited Baby Boomers. Hot desking, We Works cultures and a boom in tech and media industries have seen to that.

But there’s one quandary that the city boys at Goldman Sachs - and readers and colleagues who raise the subject with me - always mull over:  what to wear on their feet? See, then, the rise of the smart trainer.

Grenson

Leather trainers, £170, Grenson

Smart trainers, which have nothing to do with track and field or the gym and are most definitely for a cityfied, office-centric environment, have been a bubbling menswear phenomenon since Lanvin created the DBB1 trainer, a glossy patent leather shoe that became a sell-out cult item in the early 2010s. Men might traditionally blanche at the idea of wearing these trainers in anything but a casual set-up, but best approach is to think of it not as dressing down, but that the humble trainer has punched up and elevated itself to new style heights.

And as we segue into spring and the warmer months, this is particularly pertinent. Heavy-duty brogues and Oxfords of winter start feeling cumbersome, but the likes of espadrilles and deck shoes still fall too far into the spectrum of “holiday wardrobe”.

Adidas

Stan Smith trainers, £74.95, Adidas

The smart trainer’s your saviour here; designed with the clean sophistication of a shoe but with the lightness and dynamism of a trainer; so much so that Italian artisanal footwear brand Tod’s trademarked their version ‘“Shoeker” earlier this year; a hybrid creation that traverses the two.

What to look for in the smart trainer? A minimal, smart design that doesn’t come with the styling tricks and technology of a sports trainer. Look for a subtle colour palette, simple sole and also materials that will elevate it vastly - instead of tech mesh, plastics and nylons, opt for suedes and leathers. These are the subtle details that will make it a happy partner to a suit or work-appropriate chinos and  you’ll be running streaks ahead in the style stakes.