Gallant Above the Ankle, Goofus Below
September 22, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Fashion Don't?

Long story short: I am reluctantly dressing up a little at work, at least temporarily. Basic non-denim pants (khaki? chino? I don't really know the diff) and white and/or blue buttoned, tucked-in shirt. Belt, no tie.

AND: Sneakers. White cotton sweat socks and sneakers. And not dressy sneakers. Plain, grass-stained, everyday, used-to-wear-them-with-jeans-and-a-T-shirt sneakers.

My wife gasped with shock that I would even consider it and mocked me. However, the first couple of days I was stuck since my nice shoes are too big now and were giving me a blister. During that time, I noticed there's a fair number of people here dressed similarly. I saw a guy yesterday who could've been my clone. Without paying too much attention, I counted something like 4 people wearing some form of sneakers along with a buttoned shirt tucked into non-jeans.

Additional fact: I am a NERD and also work among them. Oh and if it matters I also fit in with everyone else in terms of haircuts (short) and visible tattoos (none).

One hypothesis is that these other sneakerers are a fashion vanguard. Another hypothesis is that we are all equally deluded. I am somewhat interested in that question. But mainly: Do they provide me with enough cover to get away with continuing to wear the shoes I prefer?
posted by DU to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (96 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hmm. It's very much a nerd look, that's for sure. It's not fashionable. But it sounds like you could probably continue to get away with it.
posted by limeonaire at 6:00 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have noticed this phenomenon among the engineering circles at work, but it seems like the older employees especially do the sneakers-with-dress-clothes thing. Their shoes seem to be more along the lines of the all-white or all-black ergonomic type of sneaker, as if they are needed for comfort. Now that I am embedded with the customer, it seems like even the engineers are wearing nice, shined shoes and ties.

If you're looking for a younger look, people my age seem to go to either extreme - jeans and lots of piercings or custom tailored shirts. On the other hand, I will occasionally wear bright red Chuck Taylors with my slacks and Oxford shirt.

In summary, if you're working with nerds no one is likely noticing what shoes you're wearing.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:00 AM on September 22, 2009


In a world where Lady Gaga roams the streets without penalty, no one will censure you for your sneakers. This does not mean, however, that they are in any way fashionable.

You don't tell us whether your sneakers are more like running shoes (like New Balance) or somewhat more stylish but still very casual Converse. Why don't you try sneakers that are made to be worn in precisely the situation you describe, like these Merrell's?
posted by ocherdraco at 6:02 AM on September 22, 2009


During that time, I noticed there's a fair number of people here dressed similarly.

That doesn't make it any more tasteful. :-) Your wife is 100% correct to gasp. Running shoes belong at the track, they take your look down several notches if you're concerned about dressing well. (The exception is if you're doing a hipster / House MD thing, and the look is a little more intentional.)

While you can get away with it around nerds, you may want to think about how seriously you're taken when you deal with management types.
posted by knave at 6:03 AM on September 22, 2009


My dad dresses like that.
posted by little e at 6:08 AM on September 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I work with a guy who dresses in exactly your outfit (khakis, blue shirt, belt, even a gray hoodie most of the time), but he wears brown shoes similar to the Merrells linked above. While we are a business-casual office, most of us are not quite that casual, but he's never had a problem or anything, we just know that's his uniform. (Actually, there was one day he wore a suit and tie, which caused quite a stir.) I don't see much of a problem with any part of your outfit, except that the shoes are dirty and grass-stained. Unless you're actually mowing the grass, you really shouldn't be wearing stained clothes of any kind in public.
posted by LolaGeek at 6:12 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


It depends on the definition of "sneakers." If they are canvas boat shoe or baseball boot type sneakers or similar then you could possibly get away with it. If they are giant white chunky Reeboks - eg - then you're going to look a bit silly wearing them with chinos. Don't let that stop you though, if you're comfortable and confident in them. That's more important than strictly adhering to fashion.
posted by fire&wings at 6:14 AM on September 22, 2009


Response by poster: My shoes are more like running shoes.

I'm not really "doing" a "look" exactly. But yes, I'm trying to be taken more seriously by management. However, that's a relative thing. More seriously than when I was wearing jeans and t-shirts/flannels.

Also, management is also composed of nerds, so there's actually the possibility that by dressing slightly down in a nerd-typical way, I actually raise my credibility. (It's like how the unemployment place, years ago, told me to take some self-taught physics stuff off my resume, but it actually proved a boon in landing my current job.)
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on September 22, 2009


Why are you "reluctantly dressing up a little at work, at least temporarily"? If it actually matters that you not be dressed in casual clothes, buy a pair of nice leather shoes. You could probably even get away with something like these, which aren't especially dressy, but look appropriate with khakis.

I'm not saying you should alienate your peers or supervisors by wearing Armani suits to work, but if you're going to be "dressing up a little" with khakis and nice shirts, find a few pairs of comfortable, non-sneaker leather shoes (pretty much anything on this page would fit what I'm talking about).
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:25 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could you get a pair of "cooler" sneakers, like Skechers or something like that, that aren't white? Or a more fashionable pair of white sneakers if that's what you're most comfortable with?
posted by pised at 6:26 AM on September 22, 2009


It's a fashion don't in the larger world, but it might be a positive in the microculture of your workplace. The real question is not what do other engineers wear? but what does management in your area wear?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:27 AM on September 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, it sounds like you can indeed get away with it (if that's your actual question).

But why you would go to the effort of improving your image and stop at your shoes is confusing to me. By all means stick with casual, but extending your attention to your shoes will come at no harm to anyone: you will look better (and by that I mean, no, you are not part of some fashion vanguard), and I bet you will find something actually more comfortable (86 men happen to like this shoe).

Will this propel you toward your goal of being taken more seriously by management? Who knows. That's a conversation for you and your boss. But if I worked someplace where gaming my approach to footwear might make the difference in how management perceives me ("there's actually the possibility that by dressing slightly down in a nerd-typical way, I actually raise my credibility"), I'd be going crazy. I already did that in high school.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:37 AM on September 22, 2009


You're all equally deluded. I also work with engineers, and I have seen the casual-clothes, tennis shoe combos (and the black socks with Tevas, and all that badness) and it is not good. If it matters to you at all, as a female engineer who *does* bother to try to dress nicely (and gets a lot of shit for it in casual engineering companies), it is a wonderful thing to see male engineers giving it a shot too. So: (1) good for you for dressing up a bit, even "reluctantly", and (2) if you're doing it, then do it for real!

If you want advice on different shoes, I recommend to you a pair of Cole Haans. They look fantastic, and they are owned by Nike -- which means most of their dress shoes have Nike Air soles and are wonderfully comfortable. Cole Haan also has the best customer service I've ever encountered. So yeah, they're expensive, but they're worth every penny, can be repaired for years if you need new soles or restored leather, and they are so, so comfortable that it can be an easy transition from tennis shoes. Something like these would look fine with khakis and even jeans. These are dressy enough for non-khaki slacks. I'm sure there are other comfy dress shoes too, but Cole Haans made me a true believer in the awesomeness of shoes.

Embrace the comfy leather shoe! It is worth it and you'll look awesome!
posted by olinerd at 6:38 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: The real question is not what do other engineers wear? but what does management in your area wear?

I think you are wrong, but for an interesting reason.

You (and others) may be assuming I'm a regular employee who wants to be promoted. In which case, you'd be right--I should dress like the people I'm trying to be a part of. But in fact I'm a contractor trying to get hired on as a regular employee. So I think I would want to dress like the other nerds...
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on September 22, 2009


So its kind of a Jerry Seinfeild look? with big chunky proper running shoe style thing.

only in the usa. Sounds awful. I dont' think you will be taken seriously by management.

Just get a pair of leather shoes and be done with it. Even some brown casual loafers will look much much better.
posted by mary8nne at 6:41 AM on September 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yes, a lot of people wear white sneakers to work. It looks super dorky. Spend $100 and get a pair or dark brown or black leather shoes like this.
If you just wear them to work, they'll probably last you 3 or 4 years. They're comfortable, dressy enough, and don't look dorky like sneakers.
posted by andrewzipp at 6:44 AM on September 22, 2009


Sorry to post again, but I just wanted to say this: I don't think there's any kind of geek cred you'll earn by wearing running shoes to work. To me, there are either two possibilities: 1. it'll have no effect, or 2. make you look worse. In other words, you can't hurt your chances by wearing more appropriate shoes. (Speaking as someone who's worked in a lot of nerdy environments.)
posted by knave at 6:46 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem is in the grass stained, beat-up running shoes, instead of a nice pair of sneakers. I think (new, as in not worn out) converse all stars look really nice with a suit.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 6:47 AM on September 22, 2009


Also, management is also composed of nerds, so there's actually the possibility that by dressing slightly down in a nerd-typical way, I actually raise my credibility.

If they're real nerds they probably won't even notice your feet.

That said there are plenty of comfortable, more fashionable shoes to wear that are not just running shoes.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wear dress shoes. I don't know why people think they are uncomfortable. We're not wearing four-inch heels here, guy - we just aren't walking on enormous, ridiculous-looking pillows.

Wear dress shoes. Pretend I am telling you to see a doctor, because that's how obvious it is.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:54 AM on September 22, 2009 [11 favorites]


I want to chime in to vote against white grass-stained running shoes. My boyfriend wears Diesel shoes like this which I think would be perfect for the look you're trying to pull off/the job you're trying to get. They're casual, comfortable, but much more professional and polished than grass-stained sneakers. Merrells, Converse, or similar hipster-style shoes would also be appropriate.

Shoes are one of the first things people notice about you. And it doesn't matter if you see other people wearing something--they've already got the job, right? Putting in a little more effort won't hurt you in the least, but not putting in the effort really could hurt you.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:56 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does your job include actual but only occasional running? Because that's about the only case when running shoes and chinos would be an appropriate combination (think mailmen or delivery people who don't wear whole uniforms).

I'm not trying to discourage you from making your feet feel comfortable, but there is a whole host of casual shoes out there just waiting for you to try them on. Brown leather loafers, canvas sneakers, classic wingtips, Venetian-style heeled slip-ons and even basketball shoes go better with straight pants than anything pronouncedly athletic.

The nerd uniform you are describing is great for fitting in but I'm not sure what signal does it carry to people who are not a part of that particular group. It might be seen not too professional or classy, but on the other hand it could carry an additional vibe of 'hyperfocused genius too engrossed in his pursuits to care'... or not.

Whichever the case, I'd suggest you go look around and invest in a nice, comfortable pair of alternative shoes, if only in the name of scientific curiosity. See if you can observe any changes in either the attitudes of your colleagues or the wellbeing of your feet. My hypothesis: moderate to strong improvement in both.
posted by Orchestra at 6:57 AM on September 22, 2009


I've seen this look in the southern USA for at least 15 years or so and it still has its proponents. Maybe it's a regionalism? Not sure where you're located.

The places I've most commonly seen this are on college fraternity members who are also equally likely to mix tucked button-up shirts and khaki shorts and flip flops, as well as on well-off, WASP-y businessmen looking to roll up their sleeves and be outdoors for something like a BBQ or watch a football game. That sort of thing.

I haven't seen in worn regularly in any workplaces, though.
posted by empyrean at 7:00 AM on September 22, 2009


Geeks can look cool too. I don't think anyone over 22 ever looked down on someone for being less of fashion victim than the rest of the herd, so please do get some comfortable but classy shoes. I think your best choice for dressy sneakers is Steve Madden, but there are plenty of good plain sturdy joints from Aldos or even Vans too.

Let me put it this way: In offices, there are geeks who fix your computer and wear 90s t-shirts and pleated khakis and oxfords and trainers, and then there are geeks who wear grey shirts black chinos and Jack Purcells who run their own departments. Which do you want to be?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:01 AM on September 22, 2009


Additional advice: Don't ever argue with a woman about what clothing you should wear. They are always right.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:02 AM on September 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


So, you're telling me that you pretty much dress like Moss from the IT Crowd (left) sans tie, and you're wondering if this is a fashion don't?

Certainly, if you're looking to go from contract work to full time employee, I understand the attempt to game the system. However, I would only go with the sneakers if I was also looking to work mindless, thankless hours asking people to restart their computers over the phone in a basement with a slob and a crazy woman.
posted by Mizu at 7:04 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I work in a tech company, were the average age is somewhere between 20 and 30 (I'm way older) - and was just noticing some of the twentysomething guys have taken to the khakis, shirt-and-tie, and sneakers look. Not dirty grass stained sneakers, mind you, but big puffy brand new shiny sneakers (probably with big puffy price tags) - and I was trying to figure out if this was irony, fashion, cluelessness, or a combination of all three. We have no dress code other than "no shorts" so I'm guessing this is fashion. Even the engineers at my workplace tend to be a trendy bunch.

So I think with "cool" sneakers, or with Converse as ElmerFishpaw mentioned above, this look can be pulled off with style. Maybe.
posted by chez shoes at 7:05 AM on September 22, 2009


Clarks baby, go get you some Clarks, casual, comfortable adult shoes. I've always found that the way you dress should reflect your respect for the situation, not how you feel about what other people are wearing.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:07 AM on September 22, 2009


Response by poster: FYI: It isn't just the non-comfort, it's also the basic stupidity. The purpose of shoes is to be a barrier to the elements. Having to put an additional barrier on the barrier (or switch to boots) to walk out to my car in the winter/rain seems dumb, to say the least. And of course I can't take the shortcut through the trees if I care about how clean my shoes are when I get here.
posted by DU at 7:08 AM on September 22, 2009


My significant other works in a laid-back, nerdy environment, and often wears jeans to work, but he never wears running shoes. What he does is wear casual shoes from brands such as Tsubo or Diesel, in black. The black color and the thinner soles make them look more polished than regular running shoes. When a bit dressier shoes are needed, the leather Blundstone elastic side boots come out. The very neutral styling just makes it clear he is wearing shoes and makes them unnoticeable otherwise. They're also great for tramping through woods and wearing in all kinds of weather, as long as you take care of them by polishing the leather occasionally.
posted by needled at 7:12 AM on September 22, 2009


DU, There are probably at least a dozen pairs of shoes under most desks simply for the reason you just stated. Bring a good pair of deck shoes, or loafers, and leave them at work. Ditch the white socks. They are for the Gym, and never for the office.
posted by Gungho at 7:14 AM on September 22, 2009


I don't get the last comment. leather shoes are actually pretty hardy and easy to clean.

most of the ones posted above rare mega dorky though.
posted by mary8nne at 7:18 AM on September 22, 2009


Do you wear grass-stained pants to work? Shoes are part of what your outfit. If you are going to the bother of wearing clean clothes to work, you should also have clean shoes.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:19 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The purpose of shoes is to be a barrier to the elements. Having to put an additional barrier on the barrier (or switch to boots) to walk out to my car in the winter/rain seems dumb

I don't think that will be a problem.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on September 22, 2009


Um. DU... You are a smart, intelligent guy who I look routinely to for both insightful and funny comments. If you are surrounded by your peers, I can probably assume that you hold some level of credibility and respect in their eyes.

With that said, your peers are not looking at your shoes. Your managers may be, but still - that is not their principal concern. Skill, insight and personal interaction are what will score you points.

What this means: if your shoes make you feel uncomfortable, change them - but you should change them so that your peers recognize that you treat them with equal or more respect. Honestly, on dress down days (no meetings, holed behind my desk running querries) I'm in sneakers or barefoot - but the second I intend to go out and interract - even if only for one one-hour meeting - I make sure I pick a nice shirt, possibly dress pants, and always good shoes.

Here's my scale:
CEO: Jacket, Tie, Pressed Dress Shirt, Polished dress shoes
VP: Tie, Pressed Dress Shirt, unpolished dress shoes
Director: Dress Shirt, unpolished dress shoes
Manager: Dress Shirt, Jeans, my tier 2 shoes (dockers). If I'm defending something, pressed dress pants instead of Jeans and I'll put on the dress shoes.
Coworkers: Golf Shirt (what the heck are they called - I don't play golf), Jeans, dockers
Desk Jockey: Golf Shirt, Jeans, Sketchers (and I'll kick these off if nobody is around)
Telecommuting: T-shirt, shorts, sandals and a todler squirming on my lap...

When in doubt, dress up.

My wife has final veto on anything I wear out.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:29 AM on September 22, 2009


If you really want to hang on to a more casual sneaker look instead of adopting a more standard "business casual" type leather lace-up/oxford, I would recommend at least ditching the Jerry Seinfeld (per mary8nne) look that white or white-and-accent-color running shoes or cross-trainers conjure up in my mind, and, presumably, the mind of your wife.

Cole Haan, as mentioned above, offers this style, which is undeniably sneaker-y, but:
a) Has a profile more like a dress shoe, with simple lines and a longer, leaner look
b) Doesn't look too complicated, or have a lot of high-contrast detailing, and
c) Comes in dark colors, which typically imply more professionalism.

See also: this, this, this ain't bad, and this, although the fat sole personally gives me some miniature willies. I also think many of the suggestions above are totally workable.
posted by dorothy humbird at 7:37 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth:

Comfort is of prime importance to me, but I can find comfortable shoes in all styles.

I have some all-black Diesel "running" shoes that go well with jeans as well as slacks, simply because their blackness keeps them from calling attention to themselves. I also have tassled leather loafers that look great with jeans and slacks, and are very comfortable. Rockport Dressport wing-tips are as comfy as any sneaker and are great for dressier slacks. I also have "jeans-only" shoes, such as Chuck Taylors and numerous pairs of shoes in varying casual styles.

To me, white or light-colored athletic shoes look dated even with jeans, unless you are a nurse, or running. When new and clean, they call too much attention to themselves and look like floor-level UFOs. When broken in, they look dirty and sloppy and smelly.

The point is, with so many choices available, including darker / neutral colored athletic shoes, there is no reason to see how close to the precipice of nerddom you can come. Step away from the edge, man! Just step away!
posted by The Deej at 7:40 AM on September 22, 2009


Response by poster: The purpose of shoes is to be a barrier to the elements. Having to put an additional barrier on the barrier (or switch to boots) to walk out to my car in the winter/rain seems dumb

I don't think that will be a problem.


I routinely have to shovel 6" or more of snow off of and around from the car in the morning at my house. This also happens at work more than once per winter.

And I just remembered: I only wear sneakers in the spring, summer and fall. In the winter I wear steel-toed boots. (Not for warmth so much as the high tops to prevent snow fall-in.) Even I wouldn't wear those boots with my current pants and shirt, so I guess I'm converted to a Superficial Person Who Cares About Shoes Outside Of Their Functional Parameters against my will. (Present company excluded, of course.) *sigh*
posted by DU at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2009


This does not have to be as hard as you are making it. Easy basic ensemble from our friends at J.Crew, which you should be able to find at your local shopping mall:

Men's Solid Pinpoint Oxford
Classic Fit Essential Chino (important note: you don't want to be wearing big baggy pants with tons of pockets and such to work)
Leather Dress Belt

Now for shoes. I have screwed this up multiple times, and learned a very valuable lesson: DO NOT BUY CHEAP LEATHER SHOES. They are uncomfortable, and inevitably wear out after a less than a year. You can't go wrong with a basic cap-toe, well-made shoe. Allen-Edmonds is an awesome brand that isn't horribly expensive (you can find them on sale everywhere) and is very high quality. Try these for starters:

Allen-Edmonds Park Avenue Merlot Brown

A final note: I have worked as a "go-between" between programmers/IT types, and business leaders. The business people had a very hard time taking the techies seriously, simply because of the way they dressed. They saw their "business" dress as embarrassing and disrespectful of the company. Honestly, I agreed. No one expected them to be the fashion paragons of the office, but their manner of dress almost seemed to express a desire to be treated like a high school student.

In short, wear decent clothes, even if it is "too uncomfortable". Suck it up and be a man. Wear leather shoes. Ditch the polos and wear an oxford shirt (roll up the sleeves if you must). Dress like you are a professional.
posted by suburbanrobot at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, no, no, no no. Your wife is right. Running shoes (presumably white?) with white athletic socks are probably the worst thing you can wear with dress pants next to socks and sandals (socks and sandals being egregious regardless of what they're worn with).

The engineers who dress that way dress that way because they don't know how to dress themselves. They don't care or notice what you wear because they are too blind to fashion. It's not geek cred.
I know lots of engineers and tech people who can manage to find a pair of shoes that don't clash horribly with their pants. If you want to avoid dress shoes, wear fashionable sneakers, specifically ones that you would not wear to a gym. Street sneakers (like Pumas, Asics Tigers, etc.) that are a color other than white, or Chuck Taylors are shoes that come to mind that would be great alternatives. There are also dressier sneakers that are leather and border between dress and sneaker. The key with all of these is not bulky.
These shoes are all just as comfortable as running shoes but look about a million times better.
posted by ishotjr at 7:42 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh and get some socks that are not white. Gray, black, brown, beige, mustard, etc. are neutral colors you can wear that look way better than white. Cotton is fine, just not white.
posted by ishotjr at 7:43 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The New Balance outdoor walking range includes some with shoe-like brown or black leather uppers but practical sneaker-like soles. They might look reasonably acceptable to the human world, but nevertheless include stealth practicality.

They're generally also made in the US or Europe by non-slave-labour, and have wider width fittings.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:46 AM on September 22, 2009


By the way, I know that some of my post was off-topic above, and this is really about shoes. I forgot to address a point that you made, namely that shoes are a strictly functional item, and nothing further. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. What you wear, including on your feet, makes a statement about how you feel about your job, whether you think that they should or not. "Dressy sneakers" are terrible, and are no better than normal sneakers. The point is to come in and look like a professional. Wear professional shoes.
posted by suburbanrobot at 7:48 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


FYI: It isn't just the non-comfort, it's also the basic stupidity. The purpose of shoes is to be a barrier to the elements. Having to put an additional barrier on the barrier (or switch to boots) to walk out to my car in the winter/rain seems dumb, to say the least.

Then why even bother wearing something other than your gross sweatpants and an old ratty flannel shirt? The purpose of clothing is to be a barrier to the elements. And prevent being nude and flashing in public. And yet you've recognized the need to bring your clothing appearance up one level from the tattered flannel, in order to secure your place of employment during an incredibly difficult economic situation.

Since you're already trying to make a slightly better impression, buy some damn work shoes. They can be Rockport leather shoes (they make slightly fashionable ones), those Clark boots that all the guys wear, a pair of Diesel leather sneakers, a pair of Kenneth Cole brown shoes. These do not have to be $200 loafers. There are a wide variety of shoes that are not dirty running shoes and not high-end lawyer shoes.

Why would you wear grass-stained, sweaty, dirty, about-to-go-for-a-jog-or-maybe-mow-the-lawn shoes if you're trying to make a good impression (not just keep the status quo) in an office environment?

It seems like you're being obstinate on this point for some other reason. If it is raining, you do not have to remove those work shoes to dash to your car. If it is slushy out, you might want to bring along a pair of galoshes -- the same way you might already be bringing a large parka to shield your clothes from the weather.

And I suspect it would behoove you to have one pair of OK shoes. Funerals happen. Baby showers happen. It doesn't hurt you to look decent!
posted by barnone at 7:48 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The purpose of shoes is to be a barrier to the elements.

If you want to wear grass-stained tennis shoes, wear them. But, you know that's not a good argument. By the same token, you wear clothes to hide your nakedness, and to protect you from the elements in the cube farm. So, a bathrobe would be fine... and yet, you know it's not.

Your wife knows you, knows your company, knows your goals. She gasped and mocked. I'd take her advice, and just find some other shoes.

Personally, I don't think anyone will say, "We'd like to bring him from contractor to employee, except I'm worried because he doesn't wear grass-stained tennis shoes." On the other hand, I can see a manager thinking, "He does good work, but he's so sloppy that I wonder how that might bleed over into other things. Maybe we'll keep him as a contractor for a bit longer, just to see."
posted by Houstonian at 7:54 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I don't wear sweatpants to work because a) I'd probably get Talked To and b) they aren't really that comfortable. Too floppy and insufficient pockets.

Also, I don't wear a parka to shield my *clothes*. What an odd thing to do. I wear a parka to keep *my body* warm and dry.

Anyway, I can see the balance of opinion is against me. Which I should have expected, since "dressing up" is a conformist thing to begin with.

More to the point, practicality is against me: I can't switch to boots and sneakers are just as impractical as "nice" shoes in the winter. Ah well, what's another dip in self-respect to feed my family?
posted by DU at 7:54 AM on September 22, 2009


But in fact I'm a contractor trying to get hired on as a regular employee.

I still think it's probably a good idea to take your cues from management. As a (very) general rule, management likes to hire employees who are similar to them. If there's a significant difference between the way management dresses and the way regular employees dress, though, and you're worried about looking like you wouldn't fit in, I'd say try to find the middle ground between regular employees and management. If there is a strong divide between management and employees in terms of casualness, I would guess the middle ground does not include grass-stained white sneakers as office wear.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:54 AM on September 22, 2009


I just wanted to add that I really feel ya. I once had a job at a place where women had to wear a skirt and hose. Yes, in this day and age they were concerned more about legs than brains. But those were the rules, take it or leave it. Look, the job market is crap, and engineering (unless civil) has taken a real dive. Do what you can to get a permanent job.
posted by Houstonian at 8:02 AM on September 22, 2009


There is a whole class of shoe that is comfortable and more weatherproof than sneakers that will give you a dressier look. Here's an example, for only $34.50.

I think dress shoes are too dressy for your 'look'. You can split the difference with a pair of comfy, dark-colored Rockports, Clarks, Sperrys, or Merrells.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:02 AM on September 22, 2009


I'm going to quote this Richard Hamming article again. It's about You and Your Research, but there's a paragraph that's stuck with me:

Another personality defect is ego assertion and I'll speak in this case of my own experience. I came from Los Alamos and in the early days I was using a machine in New York at 590 Madison Avenue where we merely rented time. I was still dressing in western clothes, big slash pockets, a bolo and all those things. I vaguely noticed that I was not getting as good service as other people. So I set out to measure. You came in and you waited for your turn; I felt I was not getting a fair deal. I said to myself, ``Why? No Vice President at IBM said, `Give Hamming a bad time'. It is the secretaries at the bottom who are doing this. When a slot appears, they'll rush to find someone to slip in, but they go out and find somebody else. Now, why? I haven't mistreated them.'' Answer, I wasn't dressing the way they felt somebody in that situation should. It came down to just that - I wasn't dressing properly. I had to make the decision - was I going to assert my ego and dress the way I wanted to and have it steadily drain my effort from my professional life, or was I going to appear to conform better? I decided I would make an effort to appear to conform properly. The moment I did, I got much better service. And now, as an old colorful character, I get better service than other people.

You should dress according to the expectations of the audience spoken to. If I am going to give an address at the MIT computer center, I dress with a bolo and an old corduroy jacket or something else. I know enough not to let my clothes, my appearance, my manners get in the way of what I care about. An enormous number of scientists feel they must assert their ego and do their thing their way. They have got to be able to do this, that, or the other thing, and they pay a steady price.

John Tukey almost always dressed very casually. He would go into an important office and it would take a long time before the other fellow realized that this is a first-class man and he had better listen. For a long time John has had to overcome this kind of hostility. It's wasted effort! I didn't say you should conform; I said ``The appearance of conforming gets you a long way.'' If you chose to assert your ego in any number of ways, ``I am going to do it my way,'' you pay a small steady price throughout the whole of your professional career. And this, over a whole lifetime, adds up to an enormous amount of needless trouble.

posted by Comrade_robot at 8:05 AM on September 22, 2009 [16 favorites]


This question seems like you are just having a debate with us that you could have had with your wife. Yes, white sneakers at work with khakis is a fashion don't. Yes, engineers/developers do this, because they don't know better or don't care. No, fitting in with them is not a good thing — you want to look better than them. No, bad-looking sneakers are not the only functional shoes that exist.
posted by smackfu at 8:12 AM on September 22, 2009


Response by poster: To be clear, the reason I choose sneakers (in season) is that I'm optimizing for a particular set of variables. But the reason I'm angry about having to change is not because of the different set of variables. It's because the set of variables is not my own. Why are we in a world where a corporation can decide minutia of people's lives such as style of shoe? It's Dickensian.

But I guess I'll "win" in the end. If/when they do convert me, my plan is to go back to jeans and sneakers. Not on the first day--that'd be too obvious. But slowly over 3-6 months, I'll dress down and down until I'm back at my own variables. MUAHAHAHA!
posted by DU at 8:14 AM on September 22, 2009


It seems like your current outfit fits in with the office culture, but definitely wear clean shoes. Grass stains say you don't care.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:17 AM on September 22, 2009


Why are we in a world where a corporation can decide minutia of people's lives such as style of shoe?

Don't take this the wrong way, but I had this kind of arguments with my parents as a teenager when they were trying to make me wear nice clothes.
posted by smackfu at 8:20 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Right now I am browsing People of Walmart. Is that what you want for yourself?

You can be a rebel without looking like shit; there are third paths here.
posted by kmennie at 8:23 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Don't take this the wrong way, but I had this kind of arguments with my parents as a teenager when they were trying to make me wear nice clothes.

Fallacy of Poisoning the Well.

Also, this reminds me that when The Clothes appeared at home, my oldest boys (10 and 8) asked WTF. My explanation was, pretty much verbatim: "Sometimes you have to do what everyone else is doing, even if what everyone else is doing is stupid."

I haven't heard any argument better than that in this thread. "They can be 'just as' comfortable" is an excuse, not an explanation. "You'll get respect" is just another way of saying the same thing.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on September 22, 2009


But the reason I'm angry about having to change...

Dude. You ain't gotsta do nuthin'.
posted by The Deej at 8:37 AM on September 22, 2009


I haven't heard any argument better than that in this thread. "They can be 'just as' comfortable" is an excuse, not an explanation. "You'll get respect" is just another way of saying the same thing.

No one is putting a gun to your head. You asked if the sneakers were a fashion don't. The answer is a nigh-unanimous yes. You also asked "Do [the other nerds] provide me with enough cover to get away with continuing to wear the shoes I prefer?" The answer is a nigh-unanimous no.

Dress however you want. But don't expect anyone to be impressed by it. Sorry, DU.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:42 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's no point in "dressing up" if you're going to wear those shoes. You are no longer dressed up with those shoes; in fact, you probably look less nice because the shoes now stick out more and are more jarring. If you're going to wear those shoes, dress with clothes that match. If your'e going to wear semi-nice clothes, dress with shoes that match.
posted by spaltavian at 8:42 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I can see the balance of opinion is against me. Which I should have expected, since "dressing up" is a conformist thing to begin with.

Seriously, dude, there's no point in asking the question if you already know the answer and don't want to hear it anyway.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:44 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Dress however you want. But don't expect anyone to be impressed by it.

Errr....that's exactly my point? I would prefer to be able to expect no one to be impressed (either positively or negatively) by my clothes. Furthermore, even if that expectation is false, I would prefer to be able to make the choice I want without suffering economic consequences.
posted by DU at 8:44 AM on September 22, 2009


Additional advice: Don't ever argue with a woman about what clothing you should wear. They are always right.

Having a woman look at you before you leave the house is like having access to a magic mirror from a fairy-tale who can tell you exactly what is wrong and, if necessary, bar your exit until you agree to change.
posted by hermitosis at 8:45 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can I take the focus away from the shoes for a moment to briefly mention that your khaki chino trousers will look a brazillion times better if they're flat-front? I don't know why they make pleated-front ones. They don't look good on anyone. They look like mom jeans. They look like loose baggy abdomen skin after a profound weight loss. They make even the skinniest person look like he's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from the waist down, getting pinched in the middle like a balloon animal. Pleated-front pouffy pants do nothing but call attention to the groinal area by making it look unnaturally overstuffed and fat in a manner that does not correspond to human anatomy. The flat front ones, on the other hand, make everyone look good, whether lean or big.

That's my public service announcement for the day.
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:48 AM on September 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think I understand why you're having such a strong reaction to the responses here. We're not talking about the same question. The question that most people are answering is "Would wearing different shoes make my bosses more likely to hire me on full time, and if so, what kind of shoes should I be wearing?" But in fact, the question you want answered is, "Fashion conventions are a tool that THE MAN and my wife are using to keep me down, AMIRITE?!?!?"

Look, the bottom line is that people (not just corporate tools, but everyone) make judgments about you based on the way you choose to present yourself. You alluded to this yourself when you insinuated that fellow geeks might take you more seriously if you dressed like a stereotypical geek. So clearly, you understand that this is true. It seems as though you're not annoyed that people judge one another based on manner of dress so much as you're annoyed that they don't use the same metrics you do to judge. You judge clothing based on how well it protects you from the elements, how well it stores your stuff, etc. Other people judge clothing, at least in part, based on whether it is aesthetically pleasing to them.

There are plenty of clothes you can wear that meet your utilitarian requirements and also conform to standard fashions. Many people have suggested them. If you believe that you'll have achieved VICTORY! when you get hired and then switch back to grubby clothes rather than wearing clothes that both serve your needs and look good to others, well, guess what, you're making a fashion statement. Unless you honestly prefer the way that white sneakers and socks look, you're essentially clinging to them in an effort to win some battle that no one other than you is fighting. And that's your right. But then you don't get to complain when you get pigeonholed and denied advancement opportunities based on your choice to be a rebel who stands up for the right to wear ugly shoes.
posted by decathecting at 8:50 AM on September 22, 2009 [38 favorites]


I would prefer to be able to expect no one to be impressed (either positively or negatively) by my clothes.

Well, you're kind of splitting hairs there on "impressed." People will look down at you if you are dressed like a goofball.

Furthermore, even if that expectation is false, I would prefer to be able to make the choice I want without suffering economic consequences.

Life does not work that way. This is The Way Things Are. You can rage against it, and you can form an organization dedicated to fighting it, and maybe one day you will be successful, and Dockers and big puffy sneakers will be just fine for professionals to wear. but until that day comes, you can't have it both ways. Dress like a professional and get treated like one, or dress like a member of the Geek Squad and get treated like one.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:53 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would prefer to be able to make the choice I want without suffering economic consequences.

You could always see if telecommuting is an option...
posted by hermitosis at 8:54 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I can see the balance of opinion is against me. Which I should have expected, since "dressing up" is a conformist thing to begin with.

Subtly Insult all the people who gave you advice? Classy.
posted by knave at 9:05 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


You are asking about fashion, and then complaining that the things people are talking about are arbitrary, not strictly functional, and essentially herd mentality.

Well, yes. Fashion is like that. There's some basis in functionality, but it is to some extent arbitrary and dictated by what's popular. It is what it is.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:10 AM on September 22, 2009


Boots for autumn and winter, longwing derbies for spring and summer. Your wife will look at you in a whole new way ;-)
posted by col at 9:12 AM on September 22, 2009


running shoes aren't really acceptable with dressier clothes. It's a bit of a funny situation actually, because you sort of set the level yourself by what you wear on the rest of your body. At certain jobs you can be fine in jeans, runners and a t-shirt, but you'll still look out of place in slacks, runners and a button-down.

this doesn't mean you need to wear a pair of fancy dress shoes though. Consider getting a nice pair of modern casual shoes. Something like this or this
posted by 256 at 9:22 AM on September 22, 2009


To more directly answer the question: like many things, there is not a black or white answer. Is your effort "good enough"? Depends on what your goals are, and the culture of the place. I'm on the west coast, and I suspect shoes are much more important to, say, people in New York vice Los Angeles. Are you trying simply to not get fired? You say it's reluctant, so someone probably asked you to do this. Is wearing sneakers more important than looking well-dressed to you? That's fine if it is, but you have to make your own choice and deal with the consequences.

We're telling you that the sneakers are generally considered not good with that outfit, since you asked that question. You can now decide to wear sneakers anyway and deal with the consequences, if any. There may not be--plenty of people do it. It doesn't look great, but they still do it.

I just noticed you seemed to ask two questions, possibly confusing people:

Fashion Don't?

and

Do they provide me with enough cover to get away with continuing to wear the shoes I prefer?

Yes, they 're a Don't. Also, yes--if other people are wearing sneakers there it is likely you can "get away" with wearing sneakers. If your goal is to look good, then wearing sneakers will not really help you there. If your goal is to wear sneakers, we don't really know the circumstances that caused you to start dressing up. Certainly you could wear sneakers. You could wear Speedos, dress in drag, or wear a tux, too. I don't know if you're trying to fit in, or trying to satisfy a boss, or trying to impress a customer, or trying not to get laughed at, or whatever. Without knowing why you're doing it we can't tell you if you can "get away" with it.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:27 AM on September 22, 2009


Have you guys been contractors?

Yes, DU, you're right -- you want to look like the permanent employees doing your job. You want to fit-in with those employees, to be part of One Big Happy Family. You don't want the permanent people to view you as some eager beaver trying to be better than them. Why? Because management wants the guy who's the best fit for the existing department, not the special snowflake who pumps out an extra 4 blivets a day but makes everybody uncomfortable (leading to fewer blivets department-wide). You want to work a little harder, to be a little better, than the permanent employees, but make it invisible to them so they don't resent you. So they all wear saris and hip-boots? You wear a sari and hip boots. They wear pasties and parachute pants? You wear pasties and parachute pants. They all trade youtube videos and talk about Mad Men at work? You do that, too... but not quite as much.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:27 AM on September 22, 2009


Dirty sneakers to the office? Eww. No.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:32 AM on September 22, 2009


By the way, a lot of people (men and women) judge others by their shoes:

As soon as he got through the formalities at the airport, he perceived that the Philippines are, like Mexico, one of those countries where Shoes Matter.

Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon


I make no case on whether this is logical, or fair, or whatever. But it does not change the fact that clothing does affect others' opinions of you. You can choose to ignore this, or you can choose to use it to your advantage.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:34 AM on September 22, 2009


A useful website for finding shoes that fit a particular spec is Modista, which is also run by a mefite. You can go to their men's shoes page and see which of the shoes they present is closest to how you'd like to split the difference (dressy enough but not too dressy), click on it, and it will give you a page full of choices similar to that first pair.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:44 AM on September 22, 2009


Fashion, like grammar, is a tool. You can use it to blend in, or you can use it to stand out.

I personally like the look of the untucked button-down over a plain T-shirt with chinos (which are the grey and blue and even green kinds of khaki-esque pants) or khakis. As for shoes, I think a pair of somewhat interesting (colored) sneakers would complement the look. But I draw the line at white sweat socks. You need to wear real socks to keep the entire look from jarring the eye.

If you are wearing white (or black) sneakers with white sweat socks, you're standing out in a negative way. Yeah, it sucks. But that's the way things are. People perceive having a fashion sense, however relaxed it may be, as having a kind of common sense.
posted by brina at 9:45 AM on September 22, 2009


PS. In the fall and winter you can also wear leather boots that are both serviceable and attractive, and that go along with the look. I suppose it would be much easier to shovel snow in boots than in a pair of Diesel sneakers.
posted by brina at 9:49 AM on September 22, 2009


I honestly wear my Allen Edmonds Park Avenues around more than my sneakers by choice now. They're quite comfortable and most importantly look so good they upgrade whatever pants I'm wearing to another level.

Something about your attitude rankles me. A lot of people wear ratty sneakers with dress clothes because they don't know better; You seem to want to commit fashion suicide to project your ego. It's not a battle worth fighting, really.
posted by spatula at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


You could try hiking boots/shoes - feel like sneakers, look more "serious".
posted by Billegible at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2009


You're dressing like the stereotypical engineer and you're whining about how you don't want to conform? Oh please.

Conformity is wearing an Armani suit just because everyone else does. Conformity is not dressing in a socially-accepted professional way. If you're so concerned, wear different color pants (I love charcoal grey) and a shirt with some sort of pattern (stripes never killed anyone) so you stick out from the blue-shirted, kahki-panted masses. But bothering to dress like a grownup is simple professionalism, not The Man keeping you down.
posted by olinerd at 10:11 AM on September 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think the dirty sneakers and jeans is more of a computer programmer thing. Those of us who work at actual engineering firms have to dress pretty well. I've worked at old school firms where ties were mandatory, but the dress code for most engineers isn't too far from that.
posted by electroboy at 10:21 AM on September 22, 2009


Having a woman look at you before you leave the house is like having access to a magic mirror from a fairy-tale who can tell you exactly what is wrong and, if necessary, bar your exit until you agree to change.

Jesus. I can barely manage to keep track of how I as a lady am supposed to dress without violating major rules and now I'm supposed to monitor men's fashion rules for my partner as well? Next you'll be telling me that people really do judge me more than him when they visit and the apartment isn't clean.

Nonetheless, even I know you shouldn't wear grass-stained sneakers to the office.
posted by yarrow at 10:31 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyway, I can see the balance of opinion is against me. Which I should have expected, since "dressing up" is a conformist thing to begin with.

Unlike going to college, getting a job and getting married.

Maybe you should have asked your second question first. Yes, there doesn't seem to be any rule at your job against wearing sneakers and the other people doing it give you enough cover.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:34 AM on September 22, 2009


"Sometimes you have to do what everyone else is doing, even if what everyone else is doing is stupid."


Good advice! You should listen to whomever said this.

Really, you are listening to someone who regularly wears socks with sandals and/or pants that are unfashionably short so that people can see my socks. I really like socks. I got a job where no one really cares. I guess that's another option for you?
posted by kathrineg at 10:37 AM on September 22, 2009


It depends on the sneakers. Jack Purcells go well with khakis.

Otherwise, Cole-Haan, or try a driving shoe from Tod's or GEOX (or Cole-Haan).
posted by Zambrano at 10:39 AM on September 22, 2009


Please feel free to examine how much your current style of dress contributes to your self-respect, and if that amount of identification with your clothing is worth the pay-off in terms of happiness.

Maybe you could wear some really funky underwear, some crazy shit with writing on the butt, made out of silk, the boxers with elephant ears on the side of the fly, whatever. FUCK THEM, man, you can still wear what you want...
posted by kathrineg at 10:40 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Additionally, a lot of women (possibly including your wife) won't sympathize with you too much, many of us would KILL to be able to wear normal socks to an office, not to mention hairy legs.

I mean, pantyhose, what the fuck.
posted by kathrineg at 10:43 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


All I can offer, and it has been said before: Get some nice looking shoes. Take the wife (or someone whose fashion sense you trust/admire) with you to a nice department store. Find a shoe that fits well and looks nice, then go home and buy it from Zappos. I would suggest a simple black shoe with a finish smooth enough to wipe off but not where you have to polish it every day (or even week. Month is probably appropriate. Then again, if you take the shortcut through the trees everyday, maybe you should do it every week. You can get a sponge that makes it really easy). It will have a little bit of a heel. You will be surprised how much more professional you feel when you wear it. Something like this.

For winter, think along the same lines. Something like this or this.

Stay away from khakis. Stay away from pleats. Learn how to press your trousers or get someone to do it for you. White socks are for the gym and vaction. Accept that. When you buy trousers, buy colors that match your shoes, not the other way around. Brown shoes go best with brown (remember no khaki!) or grey or green hues. Black goes with everything (almost).

Sounds like you've got the buttoned and tucked in bit down. If you're not wearing a tie, some solid colored shirts can bring a bit of life to your outfit, but remember, you want to go with Understated. Choose pieces that compliment your hair and skin tone. Select apparel that match and people will notice your outfit, not any particular piece. That is what you're going for.

Get something like Dressing the Man. You don't have to dress to the nines every day, but being comfortable and knowledgeable about how to dress nicely will make all your fashion decisions easier. I wouldn't worry about dressing like the other people in your office. Dress well, and tune it up or down to the appropriate level, and people will notice, and you will notice they treat you differently. And your wife will love it!

And if all this is just too much for you, wear whatever you think is comfortable -- being fashionable is a commitment and it is not for everyone. You have to decide how much effort to put into it. These days, sneakers (trainers) can be fashionable but you have to know what you are doing. Which sneakers are right for any particular person is a fashion Shibboleth of a very high order. Master the classics first.

Finally, here's a trick that might get you back into your nice shoes. Remember those athletic socks that you're not allowed to wear to work? Put on a pair, and then wear a pair of dress socks OVER. If that still doesn't work, bite the bullet and get a nice pair of shoes. The right ones will NOT be uncomfortable.
posted by headless at 11:11 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Get rid of the grass stained sneakers. You come across as a slob. If you want comfortable shoes, I agree with the Sketchers, Keds, Converse or whatever but grass stained running shoes? Slob.
posted by stormpooper at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you want an argument for the practicality of dark-colored shoes over sneakers, consider this: wearing dark shoes will help people focus on your face when they're talking to you instead of "What's that bright shiny thing on the floor?! Oh, it's just this shmoe's white sneakers." Consider it a piece of camouflage for your feet.

Leather shoes are also safer than sneakers! Who wants to be welding and have a hot spark melt the nylon uppers of their trainers to the tops of their feet? You'd have to wear leather spats over your sneaks and that's just so last year.

And if you think having to wear nice shoes is Dickensian - I have to go to Europe in a couple weeks, and they still have a suit+tie dress code. I haven't bought a tie in years, and now I have to go shopping this weekend.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:56 AM on September 22, 2009


Anyway, I can see the balance of opinion is against me. Which I should have expected, since "dressing up" is a conformist thing to begin with.

Why did you ask the question if you didn't want to hear the answer?

Yes, wearing those crappy sneakers is a fashion don't. Yes, you can probably get away with it, if by "get away with it" you mean "won't get in trouble". But you'll look ridiculous.
posted by Justinian at 12:12 PM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Go get some black doc martins.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:05 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


FYI, Clarks Desert Boots are basically Converse All-Star hightops for grown-ups.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 4:29 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Conforming in your situation would be, if I'm reading correctly, dressing in fairly casual clothes and ratty shoes.

You're trying to set yourself apart just slightly so that management takes you seriously--you're not just another average slouchy jeans-and-sneakers-wearing engineer, you're that impressive contractor they should hire full-time. A subtly nicer wardrobe (button down shirt tucked into khakis, casual leather shoes) will have that effect of separating you from the herd of sneaker-wearers shuffling around in their jeans and ratty shoes. You're not giving in to the Man (or anyone else), you're employing a subtle strategy to get what you want long term (permanent employment) rather than what you'd like short term (comfy, dirty sneakers).
posted by Meg_Murry at 4:29 PM on September 22, 2009


Yup, Desert Boots, the choice of nerds everywhere. My issue with sneakers is that most of them make your feet sweat. Get something like Desert Boots or some funky design but in leather or suede. Your feet will thank you.
posted by x46 at 5:29 PM on September 22, 2009


Just throwing this out there:

I get tons of people at my store buying all-black Air Force 1's for work. Especially popular with bartenders, waiters, and hotel doormen. They might not be what you're looking for, but many people do wear sneakers with dressy clothes and get away with it.
posted by clorox at 7:42 PM on September 22, 2009


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