These Stylist-Approved Business Casual Shoes Are Anything But Basic
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THE IMAGE of you striding into the office and oozing confidence at each step of the way can’t be manifested without the right pair of shoes, and no style says “I am the business!” more convincingly than business casual.
Cole Haan's Chief Creative Officer, Scott Patt describes business casual shoes as "footwear dressy enough for client meetings, to just a light day in the office." I.e., they're not your dad’s painful tuxedo shoes; business casual shoes actually bring laid-back coolness to your professional game while keeping your tootsies blister-free. "Oxfords and derbies are tried and true options—and you can never go wrong with a plain toe, wing tip, or cap toe. Loafers have also become increasingly popular as dress casual options ... for a dressier look," adds Patt.
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If you can't wait to leave those uninspiring days of stiff dress shoes behind, our editors have interviewed footwear experts as well as tried and tested ourselves to bring you the 10 best business casual shoes for men that are truly business in the front, party in the back. From slip-on shoes to dress sneakers, our tested and expert-reviewed business casual shoes might even make you want to break into an impromptu dance when no one's looking.
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ØriginalGrand Wingtip Oxford
I’ve been wearing these classic, best-selling Cole Hahn dress sneakers since 2021, to the office or any office-adjacent events—happy hour, client meetings, etc. I love that they’ve got the uppers of dress shoes but the footed of sneakers—it’s the best of both worlds, really. And on more than a few occasions I had to wear these for hours on end, ad their added comfort from the EVA midsole and patented cushioning has never failed me once. And they look incredibly on-point with jeans for a truly business casual vibe.
What Do Experts Say? "They are the perfect blend of a dress shoe silhouette and the comfort of a sneaker. It's one of my favorite pairs of business casual shoes that can take you from a client meeting, to out on the town, and lounging around," says lifestyle influencer Steven Fingar.
Unisex Cloud CVO Deck Sneaker
Here, we have something preppier, more summertime-appropriate, and definitely affordable without being cheap you out. And these have a reputation to uphold: they’re the first non-slip boat shoes ever made, with a grooved rubber outsole that provides high level of traction on slimy surfaces.
While the style of these shoes have endured to this day and look the part for business casual, I was initially skeptical and thought they only looked great with polo shirts in summer, but soon as I got them on sale in the fall of 2021 and donned them with a black blazer and a tie, I stood corrected: the preppy aesthetic naturally complemented a business casual style, and they looked stellar below a pair of chinos.
Comfort-wise, in addition to the traction, the lightweight upper is also breathable, which is why my feet have always been able to stay cool and dry in these, and never clammy.
What Do Experts Say? "In the summer, I favor boat shoes, in particular Sperry Top-Siders. My favorite is the Cloud CVO deck sneakers (navy, white, or birch). The style looks sharp with polo shirts, madras shorts, and Nantucket Reds from Murray’s Toggery Shop,” says Matthew Longcore, Founder of Preppy Handbook Fan Club.
Larson Weejuns Loafer
Our Gear & Commerce Editor has had these OG penny loafers since 2020 and can now firmly stand behind them as the perfect shoe for dressing up even the most casual attire. He started with an all-brown pair but has recently added an all-black for more versatility in his loafer lineup simply because of how dressy, elegant, yet versatile they are. When it comes to business casual, we also love that these fit within the trend of wearing jeans with loafers, but also are foolproof when it comes to chinos and dress pants.
The downside, according to our editor, is that the Larson has an incredibly tough break-in period, so be sure to keep your socks on when wearing them until they are soft enough around the ankle and top of the foot, otherwise, you are in for some serious chafing.
What Do Experts Say? "For a touch of elegance, you can't go wrong with a timeless penny loafer. Penny loafers are the perfect mid-point between casual sneakers and formal Oxfords. The original Weejuns from G.H. Bass is my top pick. These loafers possess an innate style and comfort that is apparent right out of the box," says personal stylist Turner Allen.
Park Avenue Oxford
Although one of the more expensive—and dressier—options on the list, our testing shows that these classic Allen Edmonds are definitely worth the splurge. The look is timeless and classic through and through, and when tested on a suit, we love that it was able to exude sophistication and refinement. Our testings editors were also equally impressed by the quality—which makes up most of the price tag: a calfskin leather that’s guaranteed to last while offering a versatile style that complements any business casual ensemble.
I would, however, limit these Oxfords to dressier occasions, such as for the office or black-tie events. Still, they do not demand a full gang of blazers, dress shirts, and dress trousers for styling.
What Do Experts Say? "These shoes provide exceptional comfort, durability, and breathability. The cap-toe design adds a touch of elegance, making them perfect for both formal and semi-formal occasions," says fashion retail expert Jessica Kats from Soxy.
Light Brown Slip-On
In our testing, we’ve found that suede simply doesn’t miss—it’s simultaneously sophisticated yet easygoing. And Suitsupply’s suede slip-on is truly one of the most versatile shoes in the game. The brown tone can complement any fits, and the design is not busy or distracting for office dress codes. Our favorite part is working these suede slip-ons into our daily wardrobe: whether it’s t-shirts or jeans shorts, they will effortlessly elevate without looking boring.
We were also impressed by their construction which is lightweight and slip-resistant, but the downside is that the support shows itself to be lacking after standing or walking in them for too long. So I personally like to save and wear them only for special events.
What Do Experts Say? "Suitsupply offers a great variety of budget-friendly and quality shoes. For summer, I love a light brown suede loafer like this one. This style is a modern option for someone looking for a bit more stylish option. This style pairs well with lighter colors and fabrics, for the warmer summer months," says personal wardrobe stylist Grace Thomas.
These are a pair of sneakers to the core, and there’s nothing wrong with that for business casual flair. In my several months of styling these, I find that they look the best with a casual blazer-over-jeans fit, but their versatility indeed takes them to infinity and beyond. Recently I started wearing them in warm weather with chino shorts, polo shirts, and no-show socks for hanging out in fancy restaurants and bars, and their minimalist but polished visage always delivered a smart casual vibe.
You shall also rest assured of their comfort. What I love most about them on this front is that the stitching connecting the upper to the sole is tightly done for water resistance, and the insole is made with OrthoLite® Hybrid™ to support your every step.
What Do Experts Say? "Personally, I highly recommend the Capri Low-Top sneakers by Koio. These sneakers boast an ultra-minimal and clean design that complements a wide range of outfits. Besides their versatility, what sets them apart is their affordability compared to the similar styles from brands like Common Projects," says personal stylist Turner Allen.
Suede Driving Loafers
Driving shoes, especially in a moccasin style, naturally lean on the casual—and warm-weather-friendly—side, so these have been one of my default shoes to wear in summer to the office since 2021. I like wearing them with chino shorts and short-sleeve shirts; they’re a little different, yet appropriate for a business casual office. So, stylistically speaking, I’d ranking these as more formal than dress sneakers but much more laid-back than Oxfords, and thus perfect for days where my professional game doesn’t need to be at a 10.
I also love how soft and flexible the fabric of these loafers feels which really brings out the comfort while walking. The lightweight outsole also won’t drag you down. All in all, weekend and Fridays in summer is when I’d like to wear them the most.
What Do Experts Say? "I usually like to pair chinos with these slip-on shoes in suede to keep the look laid-back without going overly casual... The high-quality fabrication makes them feel a bit more formal without sacrificing comfort," says content creator and influencer Joe Weir.
Original Achilles Leather Sneakers
Since Common Projects first introduced the idea of this very premium, minimalist silhouette in 2004, the world hasn't looked back. So, naturally, I had to test out these classics. At first glance, they sure leaned towards the casual side to me, so it was a risk when I decided to wear them with chinos and dress shirts in early 2022, but the worry instantly faded on its own soon as I realized how smart I actually looked in the mirror: the minimalist look keeps them refined, but the signature gold serial number stamped on the back keeps the vibe trendy. And, since they’re a pair of sneakers through and through, the comfort after breaking them in is no joke.
What Do Experts Say? "These shoes have a sleek silhouette and have a minimal design—making them a great shoe to wear with a pair of chinos and a casual dress shirt. They're a staple in my closet, as I can wear them casually around town, out to dinner, or even a quick client meeting at a nearby coffee shop," says lifestyle influencer Steven Fingar.
Step into something comfortable first before you step into success, like in these casual-looking dress shoes that are nothing but supportive and style. Having owned and worn these for a few months, I can say with confidence that these are perhaps the most comfortable dress shoes I’ve ever tested—all thanks to Amberjack’s athletic build. The foam arch support and the TPU outsole are both designed to let your feet move in comfort, and the upper is made with flexible materials.
The construction makes it a pair of dress shoes that won’t tire my feet out, but the overall versatile look for dressing up and down is also a highlight. In addition to an ensemble of button-downs and chinos, I’ve worn it several times with only a fit of t-shirt and jeans, and they still looked killer.
Scoring these on sale a year ago turned out to be one of the best purchase decisions on Amazon I’ve ever made. Style-wise, it’s a smart blend of chukka boots plus sneakers, which I’ve styled with a trucker jacket plus jeans or sweater over pants, and I’m never not satisfied by how it can transition from formal to casual and back and forth, just like that.
But the comfort for walking and being on your feet for hours on end is not to be underestimated, even at this price point: the outsole is light but tough, and absorbs impact to reduce underfoot fatigue; the leather upper is easily broken in; and the sponge insole is as comfortable as it comes.
Lastly, while you might think that because they’re cheap, they’ll wear out easily. Well, that’s a flat-out lie: I’ve even sported these several times during rainy days or on rough terrains, and thus far, there has been no wear, no tear, no stitching coming loose, or any sort of damage.
What Are Business Casual Shoes?
"While it really depends on the level of formality at your particular workplace – especially after a massive return-to-office paired with a hybrid work-from-home schedule, there is a fairly wide variety of definitions of business casual when it comes to shoes," says Luke Grant, the Head of Marketing at Charles Tyrwhitt. And since our office dress code—or business casual dress code—is more blurred and "up to your own discretion" than ever, the definition of business casual shoes is thankfully broadened.
According to Norm Gress, Senior Design Director for Wolverine, business casual shoes can now go beyond the traditional Oxford, chukka, and Chelsea uppers. “Casuals allow for a blend of rugged, comfort, and refined styling. Styles can be more expressive, often transition from work to evening activities, and work well with denim and more casual clothing.”
What Men's Shoes Are Considered Business Casual?
Our experts believe that business casual shoes should be defined by the looks of the shoes, not the styles—i.e., even sneakers can work if they are dressy enough. "I'd say business casual shoes can mean anything between a sneaker and a hard-soled dress shoe, which includes some of my favorite shoes, like moccasins, penny loafers, bluchers, desert boots, driving mocs, and deck shoes," says Michael Sebastian, the Creative Director at Brooks Brothers.
John Peters, the CEO of footwear brand Amberjack echoes and zooms in on the sentiment of "anything works" by suggesting shoes that can work well with slacks, khakis, or suit pants as the best business casual shoes—so please, nothing too funky! "That usually means brown or black lace-up dress shoes, boots, or loafers with a leather or suede upper... nice leather sneakers can definitely work for a more smart casual look," says Peters.
All in all, the look is all that matters. For dress shoes, Oxfords, brogues, derbies, loafers, or even monk strap shoes—so long they look the part, they'll work. For dress boots, chukka boots and Chelsea boots are both no-brainers for business casual shoes
What to Look for in Business Casual Shoes?
Material: "Opt for animal leather versus vegan options when shopping for business casual shoes as they will wear better over time," says personal wardrobe stylist Grace Thomas. Turner Allen, another personal stylist also agrees that leather shoes will always look far more sophisticated than anything else. Suede, however, is also popular for a more casual look.
Construction: When it comes to outsoles, Cole Haan's Chief Creative Officer, Scott Patt believes it all comes down to personal preference. "Hybrid soles inspired by sneakers, taller heights, and lower heights, as well as options with a classic heel, rolled heel, or wedge sole are all appropriate," he says. While Patt does recommend leather uppers as the safest bet for elevating a look, for warmer days, he believes fabric uppers could be a more breathable alternative.
Comfort: "If you’re on your feet all day, try to avoid shoes with leather stacked heels as they provide little cushioning," says John Peters. So it's important to look for a good insole with arch support and a supportive rubber or EVA outsole.
Color: "If your workplace is more formal, choose black. If your workplace is more casual, choose brown or brown suede," says personal stylist Patrick Kenger. Thomas also says that black or brown is a versatile shade that will pair with most business casual outfits.
How We Selected
To curate the best business casual shoes for men, our editors and writers have personally tried on and tested a variety of styles, such as attending casual weekend hang-outs in Cole Haan's dress sneakers to the office, sporting Allen Edmonds' oxfords to a formal event, or commuting in and wearing Amberjack's dress shoes to the office.
Then, our testing editors narrowed the selection by evaluating these tried-on business casual shoes based on their style, comfort, price point, performance, and versatility. We also considered tested recommendations of business casual shoes from style experts such as stylists and fashion influencers.
In addition, our selection focuses not on trendy or trend-chasing shoes; instead, our picks of the best business casual shoes for men all fit great athletic guys, provide great value and performance at reasonable price points, and come in styles that will look great years from now.
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Why Trust Us?
At Men’s Health, our testing editors and writers always make sure to actually test and use the products ourselves before considering whether to include them. Therefore, rest assured that our product recommendations derive from first-hand experience, and you can read more about our testing process here.
In addition, we have a whole fashion closet in our NYC office dedicated to calling in, trying out, and selecting the best and newest menswear products. We put them on stylish, fit guys to hear their opinions and see how the items look on them before making our final decision. And as style editors, we constantly go into the fashion closet to feel a product’s materials—even put it on ourselves for a spin—to test it.
Lastly, you can trust our opinions on shopping recommendations, whether it’s the products, styling tips, or trends. Not only do we have Fashion Director Ted Stafford and Deputy Editor, Commerce Christian Gollyan, but we also have a panel of style experts—including stylists, fashion influencers, designers, etc.—whom we regularly seek shopping guides from. Therefore, our product recommendations and buying tips are all driven by professional, expert opinions.
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