Are Converse and Vans Business Casual Shoes?

So you’re starting a new job on Monday, and the dress code for the job is “business casual”. Your manager placed an emphasis on a collared shirt, but nothing else was specified.

You’re considering wearing a pair of Converse or Vans, but are they business casual?

Canvas shoes, like Converse and Vans shoes, are not business casual. While “business casual” may mean different things in different companies, one thing is clear: canvas shoes like Converse and Vans are considered casual sneakers.

If you are unsure of what shoes you should wear, stick around to get the best recommendation for your first day at the office.

In this post, we will answer everything you need to know about the question: are Converse and Vans considered business casual shoes?

What is Business Casual?

Business casual attire is somewhat confusing since there is no standardized definition. In fact, the term “business casual” may mean different things in different workplaces.

However, business casual is best defined as a dress code that blends traditional business outfits with a more relaxed style, yet still professional enough for the office.

Another way to think of business casual is a hybrid of business professional and casual wear.

For men, business casual can mean:

  1. Shirts and sweaters in a variety of colors and patterns.
  2. Slacks or corduroy pants.
  3. Relaxed but elegant shoes.

For women, business casual can mean:

  1. Short-sleeved tops, maybe with vests.
  2. Fashionable combinations of tops, vests, and skirts.
  3. Open toe shoes.

When in doubt, it’s better to dress too formally, rather than too casually.

According to The Balance Careersit’s not appropriate to wear a t-shirt, ripped jeans, worn-down sneakers, or flip-flops when the attire is business casual.

Remember the “business” part of business casual, and leave your old comfortable clothes at home. As a matter of fact, not only should you wear leather shoes, but you should aim to have your clothes ironed and delinted, along with neatly groomed facial hair.

Are Converse and Vans Business Casual Shoes?

The key thing to remember is that business casual shoes are not casual. In most cases, you can eliminate worn jeans and canvas sneakers, like Converse and Vans, right away.

That said, let’s explore some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding Chuck Taylors and Vans as business casual footwear:

1. Can I wear Converse or Vans for business casual?

You can wear Converse or Vans as business casual footwear as long as the place you work allows it. In some cases, all-black shoes like Chuck Taylors or Old Skool Vans can work well as part of a business casual attire.

Some workplaces, like the restaurant and foodservice industry, allow Vans shoes because they are non-slip. Additionally, athletic shoes like Converse and Vans may be acceptable for conferences or workplaces that involve a lot of walking and standing for long hours.

2. Are Converse and Vans appropriate for work?

While there are workplaces that allow Converse and Vans sneakers, canvas shoes are generally not appropriate for work.

The reason is simple: Converse and Vans are casual sneakers that are not suitable for a professional environment.

As harsh as this may sound, it might be time to dress like an adult and wear proper work shoes. Chucks and Vans are perfect for casual wear, but unless your job is a professional skateboarder, you should aim to wear dress shoes like Oxfords and Derbies.

Image sourced from styleofman.com

There’s a chance that your boss is conservative and not contemporary too.

However, if your work demands business casual attire, and you are against buying new shoes, while you’re the first day is coming up, here’s what you should do:

  1. Go safe and wear the dress shoes you own on day one. Remember, first impressions matter — it’s better to overdress than to underdress. Dress shoes are safe bets for a business casual environment and implies that you are professional.
  2. Get a feel of the office culture by the end of the week. After about 7 days, you should get a feel of what’s acceptable to wear at the office. If your office ends up being more casual, you should be able to wear canvas shoes like Converse or Vans.
  3. If you want to be sure, ask the HR department. At the end of the day, what shoes you can wear at the office depends on what the boss allows. If the workplace allows casual sneakers like Converse or Vans, then by all means, wear them.
  4. If you have Casual Fridays, you should be able to wear Converse or Vans. Some offices have “Casual Fridays”, where they allow the employees to wear casual attire for the entire day. If your office has Casual Fridays, Chucks and Vans are the way to go!

Remember, at the end of the day, wearing the right footwear can boost your overall appearance. Along with the right shoes, having your outfits clean, pressed, and properly fitted can also make a world of a difference in how other people perceive and treat you.

3. Are white Converse and Vans business casual?

If your office ends up being slightly more casual, white Converse and Vans are excellent shoes to pair with pastel- and neutral-colored pants like khakis and chinos. 

Alternatively, other white sneakers like Adidas Advantage or Stan Smith look great too.

The key is to wear low-cut, slim-looking canvas shoes. Ideally, you should go for a sockless look with your Vans, along with neutral trousers, like khaki or bone. For the upper part of your body, a shirt with pastels or stripes should match very well.

What You Should Wear Instead

Remember, business casual shoes are not casual.

If your office demands business casual attire, and you have the budget to buy a new pair, here are the shoes that you should wear instead of Converse or Vans sneakers:

Cole Haan Shortwing Oxford Shoes (buy on Amazon):

JOUSEN Lightweight Loafers (buy on Amazon):

Clark’s Tilden Cap Oxford Shoes (buy on Amazon):

Bottom Line

Now you know whether Converse and Vans are considered business casual shoes or not.

At the end of the day, you should remember that first impressions are important. You should always dress to impress on your first day of work. Once you get to know the culture, and the workplace is somewhat casual, then you can wear Chucks or Vans to the office.