How to Wear Sneakers to the Office

Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Image courtesy of Pinterest.

A reader who works as a rehabilitation therapist was recently promoted (Get it, girl!) and sent me this message:

Dear Christina,

I have a challenging scenario. I’m a rehab therapist who’s on my feet all day treating patients, and I just got promoted to Rehab Manager. I’m the youngest manager and youngest-looking therapist. Our administrator wants his managers to look professional, but I can’t seem to find any article on how to wear sneakers to work, and wearing scrubs makes me look like I’m straight out of college even with a white lab coat.

As someone whose “day job” vacillates between spending hours in front of the computer one day and teaching a 4-hour class (read: on my feet) the next, I completely understand the need for comfortable footwear. And while sneakers may (at their very, very best) usually be worn only on “Casual Friday,” some professions require the support a sneaker provides every day.

In my twenties, I picked up what remains one of my favorite books: Genevieve Antoine Dariaux’s A Guide to Elegance. Its author is clearly on my dear reader’s side here, as she admonishes to “never overly sacrifice comfort in the interests of chic, because shoes that are too tight or ill-fitting inevitably give you a tired and tortured look, which is hardly the impression an elegant woman wishes to create!”

Still, while it’s important to be comfortable, it’s also imperative that you not look like a track coach at work (unless you are indeed a track coach, in which case, carry on).

There are three ways to wear sneakers in a professional environment, and they all hinge on balance.



Tory Burch

•    Neutrals—Keep your shoe in a neutral color: black, navy, brown, grey, or white. You can then style the rest of your outfit in the same way you would any other professional outfit.




•    Deep or Muted Colors—If the thought of wearing grey shoes every day makes you feel, well, a little grey, pick a pair in a deep shade of wine, olive, or plum, or in a muted shade of blue or pink. These colors can add a little personality to your outfit while still maintaining your status as an adult.


Image courtesy Pinterest.

Image courtesy Pinterest.

•    Bright Colors—But Christina, you just said…. well, rules are made to be broken, right? If you can’t possibly live without that retina-searing neon orange pair, keep the rest of your outfit completely neutral (and preferably one color–may I suggest charcoal as a lovely foil to orange) so the shoes can be the star instead of competing for attention (let them do that on the track).

I cannot stress this enough–the rest of your outfit should be completely professional looking–no athletic attire (a good rule of thumb is to only wear one athletics-inspired piece of clothing at once, and in this case, that part is being played by your shoes).

Whatever strategy you choose, make sure your sneakers are clean and in good condition for the office (i.e., not the pair you mowed the lawn in last night).

And because God (or the devil? I’m still not sure which) is in the details, be sure to have your pants hemmed to the proper length, so that they are neither dragging on the ground nor high-waters. I like mine about 1/4 – 1/2 inch off the ground when standing.

For examples of some of my favorite office-appropriate kicks, follow Girl About Downtown on Pinterest and check out my board “Sneakers at the Office.”


My Heart is Silk

I love going out, meeting new people, and exploring the world, but there’s still nothing like coming HOME.

If “Home is Where the Heart Is,” my heart used to look like ratty old t-shirts and paint-splattered gym shorts. After a long day at work, sometimes you just want to be comfortable.

But alas, I’ve watched Ginger Rogers float around her hotel room on the big screen in an elegant satin dressing gown far too often to be satisfied with ratty lounge clothes. I decided it wasn’t asking too much to be comfortable and look polished at home, and set out on a mission to find a lounge style that works for me.

0K2A7378Ginger Rogers’ gowns were amazing, but I bet she didn’t have to do laundry in them. Silk shorts retain a bit of glamour, while a simple cotton tank and off-shoulder sweatshirt (no holes or stains!) keep the outfit suited to domestic pursuits.


0K2A7349With an energetic bambino, sometimes just getting dressed on a weekend morning is an ambitious goal! For those times when I leap out of bed to answer a cry, having a silk dressing gown handy is expedient and a bit more glamorous.




0K2A7400Make sure your lounge clothes are constructed in sumptuous colors that flatter you. They don’t have to be expensive; I often find my lounge clothes at outlet stores or sales. That being said, once or twice in my life, I’ve dropped serious money on a silk robe or nightgown whose design made me gasp. Worth every penny.


0K2A7404I know, I know–how many pearl necklaces does a girl need? One more, of course!



Silk Pyjama shorts, Victoria’s Secret.

White tank, Target.

Sexy sweatshirt, Victoria’s Secret.

Silk kimono robe, Victoria’s Secret.

Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.





Pleats, Please

I’m over the moon for a well-placed pleat. Perhaps it’s the fact that I dabbled in sewing when I was younger and realize just how elusive the perfectly-placed pleat can be, or my ignorant but ardent love of architecture which inspires my fascination with the manner in which sharp lines and curves coexist.


Whatever it is, I knew as soon as I saw this tunic I loved it for the pleats at the shoulders and waist. I bought it at a friend’s consignment sale and changed its shell buttons out for glass to give it more sophistication.


Paired with a black leather kimono belt (I may pair it with a velvet one in the future if I want to get Fancy) and wide-leg linen pants, it makes a great transition piece in Florida (I’ll layer a cropped moto jacket over it as the temperatures cool).


0K2A7568Simple chunky jewelry lends an artsy vibe, and pale grey nails add further polish.




Tunic, Ya.

Trousers, Ann Taylor.

Kimono Belt, ADA via Hattie’s Branches.

Wedges, Cole Haan.


Ring finger, Silpada.

Middle finger, Art fair artist (It’s terrible–I’m incorrigible about names).

Pointer Finger, Vintage.

Thumb, Silpada.

Earrings, Silpada.


Photography courtesy of Emily Plank Photography.