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Style SOS

Style SOS: Can I wear trainers for a job interview?

Style SOS: Can I wear trainers for a job interview?

I’ve got an interview for a new job that I’m really excited about. I basically live in trainers but was always told you should wear proper shoes for a job interview, so I’m a bit confused. Can I wear trainers for a job interview? – Sam, via email


This is a tricky question because the answer is maybe. As menswear dress codes have relaxed, trainers in the workplace are not the style faux-pas they once were. But, it depends on the office, so this means the annoying answer here is yes, and no – the role you’re interviewing for makes a huge difference.

I would always say err on the side of overdressed – after all, a job interview is nerve-wracking enough without worrying whether you’re dressed appropriately or not. However, overdressed doesn’t have to mean suited and booted. A nice pair of smart chinos with a button-down shirt and a fresh white, minimal pair of trainers will still look smart if you’re in a more relaxed environment. I would suggest you stay away from the chunky dad trainers (as popular as they are right now) unless you’re applying for a job in a very fashion-forward environment.   

If you’ve done your research, and trainers feel appropriate then make sure they are clean and scuff-free – this is not the place for your beloved Nike Air Max that saw you all through Glastonbury. Common Projects and Veja both have some smart, minimal styles that are definitely smart enough for a workplace. 

Interviewing for a role where suits are the baseline dress code, then I would advise against wearing trainers (no matter how scuff-free). Wearing trainers with a suit is a look that can work, but in an environment where first impressions matter – and rarely more do they matter than in a job interview – it can seem a little like you’ve forgotten your brogues and had to make it work with your gym sneakers, which is not a vibe to go for. 

Ultimately, use your common sense – as the old adage goes “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” and this is never more relevant than when dressing for a job interview. However, if you’re interviewing for a role in a cool new tech startup and you’re dressed in a pinstriped-three piece suit, a la Wolf of Wall Street, your interviewer might assume you haven’t done your research.

Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillett