The Idle Man – How To Wear & Style White Shoes

Article written for – Menswear

Excerpt from How To Wear And Style White Shoes, read the full article here.


White shoes don’t have to be limited to your plimsolls and sneakers, there’s a variety of dressier options available to you. Don’t let the colour intimidate you. Let us help you navigate the tricky world of wearing white shoes to keep you looking style savvy.  

Read more Men’s Style Guide features.

Men’s white shoes aren’t exclusively contemporary. If we take a quick peek at the history of footwear, white shoes were quite popular during the 1920s. Brogues were favoured in brown or white. Other commonly worn styles were two-tone Oxfords and saddle shoes, both sporting the same beloved combination of brown and white. Rather formal during that period, white has now breached through those dressy boundaries.

The main concern with any vivid colour is the risk of standing out to much. Therefore, when trying out more formal types of white shoes, you may find it can be difficult to pair them with black or dark blue pants. You’re dealing with two extremes of the spectrum, and they can come off as being too flashy during special occasions. Depending on how you style these opposites, you can find a middle ground between the two. Finding that compromise is what will keep your appearance tidy rather than kitch.

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How To Wear White Shoes

With Casual Clothing

Starting off on the easier side, white sneakers are simplest to work with. Due their casual nature, this is when you can pair dark trousers or denim with white trainers. There is more give to relaxed outfits. Sweatshirts and t-shirts are ideal if you are aiming for athleisure. Work in a plaid button down shirt and roll up the sleeves. Distressed denim is another go-to that looks flawless with white trainers.

Also, graphic designed tops and jackets are a great choice. These clothing styles won’t over or underwhelm your shoes. In fact, white is a great canvas for working in more avant-garde styles.

outfit grid mens white shoes sneakers plimsolls trainers
SHOP THE LOOK: Vans – Trainers and Plimsolls

With Semi-Formal And Business Casual Clothing

Office settings and cocktail events can be tricky for white shoes. You can’t wear your favorite trainers, so your options settle around Derby brogues, monk straps and sleeker ankle boots. Avoid patent leathers, and look at smoother grades and nubuck leathers. They’ll have a softer appearance that’s easier to style. Suede leather will prevent your outfit from looking overly formal.

Tailored trousers and more fitting bottoms will help show off your shoes. You don’t want to cover up the white. It will look as if you’re trying to mask your shoes. Properly hemmed lengths only help you add sophistication to your look. When it comes to colours, pale dove grey and light beige work well. These tints complement white shoes for men. They don’t create a huge break in your appearance either.

If your style preferences tend towards the darker or brighter side, there are ways to make white work for you. You may be surprised, but bright colours like coral and royal blue look amazing. Going for shorts will help tone down the high intensity of the white. Wearing dark trousers or jeans with a lighter blazer or sports jacket will also have the same effect. Paying attention to accessories will help draw eyes to your entire outfit as opposed to just your shoes.

With Formal Clothing

Working with Oxfords is probably the most challenging task. Traditionally these shoes are black or brown. White on the other hand, despite being more uncommon, actually comes up quite a bit at weddings. The groom won’t always be wearing black. You’ll come across all white tuxedos, or white bottoms with a black jacket. In these specific cases, white Oxfords are a perfect match.

Another way to work white in to a formal situation is pairing it with a light grey suit. You want to keep it tailored and very neat. Tie-clips will help drive in the formality. Wear a shirt that you have to use cuff-links with. Since you aren’t going for the tuxedo, you want to keep everything as elegant as possible.

outfit grid mens white shoes oxford grey suit pocket square
SHOP THE LOOK: Selected – Blazers
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | Sebastian Cruz Couture

Your shoes need to be especially clean. Given the colour, try to keep them clean in the best way you can. If you aren’t too sure about how to get rid of dirt or scuffs or you’re wondering how to keep them polished, check out this handy tutorial below. When in doubt, have them professionally leather cleaned to avoid further damage.

Best White Shoes

Here at The Idle Man we’ve covered some of the best shoes a man can own in every colour and pattern. Looking at white specifically, here’s a breakdown on some of the top picks to add to your collection.

All White Shoes

  • Converse has been creating their classic sneakers since 1917. The All Star, originally made for basketball, is now one of the most famous styles worn by men around the world. When we think of classic, all white shoes, All Stars comes to mind pretty quickly. They’ve become iconic within the art and music worlds, they’re all over film and television, and Converse is now a true household brand .
  • Nike has roped in a gigantic following with their Air Force 1 style. Avid fans of streetwear brands will keep on top of every new release. You’ll see people queuing outside stores hours before a new design is about to drop. A huge proponent of hip-hop culture, the crisp all white Air Force 1 has hardly changed from its first introduction in the 1980s.
white converse and nike
SHOP: Converse – Trainers

Men’s White Loafers

  • Vayarta put their own spin on white loafers with a chicer, more minimal design. The sole is made of a flatter and softer leather similar to that of an espadrille. This is a change from the usual hard leather and rubber covered heel. Slip them on with a pair of chino shorts and a chambray shirt for the weekend. Their no-nonsense design makes them easy to pair with any type of accessory.
  • Tod’s keeps their loafer design very classic. If you’re not a fan of contemporary looks, Tod’s consistently traditional design across all their loafers and moccasins make their men’s white loafers a solid choice. Easy to slip on and off, these luxurious loafers can be dressed up or styled to fit your relaxed wardrobe.
white loafers collage
SHOP: The Idle Man – Shorts | Bags and Wallets
PHOTO CREDIT: Vayarta | Tod’s

Men’s Summer Shoes

  • Sperry’s white boat shoes are a must-have for summer. They keep their boat shoes looking current with updated fabrics. Crisp white canvas that’s easy to care for will make your boat shoes perfect for wearing them daily. To maintain that fashion forward appearance, don’t grab your usual t-shirt, wear your white boat shoes with an edgier white button down.
  • Birkenstock creates the ultimate men’s summer shoe with their most well-known Arizona sandal. The wide double straps and simple design has left some to wonder how to wear them stylishly. It’s definitely possible with a pair of skinny jeans rolled up and a short sleeve shirt or a solid, clean t-shirt. You’ll look surprisingly sharp.
  • SUAVS’ white mesh slip on is extremely breathable for that summer heat. If you’re going to be running around all day, comfort is key. The leather strap helps hold the shoe’s shape and add a bit of modern detail to the all-over mesh. These are the perfect shoes to go sockless with.
outfit grid mens white shoes summer sandal slip on shirt jeans
SHOP THE LOOK: Sperry – Shoes | The Idle Man – Shirts
PHOTO CREDIT: Sperry | Pinterest | SUAVS Shoes

For the top white shoes to add to wardrobe head to and shop for your favorites!

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