What Are Business Casual Shoes?

OK, so you landed the job or internship you’ve been working so hard to get. You’ve got all your credentials lined up and your head is in the game.

Your new boss outlines your position and their expectations when it comes to your performance and then they mention their dress code: business casual.

There are so many ways to interpret what “business casual” attire is.

Generally speaking, it means “a style of shoe that is less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression”, as defined by Oxford Dictionary.

Now, this definition leaves a lot of wiggle-room. It can be hard to find an outfit that perfectly teeters the line of formal and informal. 

Here is a complete guide to the part of your outfit that quite literally supports the rest of it: business casual shoes.

The Run-down

Business casual shoes should be:

Business Casual ✓ Not Business Casual X
Clean and new-looking Sneakers
Comfortable enough that you can wear them for at least eight hoursSandals
Close-toedChunky boots
ProfessionalTall stiletto or platform

It is important to remember that business casual is a spectrum. There are shoes that tip the scales toward “business” and shoes that tip that scales to “casual.”

No matter where you’re looking to fall, there are excellent options for men and women.


A good boot will tip a bit to the casual side of the spectrum. They are great for bad-weather days or when you know you’ve got a lot of running around to do.

Also a great staple for Casual Friday! Chelsea boots are a great pink for both men and women.

Oxford & Derby Shoes

Derby shoes are another great casual option that tips closer to the center between business and casual.

They typically have a small set of laces, a short heel and a narrow toe. They come in men’s styles as well as women’s and in a variety of materials!

Pick a suede shoe for a more casual feel and a shiny leather for business.


The loafer is possibly the perfect business-casual shoe. There’s not much flare, little-to-no heel and it comes in every color and material.

Men, women, you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. Buy one in every color (if it fits, that is)!


Typically, heels should be kept around a four-inch height. They don’t have to be close-toed, but they should be until you’ve got a feel for your work environment.

If others are showing off their toes, go for it! Keep a few pairs of classic pumps in your closet to dress up any business casual outfit.  

If you’ve got one of each of these kinds of shoes in your closet, you’re golden. You don’t want to be caught off guard and have to throw on your cleanest pair of sneakers or those ol’ flats you’ve been wearing to interviews since college!

Level up that wardrobe and keep it classy.

Pro Tip: Grab some stockings and nice socks that cover your ankles. Some offices will find goofy patterned socks a hoot while others will want you to keep it plain and simple. Either way, the athletic socks must be saved for the inside of your sneakers. 

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