How to Wear and Style White Shoes

man in jeans and white trainers

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.  

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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 and other commonly worn styles were two-tone Oxfords and saddle shoes, both sporting the same beloved combination of brown and white. White was rather formal during that period but has now breached through those dressy boundaries.

White Shoes

The main concern with any vivid colour is the risk of standing out too much. Therefore, when trying out more formal types of white shoes like white loafers, you may find it can be difficult to pair them with black or dark blue trousers. 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.

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Casual White Shoes

White sneakers or white tennis shoes are simplest to work with. Their casual nature means you can pair dark trousers or denim with white trainers. There is more give to relaxed outfits. Sweatshirts and T-shirts are ideal for casual wear. Work in a plaid button down shirt and roll up the sleeves to layer over your T-shirt. Distressed denim is another go-to material that looks flawless with white trainers.

Graphic design tops and jackets are a great match to these trainers. These clothing styles won’t over or underwhelm your shoes. In fact, white is a great canvas for working in more avant-garde styles.

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Pair black trousers with white tennis style shoes
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Semi-Formal And Business Casual Clothing

Office settings and cocktail events can be tricky for white shoes. You can’t wear your favourite 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 fitted bottoms will help show off your shoes. You don’t want to cover up the white as it may 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 grey and light beige work well. These tints compliment white shoes for men as they don’t create a huge break in your appearance either.

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Checked Trousers and A Shirt with A Pair of White Trainers

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White will work with any clothing regardless of whether your style preferences veer towards the darker or brighter side. 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 light 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.

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 into a formal outfit is by pairing it with a light grey suit. You want to keep it tailored and very neat and tie-clips will help drive in the formality. Wear a shirt that you have to use cuff-links with for the ultimate smart look. Since you aren’t going for the tuxedo, you’ll want to keep everything as elegant as possible.

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Brad Pitt Wears White Shoes with A Neutral Coloured Suit
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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Be sure to keep your shoes clean- dirty white shoes are a no-go, especially when dressing them up. 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. 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.
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Match A Black Suit With crisp white trainers
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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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.
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Formal White Loafers
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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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. To maintain that fashion forward appearance, don’t grab your usual T-shirt, wear your white boat shoes with an edgier white button down shirt.
  • Birkenstock creates the ultimate men’s summer shoe with their most well-known Arizona sandal. The wide double straps and simple design have 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.
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A Neutral Outfit With White Trainers
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

Men’s White Shoes

  • Clarks has mastered a top white chukka boot from durable leather and a cushioned sole. It’s a wonderfully smooth silhouetted boot to get you through transitional seasons. Chukkas are ideal if you’re going to be on your feet for a while. The leather is tough for surviving a beat down and it makes it easier to wipe dirt off.
  • Cesare Paciotti gives the traditional brogue Derby shoe a contemporary twist with vintage-effect off-white leather and ultra cool blue and white rubber sole. This modern men’s shoe combines formal and street appeal allowing you to be able to wear them on different occasions.
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Ryan Gosling Wears White Shirt With Formal Shoes 
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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When Can You Wear White Shoes

Normally we find that a lot of fashion can work throughout the entire year, through all four seasons. In some cases, there are pieces that just aren’t made for the challenges of weather. Sadly, white shoes tend to be one of them.

Pass on your favourite whites for winter- it’s hard to keep the light colours clean to begin with. When you’re already dealing with the elements, snow and rain will be tough on your shoes. You may be tempted to try wearing your white boots, but dirt and salt from the pavement will accumulate fast.

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Styling White Trainers

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Spring and summer tend to be the main seasons where you’ll see white shoes around. Their options for styling have a greater range during this time as well. Your outfit won’t be covered up by heavy coats and jackets which will allow more of your outfit to be on show.

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A Simple Outfit Complimented With Plimsoll-Style Shoes
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

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How to Wear White Shoes

  • Casual styling is easiest. Wear your white plimsolls and trainers with any colour and style of denim.
  • Light grey and beige toned trousers or suits work with white Derbys.
  • Pay attention to accessories, they help to prevent the white from standing out too much.
  • White will work with boat shoes, slip-on shoes and sandals.
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Styling White Trainers

On That Note

White in its minimalist glory is a solid addition to any wardrobe. The colour itself can be standalone or the right complementary finish to an outfit. Thanks to this guide, you’ll be able to decide what styles work best with the clothing you currently have.

Toothpaste in hand (for cleaning), if you’re looking to shop for what’s new in men’s shoe fashion or clothing to match the pairs you own already, make sure you take a look at our new arrivals. Summer is still hanging on and fall is fast approaching, so it doesn’t hurt to clean out and start buying now.

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