7 Best Dress Sneakers for Men: The New Smart Casual Staple

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

by  Karlton Miko Tyack | Last Updated:  Feb 23, 2021

Despite being a fairly new phenomenon, the number of dress sneaker options out there is overwhelming. New models seem to regularly enter the market, all at different price points, styles, and quality levels—and they all claim to be the best.

Avoid the bottomless pit, and check out our picks of the 7 best dress sneakers for men, categorized by price.

Best Value Overall
  • Its slim silhouette is clean and versatile
  • The full-grain calfskin upper is constructed in Marche, Italy
  • The Margom sole is side-stitched to the upper for long-lasting wear
  • Get $50 off your first order at M. Gemi with code FIRST50
Best Under $100
  • There’s no break-in because of the micro-suede lining and foam insole
  • New Republic sustainably source their leather
  • Its simple style will match with most outfits
Best $150-200
  • It’s retro and timeless, built with well-aging leather
  • GREATS never uses virgin plastics, which is great for the environment
  • The leather lining is antimicrobial and perforated for breathability and odor prevention.
Best $200-250
  • The design is modern and basic, but not dull.
  • Oliver Cabell’s cost transparency ensures you know exactly what you’re paying for
  • Fun but classy color variations are available
  • Get $10 off with code THEADULTMAN10
Best $250-300
  • Its perforated upper combines athletic and dress sneaker design
  • Full-grain leather construction with hand-painted finishing on the edges, for rich, premium aesthetic
  • The back heel is lined with suede for chafe-prevention
Best Luxury Pick
  • The iconic gold plated stamp on the side makes this highly-regarded shoe instantly recognizable to discerning sneaker buffs.
  • The full-grain napa leather is supple with a subtle shine
  • Solid Italian craftsmanship makes this shoe famously enduring
Bonus - Most Unique Colors
  • The natural, raw wool upper comes in four vastly different patterns
  • Each shoe is painted, stained, and burnished by hand
  • The leather sole is lavender-scented

Gone are the days when a suit-and-sneaker combination conjured up images of Forrest Gump eating chocolates at a bus stop.

As someone who values comfort, I welcome this new era.

Unlike athletic trainers, dress sneakers feature leather or dressy uppers with its rubber sole.

They’re often minimal in design. They aren’t tuxedo-friendly, but many models are so luxe and highly-regarded, that you can even keep your tie on when you rock them with a suit.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ben Brewster (@benbrewster)

Showcasing remarkable versatility, dress sneakers can effortlessly cinch a casual look too. Cuffed jeans match their slim profile, while a pair of chinos go well with their clean lines. 

Out of countless models in the market, we’ve narrowed down the pack to these 7 as the best dress sneakers for men on the market.

How Did We Come up With Our List?

We used extensive research and our experiences testing different sneakers in various situations and environments. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Amar K (@amar.k)

For convenience, we’ve categorized them based on price so you can find the very best pair for your budget.

Best Dress Sneakers for Men in 2021

Best Value Overall: M. Gemi The Lucente 

1.
M. Gemi The Lucente
(Get $50 off your first order with code FIRST50)

The M. Gemi Lucente is a minimalist, rich-looking dress sneaker that punches above its price-point. Its calfskin uppers and Marche construction are premium qualities usually only found in more expensive sneakers.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

M. Gemi was founded by industry veterans who brought Marche craftsmanship to the direct-to-consumer mid-market. Marche, Italy is a region where locals go for traditional crafts and leather goods.

The M. Gemi Lucente is a classic minimalist dress sneaker with a low-profile. It’s constructed with full-grain calfskin leather and Margom soles, and handcrafted in Italy.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by M.Gemi (@mgemi)

Other excellent qualities include waxed canvas laces for weather-resistance and moisture-thwarting leather insoles.

What I Like

  • Its low-profile silhouette is sleek but understated, for a simple and versatile look.

  • Full-grain Italian calfskin uppers are comfortable and strong.

  • The durable Margom sole is evenly side-stitched to the upper for long-lasting wear. 

  • The leather lining is breathable and unsusceptible to odors.

What I Don’t Like

  • They can be squeaky at first, especially on tile.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers love its high-quality look and mid-tier price given the quality of materials and construction. They’re also impressed by the side-stitched sole, since the feature requires an extra step when assembling.

Some complain about the squeakiness, and some note that the shoe runs narrow. One reviewer mentions experiencing heel slip in the beginning since The Lucente doesn’t have a suede patch on the back heel like other dress sneakers do. This should wear off after a few hours though.

The Verdict

M. Gemi’s The Lucente is a minimalist, rich-looking dress sneaker that punches above its price-point. Its calfskin uppers and Marche construction are premium qualities usually only found in more expensive sneakers.

Best Value Overall
M. Gemi The Lucente
(Get $50 off your first order with code FIRST50)

The M. Gemi Lucente is a minimalist, rich-looking dress sneaker that punches above its price-point. Its calfskin uppers and Marche construction are premium qualities usually only found in more expensive sneakers.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Best Under $100: New Republic Kurt

2.
New Republic Kurt

This minimalist dress sneaker is an effective weekday-into-weekend shoe thanks to its cushy insole. Go for the New Republic Kurt if out-of-the-box comfort and affordability are your priorities.

Check Best Price on Amazon Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Designer Mark McNairy founded New Republic after 30 years in the fashion game, boasting collaborations with Adidas, Pharrell, and Timberland under his belt.

The New Republic Kurt is a slick and immediately comfortable everyday dress sneaker. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by New Republic (@shopnewrepublic)

Its silhouette, while still low-profile, is a bit higher and rounder at the toe compared to M. Gemi’s The Lucente. It’s more akin to Dunks and less like Converses. I like the added curvature with the high-hemmed pants and no socks look. 

The Kurt’s biggest strength is its soft and comfortable lining and insole, making for a non-existent break-in period.

What I Like

  • The 100% molded micro-suede lining and EVA foam insole are soft, pliant, and make the shoe break-in free.

  • The Italian leather is sustainably sourced.

  • The simple aesthetic makes this sneaker a perfect everyday shoe.

What I Don’t Like

  • The leather is thin and wrinkles easily, so it will wear and scuff quickly without proper care.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers are impressed with this shoe’s comfortable insole and versatile style. 

Two points of concern that some reviewers mention include its loose fit and that the color of the microsuede lining bleeds into white socks at first.

The Verdict

This minimalist dress sneaker is an effective weekday-into-weekend shoe thanks to its cushy insole. Go for the New Republic Kurt if out-of-the-box comfort and affordability are your priorities.

Best Under $100
New Republic Kurt

This minimalist dress sneaker is an effective weekday-into-weekend shoe thanks to its cushy insole. Go for the New Republic Kurt if out-of-the-box comfort and affordability are your priorities.

Check Best Price on Amazon Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Best $150-200: GREATS The Royale 

3.
GREATS The Royale

If you want a lush sneaker that’ll serve you equally well at work and at cocktail hours, go for the GREATS Royale. They’re simple, no-nonsense, and designed to be trend-resistant.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Brooklyn-based GREATS designed The Royale with inspiration from vintage sneakers like 80s Reeboks and adidas Stan Smiths. The resulting shoe is both retro and timeless, and has quickly become an iconic dress sneaker.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GREATS — Premium Sneakers (@greats)

This hand-stitched shoe sports rich leather uppers. Since they’re full-grain, they get better with use and age, wearing in before wearing out.

GREATS also focuses on sustainability. The Royale’s upper and lining are biodegradable, they never use new plastics, and even the package they come in is 100% recycled cardboard.

What I Like

  • The slim silhouette and clean lines make for a timeless style, with leather that ages and wears well.

  • GREATS focuses on sustainability and never uses virgin plastics when constructing shoes.

  • The leather lining is antimicrobial and perforated on the side panels for aeration and odor prevention. 

  • Ortholite insoles provide comfortable extra cushioning.

What I Don’t Like

  • Due to the sturdy build, it’ll take a few weeks to break them in.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers love the quality of the leather, many even claiming this shoe outdoes hard-hitters like Nike and adidas. 

Many mention that they fit almost a half-size larger against a Brannock measuring device, so your Royale sizing will likely differ compared to your regular sneaker sizing.

The Verdict

If you want a lush sneaker that’ll serve you equally well at work and at cocktail hours, go for the GREATS Royale. They’re simple, no-nonsense, and designed to be trend-resistant.

Best $150-200
GREATS The Royale

If you want a lush sneaker that’ll serve you equally well at work and at cocktail hours, go for the GREATS Royale. They’re simple, no-nonsense, and designed to be trend-resistant.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Best $200-250: Oliver Cabell Low 1

4.
Oliver Cabell Low 1
(Get $10 off with code THEADULTMAN10)

The Low 1 is Oliver Cabell's most popular shoe. It boasts a classic low-profile silhouette, with color options that are expressive, but not overly trendy or unprofessional.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Oliver Cabell Low 1 allows you to remix the classic minimalist dress sneaker. You can choose from white uppers with off-white soles and a tan lining for subtle contrast, a more dramatic contrast via brown or black uppers and white soles, a full monochromatic burgundy, or even a transparent sole. Despite the various color options, all are suit-appropriate, none veering too far left.

Model wearing olivers passage pant and oliver cabll low 1 minimalist sneakers

My favorite part about this brand is their famed transparency. Oliver Cabell details the breakdown of how much it costs to build a pair of Low 1s on their website. The bulk of the amount comes from the Italian calfskin leather uppers at $26.04 and the construction and quality control at $34.88.

What I Like

  • The modern design is minimalist, but there are several color options that allow you to express yourself.

  • It comes in several fun but still classy color options and combinations, including nude, burgundy, and birch green.

  • Oliver Cabell’s cost transparency ensures that you know exactly what you’re paying for.

What I Don’t Like

  • Half-sizes aren’t available—the consensus is that you should size up if you’re between sizes.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers praise the excellent construction quality and the fair and open pricing. 

The gold Oliver Cabell logo on the back receives mixed responses. Some love the pop of shine, claiming it thematically matches the other subtle contrast colors. Others prefer 100% minimalism for dress sneakers.

The Verdict

The Oliver Cabell Low 1 has a classic low-profile silhouette, with color options that are expressive, but not overly trendy or unprofessional.

Best $200-250
Oliver Cabell Low 1
(Get $10 off with code THEADULTMAN10)

The Low 1 is Oliver Cabell's most popular shoe. It boasts a classic low-profile silhouette, with color options that are expressive, but not overly trendy or unprofessional.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Best $250-300: KOIO Capri Triple White

5.
KOIO Capri Triple White

The KOIO Capri Triple White is as loud as a white dress sneaker can get without leaving the minimalist realm. Go for these if you want a pair with a lot of details that aesthetically sits in between the dress and athletic sneaker worlds.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The KOIO Capri Triple White’s abundance of details, lines, and texture set it apart from other dress sneakers. The perforated uppers make it more breathable and, I think, adds character, toeing the line between dress and athletic sneaker.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kollekt Frankfurt (@kollektfrankfurt)

The shoe features a lot of sectioning, but the busy look is reined in with its flat silhouette, flat laces, and monochromatic palette. Despite all the detailing, the Triple White still looks clean and simple.

KOIO is another brand that sources from Marche, Italy, so you count on full-grain leather uppers and linings, margom outsoles, and hand construction. The suede on the inner back and heel is chafe-resistant, which is useful if you like to wear no-show socks for that ankle presence look.

What I Like

  • The textures and detailing make this shoe distinct from other minimalist dress sneakers.

  • It boasts full-grain leather construction with hand-painted finished edges.

  • The back heel interior is lined with suede for comfort and chafe-resistance. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The toe is especially stiff during the break-in period.

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers attest to the luxe quality of the Capri Triple White. They’re KOIO’s best seller. 

Many love the chic beige dust bag that the shoes come with, since providing a well-made dust bag with weight to it is a common practice with luxury brands.

While there is a substantial break-in period, reviewers find the insoles eventually get bouncy.

The Verdict

The KOIO Capri Triple White is as loud as a white dress sneaker can get without leaving the minimalist realm. Go for these if you want a pair with a lot of details that aesthetically sits in between the dress and athletic sneaker worlds.

Best $250-300
KOIO Capri Triple White

The KOIO Capri Triple White is as loud as a white dress sneaker can get without leaving the minimalist realm. Go for these if you want a pair with a lot of details that aesthetically sits in between the dress and athletic sneaker worlds.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Best Luxury Pick: Common Projects Original Achilles Low

6.
Common Projects Original Achilles Low

The Common Projects Original Achilles Low is the Rolex Submariner of dress sneakers. There are plenty of similar high-quality options, but it’s the true icon of the group and arguably the longest lasting.

Check Best Price at Nordstrom Read Our Review
Image source: Nordstrom. If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Common Projects Original Achilles Low is the most famous of the clean-lined dress sneaker movement and is reputably long-lasting.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Netherbetter | Amsterdam (@netherbetter)

Its upper is napa, a type of leather known for softness, durability, and a bit of shine. Napa also lines the thick footbed, which is pliant and springy after break-in.

It features the same logo-less minimalist design as most dress sneakers. However, people in-the-know will be clued in that you’re rocking a superior model because of the small but iconic gold foil stamp on the outside heel indicating its style, size, and color.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Janne Rud Hansen (@jrhansen)

What I Like

  • It’s considered the gold standard for minimalist dress sneakers because of its premium build and iconic, often imitated gold stamp.

  • The full-grain napa leather is supple and slightly shiny, for an upper that’s noticeably high-end.

  • The Marche, Italian craftsmanship is solid, making this shoe famously enduring. 

What I Don’t Like

  • This skinny shoe isn’t comfortable on extra wide feet.

  • No half sizes—I recommend you size up/down if you’re between sizes.

What Other Reviewers Say

Fans are loyal to the Common Projects brand with many reviewers claiming how much better the Achilles holds up at the one-year mark compared to competitors. This shoe definitely has cult status.

Many love that they feel heftier on your feet compared to regular sneakers because it’s a distinguishing quality.

The Verdict

The Common Projects Original Achilles Low is the Rolex Submariner of dress sneakers. There are plenty of similar high-quality options, but it’s the true icon of the group and arguably the longest lasting.

Best Luxury Pick
Common Projects Original Achilles Low

The Common Projects Original Achilles Low is the Rolex Submariner of dress sneakers. There are plenty of similar high-quality options, but it’s the true icon of the group and arguably the longest lasting.

Check Best Price at Nordstrom Read Our Review
Image source: Nordstrom. If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Bonus – Most Unique Colors: TAFT The Jack Sneaker

7.
TAFT The Jack Sneaker

TAFT's The Jack Sneaker is for hardcore fashion-lovers and sneaker collectors. Each boldly-designed version vastly distinguishes one from the other despite sharing the same silhouette.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

TAFT designs their shoes with boldness in mind, and their Jack Sneaker really delivers with its four unique mixed-fabric designs.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by TAFT (@taft)

The Eden style is a fashion-forward statement shoe, flaunting a chinoiserie flower pattern and brown leather patina highlights. The Honey version is also pattern-focused, and its brown houndstooth fabric and textured leather exude a Sherlock-esque sophistication.

The simpler versions, Grey/Oxblood and Black, are still eye-catching. They feature a wool and leather combination that looks good with a tweed-clad professor style or a casual-cool aesthetic.

What I Like

  • The natural, raw wool and leather accents come in four radically different patterns and colors, for a fun variety of options.

  • Each shoe is painted, stained, and burnished by hand, making every pair unique.

  • The leather sole is lavender-scented.

What I Don’t Like

  • The leather lining is slippery, so really tighten those waxed laces. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers enjoy the different color and pattern combinations. Many of them mention buying more than one version to match with different outfits. Even their customer service gets a lot of positive shout-outs.

A few reviewers remark on how the edge of the tongue digs into the top of your foot during the break-in period, but that it doesn’t last very long.

The Verdict

TAFT’s The Jack Sneaker is for hardcore fashion-lovers and sneaker collectors. Each boldly-designed version vastly distinguishes one from the other despite sharing the same silhouette.

Bonus: Most Unique Colors
TAFT The Jack Sneaker

TAFT's The Jack Sneaker is for hardcore fashion-lovers and sneaker collectors. Each boldly-designed version vastly distinguishes one from the other despite sharing the same silhouette.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Key Things to Consider When Buying Dress Sneakers

Purpose

Where will you wear them? If you have specific outfits in mind, consider multiple distinct pairs for rotation. If you’re running around all day, durability should be your priority.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by VAL LIN | Menswear & Lifestyle (@theaestheticminimalist)

If you want an everyday pair that goes with every suit, go for a neutral white, black, or grey.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Joel Alvarez (@joel___alvarez)

When you wear your dress sneakers casually, chinos and twill pants match their sleek but dressed down aesthetic. When pairing them with jeans, make sure the pants are slim and cuffed.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Stridewise (@stridewise)

If you want to sport a statement dress sneaker with patterns, lean towards a casual, minimalist, pairing of monochromatic shirt and pants as your sneakers will become the focal point.

Durability and Longevity

Full-grain leather is the complete cow hide in its most natural state. It’s richer and much stronger than altered leather. “Genuine leather” can come from any animal and is often treated to mimic premium leather. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by InsideHook (@insidehook)

Branding

Opt for minimal branding to avoid detracting from your outfit. Dress sneakers work best as an understated balancing force in your outfit. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Reinaldo Sebastian (@reisebastian)

Fit and Size

Size is the number on the shoe, but one brand’s 9 isn’t the same as another. When a brand mentions on their website that the shoes are “true to size,” take it with a grain of salt.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tsun Yuen (@tsunyuen)

Watch YouTube summaries and read consumer reviews to get a better idea of whether you should size up, down, or not at all.

Most dress sneakers run thin. Your feet are more swollen in the evening and in hot weather. Even initially, shoes shouldn’t feel tight, and your heel and lower ankle shouldn’t have so much room that they thump against the inside back heel.

Which is the Best Dress Sneaker for You? 

Go for M. Gemi’s The Lucente for an optimum bang-for-buck sneaker.

Best Value Overall
M. Gemi The Lucente
(Get $50 off your first order with code FIRST50)

The M. Gemi Lucente is a minimalist, rich-looking dress sneaker that punches above its price-point. Its calfskin uppers and Marche construction are premium qualities usually only found in more expensive sneakers.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you’re on a big-boy budget, pick up the Achilles for a long-lasting investment.

Best Luxury Pick
Common Projects Original Achilles Low

The Common Projects Original Achilles Low is the Rolex Submariner of dress sneakers. There are plenty of similar high-quality options, but it’s the true icon of the group and arguably the longest lasting.

Check Best Price at Nordstrom Read Our Review
Image source: Nordstrom. If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The New Republic Kurts win for affordability and immediate comfort. Meanwhile, the Royale is a retro sneaker that’s almost fully sustainable. 

For different styles, the Low 1 comes in classy colors, while TAFT’s vibrant The Jack pushes the fashion limits. I also love the KOIO Triple White’s distinct perforation. 

For more style round-ups and reviews, subscribe to The Adult Man YouTube channel.

FAQs

What are dress sneakers?

Dress sneakers have minimalist leather uppers or full-on dress shoe uppers paired with rubber soles. This allows you to wear them with a suit or casually.

What are the best colors for dress sneakers?

Monochromatic dress sneakers in neutral colors like white, black, or grey are the most versatile.

Can you wear dress sneakers with a suit?

You can wear dress sneakers with a slim-fit suit or any business casual style—for example, a two-piece suit sans tie or when pairing a jacket with different colored trousers.

What pants go with white dress sneakers?

White dress sneakers can go with any pants. Pair them with a black skinny pant for an urban chic vibe, or go the preppy route with light-colored shorts or pants hemmed for ankle presence.