June 15, 2024
Are sandals appropriate for business casual attire? Learn about the do's and don'ts of wearing sandals to work, how to style them to make them professional, and the evolution of business casual dress codes. A stylist provides professional advice on how to incorporate sandals into your work wardrobe.


Business casual attire has long been a topic of debate in the workplace. While some companies have strict dress codes, others allow for more casual clothing. The concept of business casual attire is constantly evolving and can vary based on industry, company culture, and even geographic region. One area of ambiguity is whether or not sandals can be considered appropriate for business casual attire. In this article, we’ll explore the grey area of sandals in the workplace and provide insight into the do’s and don’ts of wearing them in a professional setting.

5 Reasons Why Sandals Can Be Considered Business Casual Attire

At first glance, wearing sandals to work may seem too casual or unprofessional. But there are several reasons why they can be considered appropriate for business casual attire:

Comfort and Practicality

Sandals are often more comfortable than traditional dress shoes, especially in warmer climates or during the summer months. Open-toe sandals allow for more airflow and can reduce the risk of foot odor or discomfort during long work days.


During hot weather, enclosed shoes can be uncomfortable and even pose a health risk due to excess sweat buildup. Sandals provide a more breathable alternative, helping to regulate foot temperature and prevent sweating.


There are many different styles of sandals, from casual to dressy, which can make them a versatile addition to a business casual outfit. A pair of leather sandals can easily be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion and overall outfit.

Style Options

With a variety of styles, colors, and prints, sandals can add personality and flair to a business outfit. Many sandals have unique embellishments or details, such as metallic accents or woven straps, that can make them stand out.

Industry-Specific Considerations

Some industries, such as hospitality or creative fields, may have a more relaxed dress code where sandals are considered appropriate. In these cases, sandals may be a practical and comfortable choice for work attire.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing Sandals in a Business Casual Setting

While sandals can be a comfortable and stylish choice for business attire, there are certain guidelines to follow to ensure they are appropriate for a professional setting:

Consider the Workplace Environment

The appropriateness of sandals in a business casual environment may vary depending on the industry, company culture, and geographic location. Always consider the dress code and norms of your workplace before wearing sandals.

Follow Company Dress Code Guidelines

Some companies have strict dress codes that prohibit sandals in the workplace. Be sure to check your company’s dress code policy before wearing sandals to work.

Opt for Closed-Toe, Leather Sandals

Closed-toe sandals provide a more professional look than open-toe styles. Look for sandals made of leather or other high-quality materials to ensure they look polished and professional.

Avoid Flip Flops and Excessively Casual Styles

While flip flops may be comfortable, they are not considered appropriate for business casual attire. Likewise, excessively casual styles, such as those with bright colors or distracting patterns, should be avoided in a professional setting.

Pay Attention to Overall Outfit Presentation

Sandals should be paired with a clean, put-together outfit to maintain a professional look. Avoid wearing sandals with ripped or overly casual clothing items.

How to Style Sandals to Make Them Appropriate for a Business Environment

If you’d like to incorporate sandals into your business casual wardrobe, there are several ways to style them to make them appropriate for a professional setting:

Pair with Tailored Pieces

Sandals can be paired with tailored clothing items, such as slacks or a blazer, to give them a more sophisticated look.

Use Neutral Colors and Classic Prints

Neutral-colored sandals, such as black, brown, or beige, can create a more professional appearance. Classic prints, such as stripes or polka dots, can also add a touch of personality to your outfit while still maintaining a professional look.

Accessorize Appropriately

Accessorize your business casual outfit with professional jewelry, a watch, or a structured bag. These items can help create a more polished and put-together appearance.

Alternate Shoe Styles for Certain Occasions

While sandals can be worn on many occasions, there may be times when a different shoe style is more appropriate. Always consider the occasion and dress code expectations before deciding to wear sandals.

Breaking Down the Grey Area of Sandals in Business Casual Attire

There are many misconceptions surrounding sandals in the workplace, but the appropriateness of sandals can vary depending on factors such as industry and company culture. Here are some common misconceptions and how to address them:

Common Misconceptions

One common misconception is that sandals are always too casual for a professional setting. However, with the right styling and materials, sandals can be a sophisticated addition to a business casual outfit.

Differences Between Industries and Regions

Some industries, such as hospitality or creative fields, may have a more relaxed dress code where sandals are considered appropriate. Likewise, regions with warmer climates may also have different expectations for business casual attire.

Addressing Colleague and Manager Attitudes

If you are concerned about the attitudes of your colleagues or manager regarding sandals, it may be helpful to bring up the topic in a respectful and professional manner. Having a conversation about dress code expectations can help clarify any confusion and ensure you are dressing appropriately for work.

The Evolution of Business Casual: Are Sandals Now Acceptable Footwear?

Business casual dress codes have evolved over time, with many companies now allowing for more relaxed attire. While sandals may not have been considered appropriate in the past, their practicality and versatility make them an increasingly popular choice for business attire. That being said, company culture and industry norms are still important factors to consider.

Interview with a Stylist: Tips on Incorporating Sandals Into Your Business Casual Wardrobe

To provide further insight into the appropriate way to wear sandals in a professional setting, we interviewed a professional stylist:

Professional Stylist Advice

“When styling sandals for a business casual outfit, it’s important to pay attention to the materials and colors you choose. Leather sandals in neutral colors, such as black or brown, are a safe choice for a professional setting. Avoid excessive embellishments or casual prints, and be sure to pair your sandals with tailored pieces to create a polished appearance.”

Answers to Common Questions and Concerns

Q: Can I wear sandals to a formal business meeting or event?

A: Sandals may not be appropriate for a formal business meeting or event. Instead, opt for closed-toe dress shoes.

Q: Are colored or patterned sandals appropriate for a business casual outfit?

A: While some patterns and colors may be appropriate, it’s best to stick with neutral-colored sandals in a professional setting to maintain a polished appearance.

Final Thoughts and Takeaways

While the appropriateness of sandals in the workplace can be a grey area, they can be a comfortable and stylish addition to a business casual outfit. Always consider the dress code expectations of your workplace and use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to wear sandals to work.


Sandals can be a comfortable and practical choice for business casual attire. By following dress code guidelines, styling appropriately, and paying attention to your workplace environment and industry norms, you can incorporate sandals into your professional wardrobe with ease.

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