When I was in my early 20’s, I realized that I would not be able to sit at a desk for the next 40 plus years and went back to school to get a degree in occupational therapy. I specialize in pediatrics and work in a sensory integration gym with mats on most of the surfaces, so we take off our shoes when we treat. I wear Crocs at work! I play with children all day long and I don’t have to wear women’s shoes, ever, which I find impossible to walk in, anyway. When I go out I wear Frye boots in the winter or Mephisto sandals in the summer. I refuse to hobble myself.
Taos ballet flats. They had some in pewter a few years ago, with a laser cut design along the opening, that I wore daily until the leather on the right toe of one of them cracked. It was the only time I’ve ever felt heartbroken about shoes. I now have a pair of shiny patent leather (black) Taos ballet flats, but they lack the laser cut detail. I would pay double for another pair of those original flats. So cute, comfortable, and perfect with pants or dresses, even for someone with narrow feet.

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My husband splurged and got me a pair of Tory Birch flats for Christmas this year (these: https://www.toryburch.com/minnie-travel-ballet-flat–leather/32880.html?dwvar_32880_color=232&cgid=shoes-ballet). After years of wearing el cheapo Target flats, it was AMAZING. Zero break-in period. One of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I’ve ever worn. It has definitely made me realize that, if you can float it, better quality shoes are worth it!
Emily, thanks for this comment! I work in disaster relief, so I wear work boots when I’m on sites. I LOVE that my “work uniform” is a)whatever I want when I’m remote, and b)work boots and a hard hat when I’m on site. I wear Vasque hiking boots. These are sturdy and comfortable, with traction and support. They are not, however, steel-toed or puncture-proof, which would technically be best practice. I love them and am willing to forego the latter precautions, but I know that as another commentor mentioned, Red Wing has those things. I would recommend checking out Sierra Trading Post for certain boots, because nice quality brands tend to get very expensive, but they are worth seeking out at a discount.
I hear you! I wrote a similar request a while back about work-wear for those of us who don’t have as much flexibility in our attire for work. I’m a PT in a hospital and in pediatrics, so I’m always moving … and sometimes on the floor! Like you, I also walk a few miles a day. In my middle-age, I’ve discovered I’m a total sneakerhead and have taken to wearing fashion-forward sneakers that are also comfortable and longish-lasting. These are my current faves: Reeboks in aubergine! http://www.reebok.com/us/classic-leather-wb/BS6199.html?cm_mmc=RbkSEM_Google_PLA_ecom-_-NB-Men%27s-Shoes-Classics-_-Men%27s-Classic+Leather-_-Reebok&cm_mmca1=US&gclid=CMCmtIbj5dkCFc3Aswodmr8DUw&gclsrc=ds&dclid=CJSSuIbj5dkCFcy7swodHtwFyQ.
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Taos ballet flats. They had some in pewter a few years ago, with a laser cut design along the opening, that I wore daily until the leather on the right toe of one of them cracked. It was the only time I’ve ever felt heartbroken about shoes. I now have a pair of shiny patent leather (black) Taos ballet flats, but they lack the laser cut detail. I would pay double for another pair of those original flats. So cute, comfortable, and perfect with pants or dresses, even for someone with narrow feet.
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I’m a long-time reader but first-time commenter – this post has made me want to share my shoe shopping secret. On New Year’s Day, Saks has an incredible sale (up to 75 percent off!) before noon. It’s amazing for shoes! In the past few years, I’ve gotten black Rag and Bone 1.5” heel booties and grey suede Stuart Weitzman loafers for 70 percent off. Still a splurge, but so worth it. I wear them constantly. I work in a formal environment and have to be *dressed* for work each day (though I avoid suits). I also generally avoid heels, save for a pair of ridiculously comfortable oxford heels I got from L.L.Bean, of all places, and always get compliments on. Flats, loafers, and boots are my mainstays, even though I’m short and pretty small. You don’t have to wear heels to look professional!
Being a petite lady, I’m a size five in women’s, which proves difficult sometimes. Some shoes don’t even go down to a five! Always a six, never a five. So I’ve started resorting to buying kid’s shoes! A women’s five is around a kid’s 3-3.5, depending on the shoe. I’ve found lots of cute slip on shoes this way, for example! I always get a small internal swell of resourceful pride when I get complimented on them, knowing, little do they know, I got them for cheap from the children’s section!
When I was in my early 20’s, I realized that I would not be able to sit at a desk for the next 40 plus years and went back to school to get a degree in occupational therapy. I specialize in pediatrics and work in a sensory integration gym with mats on most of the surfaces, so we take off our shoes when we treat. I wear Crocs at work! I play with children all day long and I don’t have to wear women’s shoes, ever, which I find impossible to walk in, anyway. When I go out I wear Frye boots in the winter or Mephisto sandals in the summer. I refuse to hobble myself.
I can’t say enough about Rothy’s flats! I have two pairs – a leopard print and a bright blue with orange soles and they are both the pointed toe flats. I get a ton of compliments from random people on the street, and all of my coworkers have bought a pair. They feel like sneakers but are fashionable and can be washed in the washing machine so if I get caught in a rainstorm, they aren’t ruined.
I commute in Cole Haan ballet flats (unless boots are needed) and then change into heels at my desk. My most comfortable are the Sam Edelman Hazel pumps, which are honestly the most comfortable heels I’ve ever worn. Pro tip – Zappos sells the black and nude (in various materials) in a narrow width, which has been a life saver for my feet! I’ve also found Ann Taylor and Tory Burch heels to be pretty comfortable and narrow feet friendly. 
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