I work at a business school and rarely wear heels anymore. I have embraced a feminine menswear style. I have the everlane loafers, cole haan oxfords (they come in wide which translates to less narrow), an old pair of jcrew monkstrap type shoes. I have one pair of 1” -ish heels, again “wide” cole haans. Non work I do clogs/clog boots (everyone has their fancy faves but Dansko is still my go to for their sole) and multiple Ecco leather sneakers. Very comfy, those!
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!
I’m a produce manager so I need to wear comfy, heavy, non-slip shoes. After much searching, I found these https://m.6pm.com/p/shellys-london-tulle-hiker-boot-leopard/product/8940739/color/429?zhlfid=139&kpid=42196438&ef_id=WZirBgAAAHxMmQN_:20180310231403:s ( although I got mine for $60!) and they are both cute and functional. And I get compliments on them all the time.
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’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!
I work for a public transit system, so I have a job that has my time split in offices with public officials wearing suits and walking around in train yards and tunnels with oil-covered rail mechanics. Sometimes I’ll have time to swap out my shoes at my desk, but I’ve relied on these suede Vans https://goo.gl/yVJZxT for 3 years now. They’ll never pass for heels, but they are incredibly versatile and comfortable plus the price point is perfect.
I think I need the Everlane heels now … I work in a corporate legal department in Northern California, but I am often meeting with executives, so I am trying to look halfways professional. I am also a 6 footer, so don’t really need heels. I love Paul Green oxfords (available on Zappos), they look great with slacks or jeans; they look essentially like mens’ oxfords (wingtip and such), but a bit cuter, and they are incredibly comfy and long-lasting.
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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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For those of us not in an office setting that requires heels and the like…Hoka One One Bondi 5 and Hoka One One Clifton 4 running shoes are amazing. Working in a research lab on my feet all day I’ve found there’s no point in wearing anything other than sneakers (and absolutely no open toed shoes – you’ll lose a foot!). I have gigantic and WIDE hoofs with a supination issue and high arches. Hoka One One makes the best shoes for my feet (the Bondi is the cushiest). Insoles that support your unique foot shape are a must (I’ve found that Superfeet Green insoles do it for me, plus a custom pair of orthotics for long runs). But seriously, go see a podiatrist and get your feet and your gait analyzed (multiple times throughout your life – it changes!). Well worth the co-pay.