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’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 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!
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after a long search I settled on these. Not super exciting but we will see how it goes. At least they will go with pretty much everything. Sorry for the dansko rant, I am just bitter about them because they are so heavy and I wore them for so long working full time and they changed the structure of my feet! My little toe started rotating. And all the ankle rolls… hard working nurse ain’t got time for that.
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.
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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