Walking Shoes
October 23, 2004 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Shoes for business travel? I have week long business travel trips that involve not just sitting but quite a bit of walking. I'd rather only take 1 pair of shoes, but I find my 'business' shoes' to be uncomfortable after a day of sitting around, let alone 2 or 3 miles on the hoof. I'm willing to pay for good shoes. Anybody know what's good?

They need to be 'businessy' enough not to draw much attention in meetings w/ europeans, but comfortable enough to be my only shoe, and stylish enough to not look too dorky if I go out to see a show...
posted by daver to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hard to go wrong with a good pair of Clarks.
posted by saladin at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2004

I recently picked up a pair of Clarks that fit these requirements. I travel for business every other week and I like to pack VERY light - I'm talking a rolling laptop case with a small clothing compartment and a tote - so space is at a premium. They were about $70 and are good for both work and casual situations. And they're very comfortable - I hoofed it around NYC for a week in them and my feet felt great.

On preview - what saladin said.
posted by bedhead at 9:19 AM on October 23, 2004

I've used Rockports for a long time--they've got a line that's basically "business shoe on top, sneaker on the bottom". They're as comfortable as sneakers to walk around in, but are definitely acceptable for business casual. (I wear them all the time with slacks and a sportcoat, but I wouldn't necessarily wear them with a suit.)

The bottoms are a bit thicker in the sole than a normal business shoe, so they don't look 100% business, but the tops are leather, nicely made, and look like any other shoe you'd wear to a meeting. (They also have a line that has kind of a treaded boot bottom, like a cross between a dress shoe and a Doc Marten--that's not what I mean. I don't have the time to dig up a link, but the ones I wear have a flat, pretty normal-looking sole.)
posted by LairBob at 9:45 AM on October 23, 2004

Rockports are great, but keep in mind that many europeans consider rubber soles to be kind of dorky. ;) Although it depends on who you're meeting with, because just like in the states, many areas can get more casual. Check out their footwear next time you see it.

Personally, once they're broken in (takes about a month of almost daily wear), I love Cole-Haans. They're comfortable enough for all-day and all-night wear, they're durable if you hit em with some polish occasionally, and they look great.
posted by SpecialK at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2004

Two pair of the best walking/standing business shoes I've ever had were some waiter-model from Red Wing and Nordstrom's BusinessSoftwear line. Great fit, nice look and available in triple Es for the canoe paddles that are my feet. Don't know if Nordstrom still carries that line but that was back in '97 and this pair, though it's seen near daily use, is still going strong.
posted by Tacodog at 10:24 AM on October 23, 2004

I have a pair of dressy shoes from ecco that are very comfortable.
posted by gyc at 10:29 AM on October 23, 2004

I had a comfy pair of Rockports that lasted forever. Dr. Martens has a line of dressier shoes that are also very comfortable.
posted by Otis at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2004

Side Note: has anyone ever had luck taking existing shoes and making them more comfortable by adding inserts? If it's effective, is it dorky?
posted by weston at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2004

Rockports did me in last time, unfortunately. The shoe was 'breaking' over my pinky toe. Ouch.

Ok: follow on -- can I find nice, thick 'dress' socks? Usually they're those really thin kind which are't particulary nice for feet.

Weston: I have badish feet, and my doc has reccomended Smartfeet for me for a few years. I'm not clear that they make the shoe itself more comfortable (less padding than the stock inserts), but they make my feed more comfortable in the long run.
posted by daver at 11:57 AM on October 23, 2004

Allen-Edmunds and Johnston & Murphy make great loafers which are dressy enough for business and casual enough for sight seeing. Look for a solid and substantial footbed and support. Johnston & Murphy have a "trampoline" system (thier TM I think) which is pretty decent. You can always add an insert with better support. If you really have bad feet I would get some custom made orthotics. They make a huge difference and insurance will often pay for them.
posted by caddis at 1:25 PM on October 23, 2004

Depends on how dressy you need to be. Clarks and all the Rockports I've seen wouldn't cut in in my circles. But I love the Allen Edmonds Benton and Berglund lace up styles. Comfortable, Virbram soles and they're dressy enuf for all but the most formal business settings. Almost $300, but they show up on eBay for less.
posted by mojohand at 4:15 PM on October 23, 2004

Oh, and what Caddis said about the perscription orthotics, but learn from my mistake and get them before you strain your foot ligments. As you get older you discover there're a lot of things you can screw up that never quite heal, ever again. Suqs.
posted by mojohand at 4:18 PM on October 23, 2004

Turns out smartwool makes passable socks which are quite a bit nicer than the nylon gold toes I've been wearing. Got them now, they're good.
posted by daver at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2004

If you can get away with Clarks, Eccos, or the like, you should. Be advised, however, that there is a palpabale difference between those shoes (which are a little dressy, and very comfortable), and the Cole Haan/Allen Edmonds/Johnston & Murphy set. All three of the latter shoes are decent, but IMO Cole Haan makes the best widely available sub-$300 dress shoe. They wear better than the other two, and they are extremely comfortable for a dress shoe. Tacodog mentioned Nordstrom shoes. I have never owned their house brand but if they are like every other private-label nordstrom product, they're probably absolutely fantastic.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:19 PM on October 23, 2004

I just went through the pain of shoe shopping. I needed something I could go to class with, walk around, not look like a douche, and go to work. I settled on Cole Haan, and I seriously considered Prada, Gucci, [insert overpriced labelicious brand here]. I can't vouch for the long-term wear but they're just as comfortable and nice looking without the label that screams "look at me". Also they lack the standard $150 markup for being Gucci, Prada, etc.

On a side note, my good friend is closely related to either Mr. Allen or Mr. Edmonds. I always found it funny that a standard dirt poor college student scrounging for money to go to the bars had 4 or 5, $300 shoes in his closet.
posted by geoff. at 9:23 PM on October 23, 2004

If you want your shoes to last longer, get those cedar insert thingies. They keep your shoe's shape and the cedar absorbs odors. Or maybe it kills moths. Shoe moths.

I really have no idea how it works but mom insisted on 'em and lo, the Tacodog obeyed.
posted by Tacodog at 8:33 AM on October 24, 2004

I'm not sure how dressy they get, but Mephistos are great for walking.
posted by Vidiot at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2004

I love my Rockport wingtips. When I wear them with the black athletic tube socks I buy at WalMart, they're every bit as comfortable as tennis shoes. I wear them with my tuxedo, even.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:12 AM on October 25, 2004

Mephisto currently makes two models that are conservative, businesslike black oxfords (except for the annoying Mephisto label). They are priced at $300 and $400 the pair, but you can walk on them for 16 hours if they're sized right - they feel like tennis shoes.

I've been annoyed with other shoe companies - first Ecco, then Rockport, then Kenneth Cole. They all seem to prefer to retain a certain price point, dealing with inflation by dropping quality. Mephisto is where I'm at currently.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:44 PM on October 26, 2004

Follow on: I went w/ some Eccos, wore them all week. Didn't even have to break them in. I did get a small blister on the back of one heel, but I figure that's life if you take new shoes on a week long trip. I also tried clarks and a few others, the eccos fit the best.
posted by daver at 8:10 AM on November 1, 2004

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