I would prefer not to look like an extra in Working Girl
March 27, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Over the last 4 months, I swapped out the driving part of my commute for walking. I walk about 4 miles round trip. This is great, but my beloved heels are all gathering dust in my closet. I would like to do the shoe swap out at work, but I really dislike the look of running shoes and dresses clearly designed for heels. Where can I get cute shoes for this purpose or am I resigned to running shoes?
posted by Nimmie Amee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
I would wear comfortable, high quality flats. I'd go somewhere like Nordstrom and try on several pairs of flats, to find something that's really comfortable for your particular feet. You don't want a flimsy ballet flat - you want something sort of substantial, and you might even want to put an extra insole in it. You could consider a Mary-Jane style if you like the aethetic.

To get some ideas, browse the flats section at Endless.com.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have Aerosoles flats like these which I love for the purpose of walking to work.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: There are a lot of Mary Jane-style and skimmer-style shoes with running-shoe soles out there. Aravon (by New Balance), Merrell, Keen, and Clarks are some brands I've had good experiences with.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have this same challenge! I wear sensible flats when I walk to work and carry cute shoes in my bag. I like Born flats for this purpose, but they wear out pretty quickly if you are walking in them 4 miles a day. Campers are also a good choice, if you can afford them. I recently went to DSW and tried on a million pairs of flats and ended up with some from a brand called Cliffs by White Mountain. They look pretty sporty/ugly in that photo but they actually look pretty neutral with my normal business casual work attire. Plus they have fantastic arch support, for me anyway.

Be prepared to replace your walking shoes at least once a year. They just won't hold up with this amount of walking, even the higher-quality brands.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cute low-heeled Mary Janes or comfy wedges! I've worn a lot of these Softspots for commuting.
posted by mochapickle at 12:24 PM on March 27, 2012

Response by poster: This is really helpful. I found that the flats I had weren't remotely prepared for the amount of walking I do nor were they much more comfortable than my heels.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 12:26 PM on March 27, 2012

Danksos would be good. There are different models but many are uber comfortable.
posted by miss tea at 12:27 PM on March 27, 2012

I have a walking commute that is slightly longer than yours, and I wear running shoes or Chucks and just carry my office clothing with me, as it often gets sweaty or damaged. I will sometimes walk in ballet flats, although I'm a fast walker and this tends to cause undue damage to the soles. I keep two pairs of black shoes (heels and flats) at work, along with a drawer of two sweaters, a shirt, a khaki skirt, etc. in case I forget something or if the weather changes. I do have two pairs of Eccos which have held up well, and a pair of resoleable Clark boots. There also are some cuter trainers! Puma often does sleeker designs, for example, though it depends on what kind of dress you're wearing.

Of course, this also depends on the climate and kind of path you're taking. I live in a place with cold winters, frequent rainy days and a lingering fondness for puddles, which is one reason I prefer to not wear dresses while walking.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:27 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 4-mile round trip? That is a lot of walking for the typical pair of women's flats or Mary Janes. I wouldn't do a daily 4-mile round trip in anything other than a good walking or athletic shoe long term; you're asking for foot and leg trouble. Then again, I am an Old.

I have a pair of all-black Reeboks that I use to get into work. They aren't glaringly "athletic shoes" with stripes - I hate that look, too.
posted by Currer Belfry at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

I wear Onitsuka Tigers with an extra insole, all black, for my ~1 mile each way commute. In the usually cold and snowy winters where I live, I walk to and from work in Bogs boots or LLBean boots.
posted by brackish.line at 12:30 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am an Old who walks everywhere in a cobblestoned city, and honestly my Clark's Privo skimmers and my Aravon Mary Janes last me a couple of years apiece.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:32 PM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Yeah, there are plenty of comfort flats that will look okay with a dress but give you enough support for 4 miles of walking.

Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.

Brands in general that I find good for walking that aren't athletic footwear: Clarks, Hush Puppies, Walking Cradles, Born, Fitzwell, Softspots, Propet, Camper...

I wouldn't do Dansko clogs unless you're used to walking in them. I find them incredibly uncomfortable.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:34 PM on March 27, 2012

I did much more than 4 miles round trip every working day for a fair few years. I'm in the UK so you might not be able to get my brands. In the winter I wore Clarks black lace up trainer-type shoes or Camper trainers. I did try others but the heels wore through within a few weeks. In the summer I wore any old sandals. Usually had to cycle through several pairs for a few weeks until they stopped giving me blisters but then this was fine.

When I say 'trainers' above, I don't mean the white running shoe type, just lace up well fitting slightly springy sole black shoes. I also used to walk in 2.5 inch heeled boots, but that did always make my feet ache by the end of the day.

Ballet shoe-type flats always made me feel like the bottom of my feet were bruised by the end of the day. I don't know if that's because I was wearing really horrible cheap ones or just because I wasn't used to them.
posted by kadia_a at 12:59 PM on March 27, 2012

I can't imagine walking four miles in clogs. Danskos are great for standing for long periods of time - they're great for people who work in hospitals, kitchens, etc. - but unless you really like walking in clogs, four miles a day in clogs is going to give you some serious shin and ankle pain.

N-thing the Born suggestion. I have a pair of Born loafers I bought three years ago, and they are extremely comfortable and just now starting to show some wear.

In addition to Clarks and Born, Puma also makes some cool Mary Jane style sneakers.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:24 PM on March 27, 2012

The search term you are looking for is "commuter flats". Those are the type that roll up and fit into a little bag for your purse.
posted by halseyaa at 1:49 PM on March 27, 2012

Again, with the Born shoes. I wear Danskos every day for standing and used to switch to flip flops for walking home in good weather. Now I'm older and want to wear better shoes, I wear (still Danskos for standing at work) but Born boots for all other things. (I just ordered more summery Borns on Friday.) And I walk A LOT.
posted by bquarters at 1:52 PM on March 27, 2012

Best answer: Hello! I also walk to work with some frequency, and I have become a convert to Merrell's barefoot shoes. What I really want is a pair of these. The biggest problem I have is trousers that are hemmed for heels need to be rolled up to wear with flats. Not the greatest look in the world, but hey. I will also admit to wearing my work out pants to walk to work in, and then changing at the office.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:53 PM on March 27, 2012

Three brands that can go the distance for me, walking a lot on problem feet -- they may be worth checking out. (Links are to Zappos just for convenience.)



posted by vers at 2:14 PM on March 27, 2012

Sorry, I was a bit unclear. I didn't mean the Dansko clogs necessarily-- they make some great and comfortable Mary Janes and other styles that might work as well. The Mary Janes I have are quite comfy.
posted by miss tea at 2:20 PM on March 27, 2012

I did a commute by foot like this for a couple of years in flats. Then I developed plantar fasciitis out of nowhere, and I am not an Old. (Yet.) A couple months of resting and now I can do the same commute again but only in sneakers with Super Feet. Listen to your gut about wearing good shoes on this--don't compromise on any level of comfort.

(I'm surveying all these brand recommendations with interest, but I might be resigned to my "extra in Working Girl" look. I've added legwarmers this winter for extra ooomph. And warmth. I'm taking some subversive glee in looking so dorky and knowing it.)
posted by purple_bird at 2:31 PM on March 27, 2012

During the winter/with pants/not boot weather, I wear dark colored trail running shoes usually in black or brown (lately they've been adidas kandida). Spring/summer I wear clark sandals. I usually tear through a pair of sandals per summer though...
posted by larthegreat at 3:13 PM on March 27, 2012

I walk about a mile and a half round trip to/from the train station most days, and I find Clarks ballet shoes work for me. They're the Cocoa Creme style, which annoyingly they aren't doing this year. Hush Puppies work well too. I have big feet and these are the brands I tend to go for for smart-ish walkable shoes.

I also have a pair of cheap New Look (think Forever 21 type thing) brogues which are surprisingly comfortable, but I'd never wear them for a longer walk as the soles are thin and they aren't built to walk much in. I plan to eventually replace them with some with a thicker sole.
posted by mippy at 4:05 PM on March 27, 2012

I walk that much regularly in Naot mary janes.
posted by mkuhnell at 5:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love lots of walking - campers are great, and I always always have the foam inserts in my shoes for extra cushioning. They will need to be replaced every so often - a certain amount of wear and they just go pfft.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:55 PM on March 27, 2012

I walk c. 3 miles daily in Ziera shoes, which are very comfortable for my over pronating feet, but I've only had them a month and the heels are wearing a touch. I've also used SAS clogs in the past; I'm trying to start alternating between them now so I don't overwear any of them too much.
posted by nat at 7:13 PM on March 27, 2012

I find flats much harder to walk in than heels.

If you have good quality shoes, I think you can walk this distance in heels. It takes some getting used to, but eventually it will be second nature.

I have no car so I am used to walking long distances to work and everywhere else.

Anything by Clark's is great - I really like their Indigo line. I can walk miles and miles in these ones without my feet getting sore:
posted by Pademelon at 8:23 PM on March 27, 2012

I normally go for Sketchers or Rocket Dogs, and both end up feeling like they were painted on my feet they fit so perfectly. But I don't have as long of a commute . . .
posted by lovingkindness at 6:44 AM on March 28, 2012

I do this and wear Dr Martens or Hush Puppies. They both wprk out fine, although I think the key is making sure they fit well. And alternating your shoes.

(I also do this with ballet flats but do not recommended it.)
posted by plonkee at 9:18 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

ablazingsaddle said: "I can't imagine walking four miles in clogs. Danskos are great for standing for long periods of time - they're great for people who work in hospitals, kitchens, etc. - but unless you really like walking in clogs, four miles a day in clogs is going to give you some serious shin and ankle pain."

This, unfortunately. I have recently made a point to walk a bit more than my usual 3-ish mile commute -- getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the extra 6 blocks, etc. -- and that little bit extra was apparently enough to make my Dansko clogs give me shin splints. My doctor said to wear sneakers instead, because the very solid sole of the Danskos doesn't let your foot bend enough when walking (or something like that).

I'm still working on switching, as Danskos are so easy to hop into while running out the door to the bus, so this thread is very helpful!
posted by librarina at 11:07 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have adopted Sperry Topsiders as my comfy, semi-dressy shoe of choice. They do take breaking in but are comfy once you do.
posted by dottiechang at 6:07 PM on May 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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