How are well-dressed lab rats shod?
April 13, 2012 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Classy, not-too-ugly shoes. Level of difficulty: for a lady, chem and clean room lab appropriate (no heels, foot completely covered).

I work in a research facility, and am very, very slowly working on updating my "this is the bare minimum required to look like a grownup" look. I'm having trouble with shoes.

I need shoes that are not open on the top in any way--not ballet flats or mary janes or anything like that. I can't have heels because they damage clean room suits, and heels make me fall down anyways. The options at the shoe stores are very minimal and sad-looking, but I'm hoping that someone has a magic word that isn't "Danskos", as that's the only thing I wear right now.

(If it helps, here's a picture of me wearing what I normally wear to work--dark pants, solid color top with mimimal detail (often a button-down, and often with a sweater), everpresent clogs. Like I said, I'm working on it.)
posted by tchemgrrl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
What is your price range? That seems key.
posted by Frowner at 8:06 AM on April 13, 2012

How about those women's men-style dress shoes that are in style now? Or boots or "booties"? Will post links when I'm not on my phone.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:18 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: You don't mention your price range, but Fluevog makes some fantastic flats and almost-flats (like Danskos) that are really comfy and should meet your needs:

posted by juniperesque at 8:20 AM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: Frowner: Budget's not too much of a problem but if they're over, say $150 I'd want them to be something really well made and not one-season trendy.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: Boots!


Not technically Dansko!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

They may not be grown-up enough for you, but all-black Converse are neat looking, comfortable and not too pricey. I wear them to the office. Mine are like this, all-black with no white trim.
posted by anadem at 8:31 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: Classy womens shoes that aren't open on top is definitely a little tricky. Depending on your style, you might find some you like at Fluevog but cheap they are not. I have these derbys and absolutely love them. I get complements on them a lot. Something like these loafers could maybe work. They also have a lot of cute boots, but finding boots that cover your feet is not nearly as hard a challenge.

For in-person shopping, I recommend trying to find a small, quirky shoe store rather than going to one of the big ones. Stores focused on comfort shoes also usually have a good selection of shoes with good coverage and a low heel, but they do tend to cluster around clog-type styles.
posted by duien at 8:34 AM on April 13, 2012

Currently I am loving brogues, particularly brown ones.

Good examples here.
posted by like_neon at 8:35 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Upon posting, I also second booties!
posted by like_neon at 8:41 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: These are my go-to comfortable, professional, closed shoes: Clarks Dara II.
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2012

For comfort I like SAS (San Antonio Shoes) but for style (but I work sitting) I wear Lands' End Clogs.
posted by tilde at 9:01 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: Seconding oxfords. Frye has some really cute ones. I like the look of their Carson Oxford.
posted by sanitycheck at 9:17 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: I don't know if they fall into the "ugly" category for you, but I find Eastland's Oxford-style shoes to be classic, and extremely well-made and durable. They're a little mannish, but I kinda dig that, personally.

Also, I have a pair of these and they make me feel like a rockstar.
posted by BrashTech at 9:27 AM on April 13, 2012

For the clean room suit problem, I'd suggest keeping a pair of sneakers at work and changing into them right before you suit up. When I rocked a bunny suit, we'd often change our clothes and shoes beforehand because those Tyvek sweatbags are so damn uncomfortable. A quick dash from bathroom to gowning room in shorts and sneakers was a common sight in summer for men and women alike. Rubber-soled flats are the best for bunny suits because, while the footies have a grippy tread on the outside, they're slippery on the inside and the footies are big enough to slosh around in. It's like walking on waxed paper while carrying something toxic or infectious. Whee!
posted by Quietgal at 9:28 AM on April 13, 2012

Best answer: I like Ecco - so comfortable, and they specialize in styles like what you need. Here's a cute example. I also like Camper, but they may be too casual for what you're looking for.
posted by hazyjane at 10:04 AM on April 13, 2012

The Camper Beetle shoes are like sexier, sleeker clogs. Maybe too casual, but no heels, closed on the top, and not clogs!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:21 PM on April 13, 2012

I have been coveting Cole Haan's women's Oxfords. They run $180-ish.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:59 PM on April 13, 2012

I've been wearing plain black Merrell mocs now for a long time and can recommend them. They're comfy, they look pleasantly neutral and you can stand or walk all day in them.
posted by zadcat at 2:51 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

They might be too close to Danskos, but I have a pair of B.o.c. Peggy embossed clogs in red and they make me feel awesome. I'm not usually one for designs or non-balck/brown shoes, but these have been great! I'm debating getting a patent pair at some point.
posted by wiskunde at 3:08 PM on April 13, 2012

Some of the women who I work with, wearing a similar style as that in your photo, favour Puma athletic shoes; they're rounded and cute like ballet flats but offer full coverage. Lots of models in solid colours or very minimal piping, as well as more flashy colours.
posted by porpoise at 7:38 PM on April 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! I really like the Fluevogs and will probably look more at the various low-boot options in the fall.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:56 AM on April 26, 2012

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