What trendy women's shoes are cozy through a long day of retail?
May 18, 2012 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some wide, stylish shoes that won't have my feet in agony after long days of retail!

I'm working at a new retail job for the summer, and my feet are already killing me. In the past, I've worn New Balance sneakers for retail jobs. They were dorky-looking but I never had foot pain! This time, that's not an option, sadly. I'm working for a trendy women's clothing brand--no sneakers, no flip-flops. I need sandals, wedges, or flats that won't leave me in pain at the end of the day! If they come in wide sizes, even better. Bonus points if they are trendy, come in bright colors, and won't look stupid with a printed sundress or cropped white pants, etc.

I looked into Cole Haan "Air" technology shoes and they look amazing, but they're too expensive for me. I am working retail, after all. I'd prefer to spend less than $60 if I can, but $100 is my absolute max.

I hate buying shoes online so it would help if you recommended things I can find at a brick and mortar store in the Boston metro area, but sites that have free shipping and return shipping are okay, I suppose.
posted by araisingirl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps the recommendations at Barking Dog Shoes can help you?
posted by flex at 9:01 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to recommend the flattest shoes you can find, probably in sharp contrast to everyone who comments in this thread. I like totally flat, no support ballet flats or sandals (like Bernardos).
posted by fshgrl at 9:22 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I get lots of compliments on these clarks mary janes when I wear them. They're comfortable for 8+ hours of standing. Not super trendy, but they work with almost anything.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:51 PM on May 18, 2012

I have super wide feet, and I wear Merrell barefoots. (The Mary Jane style.)
posted by ocherdraco at 9:59 PM on May 18, 2012

Romika shoes are comfortable and cute. They are usually more than $100 but you can often find them on sale for $90-100 (online and at brick and mortar stores). They are worth it. The ones I have are well-made and still feel good at the end of a long day of standing or walking.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:12 PM on May 18, 2012

Check out Born shoes. Also Clarks, Naturalizer, YOU by Crocs and Dansko. Many of these will not be what you're looking for, but some of their styles are really very cute. I kind of love the Clarks' Wallabee Chic, which are ugly-cute, right? And probably super comfy.

For less expensive shoes you could get a few pairs of, try Blowfish. The Gypsy style looks comfy and trendy.
posted by elizeh at 10:14 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, if you can only afford one pair, go for either a color that matches your skin, or a not-too-shiny pewter or gold (whichever tone complements your skin better). They will look better with pale summer clothes than black shoes (even if your skin is very dark--go for dark brown instead of black) and also look good with darker colors.
posted by elizeh at 10:17 PM on May 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've gone through a couple of pairs of Worishofer sandals -- ModCloth is selling them as "The Perf Sandal" and "View of the Sea Sandal", but you can find the same styles online anywhere (including Amazon for cheaper). I have the slingback and the ankle strap.

That said, the soles are kind of a dense foam, so you may need to take them in to a cobbler before the end of the summer to get them repaired before they wear down to the cork.
posted by littlemisslaika at 10:52 PM on May 18, 2012

Camper is the go-to, stylish brand that made wide cool again round Europe - not sure where you'd get them in Boston.
posted by progosk at 11:18 PM on May 18, 2012

I love my Doc Martin Mary Janes http://www.dmusastore.com/p-2613-8065-mary-jane.aspx
posted by dustsquid at 12:56 AM on May 19, 2012

I have wide feet and usually go for comfort over style. I recently bought these Crocs (yes, I know) but they're super comfortable and inoffensive in style. The charm can be removed to make them less Croc-like.
posted by essexjan at 1:57 AM on May 19, 2012

If you can get to Cambridge easily, Berk's usually has a good range of comfortable-yet-stylish shoes, and their employees are friendly and helpful. Plus, they often have a decently sized sale section, which might be useful for you!

It might also be worth heading to a larger discount place like DSW armed with a list of brands-- there are always a lot of terrible shoes there, but there are often some surprisingly good ones, and if you're willing to put in a bit of effort and know what you're looking for, you can find great stuff for cheap. Born shoes, mentioned above, often end up there for some reason.
posted by dizziest at 6:45 AM on May 19, 2012

Whatever you choose, after having worked many years in retail, I'd also have to say: Bring two or even three pairs of shoes, and switch every couple of hours. When your feet hurts, it affects your mental well-being, and that can hurt your sales too.

Don't wear the same pair shoes day after day, because that will wear them out and down faster than anything, especially if you're looking at inexpensive shoes. They need to air between wearings. Stuff them with paper or cedar bags when your feet aren't in them. Use a powder to keep the insides, and your feet dry, and put "taps" on the heels from day one to keep them from getting run-down quickly.
posted by peagood at 8:49 AM on May 19, 2012

I have a pair of Keens winter boots that are some of the comfiest shoes I've ever worn. Most of their summer styles are not cute, but a few are. I would also recommend Aravon, if you can find them on sale anywhere. I just bought a pair of their Maya style, and they are super comfy. New Balance is involved in making them somehow, and they feel strangely sneakerlike.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:42 AM on May 19, 2012

Crocs makes some amazing wedge heels.
posted by manicure12 at 11:40 AM on May 19, 2012

Oh and Endless for free shipping and returns! endless.com
posted by manicure12 at 11:41 AM on May 19, 2012

Keens might be worth considering. They saved my feet while I worked in retail.
posted by naturalog at 1:28 PM on May 19, 2012

I have this pair of Crocs in black. I stand and walk on bare cement floors for hours at a time. My feet tend to be a little wide. I've had so many people ask about these shoes, they are shocked when I say "They are Crocs"
posted by JujuB at 2:06 PM on May 19, 2012

I have these Bass Margie sandals from Zappos. I've worn them with shorts, pants, and sundresses, and they look fine.

Just be careful if you order them from Zappos - some pairs are defective and will make a swishy sound (like air being pushed out of a hole) when you walk. Return those and keep trying until you get a normal pair. Zappos is really nice about it.

You can get these sandals cheaper in Bass outlets, but I was never able to find the WW width, just W and M.
posted by topoisomerase at 2:56 PM on May 19, 2012

In my city, Birkenstock sandals (especially these ones and especially in metallics) are very trendy. They're also extremely comfortable, come in wide, and have been great for my back (I suspect they work best for people with high arches, but YMMV). If you do go Birks, be warned that the first day will be hell. The sole moulds to your feet, so until it does it's like walking on rocks.

Also: crocs.
posted by AmandaA at 3:35 PM on May 19, 2012

Thank you for all your very thoughtful suggestions. I bought a pair of squishy-looking Minnetonka's from DSW today before work that were cozy for about 2.5 hours, tops... and in pain/desperation bought Croc flats on my lunch break. They also had my feet aching after a couple of hours, with the added bonus of giving me sweaty feet and leaving my arch woefully unsupported. I think I just have to keep looking, but your replies gave me plenty of things to try out, so I appreciate every one them.

I also appreciated advice on colors/styles and the great advice to bring a few pairs and switch back and forth. I love my job and I don't even find it to be challenging to work long hours... it's only the agony of my feet that has me cranky, and it can really ruin an otherwise good day!
posted by araisingirl at 5:18 PM on May 19, 2012

I agree with everything peagood said.

Other things to look for in a shoe (I am not a foot doctor):
-Not too much cushioning. Yes, it's counter-intuitive. Too much will just tire out your foot muscles quicker. You still want some, but you don't want a noticeable amount. I have some of the Cole Haan Air shoes (for men, FWIW). They feel almost no different from other dressy shoes but I don't want to chop off my feet after wearing them all day.
-Slightly raised heel. Helps reduce tension on your Achilles tendon.
-Good socks. A pair of really good socks makes a huge difference. I also have low-ish arches and socks with an arch-band (don't know the industry term) are awesome. Go for sweat-wicking fabric and stay away from cotton. I use athletic socks whenever I can get away with it.

And standing in one spot is going to make you more achy at the end of the day than walking around. Keep yourself moving as much as you can.
posted by clorox at 11:49 PM on May 20, 2012

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