Oh honey, those are L.A. shoes, you've got to get yourself some New York shoes STAT.
July 31, 2012 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Order up for some serious, stylish, comfortable shoes that are New York fashion AND all-day-walking compatible.

If I go to the big city one more time with shoes that don't live up to a full day of pounding the pavement, I think my partner will seriously consider leaving me blistered and bloodied with my broken-strapped, formerly adorable 3-inch heels to fend for myself the steps of the High Line. His patience is all used up and he doesn't understand why I don't just wear something practical already like sneakers(!), even though we're in and out of the kinds of places where the fashionistas flit around in their Jimmy Choos anytime we're in town on business.

Yes, that was me buying moleskin and bandaids at Duane Reade at 4pm on a Saturday. Yes, that was me (oh the humiliation) buying Crocs at an outdoor kiosk in sheer desperation. Yes, that was even me, long after midnight, abandoning my silver heels on a stoop in Chelsea and hailing a cab barefoot.

So, what's a lady to do, especially in the warmer months when I can't rely on super-cute boots to carry me through? I need all your best advice for stylish, comfortable, all-day-walking worthy shoes that can be worn — preferably without socks — with dresses or skirts.

Danskos and tennis shoes just aren't going to cut it here, fashion-wise, but Danskos have the right comfortablity / longlastedness that I'm looking for: unfortunately, they're too far down the hip-ness ladder to be a serious contender.

What, my fashionable friends, should I be shod in on my regular, pavement-pounding trips to the Big Apple? Please, oh please, hope me and my blistered feet.
posted by mmmcmmm to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (47 answers total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite brand of shoes is Sofft. I'm a teacher and I can stand all day in these (I've even jumped rope at recess!) plus they're SUPER cute, at least to my eye (I live in DC so an east coast city). Good luck!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:32 PM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Tom's comes highly recommended and they are full of ethical goodness.

Keen's also has some mighty nice comfy canvas Mary Jane type shoes.

Alternative Outfitters additionally has some sassy selections.

(I asked pretty much the same question you did on FB; my walking shoes are only slightly different!)
posted by Kitteh at 6:38 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I meant, my walking shoes NEEDS are only slightly different. Oops.
posted by Kitteh at 6:39 PM on July 31, 2012

Cute Birkenstocks are the answer if you have some time to break them in gradually before your trip. These are the ones that I (and quite frankly seems like half the city) like the best.
posted by telegraph at 6:40 PM on July 31, 2012

If you end up wearing heels or anything dressy for part of your trip - I am amazed at what these Superfeet insoles have done for my 3" heels. Completely transforms the experience.
posted by belau at 6:44 PM on July 31, 2012

I swear by Worishofers if I want a cute, feminine shoe that dresses up nicely. The heel is maybe two inches?

I like Toms, but they're a lot more casual -- better with jeans or shorts than skirts, IMO.

Lots of people here in New York wear Danskos. They have a reputation of being more Cute Bartender/I Work In A Bookshop chic, and probably won't fly if you're talking about going to really elite places. I wouldn't wear them to the opera, or Per Se. But you can definitely get away with them for a day out and about in the city.
posted by Sara C. at 6:45 PM on July 31, 2012

Frye makes a ton of cute low heeled shoes that are very comfortable.
posted by milk white peacock at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Dansko, Fluevog, Arche, Pikolinos, Clarks.
posted by kimdog at 6:51 PM on July 31, 2012

I'm a fan of Superga - basic, comfy, affordable. Apparently the Olsens also approve.

Refinery 29 usually features cute/stylish sneakers pretty often as well.
posted by jus7brea7he at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2012

Ballet flats? Corso Comp has nice ones that hold up.
posted by fshgrl at 7:02 PM on July 31, 2012

I might be setting the bar too high for cuteness, but I place aesthetics pretty high on the list, edging out comfort. The best compromise I've found are the expensive-but-worth-it Cole Haan with Nike Air Technology shoes.

I have worn the Air Talia for 7+ hours on my feet, on city pavement, in and out of restaurants, skipping up subway stairs. I won't say my feet were overjoyed at the end of the day, but they were free of blisters and pain and I was able to wear terribly cute shoes.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:08 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: UNITED NUDE. Oh man I am obsessed with these fancy pants NYC chic shoes. Obviously not the pumps. But you could totally walk all over NYC in any of these, amirite?
posted by pazazygeek at 7:15 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

Would you consider a peep toe wedge? I have good luck with Zappos Fitzwell brand generally. Lots of kitten heels and not so frumpy shoes there.
posted by 26.2 at 7:15 PM on July 31, 2012

anything that Benjamin Lovell carries. many of their shoes are made in Australia. they sexy and super comfy. yes they're in philly but maybe you can call and get some recs.
posted by PeaPod at 7:20 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: Oh good heavens. Asking mefi for fashion advice is always a disaster. I'm sure you know Birkenstocks won't fly here in NYC, like ever. I'm not super-stylin', mostly because I've gotten lazy, but as a NYer I have found some cute options when I know I'm going to be pounding the pavement all day and I want to look cute. Keep in mind though, that I don't have a big budget, so if you are looking for designer comfort shoes, that I can't give you.

I've been a fan of Seychelles for a long while now. Most of their styles are really comfy. Cute!

I also got these at the beginning of the summer from Aldo. I put them on that day and promptly walked at least from midtown to LES to Williamsburg in them with not a single blister.

I was going to say that I have a great pair of toms ballet slippers in this cute guatemalan print that I've been sporting with casual shorts all summer, but I guess they discontinued them on their website.

Anyway, that's what I got for now.
posted by greta simone at 7:23 PM on July 31, 2012 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Fluevogs. Some more options.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:27 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: Corporette has a column on fave shoes from its east coast professional oriented crowd-Nike Air, Manolos, Calvin Klein, Taryn Rose, Ferragamo, Fleuvog, Clarks, etc,-favorite brands vary on the level of "cute" vs comfort desired.
posted by beaning at 7:29 PM on July 31, 2012

I wear these Seychelles sandals (in the black/multi) around town and feel both pretty comfy and pretty stylish.
posted by Kololo at 7:48 PM on July 31, 2012

Cute high-tops like these (but maybe ones that aren't a zillion dollars and secretly wedges) or classic Nikes. YMMV-- it's clear that you're fashionable, but these only work if you look hip.

You say you like boots, so how about a bootie with bare legs or oxfords? Or some gladiator sandals with enough supportive straps to keep your foot from moving around (and decent tread)?
posted by acidic at 7:56 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: Here's a secret for you. One of the reasons New York women carry big hand bags is for their shoes. Either you have built up leg muscles for heels 100% of the time, or you do like most women and wear flip flops while in transition. Many a time, I have joined women just outside a big fancy building in NYC, in a suit, switching into and out of dress shoes from flats/flip flops. As I'm lazy with pedicures, I preferred a pair of ballet flats from Aldo instead of flip flops. (I'm an Aldo nut since I have small feet.)

If you're not into that, you have to practice wearing those shoes in advance, often, and learn to walk on your toes. I seriously, after a long stint, felt weird walking on my heels barefoot on the floor after walking on my toes in heels for days at a time.

It's very difficult for your average woman to stomp around NYC (or anywhere) at the pace natives like to use (I still walk at this pace and I left 2 yrs ago) and keep your shoes, legs, and feet in tact in heels or new shoes. The annual bain of my existence was the first spring day and wearing my shoes for the first time of the season. They were always bloodied and blistered after that first time or two. They'd heal/callus and then I was good to go for the rest of the season.

I was always ecstatic when boot season came around...
posted by getmetoSF at 8:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]

Another Sofft fan here
Cole Haan with Nike Air Technology
I had a pair of Born 3" slingback heels I wore all over town.
Ugg had some cute(and high) sandals this summer, don't know how comfortable they are
posted by snowymorninblues at 8:20 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: Try a perforated oxford. They look great with dresses, shorts, or jeans and should keep your feet reasonably cool. You could also try a dressy thong sandal.

Stick with flats - plenty of stylish women wear flats here (as long as you're not headed out to the clubs) and there's just no point in suffering.

Also, I'm sorry, but disregard the responses suggesting ANY brand known for comfort shoes or any brand that manufactures "clogs." That shit don't fly here.
posted by dynamiiiite at 8:39 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: You guys are amazing! Keep 'em coming. I've already got about a million tabs open on Zappos but am still on the lookout for more options.

getmetoSF: Thank you, you've confirmed a long-held suspicion of mine. It's been a mystery to me how these Sartorialist fashionplates manage to get around the city. I'm glad to know that there are some cheaters out there that keep extra shoes in their purses. Keeps it real.
posted by mmmcmmm at 8:43 PM on July 31, 2012

French Sole New York, also known as FS/NY - they make a shoe called Sloop and it's my go-to between heels as I run around the city between meetings. They're super comfy and you can wear them all year long. Or just switch to flip flops like the rest of us :)
posted by blue_bicycle at 8:48 PM on July 31, 2012

The shiny gold goes a ways towards dressing up these very comfy walking sandals.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:51 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: also, despite the ghastly name, I think some of the Earthies shoes are very cute. Something like this?
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:01 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thirding the Cole Haans. I am a couple months into my first pair, and I notice the difference -- even over Danskos.
posted by Madamina at 9:02 PM on July 31, 2012

Geox. They run a bit on the narrow side.. pretty well made and good for walking.
posted by citron at 9:05 PM on July 31, 2012

Best answer: FWIW most of the Sartorialist sort of women wear those shoes because they take cabs everywhere or just sort of toddle around the neighborhood where they live without having to go far or quickly. In a lot of ways, heels in New York, especially heels that aren't simple and practical and made by a company like Clarks or Cole Haan, are a class thing akin to Chinese foot binding. When you see a woman wearing insane shoes in a fancy neighborhood, you know she either took a cab there or lives within a few blocks.
posted by Sara C. at 9:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [13 favorites]

Nthing Softt and Cole Haan Air Nike

I wore a pair of three inch Softt heels for about ten hours on my wedding day (and I hate heels) and my feet weren't killing me by the end.

And I just got bqck from a trip to Europe where I pretty much only wore my Cole Haans, since they were the only pair of shoes that could handle the miles of walking I did every day.

Disclaimer: I live in LA, but I'm terribly unhip, so I don't know what the cool kids wear.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 12:13 AM on August 1, 2012

OK, I live in London where nobody gives a shit what shoes you wear unless you go to places that a) have a dress code because they're posh b) have a dresscode because they're downmarket and use it as a way to weed out trouble. As I grew up somewhere that was mostly b), heels in the daytime always seem a bit odd to me. We're kind of casual when we go out here. It's interesting that the class thing works the other way in NYC - that they're a sign of a woman who can afford frequent taxis, not a woman who is dressing up to either conspicuously show off the cost of her wardrobe or to pull.

That said, seconding Clarks. I rarely wear heels - I have literally man-size feet that have actually broken a pair of Toms in the shop - but I can manage their heels as well as Hush Puppies. Clarks did a ballet shoe that is a plain, bright leather, and I wear these all the time, especially when I have a meeting and I need something I can stand up in on the Tube that also looks smart. French Sole don't go up to my size, but they're similar.

Secondly, are brogues fashionable in New York? I love mine. I resisted for ages because I thought a manly style would look awful on my feet, but it turns out that the womens ones are dainty and work like a boot when you need something you can walk in more than a pair of boots. After the cheap pair I bought when I wasn't sure I'd like them fell apart in the rain - DO NOT RECOMMEND - I got me a pair from Clarks, but Kate Kanzier do nice ones and I might stage a protest to get them to do a UK9 or two. Especially as they have named them after me. The bastards.
posted by mippy at 4:04 AM on August 1, 2012

Oh, and if I end up going to NYC next year, I might have to leave my credit card at home so I don't come back with several pairs of Fluevogs given how often they come up on these threads.
posted by mippy at 4:05 AM on August 1, 2012

Best answer: I may be enabling here, but once you know your size eBay is a good place to find Fluevogs.
posted by lillygog at 6:02 AM on August 1, 2012

Oh, and I'll also agree with Sara C.: really crazy heels mean that the wearer takes cabs and/or private cars wherever they're going.
posted by lillygog at 6:05 AM on August 1, 2012

Born Born Born. I have a pair of sandals with the same platform as these that I routinely wear for my long days in Manhattan, which routinely involve walking from 34th to 20th and then down to Union Square and then catching a train uptown and then... Super comfy, some of the styles are just adorable, and you can get 'em cheaper if you search around a little for last year's line.

I bought these shoes at the DSW off of Union Square as a pair of emergency shoes one afternoon when I, myself, had made a very poor choice of footwear.

I also have a pair of Born flips -- looks like the style has changed, so I can't link -- that are so comfortable that I wore them at Disney World, even unto Epcot Center, all day long, with nary a blister. They were more comfy than the Crocs flipflops I brought. Srsly. And you can get some cute ones -- just make sure you're done your toenails and you are in business.
posted by Andrhia at 7:52 AM on August 1, 2012

I find Franco Sarto wedge heels to be the most comfortable heels in the world. I bought two pairs last summer and I can actually RUN in them, and I am notoriously wobbly in most heels. I walk all days in these guys and have no problems.
posted by jabes at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2012

OH AND ALSO. Part of your problem is not the shoes at all. You need to invest in this stuff. You can get it at any Duane Reade. It has saved many a cute but slightly ill-fitting pair of shoes from consignment. It will change your life.
posted by Andrhia at 7:58 AM on August 1, 2012

Best answer: I love Pedro Garcia shoes, specifically the ones with this sole or this sole in flats, because they conform to the foot and have arch support. Also, a lot of their styles are suede with a nice soft leather lining, which has more give and doesn't tend to rub and blister as much as other shoes I've tried. In fact, it's the only brand that I've worn in my life (besides Merrell barefoot shoes, far too casual for your purposes) that have never given me a blister even after walking a ton in them when they are brand new.

Dammit, this thread is making me want to buy new shoes.
posted by bedhead at 10:36 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe too clunky/retro/hipster for your taste, but I am huge fan of both Swedish Hasbeens and Korkease for comfortable wedges and heels.

I have a pair of the super high peeptoe Swedish Hasbeens that I wore for twelve straight hours running around Vegas. I was drunk, I spent half the time running after my friends, and my feet didn't hurt nor did I fall on my face.

I have also heard great things about Camper. Some of their shoes are ugly; some are cute; all are too expensive for me at the moment.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:21 AM on August 1, 2012

Best answer: I actually find my Fluevogs to be SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Adorable, but I can't walk in them at all. When I'm in NYC and I'm walking alot in the summer, it's all about a wedge, if you want height. I've got some cork wedges from J Crew -- no longer available, sadly -- and I can walk in them for HOURS.

But I also spend a lot of time walking around NYC in my gold J Crew flip-flops.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:36 AM on August 1, 2012

Best answer: Also, to go back to your question and be super honest, it doesn't really matter that much how stylish the shoes you wear are, here in New York, if we're talking about a day out and about in the city.

I just took a walk around my gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood which is full of art school students and freelancey media types and hot new bars and cute places to eat brunch. Almost every woman I passed was wearing one of the following:

- cute low-profile sneakers like Toms, Keds, Supergas, Converse, etc.

- ballet flats

- sandals, with or without a low, practical heel.

- clogs of some kind, whether Danskos, Hasbeens, Svens, or the like.

If I were in Midtown right now there'd also be a subset wearing practical Cole Haan style heels. If I were in Tribeca right now there'd also be a subset wearing ridiculous impractical mega-platformed Lady Gaga monstrosities. If you're coming to NYC for a business meeting, the former would be the most appropriate. If you're coming to NYC to see and be seen at ultra-hip restaurants and clubs, the latter would be the most appropriate (in which case, taxis are your friend). If you're not doing either of those things, the above-mentioned shoes will have you fitting right in.
posted by Sara C. at 11:40 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding the recommendation for Born. I just got two pairs of Born platform wedges on sale at DSW and they are really cute (and tall!) but I could walk ALL DAY in them, they're so comfortable.

Born at Zappos

Born at DSW
posted by Groovymomma at 5:55 AM on August 2, 2012

Meta-comment: whatever you wind up buying, why not actually walk in them for a similar distance *before* making a vacation/social experience less-good by never fully trying them out first?
posted by talldean at 9:10 AM on August 2, 2012

Don't forget to search Amazon for Fluevogs. I got this pair there and they are seriously comfortable for lots of walking, and I haven't worn heels for years, even.
posted by Addlepated at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2012

I just bought these Cole Haans and they are spectacular. Can't recommend them enough. I was surprised at how affordable they were, too. $100 for a pair of very fashionable (to me), sturdy, heels that I can wear all day for many days in a row? That's a steal in shoe-money.

I wore them for four days straight at a recent conference. Unfortunately, I had a little blister on the back of one foot from a different pair of shoes that the Cole Haans aggravated a bit - so I picked up some of these blister band-aids to put on my heel. They are seriously amazing, and you should have a few in your purse as a just-in-case option.
posted by k8lin at 8:07 AM on September 29, 2012

Two lines no one has mentioned yet: 1. Miz Mooz. Built for comfort, but mid-range price point and NOT well known, so they probably won't have that "made for comfort" stigma that dynamiiiite mentions, above. (Absolutely true, sadly.) They're an Israeli company and they even seem to have relatively ethical production, if that's A Thing That Matters To You. Many of their styles are a little too Fluevog-y for my taste (I would NEVER wear Fluevogs to a business meeting!) but many of them are a little sharper and cleaner, and my pair lasted 2 years of almost daily wear. Also, 2. Vince Camuto.. Way more hit and miss when it comes to comfort, so definitely try them on/walk around a lot in the house first, but some of the styles are QUITE comfortable and well-made. I have a peep-toe patent leather slingback pair with a 1 inch platform and a 3 inch heel on top of that, and I can wear them for a solid 5 hours, assuming I get some sitting-down time in occasionally.

Also, please post what you buy and love! Inquiring minds, and all that. :)
posted by aarwenn at 9:09 AM on October 1, 2012

Ahem: read over what I wrote and it sounds a little judgy. To revise: I wouldn't personally feel COMFORTABLE wearing Fluevogs to a business meeting, because they're not really "me" and they don't go with my Corporate Wear. To the ladies in the place with style and grace, more power to you.
posted by aarwenn at 9:12 AM on October 1, 2012

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