Dress shoes that are great to walk in?
October 23, 2005 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I walk 3/4 of a mile to and from work every day, and my Bostonian Strada dress shoes are not up to snuff. Can anyone recommend a classically-styled dress shoe that is comfortable to walk in?
posted by kaufmajm to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Wouldn't it be cheaper just to wear sneakers to work and switch shoes when you get there?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:56 PM on October 23, 2005

Get yourself some arch supports. Johnston & Murphy pay attention to proper support, but even their shoes could use a good arch support added in.
posted by caddis at 5:58 PM on October 23, 2005

Three quarters of a mile isn't really all that far. Sneakers while comfy don't sound necessary for that.
posted by konolia at 6:17 PM on October 23, 2005

I like Cydwoq brand and find them very comfortable, but many people do not (they have a piece of metal between the soles). Perhaps their Race, Bullit, or Act models (all on this page) would suit your purposes. (I don't know what Bostonian Strada shoes look like so pardon me if these aren't appropriate.)

I walk my dog almost 4 miles a day in my own.
posted by dobbs at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2005

I like SuperFeet supports. They're cheap enough, last about a year, and feel good. They even make my slippers bearable, so they should work just fine with your dress shoes.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:26 PM on October 23, 2005

I don't know how much you want to spend, and I see that the Strada isn't too dressy a shoe. That being said, if you want a real dress shoe (the kind one would wear with a suit):

IMO, Cole-Haan makes the best $200 dress shoe. Very comfortable and long-lasting (far better than Allen-Edmonds or Johnston & Murphy). Expect to resole them often.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:30 PM on October 23, 2005

My Eccos have been great for walking.
posted by Utilitaritron at 6:34 PM on October 23, 2005

SuperFeet are great, but they seem to be more popular West of the Mississippi. Try www.superfeet.com
posted by 6:1 at 6:36 PM on October 23, 2005

I once wore a pair of Allen Edmonds out of the store and, failing to find a cab, walked 40 blocks in them without discomfort, then or the next day. They're excellent.
posted by nicwolff at 6:47 PM on October 23, 2005

I've had good experience with Bostonians and Kenneth Cole Reactions.
posted by corpse at 6:56 PM on October 23, 2005

Have you tried those pads you put inside your shoes? They're not as soft as sneakers but a big improvement over hard soles. They're only $5 or $10, so it's worth trying before you shell out for a new set of shoes.
posted by electro at 6:56 PM on October 23, 2005

For comfortable dress shoes, I love my Mephistos, though the small visible badging means I only wear them when I expect to be walking quite a bit.

My regular dress shoes are from Crockett & Jones, and were chosen by devoting two hours to trying on shoes until I found one that seemed potentially ideal. Time has proven that this was worth the tedium.

I've previously owned the aforementioned Johnston & Murphy and Cole-Haan shoes, and have nothing bad to say about them, so long as they fit your foot very well.
posted by I Love Tacos at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2005

Mephisto makes excellent shoes too.
posted by josh at 7:00 PM on October 23, 2005

I disagree that Cole-Haan shoes are better than Allen-Edmonds or Johnston & Murphy. I own top shoes from all three and the Johnston & Murphy are the best (in overall quality and in foot support which do not always equate), followed closely by Allen-Edmonds, followed not so closely by Cole-Haan, IMHO, YMMV, yadda, yadda, yadda. Reasonable minds can differ; do your own research.

There are other shoes out there which are far superior orthotically, but finding that kind of support in a proper business dress shoe is quite the trick. Luckily, inserts, either custom designed orthotics or generic arch supports, turn a shoe with a good sturdy sole, and all of the above fit that criteria, into a properly supporting shoe. Super Feet are great, but even these Dr. Scholls supports are pretty darn good and you can buy them at the supermarket or drug store.

If you experience pain in a 3/4 mile walk you probably need some form of added orthotics to prevent future foot pain such as plantar fasciitis.
posted by caddis at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2005

REI carries SuperFeet--that's where I got mine.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:20 PM on October 23, 2005

The absolute best, most comfortable dress shoe I've ever worn is Alden. They're pretty expensive (slightly more than Allen-Edmonds), but worth every penny. If you're in SF or NYC, visit the shop (SF location) and you'll be given some of the best service you can imagine. They're used to serving lifetime customers and will treat you that way.

I alternate days between my Allen-Edmonds and Aldens. The Allen-Edmonds are also very comfortable and look great, but are just a notch below the Aldens in every category (comfort, quality, looks, etc). I have a very wide foot (12EEE in Alden/Allen-Edmonds, but, oddly, a 14EEEE in New Balance tennis shoes) and the first time in my life that I was actually comfortable in my shoes for an extend period of time is when I finally ponied up the money for a high quality shoe like an Alden.
posted by mullacc at 7:47 PM on October 23, 2005

I almost never wear black shoes, but the one pair I have is a Johnston & Murphy pair. I cringe every time I have to wear them. They don't have nearly the range of widths available - so they don't fit me right. But just comparing the build quality, I can't even imagine how someone could compare them to Allen-Edmonds (unless the J&M that caddis mentions are the special "signature" series or some such that is better than the average J&M shoe). It's like comparing a Town Car to a Benz - yeah, the town car is nicer than your average car but it's no Benz.
posted by mullacc at 7:56 PM on October 23, 2005

I suggest Born Shoes. I've had three pair and they are quite stylish in my opinion.

posted by huy_le at 8:04 PM on October 23, 2005

John Fluevog makes beautiful and tremendously comfortable dressy shoes for men and women.
posted by luriete at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2005

Foot pain or not, you're putting serious mileage on your shoes. I get about 1000 miles out of a pair of hiking boots. The number's gotta be quite a bit less for dress shoes, especially if they have leather soles. So... maybe you want a (cheaper) pair of walking shoes and a dressier pair you wear inside at work.
posted by Opposite George at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2005

Second Kwantsar and the Cole Haan's. They're owned by Nike now so there's some sneaker tech in there. Mine have air-supportness and I just hiked for 3 hours up a trail in Colorado with 'em. They held up great, were quite comfy. I've had mine for over a year and a half now and they're still going along great -- and I tear through shoes. Everyone was mocking me b/c it looked like I was about to go hiking in dress shoes (I stand out here in Colorado)...

K's right that you may need to resole, but that is obviated by the other good suggestion, which is to get pads/insoles. Entirely necessary. Buy some damn 10 dollar gel pads.

This will work.
posted by spiderwire at 10:02 PM on October 23, 2005

Oh, one caveat on the Cole Haans is that you should get the Air support shoe for heavy walking. They fit me just like my Nike sneakers. Of course, if you don't like Nikes (I used to be Reeboks, then Adidas), it might not be your cup of tea.

Also, disagree on the Johnston & Murphy. I have a pair of monkstraps that look nice but wore down very quickly and in addition fucked up my foot last weekend at a conference on Boston.
posted by spiderwire at 10:05 PM on October 23, 2005

I have to disagree with luriete: while Fluevogs look great, I have never found a pair that walks great nor have been particularly comfortable. I have torn the shit out of the back of my heel on Fluevogs moreso than any other brand.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:44 PM on October 23, 2005

I echo ILT's recommendation of Mephistos. The pair I currently wear are amazingly comfortable - and I walk ~2-3 miles a day in them.
posted by fourstar at 2:17 AM on October 24, 2005

Leather soled dress shoes are not for power walking and it sounds like what you might be wearing. I gave up on mine here as I do lots of walking. In Spain there are a lot of really good dress shoes that are being made with very comfortable rubber soles. The kind I bought are Callahan brand but am not sure if they can be found outside of the country. They fit like a glove and feel like tennis shoes. Cost isn't bad at 105 euros or $126.
posted by JJ86 at 2:48 AM on October 24, 2005

I don't have a good recommendation, unfortunately, but I will add that I have a nice pair of Johnston Murphy's that have shown accelerated wear since I started walking to work (about 1.2 miles one way).
posted by fearless_yakov at 7:19 AM on October 24, 2005

I love my Camper shoes. The pairs I've had have been super-comfortable, with rubbery souls and uppers made from lovely soft leather. I'm not sure that they will be dressy enough for you, but you might want to check out their range at www.camper.com
posted by jonesor at 7:26 AM on October 24, 2005

Clarks. All day every day. Even better than Ecco.
posted by ewkpates at 10:28 AM on October 24, 2005

Look, you've got a bunch of recommendations here for what are all probably well-constructed shoes that are comfy for the people making the recs. Just remember that all feet are different and some shoes might work well for you while others might not work at all. Every shoemaker will tell you why their shoes are the best for everybody but of course that's all marketing hype.

Take your time picking your shoes, paying particular attention to these three things: First, do they have adequate room in the toe box (front and sides) -- this is a particular area of concern if any part of your walk has steep downhill sections as you don't want to be banging your toes against the front of the shoes. It might not seem like a big deal but the damage adds up and after several days you can seriously bruise your toe or nail (trust me, it happens and it sucks when it does.)

Second: support in the arch/sole area -- do the shoes feel like they're comfortably holding up your feet (without making your foot want to "tuck under" at the ankle.) You want your weight spread out evenly across the bottom of your foot. Lots of walking can make your arch flatten and make your feet spread out in the front and on the sides (which will have an impact on the first criterion, too). You probably won't be putting enough mileage on to cause this but like I said, everybody is different. You can improve "iffy" support with any of several aftermarket insoles; Superfeet work for me but again you might find another brand that fits your foot/shoe combo better. In any event the better the support is out of the box the less tweaking you'll need to do later.

Third (and this is a tricky one): try to extrapolate what the shoes will feel like after you've put a few miles on them. This is especially important if the shoes feel "plush" or "comfy" when you put them on -- if the shoe maker is achieving this through some sort of padding this can compress over time and make the shoes much less comfortable. Also consider how they fit against your achilles tendon and make sure you can put up with the rubbing if they're tight there.

You might want to check out Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins' The Complete Walker for tips on selecting footwear. Their book is geared towards backpackers and hikers but the underlying theory might be of use. Good luck!
posted by Opposite George at 11:19 AM on October 24, 2005 [3 favorites]

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