Not-too-dressy, sneaker-y work shoes (for men)?
June 10, 2014 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I love my Camper romeos, but the white outsole is, I've recently been informed, inappropriate for work/with dress pants. I'm looking for a shoe with a similar look/style without the white outsole: more sneaker-y than dressy, but dressed up enough that I can get away with wearing it at work. I really like desert shoes, but they're a bit too large and clunky for me. I looked at Camper's other offerings but don't see anything that appeals; same with Clarks. My Zappos searches keep turning up the same few options. Any ideas on specific models or brands I might be overlooking? Thanks!
posted by batscam to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I love my slip-on dress boot things

They have soles like a hiking boot, look a bit like dress shoes, and slip on and off so you can stretch your toes under a conference room table.
posted by colin_l at 5:59 AM on June 10, 2014

You could try New Balance 928 walking shoes in brown and/or black.
posted by TORunner at 6:02 AM on June 10, 2014

Best answer: You may get some results that suit your preferences and work needs by searching "moc toe chukka". At the price of those Campers, you could get something pretty nice. Though the search will also bring up a lot of junk. For mainstream brand options, some of the Timberland Earthkeepers look nice.
posted by coreywilliam at 6:02 AM on June 10, 2014

Another term for desert shoe/boot style footwear is "chukka boot" - that's how I'd describe the style of the shoe you posted, although as you say it's a bit more sneakery than most. At any rate, searching for "chukka boots" might throw up a few more options for you.
posted by Ted Maul at 6:03 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cole Haan lunargrands?
posted by shrabster at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and by the way. Clarks desert boots are not, in fact, that clunky - they're light, versatile and dress up or down easily. You should at least try a pair on if you get the chance - the black ones are particularly smart and don't carry the "boring guy" connotations of sand or brown imho.
posted by Ted Maul at 6:07 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about blucher mocs? Similar silhouette, same comfort as a boat shoe with a little more upper.

Also, if you want a pair of knock-around shoes that are similar to your Campers, Vans Surf-Siders does the Rata and Washboard. Different sole construction than regular Vans and I prefer these.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:33 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I liked to this Nike last week. I stand by that pick. Apparently it's a skate shoe.

This one in Brown would be nice too. It gives you the 'desert boot' look, without the bulk.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:39 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could try dyeing the soles black or have a shoe repair place do it for you.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:41 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Camper shoes you link to look pretty great. For kicking around on your day off, or maybe a casual date. But I can see why you've been asked to stop wearing them to work.

The trick to Clarks/desert boots is to size down. Typically by a half-size. I have some dark brown suede CDBs for fall/winter wear, and recently got a tan pair of the JCrew version ("MacAlister Boot"). Both are extremely versatile and crazy comfortable. The latter is slightly more streamlined than the former, but neither looks as clunky on my feet as they do in pictures. Following on the previous comment, I'm not personally interested in a black version -- I tend to reserve black for more formal situations -- but I could theoretically see them working the right context. Depending on the formality of your workplace and the pants you're wearing, this may by such a context.

Otherwise, congrats on avoiding the other offerings from Clarks; I paged through their online catalog recently, and found them to be possibly the ugliest shoes I've ever seen (excepting some of the Bostonian models). Certainly not a good look for a person in a professional setting.

Speaking of, it sounds like your workplace is trying to tell you to up your shoe game, in general. They may have focused on the white sole, but I imagine that they wouldn't mind you ditching the "sneaker/shoe" look altogether. Frankly, virtually any such shoe is going to look "off" when paired with actual dress slacks. Less formal (but still not-sweatpants/relatively dressy) pants, like khakis, cords or crisp dark denim, can support more casual footwear, but a pressed pair of slacks needs a suitably smooth/shined leather shoe. About the most casual you can really go would be a loafer. Otherwise, you'd need to stick to actual dress shoes, in a conservative color; these can still read as "relaxed" in the subtle details, though. Some retain elements of a moc-toe, or -- additionally -- a split toe. Others broadcast relative informality through extensive broguing. You could do something in a suede or other informal material, but it would need to still follow the form of a dress shoe, and be conservatively colored (i.e. dark, or otherwise not contrasting too much with the color of your pants).

Yeah, I know that's not what you're asking. But I can't recommend "sneakers" for a white collar/business casual workplace. Regardless of how relaxed such settings have become, a casual sneaker/sneaker-hybrid shoe is just going to read as clunky and unprofessional, even if the observer can't put their finger on it. Your question might as well have been, "Help me find swimtrunks for this upcoming funeral."
posted by credible hulk at 7:28 AM on June 10, 2014 [13 favorites]

The Clark desert boot in soft black leather -- super comfortable, definitely not clunky, and they look great with a variety of pants and outfits.

What do you mean when you say dress pants? It would help to know what you're wearing to give better suggestions of footwear.
posted by barnone at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

My partner likes "dressier" Olukais since we live in the PNW and they tend to be more waterproof. In the same vein, Keens. Perhaps you are in a drier place, but they are both sturdy brands.
posted by Lardmitten at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good Morning! My husband doesn't shop for shoes often. He wears them into the ground until he will buy a new pair; but one thing is for certain, they LAST. We recently bought 2 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of sandals for him at Nordstrom. The sandals are ECCO's - a brand he loves. The shoes are Clarks. Yes, the Clarks are a little bit sneakery looking but still appropriate for work. His foot size is 11, and although his feet are wide, the size medium fit well. He said the Clarks have good arch support.
posted by htm at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2014

Keen? 1, 2, 3 (well, maybe not in brown), 4. Sturdy and comfortable.
posted by wintersweet at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2014

You might try looking for postal worker approved shoes. They're generally nice, comfortable walking shoes, but generally passable in a professional environment.

This site has some different styles of probably varying appropriateness, and here are some more, sorted by brand.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2014

I was a waitress, now I am an engineer (as my profession) and I am a salesperson for my family's business where I do a lot of walking and standing. I am always in search of comfortable yet elegant footwear. I have found that Rockport has many selections for ladies as well as men. I have even shopped for the security guards at work there!
posted by Yellow at 10:53 AM on June 10, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! I've got some great leads here, and a bunch more search terms to try.
posted by batscam at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2014

As a follow up to an earlier post....the name of the sneakery type Clarks my husband recently purchased for work and really likes is called, "Unstructured".
posted by htm at 9:56 AM on June 12, 2014

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