Work shoe hell
January 27, 2015 2:12 AM   Subscribe

After months of buying and wearing through relatively cheap ballet flats and loafers, I think it's time for me to think about upgrading my work/dressy casual footwear. I think that I would really like a pair of oxfords or similar, but can you help me find the best pair out there? Details/restrictions/requirements inside.

I'm a woman in her mid-20s and I dress in a mix of feminine and boyish clothes. I'd prefer to err on the side of feminine at work.

I get anxious about clothes and outfits. If I feel like I've made the wrong shoe choice, I feel uncomfortable all day. I'd really love the holy grail pair of shoes that I can wear with jeans, dresses, work pants, etc. that will make my outfit even more put together. After much searching, I feel like maybe I'm asking too much...

-I wear a size 8 (Euro 39)
-Comfort is super important. I am worried I have the beginnings of bunions, so a toe box that is not too pointy would be great.
-Decent soles that won't wear out within a few weeks. But not like original Doc Martens soles, which I found a little bit too heavy and tall. I don't necessarily need the shoes to last for years, but one year would be nice.
-Suitable for most weather, potentially including some light snow (I keep seeing super cute oxfords made of perforated leather. Why!?)
-My budget is around $150 US. I will need to be able to ship to Australia.

I've had a look around and seen some potential options, but nothing that I'm completely certain about.

I know that the "reworked" Doc Martens Sohos would be super comfortable, because I have a pair of boots in a similar style/with the same sole and they are amazing. However, I don't think they would fulfil my fussy aesthetic requirements of a feminine dress shoe.

Madewell Clare Oxfords look like they would suit the style that I want, but I have no idea about quality. (I also haven't checked to see where they ship!).

Thanks in advance!
posted by kinddieserzeit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
If you're in Australia have a look at Ziera and Klouds (Klouds are available at Paul Carroll shops and online). Paul Carroll has a good return policy too and were very easy to deal with when one pair I bought had problems.

The orthotics friendly shoes can be worn without orthotics and are really comfortable. The pairs I've got have lasted a couple of years. I don't buy the non orthotic ones so can't comment on them.
posted by poxandplague at 2:51 AM on January 27, 2015

Miz Mooz are really nicely made and comfy shoes. Perhaps something like this?
posted by goggie at 5:32 AM on January 27, 2015

Clarks Hamble Oak. I am hard on my shoes and can vouch for being very comfy and durable and have now worn the in spring, autumn and in snow last night - there was no snow when I left the warm weather I find a closed shoe like that too warm. Unfortunately it looks as if only a small part of the range is available in the U.S.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:12 AM on January 27, 2015

Best answer: Hello, I'm here to repeat my last AskMefi comment. I am not an evangelist about very many things, but vintage Allen Edmonds shoes have pretty much changed my life.

If you don't mind ebay/secondhand, refine the search for Allen Edmonds in Women's Shoes to your size range and save it. The pickings are a little slim in size 8 right now but with patience you can find some beauties like this or this. The quality is as good as it gets. I expect to wear mine forever with care and occasional sole replacements. I try to keep them polished and/or weatherproofed and they do pretty well in moderate weather, even the ones with broguing. They do run narrow in my experience but if you can find your size they're so comfortable. Even with international shipping you should be under your budget.
posted by doift at 10:41 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

These oxford heels are amazingly comfortable. Naot is a great brand with cork insoles that can be replaced if they wear out. The outsole is rubber and very durable.
posted by fontophilic at 11:23 AM on January 27, 2015

The Barking Dog Shoes blog has some good ideas.
posted by kbuxton at 11:23 AM on January 27, 2015

I love my pair of Earthies (mine aren't that style, but the same shape with a different front decoration). The toe box fits my weird upwardly pointy toes and they're by far the most comfortable heeled shoes I've ever owned. They're feminine while still fairly plain and not overly fussy, which I love. I'm not sure about their availability in Australia, but they're sold on Zappos, planetshoes, and a number of other big shoe sale websites.
posted by augustimagination at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2015

I have a friend in Australia who orders a couple pairs of boots a year and has them sent to my house. I then ship them via USPS for about $50 which she then gives me as an Amazon gift card. Do you have a friend in the US who could help you with this? That could increase your selection pool.
posted by bendy at 7:30 PM on January 27, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the input, everyone. You've given me a lot of ideas of where to look for the right shoes. My favourites so far have been those vintage Allen Edmonds. Oh, how long I will probably have to wait until the right ones come up.
I also saw an almost perfect pair of Clarks in a store the other day, but it was patent leather (while I am currently leaning more towards matte).
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:28 AM on February 1, 2015

One more - you could try Cole Haan - they have lots of very appealing women's oxfords. They are a bit above your price point but usually go on sale.
posted by annie o at 9:36 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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