Bad back. Two small kids. Winter Weather. Professional Job. What shoes?
December 30, 2015 7:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm going back to work after having my second child. This time I have a back prone to injury. I'm looking for stylish, comfortable footwear suitable for dropping the kids off at school and daycare during the winter, and also wearing with work clothes in a professional environment.

I'm going to be carrying the baby and corralling the preschooler. It's DC so the footwear doesn't need to be great in snow, but should be good in cold weather and slick sidewalks. My office wardrobe is suits and dresses with blazers - I can be a little bit stylish within those parameters but always need to be able to look formal and polished with a few minutes warning. (I have a closet in my office where I always have a suit and blouse ready to go.) High boots + dresses is definitely an acceptable "look" 95% of the time in my office, including flat boots. My favorite clothing stores are Anthropologie, Club Monaco, Banana Republic (suits), Boden, and Tea Collection. I used to wear sneakers and change into heels which I kept at work but I don't think I'll ever be able to wear heels again.

I come from a long line of shoe lovers. I would really like shoes or boots that are both stylish and functional for a working mom with a bad back in a cooler climate. I think I can spend up to $350 for the right shoes but I want them to be stylish, very comfortable, and durable. I like boots with a little attitude but am having trouble finding ones that fit my other needs and get great reviews.
posted by semacd to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I like La Canadienne for comfortable, sturdy, office-appropriate winter boots. They're at the top of your budget but you can usually find past season styles on sale.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:14 AM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

How tolerant are you to heat? Most boots warm enough for outdoor weather are too warm once I'm inside. I like Blando boots, but I don't know if you'd find them warm enough out and about.
posted by GilvearSt at 7:17 AM on December 30, 2015

I think anything that's going to be good on ice is not going to be office appropriate because of the sole. If you have a closet, why not just bring shoes with you?
posted by desjardins at 7:24 AM on December 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have a pair of Cobb Hill by New Balance shoes that I find incredible comfortable and yet look presentable for smart casual wear. They have boots.

If you have otherwise appropriate footwear and the only thing holding you back is the traction, a shoe repair place can add a traction piece to the sole.
posted by TORunner at 7:29 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am you, except in Detroit.

I know you said no heels, but the most comfortable work shoes I own are Tory Burch wedges. I wear them until it's too cold to not have on boots. There are lots of Tory Burch boots that may work for you - their calves aren't wide enough for me. So for high flat boots I have a pair of Aeropastles. They are very comfortable, especially for the price, and I feel like they have good traction.

When I was pregnant, I bought a pair of Softawlk boots from nordstrom - they were higher than ankle, but not quite mid calf. I wore them so much that I broke down the inside (after like five winters). I have never been able to find the same style of boots, but you might want to try that brand.

Can you do a low heel? AGL is another brand that has incredibly comfortable, sturdy shoes. These are on sale.

The other brand I've recently fallen in love with for boots/booties that are comfortable, strudy and stylish is Aquatalia. I actually moved back to some higher heels with them, but they have some very cute flats too.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:42 AM on December 30, 2015

Have you considered getting something like YakTracks? These are rubber net-like things that stretch over the bottom of our shoes and have little metal studs for traction. They fit over pretty much any shoe type and keep you from slipping and are super easy to remove. there are black rubber straps that are visible on top of your shoes but they're pretty low key
posted by genmonster at 8:05 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Intriguing ideas! I do have lots of shoes at work. I'd prefer not to have to change but can if necessary. I also thought boots might be nice for winter with pants, skirts, and dresses rather than flats.
posted by semacd at 9:38 AM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Born boots and shoes are the most comfortable I've ever worn. So many styles to choose from, mine have lasted forever, and the price is right.
posted by raisingsand at 9:56 AM on December 30, 2015

Best answer: I don't have a specific recommendation, but I do have a pair of boots that I use for the same purpose. When I walk to work (most days) I wear regular furry, heavy duty boots. However, once I get here OR have an offsite meeting in the winter OR drive to work, I have a indoor pair of boots. The are tall boots that don't come up to my knees, have both black and brown shiny leather and a slight heel, with a light fleece texture on the inside upper boot. They are what I imagine people wear in the winter in warmer places than Canada. If you are driving in the winter, I think you can get a away with a light shiny leather boot. I would keep some vinegar at work so you can wipe off salt though, it could quickly destroy the appropriateness of the boots for work.

The flat boots I've seen in a similar style are riding boots. They have been popular over the last few years. Here is Norstrom's selection of flat boots for inspiration!
posted by Gor-ella at 10:12 AM on December 30, 2015

Best answer: These are my favorite boots. I will admit that the waterproofing seems like it could be better, but they do warmth and traction well. They're lightly insulated so they're generally fine inside (which sadly has not been the case for most of the La Cannadienne and Rieker boots I've tried on, much as I *love* the look of both lines) . They do smart casual as long as I keep them tidy, but would not get you to formal with a suit -- BUT especially right now, on sale, would leave room in your budget for a pair of suit-appropriate shoes.

If you haven't already, it might be worth visiting Comfort One -- I like the stores in Dupont.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:32 AM on December 30, 2015

Best answer: Came in to suggest the podiatry shoe review blog by Dr. Cathleen McCarthy. It's been immensely helpful for me because 90% of the site is dedicated to foot-friendly shoe recommendations. She describes what foot issues the shoes are good for (and not good for) and provides a detailed description of the shoe with options in case that particular one doesn't work. I've found her blog to be a great jumping off point, in addition to the wonderful suggestions on AskMe. Sounds like you have back issues as oppose to foot issues, but she does address back issues where appropriate.

Good luck! I feel your pain. I wrestle with this every year, and it's not easy to find decent shoes that fit well and can withstand the daily beating I give them. . .
posted by onecircleaday at 12:55 PM on December 30, 2015

Best answer: Get a pair of Blondos.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:47 PM on December 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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