Office lady shoes for changing weather?
September 9, 2019 5:10 AM   Subscribe

You're an office lady and wear dresses to work (barelegged in summer, or with leggings in other seasons). You live in a 4-season climate and sometimes you get all 4 seasons in a single day. You use public transportation and your own feet for your daily commute. What kind of shoes do you wear, especially during the transitions between seasons?

I usually wear either ballet flats, stripy sandals (in the summer) or ankle boots (fall & winter). It's the beginning of September and I wore my ankle boots today because of heavy rain in the morning, but it's sunny and hot outside now and I'm overheated and miserable and look silly while other people are still wearing sandals.

Do you wear "walking shoes" and change into something more appropriate at work? Do you carry a backup pair of shoes around? Do you just give up and suffer wearing the "wrong" shoes for the weather until the weather stabilizes? Do you have 500 pairs of shoes for all kinds of weather?

PS. I'd prefer pictures of shoes instead of direct links, because I'm in the EU and most US retailers oh so helpfully redirect me to their landing page when I try to follow links to a specific product.
posted by gakiko to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Your solution is my solution -- ballet flats, strappy sandals, and ankle boots. Through much of the year, I keep an older pair of ballet flats under my desk at work to change into if I need to do so (for instance, in the rainy day case you described, or if I need to wear heavy snow boots in winter).
posted by ourobouros at 5:29 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

For my commute, for in between seasons, I change the flats for boatshoes on a warmer day, and fun sneakers on a wetter/cooler day. In September the mix still hits towards boatshoes 3/5 days, while towards the end of October it's alternating between funish sneakers and oxfords before fully succumbing into boots by November.

I also keep 3 pairs of high end heels at work, along with a pair of flats as I work in a bit more formal industry, and really only on fridays can i get away with staying in my commuting shoes all day.

My fun sneakers were the Keds x Rifle Paper collaboration this summer. previously I've worn Vans sneakers or converses.
posted by larthegreat at 5:52 AM on September 9, 2019

Do you have 500 pairs of shoes for all kinds of weather?

Not 500 pairs, but maybe 10-15 pairs and I keep at least half in my desk at work. Wear whatever for transit, and office shoes in the office.

Where I live it snows pretty heavily in the winter and we have extended periods of...muddy slushy yuck. Everyone, regardless of gender, changes shoes in the office in the winter - you can't exactly wear your muddy snowboots on the linoleum and nice carpet. It's not so difficult to extend that practice to the other seasons.

My biggest problem is actually the middle of summer, when it's hot and humid but cold in the office. If I wear sandals, I'm freezing at my desk, and if I wear boots that won't work outside. Haven't solved this quite so easily yet (since I often go on walks on my breaks, more than I leave the office in the winter).
posted by epanalepsis at 5:52 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

On rainy days that are warmer, I just straight up wear flipflops on my way to work, and stash my work shoes in my purse. Then when I get to work, I wipe down my feet with damp paper towels. Cold rainy days, I just wear my rubber rain boots.
posted by Liesl at 6:01 AM on September 9, 2019

I keep 3-4 pair of shoes at work that I wouldn't commute in. I have shoes of the slip-on sneakers/comfortable sandals/nice boots/rain or snow boot varieties that I do use for commuting. Depending on what I'm wearing to work that day (we have a casual office) I can keep the sandals or the nice boots on all day. The sneakers/rain or snow boots are swapped for the office shoes.

I do keep a few pair of socks at work for extra-chilly days when I'm at my desk most of the day.
posted by kimberussell at 6:05 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I keep my dress shoes in office. Heels, pumps, etc.

For going around town, I wear nice leather boots in cold weather, and a gorgeous pair of black suede loafers with rubber soles for every other weather.

I never wear ballet flats because patriarchy. Why do I need to look feminine while being extremely uncomfortable walking around in these thin-soled ballet flats, when I could be wearing my gorgeous black suede loafers that are incredibly comfortable? YMMV.
posted by moiraine at 6:37 AM on September 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

I do the same as you, I wear ballet flats from early spring and have about 10 pairs so if one gets soaked through I don't have to wear them til they have dried out. Once it gets to mid-Autumn I'll swap over to my ankle boots for the winter. The changeover date usually comes when I've been more miserable than un-miserable in the current shoe situation. I really can't be doing with shoes at work or changing shoes!
posted by london explorer girl at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2019

Leather boots or oxfords year round--NYC streets and public transit are not sandal-friendly, and ballet flats are even more uncomfortable than heels. Heels stashed under the desk for when I want to look extra cute at or after work, but the choice of boots or oxfords is designed to be acceptable in most situations (as opposed to sneakers or other casual shoes, which wouldn't make sense with some clients/at some restaurants).

In summer, I'd rather have warm protected feet than exposed, still-pretty-warm-anyway feet. If the rest of my outfit is seasonally appropriate, the shoes don't make that big a difference. Thin breathable socks help.

I never figured out the secret to remembering to bring home my light jacket in the spring and fall, when it's 50F during the morning commute and 70F during the evening commute, though.
posted by lampoil at 6:48 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Changing shoes between my commute and my office was never something I cared to do. The only time I do it is when I bike in the rain--then I wear a pair of Crocs flats which are not comfortable for all day for riding and change into something nicer in my office.

In the winter snowy slushy gross months, I have three pairs of waterproof but styled as "street shoes" boots from Clarks, Uggs and another brand which I can't recall the name of. For dry days in the winter, I have several pairs of boots in a variety of heights and some shoes that are warm enough with tights for going from the bus to the office. In the fall and spring, I have a variety of heels,one pair of rain boots styled as street shoes (Trotters brand) and a wedge-heeled Hunter boot which is a bit sweaty in summer, but fine otherwise.

Summer is the difficult time for me, as I just cannot wear shoes without socks and have trouble finding shoes which look "work appropriate" to me that don't chew the hell out of my feet without socks. Peds socks are uncomfortable (and show); foot powders and glide ointments don't seem to help me. I have one pair of mules from Mat & Nat that I like to wear in the summer and one pair of pumps (the Earth Polaris pump) that I can wear comfortably with no socks.

I own a lot of shoes and imagine I am not typical, even for a member of a hyper-consumerist such as I am.
posted by crush at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I usually go with rain boots with socks and flats at desk during transitions
posted by typecloud at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2019

The Dansko "Sam" sandal gets me through spring to summer and summer to fall. It has a closed toe with an open heel and ankle strap, so it provides a little extra coverage as the weather changes without suffocating my feet, and works fine with tights if I need a bit more warmth withou going full shoe. I do keep a few pairs of shoes in the office for backup, but mostly only wear them if I got caught in the rain or something.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:33 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Somewhat tangential to your question, but have you tried wearing wool socks? They are magical. I find that wool socks help keep my feet at the right temperature (and not sweaty) all year round. Would especially recommend them when wearing boots.
posted by oceano at 8:12 AM on September 9, 2019

In London I wore stylish leather ankle boots all year round.
posted by tavegyl at 8:13 AM on September 9, 2019

Nthing that if it's at all possible to stash a few pairs at your desk or office, it's changed my life considerably. I only wear flats so that's what's in my drawer. I also often commute by bus+foot.

I live in Oregon where it's wet most of the time so depending if it's just kinda wet when I leave the house, I wear Crocs flats (yes, some of them are cute!) so that if they get wet I can rinse them in the bathroom sink at work. If it's pouring I wear my rain boots. If I still lived somewhere snowy I'd wear my snow boots. If I get dressed at home and realize I want to wear some 'at home' shoes, then I pack it in my commute bag. But I always have a couple neutral pairs at work that would go with anything so I don't have to worry about it.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:34 AM on September 9, 2019

I also wear either Dansko shoes - closed-toe sandal clogs like the Sam -- or rubber soled, one-inch heel walkable maryjanes I've bought in versions from many companies like Dansko, Clark, and Rockport. They look good with skirts and I think they're good for any season but winter.
posted by nantucket at 8:35 AM on September 9, 2019

I have dedicated office shoes because my commutes have typically involved a lot of walking and I need something durable with decent arch support. I don’t love the
style of most walking-friendly shoes for the office, and my feet won’t get angry if I wear dainty shoes for eight hours at a desk.

I wear Birkenstocks for walking when the weather’s nice enough. For fall and winter (unless it’s super snowy - and sometimes even
then) I really like my wool slip-on Allbirds. I’m not gonna lie: they’re a little too grandpa-slipper-looking for my taste. But they keep my feet warm in cold weather without overheating them in warmer weather. I’d imagine other shoes with a wool upper would be similar.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:54 AM on September 9, 2019

Not currently working in an office, but I always kept a pair of neutral colored, indoor-appropriate flats of some kind at work. I’d wear them if the weather turned out to be colder or warmer than I had anticipated (and the boots / sandals I chose in the morning didn’t end up being ideal) or if the shoes I chose were unexpectedly uncomfortable for some reason.

I never did separate “walking to work” vs “at work” shoes, because my walking commute was short enough that anything not comfortable enough to walk in also wasn’t comfortable enough to wear all day. If I’d had a longer commute (or a higher tolerance for slighly uncomfortable shoes during the day), I would have done that and kept most or all of my “at work” shoes in the office.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2019

In Copenhagen I usually wore a mary-jane style shoe, mostly Ziera, with tights+skirt in winter and short socks in summer. Ecco makes some similar things that are comfortable for walking and fine with socks for cold weather; ok for shallow slush or for biking in slightly more serious slush. Copenhagen doesn't really get deep snow, though.

When I lived in Boston, I had serious snow boots with warm fluffy insides, and I kept a pair of mary-jane style shoes at the office. Mary Jane style is nice because the ones I had were velcro, so very easy to put on, and they work with tights+skirt quite well.
posted by nat at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2019

I wear whatever weather-appropriate, comfy shoes I want on my commute (sneakers, snow boots, rain boots) and change at my desk.

I keep 1 pair of flats, 1 pair of low wedges, and 1 pair of heels at my desk. I do have hidden, personal shelving at my desk so it doesn't look cluttered.

In fall and early spring, I'm more likely to wear the same pair of shoes throughout the day - ankle or midcalf boots.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I walk 1.5 miles each way to/from work on concrete sidewalks in a city with hot weather, infrequent rain, and no snow/ice. I wear sneakers and bring dressy shoes to change into at the office. I have not yet managed to find any dressy shoes that go with dresses/skirts (i.e. can be worn without socks), are truly comfortable enough to walk 3 miles a day on concrete (provide shock absorption and arch support, and don’t chafe my toes/ankles), and will not fall apart/develop holes within a month of being worn for 3 miles a day on concrete. I don’t think such a shoe exists.
posted by snowmentality at 12:06 PM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

I second snowmentality’s comment exactly.
posted by sallybrown at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I wear ballet flats in the summer (because the heat drives me into skirts/dresses) and some form of loafer or Oxford in the winter. I keep a pair of J. Crew Mercantile black rain boats that look like Chelseas at work for unexpected summer rain experiences and I have a pair of Bean boots at home that I'll wear in if I gotta (they have these "small batch" colors now, some of which are a lot more attractive than the ol' brown/tan). I got a lot of wear out of a pair of waterproof Cole Haan dress boots a few winters ago, but they don't always have a line I like, so I guess I'll be sticking with the Bean boots for winter slush, though they're not the warmest. I really prefer not to have to lug a second pair of shoes around if at all possible, but I can't afford enough dress shoes of appropriate quality to just buy spare pairs and leave them at the office.
posted by praemunire at 12:42 PM on September 9, 2019

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