Shoe Me
November 8, 2022 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of relatively standard Doc-Martin-Oxford-style men's dress shoes, mostly because I don't like walking around in them for very long and they 'feel' like dress shoes, but I have 40 hours a week where I need to wear nice shoes at work. So, I'm shoe-shopping for comfort, while keeping the 'dressy' look.

The areas I've been looking in have been "tactical" shoes -- the kind police wear -- and "chef" shoes -- the kind worn in busy restaurant kitchens -- because they seem like the jobs that would need nice-looking shoes with a requirement of comfort, but online reviews seem to vary too much for me to really pick the best one.

So, I'm turning to the humans of Metafilter to help advise! I'm hoping to hear from MeFites with work-on-my-feet jobs that can give me some first-hand recommendations.

Ultimately, what I'd like is something that looks like a dress shoe, but I could be walking around on my feet all day long comfortably. Steel/composite toe is nice but not necessary; I live in a wintery area so functioning in snow/ice is required.

For comparison, I have a pair of Sketchers Cankton work shoes and I can happily wear them all day long walking around on concrete, but they're too tennis-shoey for me to wear to work-work.

My budget is around $100-$150, more is possible for really good shoes, and a good cheap shoe is acceptable.
posted by AzraelBrown to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by freethefeet at 2:26 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: On the upper end of that would be Ecco shoes. They have more comfortable rubber soles but look dressy. Clark's shoes also look dressy but are comfortable and should be on the lower end of your price range. You probably won't get more than 2 years out of either of them though.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:31 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ecco are very comfortable but the soles can be soft depending on terrain. Depends on the style.

They are out of your price range by about double but I really have enjoyed my Samuel Hubbards. Very comfortable and stylish. Plus most are resoleable. Full grain leather so they will last a lot longer.
posted by wnissen at 2:44 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a woman, but I wear men's shoes because the color options for women usually don't strike my fancy. I like Red Wing shoes, and if I remember your handle correctly, they're fairly local and have a brick and mortar store in town.

I currently own the Postman oxford and after a rather lengthy break-in period, they're super comfy.

They're more than you are hoping to spend, but they're genuine leather, pretty indestructible, and can be resoled.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Merrell makes business casual shoes that look dressy enough for work but feel like walking shoes.
posted by kevinbelt at 2:56 PM on November 8, 2022

Keens might be an option.

If expanding your budget is possible (no judgement if not), then doing so will open up additional options for higher quality / longer lasting footwear.
posted by oceano at 2:59 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cole Hana’s Zerogrand Oxfords are classy and comfy. They run $160 - $230 brand new, but you can probably find them on sale via Nordstrom Rack, Sak’s Off Fifth, etc. (on the official site, there’s one style on sale for $109).

Sierra might be a place to look for high-quality shoes at a discount. They’re not as good as they were before being bought by Marshall’s/TJMAXX (gone are the days of the lifetime guarantee), but Ecco and other comfort brands do show up there with regularity (for women’s, at least!). They also often have “casual”/ businessy styles from outdoor companies like Keen and Teva, which might be options to explore as well.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 2:59 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also, they are far above your price point, but the handful of site engineers I know all wear Red Wing.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 3:01 PM on November 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Look into some chelsea boots, there are lots of brands right now due to the growing popularity of Blundstones (which are great but a bit more expensive) and tons of styles. These Rockports look nice.

You might look at Timberland - the Titan Casual Alloys look good, and there's a slip on that looks amazing if you can go brown rather than black.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:36 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Similar to the Zerogrand, Cole Haan did a collab with Nike. Cole Haan with the Nike Air Lunarlon insoles, you'll never go back. Grab them gently used on Poshmark for relatively cheap.
posted by joycehealy at 3:46 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I had a pair of Skechers Cottonwood Elks for about 5 years that I thought were pretty comfortable and also not very pricey. The downside is that the padding around the opening was not leather, like the rest of the upper, but naugahyde-like material, which started cracking about a year ago. Which made them ugly but remained perfectly usable for my needs, as the cloth substrate remained intact, until my puppy chewed them up a couple weeks back.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sketchers does make less sneakery shoes:

They were my go-to in high school for uniform shoes and held up well (the brand, not this specific model)
posted by brilliantine at 1:43 AM on November 9, 2022

Propét shoes, available on Amazon. comfy as they are always available in wide, don't look too bad.
posted by kschang at 3:25 AM on November 9, 2022

Response by poster: 2N222: Skechers Cottonwood Elks

These are actually what I'm wearing right now! They are good shoes, I'm on my second pair of them, but looking to upgrade to something cushier. Replacement insoles help but not quite far enough.

Red Wing appears to have a nice looking Oxford work shoe for around $170, and we have a Red Wing shop here in town so in theory I can try them on, so that may be what I go with.

Keens also look promising (they show up in the chef-style shoes), as well as the Zerogrands and the Eccos with the tennis-shoe-type-soles, so I have a couple options.

Those work Chelsea boots also may fit the bill; I have a couple dress pairs in this style but I see the work-style ones have better soles on them.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:54 AM on November 9, 2022

Best answer: I've shopped at that Red Wing store, and in my experience, if they don't have your size in stock, they'll be more than willing to order it for you to try on.

I've also worn Keen and am currently wearing these Merrell Jungle Mocs, which come in a safety toe version.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:38 AM on November 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Similar to the Zerogrand, Cole Haan did a collab with Nike. Cole Haan with the Nike Air Lunarlon insoles, you'll never go back. Grab them gently used on Poshmark for relatively cheap.

i had the womens version of these awhile back and LOVED them. Plus fun sole colors.
posted by domino at 8:10 AM on November 9, 2022

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