After the runaway success of our Ask the Strategist post on the most comfortable and stylish flats for under $200, we figured you guys wanted some more comfy-shoes content. So for this roundup, we reached out to the experts — those servers, chefs, nurses, flight attendants, and the like who are on their feet all day for work. Be forewarned that a lot of these aren’t stylish or trendy, but for those who scoff at the hideousness below, ask yourselves first: When did the fugly Dansko clog become the official shoe of cool hipster ceramists? Who really knows what’s next? If you’re dreaming of a future with blister-free feet and a pain-free back, read on with an open mind.
“I find the pickings to be kind of slim when looking for something supportive that still looks young and cool. My first pair that was a good example of this were Dansko Mary Janes. Not the regular clogs, but a Mary Jane style that I wore with a little pair of socks and shorts or dresses, and would get complimented on all the time. It’s a solid-gold tip for some babes with knee or back problems out there. Our jobs tend to destroy shoes, but these were really long-lasting, too. Comfort-wise, I suppose I prefer a slight but forgiving platform. I currently wear a pair of Robert Clergerie’s that I got at Beacon’s Closet and a pair of Campers. Both are good brands that seem a little more ergonomic to the foot and my back, but are still cute and easy to style.” — Tess Parker, server
“One time, I had to walk an hour to the hospital and I only had these horrible flats to wear. They were so bad that they made my feet and hips hurt, so now whenever I find a good pair, I cherish them. I swear by my Asics GT-2000, but in terms of flats, I love the Cole Haan with Nike Air. They look like flats, but they feel like a sneaker, and they’re just super comfortable. If I’m going to a conference or something professional where I’ll need to stand, I also have a trusty pair of Anne Klein loafers that use something called called iFlex. And my new favorites are Easy Spirit e360. That company mostly makes grandma shoes, but this pair is the one pair that doesn’t look like it’s for grandmas, and they feel like you’re walking on supportive pillows. I get so many compliments when I wear them to work.” — Sorah Edeltuch, nurse
The Getcity is available in more colors here.
“I’ve been through so many flats. I like Dr. Scholl’s women-friendly flats and Fila’s Kimber slip-resistant work shoes. For me, it’s all about comfort because nobody’s looking at your shoes while you’re working on the plane. I like these two because their soles have traction, so you’re less likely to slip. And they have a fair amount of cushion on the inside. After an 18-hour duty day, nothing is really comfortable. But these two shoes help the most.” — Heather Kovarik, flight attendant
“I’m pretty limited on what I can wear at work, but I love the Ecco flats. After a long day of being on my feet (and wearing not-so-comfortable heels through the airport), my feet are still happy. I prefer the Mary Jane style or ballet flats. Both have enough support and cushion that make them functional and comfortable all day long. I really like how lightweight and breathable they are for all-day use.” — Sarah Holstine, flight attendant
“As flight attendants, we typically wear two pairs of shoes at work. Terminal shoes tend to be sexy heels worn from the time you arrive at the airport until you are in the air. In-flight shoes are what we change into once we are in the air. They tend to lean toward frumpy but comfy. These Clarks are the best of both worlds. They’re my hands-down favorite.They meet my airline’s specifications for a terminal shoe, but are comfortable enough to wear all day long. It truly wears like a flat, you don’t have to change out of them in-flight, your feet feel good all day, and they are fairly cute. I’ve bought multiple pairs. If you want a true flat, though, this second pair is well-made and cute, provides good support, and lasts forever. I come back to them every single time. These are a great option for an in-flight shoe because they are still cute, but provide enough support to keep your feet feeling good all day.” — Crystal Roseberry, flight attendant
“I’ve been a flight attendant for years, so I have a lot of experience spending long hours on my feet. The most comfortable shoes are Clarks and the Naturalizer @Work OrthoLite collection. They provide me with a physical ease and relaxation for my feet and back.” — Martha Patricia Benitez, flight attendant
“Apparently, Allbirds — super light, breathable, nonslip, and made from superfine merino wool — are the new ‘cool’ shoe to wear in the kitchen. Personally, I don’t wear them. My go-to shoe has always been the Birkenstock Birki in black. They’re nonslip, low-key, last at least two years, and have a changeable inner sole.” — Jamie Hogg, chef de cuisine, Il Buco Alimentari
“I like the Blundstones for a lot of reasons. They’re lined with sheepskin on the inside, which provides an additional layer of comfort for your feet. Because it’s a boot, I also get ankle support, which I wouldn’t get from a clog or slide, and they don’t have laces, so they’re easy to slip on and off. The floor of a busy kitchen can get really slippery from spills and cleaning, so these are great again because they’re waterproof and slip-resistant, and I’ve never had water get in my shoe. I have also walked around a butcher shop where the floor was completely covered in beef fat and never slipped. They’re very resilient, and they can transition from the kitchen to my regular life.” — Adina Halpern, chef
“I love wearing Crocs in the kitchen because they’re really comfortable and have the right amount of elevation to promote good posture. I wear these in commercial kitchens, but also sometimes even when I’m cooking dinner at home in my apartment, so my feet don’t hurt.” — Chloe Coscarelli, chef
“I live in L.A., so I’m typically in flats all year, but when it gets colder in the winter months, it’s nice to have an alternative that’s not a sneaker. Rag & Bone’s Dylan Elastic Runner is a slip-on that wears like a sneaker with a rubber sole, but is made of Italian leather. I love that I can slide into them and go, whether I’m headed to a meeting, an event, or the Apron HQ; the look is put-together and professional. When it gets cold in the apron factory, I throw on a pair of our Chef Socks — a new collab we did with Richer Poorer — which are super warm and thick, but they have mesh paneling along the front, so they’re also really breathable. We made them specifically for chefs with the notion of standing all day in mind.” — Ellen Bennett, former line cook and founder of Hedley & Bennett
“I swear by my Converse Chuck Taylor II. Regular Converse don’t have the proper insoles and comfort that these do. With additional cushioning in the inside, elastic by the tongue of the shoes and laces (to keep the fit snug) and better gripping on the floor, these have become my new work shoe, and also ones that I can walk all around NYC streets in.” — Pam Wiznitzer, bartender, Seamstress
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