Unlike most 9-to-5 desk jobs, many jobs require people to be up on their feet during most of the working hours. The jobs of professionals such as nurses, salesclerks and people who work in retail, waiters and waitresses, kitchen staff, teachers and professors, rangers, builders and more require them to stay on their feet most of the work hours. This usual daily activity can be very difficult for people who have developed deformities in their feet. A post by Lilly Harvey on ShoeAdviser stated that “there’s a chance that you’ll have a slight deformity, medical issue or long-term injury that stops you from using regular shoes properly, and these can develop at any stage of your life for a multitude of reasons”.
Feet of these people feet take the most beating that’s why the shoes they wear during work hours matter a lot.
Styles of Shoes Men and Women Should Avoid
Before moving on to the recommended shoes for work let’s start with the type of shoes men and women should avoid for all-day wearing. The shoe types mentioned below might make sense for parties and other special occasions, they can cause long-term issues when you wear them day after day. The best work shoes are those that can provide arch support for traction and comfort.
Although there is no definitive formula that tells you which shoes to buy and the ones to avoid, there are certain shoe styles that don’t go well with standing/walking all day long. Here are some women shoe styles that are not suitable if you are on your feet for most of your work hours:
- Chunky heel shoes
- Shoes with extreme platforms
- Ankle strap shoes
- Gladiator sandals
- High stilettos
Some shoe types men should avoid during work include:
- Square-toe shoes
- Fat Skaters
- Kung-fu type slippers
- Sandal-Shoe and Shoe-Trainer Hybrids (in fact any kind of hybrid)
- Pointy shoes
Shoes designed for taking such beatings day after day might not be in line with the latest fashion trends, but that’s not what they are meant for. Work shoes are designed to keep your feet comfortable and safe. Let’s start with the basics and what you should consider when buying a pair of shoes for work.
Good comfort is of upmost importance when most of your day is spent standing or walking. Most organizations are not very strict about the kind of shoes you can wear so there is no excuse why you should not pick the most comfortable pair.
Fashion shoes usually don’t tick all the boxes when it comes to comfort so you might have to choose between looks and comfort. Work shoes should be able to cradle your feet in all directions, absorb the shock and stick to slippery surfaces. You can also buy quality shock-absorbing insoles, but they are not a replacement for a comfortable pair of shoes.
The best time to try a pair of shoes is in the evening or after a workout when your feet are already swelled. This way you can find the perfect fit otherwise you might end up buying shoes that start feeling a little tight after some time.
Your work shoes should help you stick to the ground and a variety of surfaces, whether slippery, hard or rough. Grippy soles keep themselves firmly attached to the ground without you having to worry about slipping on wet floors.
You wouldn’t want to buy a new pair of shoes for work every few months. That’s why it’s better to invest in quality work shoes at the first place. Leather upper, reinforced heels and durable soles (preferably rubber or TPR) are all signs of durable shoes. Leather in particular lasts for a long time and gets better with the passage of time (if you take proper care).
Flat/very high heels
It’s recommended not to wear complete flats, especially if your work involves standing or walking most of the day. On the other hand, wearing high heel shoes (higher than 2 inches) is also not recommended as it can cause additional fatigue. Experts recommend that you should wear shoes measuring at least 1/4-inch-high, but not more than 2 inches, which provides you with a good arch support and all-day comfort.
Laces and Velcro Straps
Shoelaces and Velcro straps prevent your feet from moving unnecessarily and from sliding forward while moving around. Laces ups grip your feet and ensure a better fit than other types of shoes such as loafers.
Its better to consult a manufacturer/retailer that specializes in work shoes. Most of them would be happy to help you determine the type of shoes you should be wearing based on the nature of your job. In any case, you’d want shoes with a good arch support. In case you don’t want to or can’t buy shoes with adequate arch support, consider an orthotic that replaces your shoe’s insole for better support and comfort.
A toe box is a part of the shoe that covers and protects your toes. Choose a shoe that has a large and wide toe box, providing ample room for your toes. It will also protect your toes from possible foot ailments such as corns, calluses and other types of swelling and bruises (usually caused by an ill-fitting shoes).
Shoes with appropriate padding maximize the comfort factor and reduce fatigue related to standing or walking all day long. Most running shoes have built-in cushions, but you can also use gel inserts, especially if you prefer wearing casual shoes.
Too small or wide shoes can be problematic in the long run and you may end up permanently deforming your feet. Choose a pair of shoes that wrap your feet like a glove. That’s why lace ups/velcros are a better option than loafers as they fit better around the feet.
What Kind of Work Shoes Should You Buy?
That depends on the nature of your job and climate of the region where you work. You’d want high quality leather work boots with steel toes if you are working at the construction sites, while a pair of breathable shoes made with mesh upper is a more sensible choice for in-shop sales people.
That’s why it’s important to match your requirements with the type of shoes and its key features. Light weight shoes with adequate cushioning and breathability work better if you mostly work indoors. On the other hand, you’d want something bulky and heavy-duty for construction sites and factories where safety is more important.
Work Shoes Recommendations for Men
These leather shoes are a good option if you are allowed to wear casual shoes during work hours. The water resistant nubuck leather upper ensures dry feet in wet conditions, while the liners wick moisture to keep your feet dry. The removable footbed provides comfort and extra cushion so you can work comfortably all day long.
- Water resistant leather upper
- Arch support, Keen Metatomical footbed
- Moisture-wicking linings
- Toe protection covers
- Rubber sole for better grip and traction
- Approx. 445 grams weight
These oxford style shoes are made using leather and suitable for those who have to follow a formal dress code. Although not as comfortable as other casual shoes, these lace-up shoes do offer better comfort than average oxford /formal shoes. The tongue is padded to prevent lace blistering, while the lightweight PU sole can absorb some shocks and makes the walking experience more comfortable.
- Full-grain leather upper
- PU sole
- Lightweight, shock absorbing sole
- Padded collar and tongue
- Breathable lining
- Classic wingtip design
- Cushy EVA footbed
- Flex grooves
Made using durable leather, the steel-toe shoes are tough and durable and meet the ANSI safety requirements. They are designed for professionals who spend most of their time in rough working conditions and want a pair of shoes that can take the beating while providing all-day comfort. The excellent traction-grip and electronic hazard protection make them suitable for a variety of jobs and work environments.
- Leather upper
- Rubber sole for better grip
- Steel toe for maximum protection
- Oil resistant
- Abrasion resistant
- Slip resistant
- Roomier toe box
- Electronic hazard protection
- Removable sock liner
- Durable and tough
Breathable textile upper makes these shoes suitable for warm and humid areas and provide lightweight comfort. The shoes feature a midsole cushioned with foam and an outsole unit that absorbs shock and delivers all-day comfort. These sneakers are a good option if you are looking for lightweight, breathable and comfortable shoes with a streamlined modern design.
- Breathable textile upper
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Rubber sole
- Foam midsole
- Injected unitsoles
- Contemporary design
Available in different colors, these classic shoes are made using premium leather and are also suitable for a variety of outdoor and indoor jobs. Leather lining, a functional lacing system and cushioned footbed provide all-day comfort and optimal traction (rubber sole) for different surfaces. The inside is cushioned with a full-length EVA insert topped with another layer of Poron foram for even better cushioning.
- Premium full-grain leather upper (hand sewn)
- Rubber lug outsole for better grip and traction on a variety of surfaces
- L36-degree lacing system for a custom fit
- EVA insert (full length) with Poron foam layer
- Leather lining
Work Shoes Recommendations for Women
The genuine leather shoes feature memory foam topped removable insoles for all-day comfort. However, since memory foam traps heat, these (and other shoes with memory foam) might not be the best option if you live/work where its hot and humid. The light weight and shock-absorbing midsoles are durable and provide comfort, while the slip resistant out-soles allow you to walk confidently on slippery surfaces.
- Genuine leather upper
- Slip-resistant sole
- Mini perforated panels
- Removable insoles topped with memory foam
- Shock-absorbing midsoles
These clog shoes are suitable for women who want a formal-looking and comfortable pair of shoes. They are designed for all-day comfort and made using leather upper and PU sole. The roomy and reinforced toe box provides protection while the PU outsole with rocker bottom absorbs shock and delivers comfort. The footbed is cushioned with memory foam for better stability and support and minimizes the stress of walking or standing all day long.
- Leather Upper
- PU outsole with rocker bottom
- Approx. 2-inch heel
- Reinforced, roomy toe box
- Padded instep collar
- Wide heel strike
- PU inner frame
- Memory foam footbed
These waterproof boots are designed to handle all kinds of working environments and terrains and made using full-grain leather. The slip-resistant rubber soles provide better grip and traction, while antimicrobial and breathable lining ensures comfortable all-day wearing. The shoes provide critical support to your feet and joints and are designed keeping comfort and control in mind.
- Full-grain leather upper
- Slip-resistant rubber soles
- Breathable anti-microbial lining
- Comfort system for better support
- Suitable for a variety of work environments and terrains
Made using water-proof nubuck and suede leather treated for maximum stain protection with 3M Scotchguard, these sneakers can accommodate most orthotics and provide all-day comfort. The water-proof membrane is breathable so you get protection against water without having to worry about moisture inside the shoes. The sneakers also feature Cleansport NXT technology for controlling odor and DuPont Sorona fiber for wicking moisture.
It’s worth mentioning that nubuck and suede leather require different cleaning materials and methods than regular leather. Make sure not to apply any polish or cream meant for ‘regular’ leather. Separate sprays/brushes are available for cleaning nubuck/suede, while most of the time you can get away with cleaning by using a damp cloth.
- Nubuck and suede leather
- Strain resistant
- Can accommodate both custom and standard orthotics
- Triple-density EVA footbed (removable)
- Dansko natural arch tech
- Shock absorbent
- Vibram rubber outsole (slip-resistant)
- 3M Scotchgard protected uppers
- Waterproof membrane
- Strain resistant
- Odor control tech
- Moisture wicking DuPont Sorona fiber
If you are strictly looking for something not boot-like, these sport sandals offer a good balance between style and comfort. A sneaker outsole and soft leather straps make it easier to stand and walk around, while contrasting platform and gladiator-inspired design provide a unique look.
- Soft and comfortable
- Airy, suitable for hot climates
- Gladiator-inspired design
- Sneaker outsole
- Leather upper