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How to Find Stylish and Comfortable Shoes

By Amalah

Dear Amy,
Long-time reader, first-time questioner here.
Recently, with the gas prices and the environment and whatever else I should care about, I started taking mass transit to and from work. This requires me either to walk from my house to the bus stop or (if I ride with my boyfriend to the metro station) from the car to the metro station. In either case, this is a little less than half a mile. Then its metro to the bus to work and then another half a mile from the bus stop to my office. So, I’m walking almost a mile before I even get to work and then repeating this in the afternoons.
I refuse to follow suit of the middle-aged suburbanites who wear their stark white sneakers and socks with their dresses, but I completely understand why they do it and envy their lack of fashion sense. I have been wearing pink flip flops as my commuter shoes and then packing the office shoes in my briefcase, but even the flip flops are starting to become uncomfortable.
What I’m looking for is a cute pair of commuter shoes that will not kill my feet. I would especially be pleased with shoes that I could wear all day, but I don’t want to ask for too much. Any suggestions?

On my recent fashion scouting expedition to New York City (also known under the decoy code name of Jason’s Birthday Weekend), I spent a lot of time checking out all the hot tail (also known as Seeing What the Stylish Pretty People Are Wearing These Days). I was converted to the minidress-over-jeans look (my apologies to the Fug Girls) (I’m also on a mission to find a cute pair of dressy shorts) and I also realized that flat shoes can be really, really cute.
Everybody was wearing flats. Or flip-flops, but it was mostly the super-cute flats that caught my eye. Cute! Practical! And at least giving off the illusion of being comfortable!
Of course, I’ve since tried on quite a few pairs that were anything but comfortable. Usually these were the super-cheap ones stamped with ALL MAN-MADE MATERIALS on the sole, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. The same shoe rules apply to even the most ballet-slipper-like flat: Be kind to your feet. Don’t encase them in plastic-y pleather and cheap pinchy shoes with unfinished seams that rub. A lot of flats also have ZERO arch support, which is the same reason your flip-flops are hurting your feet. (Also! Exposing all the skin of your feet to the air all the time will cause cracks and dryness. You might as well be going barefoot.)
So! Onward! To the freaking point! POST SOME SHOES ALREADY!
Here are some flats that I think would be perfectly acceptable to wear all day at work, and also (hopefully) make your commute more pleasant. (I can’t really tell how great some of these are arch-support-wise, but that is why God created the Zappo’s free return shipping policy.
dansko.jpgOkay, this first one may make your Manolo-sense recoil a little, but bear with me: the Dansko Mary-Jane flat. So yeah, they are not the cutest little twee shoe in the world. But they are comfortable. They are good for your feet. They are also…not half bad. I love the strap and I can totally see the black ones looking pretty darn cute with a pleated skirt or some dressy cropped pants.
For a more stylish take on the same idea, these patent-leather ballet flats (patent is sooooo hott right now) from BCBG sound pretty comfortable, although I’d probably look into replacing the “foam insert” with something a little more substantial by Dr. Scholl’s.
bcbgshoes.jpgThat same tactic might work with pretty much any of the ballet flats. And here Zappo’s selection is positively mind-blowing, so it all comes down to what personally appeals to you. 1,844 pairs of ballet flats!
Brands built for comfort (besides Dansko) include Born, Ecco, Clarks and Rockport. Brands built for style (but are still decently comfortable and excellent quality) include Delmans, Donald J Pliner and Stuart Weitzman. Brands (in my own experience) that tend to look way better than they feel are Steve Madden and Nine West. It’s all about what you’re willing to spend and what the rest of your wardrobe looks like. (I could sit here all day linking to cute black shoes and all you wear are earthtones.)
So! To recap! Flats! Real leather! Go for ultra-comfort if you are okay with still packing a pair of heels in your bag, and go for additional arch support in an otherwise well-fitting shoe if you aren’t. Either option is worlds better than the office-attire-with-sneakers look, but then again, this is coming from someone who no longer thinks dresses always look ridiculous over jeans, so clearly I have lost my damn mind.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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