The Best Commuting Shoes

The Best Commuting Shoes | CorporetteWhat are the best shoes for walking to work?  Reader J wonders…

Can you do a post on commuting shoes? I always change into my heels at work, and I need help finding a pair of comfortable (but cute) shoes to wear on the subway/walk to work. I’m curious what shoes other readers wear on their commute.

Great question, J!  We’ve talked about how some women commute in wedges, as well as taken polls on whether toning shoes are appropriate for a commute, but while I’ve mentioned “commuting shoes” a lot, I don’t think we’ve ever had a post devoted to my own perfect version of commuting shoes.  Here are the factors I’ve always looked for:

- A comfortable shoe, obviously.  For me this almost always meant it had to have straps or a vamp — Mary Janes, T-straps, oxfords, boots…

- A shoe that would maintain the hem length of my pants.  When I worked in BigLaw, most of the pumps I wore around the office were at least 3″ — in order to avoid having my hems drag on the ground when I commuted then I needed shoes that were at least 2.5″ high.  I also kept kitten heels in the office (1″ or so) and had a few pairs of pants hemmed for those so I could wear flats on some days, as well.

- A shoe that would blend with my outfit and my general style, in case I was seen on my way into or out of the office, or pulled into a meeting just upon arrival.  In other words, no white sneakers or brightly colored Crocs for me, please!

While flats or boots are easy to find, the 3,” strappy, cute-but-comfy shoe can be difficult to find, so I’ve rounded up a few that are available these days (most pictured above):

Readers, what do you commute to work in?  What factors do you look for when considering a commuting shoe?

Comments

  1. I’m looking for commuting shoes, and agree with all of Kat’s criteria except that for #2, to be consistent with the kitten or low wedge heels I wear at work, I’m looking for a shoe with a lower or no heel, zero to under 2″.
    I do want it to be a great, super-comfy shoe to walk in though! I’m talking a 25-minute walk/scurry and an occasional run (who am I kidding, every day run) for the bus/train when I’m late. Any suggestions that still fit Kat’s criteria number 3? I do often get pulled into early AM meetings upon arrival, so the Vibram Five Fingers is out, unfortunately.

    • I say it all the time, but I swear by the Puma Zandy or Bixley. They feel like a sneaker and look like a flat. They are too casual to wear for a formal office all day, but certainly don’t look that off with a suit if you need to pop into a meeting. I go for either a metallic or patent black.

    • Yay! Black Puma Zandys on 6pm are on their way to me right now! Thanks for the rec.

  2. For me, other important criteria are rubber sole (no slipping) and synthetic material because I like commuting shoes to be at least water-resistant. Although I don’t love it for actual office wear, I find that fake patent (aka plastic) leather is a good material for that. Keeps the weather out. Right now I have a pair of black faux-croc-patent wedge loafers from DSW ( Life Stride I think?) that are really comfortable and still blend with office clothes. In skirts though, I just wear riding style boots for commuting.

  3. So I’m just looking for some Hive perspective- I was in a long relationship, engaged, later found out he cheated – although that was more a result of us not being in a happy relationship. Definitely the cause of us not gettnig back together though. In any event we broke up in June and I recently went on a girls trip, made out with a cute boy and he invited me to his town for the weekend. Would you go? To date, we’ve texted/emailed a little back and forth. I’ve googled him and all his info checks out. Plus he spent an entire day with me and my friends as our tour guide, so I’m not worried he will kidnap me. Thoughts, what would you do?

    • If you’re interested, why not?

      I met a guy on a street in a foreign country and since we went to the same college (which is why I stopped him on the street to exchange contact info), decided to go sightseeing together. Because of our schedules, we only had one day hangingout. We ended up chatting/emailing all summer and through our convos got to know each other to the point that he came to visit me back at school (though he had just graduated) and we dated for about 6 months after that. The relationship didn’t last because we weren’t right for each other/timing, but I think it goes to show that if there are sparks, it doesn’t hurt to visit!

      Another friend met a guy at a wedding, and he lived a 2-3 hour flight away, and they visited back anf forth for about a year, but has a flexible-ish job and are getting married next spring!

    • Anonymous :

      Yeh! Why not? Even if it just turns out to be a fun little fling or even a total waste of time, you took a short trip. If it makes you feel more comfortable you could get a hotel room instead of staying with him (staying with him may imply that there is an expectation of s*x, which its up to you whether or not that’s what you want)

      • Totally agree with this, especially getting a hotel booking so you don’t face any pressure if you just aren’t really feeling it when you see him.

    • Go! I’ve done something similar and although it didn’t have long-term potential, it helped a LOT in getting over my ex and with my self-esteem to connect with a new cute guy and know that he liked me enough to want me to come spend a weekend with him.

      In prep for it, maybe look up some things you want to do in the city and ask to do them? I flew to Chicago to meet this guy and chatted with him about how I wanted to go to the aquarium and a Cubs game. It made the weekend a bit more structured, ensured I had fun no matter what and lowered the pressure on him to plan activities without really knowing what I like to do.

    • Wildkitten :

      Yup. Go.

  4. I find it easier to pin my pants cuff for the commute rather than to try to find the perfect shoe (walking city commute). Even the most comfortable heel is still a heel, and I try to minimize potential foot issues by limiting my heels time to actually in the office. Plus I can take longer strides in flats. In summer I use a pair of those ubiquitous Steve Madden flats, and in winter usually black Pumas.

    • +1

      I’ve seen many women fold up the hem during the commute, without hemming, and that looked fine as well.

      Does anybody else find that wedges are actually very uncomfortable because there isn’t any flexibility?

    • Yeah, I have a strict rule for myself against commuting in heels for the reasons you give, plus the fact that I think it’s important to be able to move reasonably quickly as much as possible when out on the streets. That said, I mostly wear skirts and dresses.

      • Some low shoe’s are OK, but what about NIKE Air’s? I walk to work with my Fitbit and Nike Air’s and those are the best! Of course, I can NOT go into a meeting with my Nike Air’s on, and the manageing partner thinks I look dumpy with a dress and Nike Air’s on. I am off work this week (YAY!) with the releatives and Willem! I have SO MUCH to tell the hive about the releative’s! They are so different that I now know that I could NEVER marry a guy from BUDAPEST! They may be OK for each other, but not for me. FOOEY!

      • +1. I walk half a mile to the bus, and run on the subway platform, neither of which are conducive to any type of heel. If cuffed pants don’t remain that way during your commute, use magnetic “pants stays.” When wearing skirts I wear flat boots, though sometimes I still change into heels at the office.

  5. One thing that really frustates me about these discussions is that we seem to place so little importance on shoe comfort and safety compared to how much importance we place on how they will look with our office outfits. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women in heels tottering down the stairs to the subway looking as though they’re one misplaced step away from falling down the whole flight. I’ve also found myself with uncomfortable heels or flats that are appropriate for the office, but that become really painful if I want to go out for a walk during the day. I don’t want my shoes to endanger my safety on my public transit commute (or if I ever have to sprint away from a criminal or something), and I also don’t want my shoes to inhibit my goal of getting more exercise throughout the day. To that end, does anyone have some stylish sneakers they can recommend that aren’t too expensive? I hate that women have to consider bringing/wearing multiple pairs of shoes throughout the day, but if I can find a good pair of sneakers, maybe it will help me get over it.

    • Cosign all of this. The past 2.5 days, I’ve been away for business travel and felt this comfy-but-ugly shoe vs fashionable-but-umcomfortable-and-dangerous shoe divide keenly. That said, I’m probably part of the problem, not the solution.

      As long as I’m willing to keep on buying both types of shoes, I’m sending the shoe industry the wrong message. That I’ll buy 2 pairs of shoes instead of one functional AND fashionable pair. So they never have to reconcile function and appearance.

      Separately, I really enjoyed my trip to CT! Here’s a shout to all the CT readers of this site. I had great food, productive meetings, and enjoyed seeing the lovely fall foliage.

      • @ Susedna Quick update (sry for the life story, here) The Bully at my office behaved badly yesterday, and this time there was a witness. The Bully’s comment was definitely out of line.
        I reached out my boss via email. Magically, today, Bully’s behavior has been better.

      • I hate heels :

        I have two pair Sketchers work shoes (one black, one brown). I wear them around the office too, putting heels on only for Court/meetings.

    • Diana Barry :

      +1.

      I haven’t found any stylish sneakers that also offer support, but will keep looking!!!

    • This times a million. I wear comfy, warm, sturdy shoes that will survive the CTA. I live in Chicago, and we have awful weather. I try to look professional and neat at work. During the commute? Safety and comfort reign supreme. Yes, this means Danskos with a suit or giant, clunky, snowboots with dress slacks rolled up.

    • I’ve been commuting (20+ mins of walking each way) in Clarks Privos. They aren’t the cutest things ever but they blend in with work clothes and are just as comfortable as sneakers for that amount of walking. I also like that I can wear them without socks and don’t have to mess with laces. I hate laces. http://www.zappos.com/clarks-p-tequini-black-nubuck

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Not completely on point because it wasn’t really the fault of my shoes, but I have fallen down an escalator running for the subway. And I actually was wearing tennis shoes. So be careful no matter what shoes you are wearing!

      • Yes I was going to say pretty much every time I’ve fallen/gotten hurt I was wearing sneakers. I’ve never tripped in heels. I wear what I consider reasonable, ~3 inches, and often walk about a mile during lunch in them no problem.

    • I am not going to ruin what is left of my feet, knees and hips on looking ‘cute’. And to hell with the people who give me the stink eye and snide comments. I place my health above fashion.

      • As someone who had to have surgery for bunions (at a young age!), I second all of this–trust me, foot pain lasts a lifetime once it’s there. NOT worth it! In fact, I find it kind of ridiculous that all of the suggested shoes have heels. I reserve heels for weddings!

    • Anon so I can post :

      I agree with you. I would rather look less than fashionable than be in pain. Maybe it is because I am older and am suffering what happens when you wear inappropriate footwear. I would really like to bazooka the people who give me the stink eye or make snide comments because I wear GASP walking shoes for the commute.

    • Lady Harriet :

      I wear these as regular office shoes, since I don’t have a walking commute, and they’re more comfortable than I ever imagined heels could be: http://www.6pm.com/earthies-essex They might work for someone who’s a dedicated heels-wearer. The same brand has a lot of nice flats and loafers out this year which might work well for dressier commuting shoes. (Don’t check 6pm for those, since that site usually only has past-season clearance shoes.) The arch support in their heels is amazing and they’re very well padded, so I think the flats would hopefully be equally good. I’m just waiting for a good sale to buy a pair. I wasn’t too impressed with the flat sandals, but those weren’t anything you’d want to wear commuting anyway.

    • anon in tejas :

      cosign!

    • I wear some Sketchers slip-on sneaks for commuting. They are not the cutest/trendiest, but they are super comfy and have some traction. I have them in a few colors and wear them allll the time. Plus, they are pretty durable and have lasted me forever.

      http://www.6pm.com/skechers-bikers-hot-ticket

      these are a slightly different style – http://www.6pm.com/skechers-bikers-verified

  6. TJ - Friendship Advice Needed :

    So I was a regular reader and commenter but disappeared for the past two months or so for various reasons. I never figured out a regular handle though, so I doubt anyone really missed me. Anyway, I need some advice and this community is the best for that. My best friend’s Boyfriend recently moved to our city to live with her. I find him a bit annoying generally, but since he makes her happy, so be it. But since he’s moved here, I have not seen her without him once. He is everywhere we are, and doing everything we do. And (I think anyway) I’ve been a good sport about it. However, next week a musician I like and introduced to my best friend is playing at a small venue. I asked if she wanted to see go see him with me. Of course, she wants Boyfriend to come along. There’s a chance my ex will be at the gig (since the ex introduced me to the musician), and I would want to die if he saw me there third wheeling with my friend. I suggested we can find me a friend-date (who my ex doesn’t know and can pretend I’m irresistible in case my ex is there with a girl) or just make it a girls thing. Her feathers seemed to ruffle when I suggested Boyfriend not come along (she doesn’t want to “exclude” him and doesn’t see the big deal if we’re all just friends seeing a musician). To make matters worse, I recently got out of a very long term/live-in relationship (different from the ex mentioned above), and I’m still having a hard time with that. It was my decision, and it’s better for me, but I’m still sad, and I’m sure it is making me extra touchy about only ever seeing my friend with Boyfriend, and also potentially seeing my ex. I guess I’m not sure who, if anyone is being out of line here – both in this particular situation of me not wanting Boyfriend with us on a particular night, but also in general to our friendship – he is after all, her boyfriend, and while she may be my best friend, he is not. This made more sense in my head, so I hope I got it out straight, but please, friendship advice needed.

    • That boyfriend sounds less like a boyfriend than a clingy wannabe-Siamese twin of your pal.

      Sounds seriously unhealthy and clingy on both their parts. Usually a sign of deep-seated insecurity + lack of trust.

      Also, if you’re over your ex, it should not matter what he thinks of you, third-wheeling, or whatever. You’re over someone when you cease to care about their opinions. Ignore what the ex thinks, enjoy the concert.

      • Anonymous :

        I don’t know. This seems harsh in this situation because he just moved to the city. So, the girlfriend/friend presumably wants to introduce him to all sorts of new and cool stuff. Plus, if they were long distance for a while, they are probably really soaking up the fact that they now get to do all this cool stuff together. I don’t think its necessarily about insecurity or lack of trust, given the circumstances.

        I agree with the part about the show, though. Who cares what the ex thinks and I doubt he would even leap to the third-wheel connotation. You’re just hanging out with friends.

    • Anonymous :

      To give you some perspective, if your best friend and her boyfriend were long-distance (or short distance) before, they may just be making up for lost time. I know my boyfriend and I were SO EXCITED when you finally lived within 30 mins of each other. So they may cool off after a few months of him being around. I don’t think she should get upset when you ask for a girls-only night, that’s not weird of you to do. Say you just want some girl time. I do think you may be particularly sensitive right now, but she should also be sensitive to what you’re going through and understand why you may get upset seeing an ex or spending a ton of time around a couple.

    • Dude, breathe. You are super stressed out.

      See different friends. From your post, you appear to be super dependent on your bff. It’s understandable to lean on your friends when things get tough but maybe seeing other people would be good for you, too.

      I don’t see the big deal about bff’s bf joining the musician thing but I do understand your annoyance with him in general. Invite to her something stereotypically “girls night out”ish, like manicures or bra shopping or something.

      Also, you are a lot more tolerant than me. I have a cool down period with friends (male or female) who are super wrapped up in their relationships. I get in touch with them when they’re past their obsessive infatuation stage.

    • been there, done that :

      I absolutely sympathize with the BFF who suddenly became BFF+SO you put up with because of BFF. I think we know a very similar couple in this regard and I absolutely know what you’re feeling. Honestly, she and I have grown apart in many ways in large part because I can’t stand her husband. Unfortunately that is a common sentiment in our social group. Though they’ve now moved away, I never did find a way to gently communicate that I wanted to hang out with JUST her and not her and husband. He’s not a bad guy, but he and I don’t get along very well (I think we’ve both tried and we’re just oil and water personalities). I never had the heart to tell her any of this, of course.

      Anyway, sorry, I think I just extrapolated my own experience all over you. Have you explicitly told her what you said here about the third wheel thing? I can’t tell from what you’ve written. Ordinarily I’d said ‘screw what ex thinks’ but since it sounds like you’re nursing fairly recent wounds, just tell her the deal. It’s not “excluding him” to go to ONE THING without him (but I’m sure you’re on the same page). One other thing to think about–if he just moved to where you are, is it possible he hasn’t developed his own social network and he’s all awkward and lonely? That was part of my friend’s husband’s problem and I’m afraid I was never very sympathetic.

      Good luck–I seriously sympathize with you. Not a fun situation.

    • I would find another friend to go with you. I doubt you will be able to find a way to tell her that you want to go with her and only her that won’t get her knickers in a twist. At this point I would say, “I was really hoping the concert could be a girls night, but I understand that you do not want to exclude your boyfriend. No worries! I will see if there is someone else that can go with me.” And then, in the future, try to make plans with other friends unless you don’t mind seeing them both.

    • Does BFF’s boyfriend have other friends in your town? If not, BFF might feel like he’s dependent on her, and she might feel badly about leaving him home while you go out to see a musician.

      I totally get where you’re coming from, but I also understand how it feels to finally have a long-distance BF move to the same town. I agree with the suggestion to meet up with your friend for mani/pedis or something else more girly (and maybe during a weekend day instead of night) so that there’s no chance she’d really even want BF there (or that he’d want to be there). And give it time. It’s hard to adjust to new situations like this. If the problem persists, raise it with your BFF, but just taking some time apart while they finish this infatuation period might help too.

    • I think you may be being unreasonable about the concert. It’s completely normal to want and ask for “girl time” to hang out with and connect with your BFF. But what I’m hearing is that you want THIS concert and THIS night to be just you and her because you don’t want to be embarrassed about a recent breakup in front of an ex who was at least 2 boyfriends ago and who may or may not be at this concert. I’m not particularly sympathetic to that, and I don’t think your BFF has to be either. If her boyfriend is new to town, they may be in the infatuation/ making up for lost time phase, or he may not have a network of friends. Either way, it’s not unusual that she would not want to leave him at home to spare you of looking dumb in front of an old ex-boyfriend (which you won’t in my opinion).

      Again, I think it’s normal and reasonable to want time with just your BFF. I’d suggest asking for girl time that requires less of a time commitment from her and see what happens – manicures, happy hour, brunch, zumba, etc. Maybe ask to do something her boyfriend doesn’t enjoy, or to do something during a time when he’ll be busy. If they’re so attached at the hip that she can’t get away for a couple of hours, then focus on other friendships and relationships for now.

      This may seem counterintuitive, but if the boyfriend doesn’t have his own network yet, try inviting both of them to more things, but within your larger friend group. Maybe over time he’ll hit it off with some other people in the group and start finding his own activities outside of their relationship

      • Anonymous :

        Yes times a million. It is very weird that you think you would die if your ex saw you being a third wheel. Invite more people and make it a whole group thing. I totally think couples should do things seperately, but this guy just moved to town. The advice to invite him to big group things is great, and invite her to things when you know he is busy or to things he wouldnt go to. I would find it really weird if my friend invited me to a concert and asked if my bf could not come.

  7. I recently had a trip here for work. I wore 1″ Geox heels with a rubber sole and my feet just weren’t used to walking several miles in anything other than a sneaker. I’ve also had good luck with the low Cole-Haan wedges. I don’t know that either would work for my feet if I did this every day due to end-of-day foot swelling. But both are terrific and easy to wear (the CH also has rubber soles). I am intrigues by the large # of people I saw walking in low-heeled or flat boots (mostly non-black) and would appreciate any recommendations from the commuters in the Hive.

  8. Honestly nothing besides sneakers fit my criteria. I’ve invested heavily in comfortable attractive flats and sneakers are still infinitely better for the half mile walk from the Chicago metra to my office/clients.

    Then there’s even the issue of driving. I’m at clients all over the suburbs and in the car for up to 3hrs a day. I can’t just drive in my work shoes because my feet hurt and driving also wears away at the heels of my nice flats. I really should just drive in sneakers, but I usually wear my old birkenstock clogs or my sperrys.

    • Lady Harriet :

      I usually take off my right shoe for driving because I also don’t like to drive in heels or sandals. I know this varies in legality by state–it’s fine here in FL but it was illegal in WI where I used to live. I just kept a pair of crummy old flats in the car for driving there.

      • Baconpancakes :

        FYI, it’s actually not illegal in any states. It’s “strongly discouraged” in many jurisdictions, and if a police officer discovered a driver had taken off their shoes and then gotten into an accident, it could be ticketed as contributing to reckless driving, but it’s not outright illegal anywhere in the US. (Many states do, however, require shoes when riding a motorcycle.)

  9. I have to admit – I don’t care how I look while I’m commuting. I’m cycling to work, and during storm and snow, I take the subway. My office is business formal, and I wear suits or suit separates to work, and I mostly wear sneakers or black walking/comfort shoes, in winter snow boots. I switch my shoes once I’ve arrived in my office. I know it doesn’t look good to wear suits with walking shoes, it looks horrible. But for what I do in the morning, they are safe, they are comfortable, and when cycling/walking back from my office, the most important thing at that time is that my feet are happy after one day in heels. I don’t wear very high heels – 3 inch is the maximum I can manage for an office day, 3,5 is a height I can only manage for an evening twice a year or so … but my feet are always so very tired after a long day in the office. Looks comes second, more so, only third. If someone on the streets wants to judge me of my suit paired with my odd shoes, I don’t care. My coworkers and also the partners in our office know this shoe-switching thing of me by now, and they understand it and I’ve even been praised by a partner once for this. So it’s OK with my office environment.
    I have tried Mary Janes, Ballerina flats, but I haven’t found a pair yet that do the trick for me. Added to comfort, I need shoes that are water-proof and dirt-proof, because while commuting I’m mostly outdoor and I’m living in a country that has many, many rainy days. I searched for dressy shoes that are comfortable, water-proof and safe to ride a bike with, but haven’t found anything yet. If taking the subway, some slipper-style shoes work for me well enough. I had one pair of Mary Jane with a very low, chunky heel, but while that shoe was somewhat pretty and comfortable, the sole fell apart after some months.

  10. Anonymous :

    I just wanted to add a pitch for orthaheel as a brand. I have a number of their shoes, and my whole lower half feels better when I wear them!

  11. Anonymous :

    I own the Cobb Hill Sadie style mentioned here and I find them so comfortable. I found them and another pair by walking in to nordstrom and explaining that I wanted something that could go business formal or business casual, but was still super comfy. I ended up trying on quite a few pairs that I would have overlooked just browsing on the internet because they looked uncomfortable but weren’t.

    The other pair I picked up on that shopping trip are the Josef Seibel Tina style (http://www.zappos.com/josef-seibel-tina-grey). They look super uncomfortable, but they are really comfy and are very easy to run/walk fast in (I’m always running for the T or bus).

  12. Dansko patent leather clogs are fantastic for commuting — rain can’t hurt them, incredible support.
    And – presentable with pants, skirts/tights, etc.
    http://www.zappos.com/dansko-professional-black-patent-leather

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