The Best Commuting Shoes in 2018: Stylish, Comfortable, AND Practical?

best commuting shoes for women 2018Reader D wrote in, asking us to update our older post on the best commuting shoes — so let’s discuss, particularly since the weather is finally getting warmer! Here’s her question:

Can you please update the ‘The Best Commuting Shoes‘ post? I left my Born Crown Collection nadine’s at a hotel by accident a few months ago and I’m so devastated!! They are no longer available and I loved them so much. Please share updates…….I’m searching for a replacement and need help! Thank you!!!!!

Interesting. (The shoe she mentions is sold out, but you can see it here if you’re curious. This option looks pretty similar, FWIW…) A few notes on what I think makes for the best commuting shoes in 2018 (particularly so you don’t look like the sad model in the stock photo at top)…:

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  • It maintains your hem length. This only matters if you’re wearing full-length pants, which are coming back in style (particularly in flare form) — you cannot wear flat commuting shoes with shoes that you also intend to wear with 3″ heels unless you’re ok with the hem dragging on the ground (or your pants being hemmed too short). To that end, if you’re into flared, bootcut, or even straight-leg pants that are full-length, you may want to check out some of the fugly-shoes-with-height kind of options — FLY London, Eileen FisherBørn, Earthies, and Gentle Souls are all good bets.
  • For the most conservative offices (or the most stylish women), you may want to look for commuting shoes that are comfortable, but cute enough to pass as your “look for the day” if you bump into a colleague on your commute. If you’re going to feel uncomfortable meeting the VIP partner or CEO in the subway wearing your flip flops or weekend sneakers, you may want to look for other shoes. It’s also ok to consider what your commute actually looks like here — if you just want to be able to walk outside the networking event, put on more comfortable shoes while you’re standing outside hunting for a cab or walking a block to the subway, those little foldable flats like Yosi Samras may be A-OK for you (and maintain your style) … whereas on the mornings or nights when you actually mean to walk for 30-60 minutes over city streets, you make a different choice.
  • Finally, give some thought to your family history: if your mother and grandmother have/had problem feet (fallen arches, bunions, etc), do not proceed to walk for miles in heels or flip-flops because you’re in your 20s and feel fine…  your feet are going to hurt when you’re 30 and you’re going to smack yourself in the head for all that walking you did in your 20s in shoes that weren’t even labeled comfort. Signed, the girl who walked for miles in 3″ Steve Madden shoes when she was in her 20s. (And they weren’t. even. cute. Gaaah.) It doesn’t mean you have to wear sneakers or geriatric sandals — just try to respect your future feet by giving your choice of commuting shoe some thought. For me that would mean any commuting shoe has to have arch support as well as laces/ankle straps because I tend to walk out of flats anyway because I have a wide forefoot and narrow heels — but your issues may be different. (If you know problem feet run in your family it probably isn’t a bad idea to make a visit to a podiatrist anyway and see what she or he recommends!)

Where to look for the best commuting shoes in 2018:

  • If you have problem feet, go to a specialty shoe store that specializes in comfort shoes. In NYC I’d recommend Tip Top Shoes (on West 72) for a good mix of stylish and comfortable shoes along with knowledgeable salesmen.
  • Usual suspects: brands like Clarks, Børn, Sofft, Naturalizer, Aerosoles. I just got these Clarks shoes earlier this year ($48 and eligible for Prime Wardrobe) and I’m really happy with them. (For a much broader survey of comfortable heels and other comfortable shoes for work, check out our regularly updated Guide to Comfortable Heels.)
  • If you find classic flats comfortable: readers love Rothy’s; I’ve also heard good things about Everlane’s loafers and Nisolo’s smoking loafers, oxfords and sandals. If you want an upgrade on sneakers but still want laces, these Cole Haan shoes are crazy lightweight.
  • If you must do flip-flops for your commute – I’ve walked for miles in these Reef flip flops with arch support (like these); readers have also turned me on to OluKai. Note that this is one of the stupid decisions from my youth that my feet and I regret — but flip flops are so lightweight and comfortable in the moment that even now I walk more places in them than I should.

Over to you, readers — what do you think are the best commuting shoes in 2018? What’s comfortable for long distances? What’s acceptable for the office hallway? What strikes you as a stylish commuting shoe? 

Stock photo image: Shutterstock / Voyagerix



  1. Kat, if you work in NYC and either walk a lot or take the subway, the onley practical commuting shoes is a pair of Nike Air’s. I find that any kind of shoe with a heel will get scuffed or broken in the subways or walking on the curb when crossing streets. In addition, stepping around poopie is a big issue in NYC as people do NOT pick up after their pets, particularly if the dog goes near the curb. Once it get’s on your shoes, forget it. At least with Nike’s, I can be more acrobatic, and jump at the last minute to avoid a mess. Also, I am less likely to trip on uneven walkways then I am with 4 inch heels. While Frank says I look dumpy wearing Nikes with my clotheing, I say I am practical, and I am not out to win a medal dressing up to cross the street. FOOEY on that!

  2. Years ago, there was mention of magnetic tabs to keep pant hems shortened during a commute:

    I drive to work, but the last 2 blocks can be full of gravel (industrial site) and uneven terrain. I am partial to sneakers and my Merrell boots for commuting, so the magnetic thingies are just fine. Can anyone recommend a product other than CityClips or Zakkerz? I need functional/minimalist, not blingy.

  3. Anonymous :

    Commuting for me means a combo of walking and two buses, not just going from house to car to parking garage. If I did, maybe I would wear nicer shoes because I wouldn’t have to worry about comfort, and actually being outside and facing the elements/dirty city streets. I usually wear Skechers because they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Of course, six months of the year I’m wearing snow boots to work. :(

    All my nice shoes live at work and never see the light of day.

    • In some ways, winter is a bit of a relief for this. In my area, no one will bat an eye if you’re wearing boots. They’re a necessity.

  4. Anon in NYC :

    This is timely! I have plantar fibroma and (after a life of wearing flimsy ballet flats) am still learning what a supportive shoe looks like…

  5. Anonymous :

    Winter: leather blundstones
    spring/fall: canvas blundstones
    summer: merrell sandals

  6. In the summer months, when I walk two miles to my conservative corporate workplace, I love wearing Puma flats, which look like casual ballet flats but feel like sneakers.

  7. Does anyone have any recommendations for shoes for a commute that includes 2.5 miles (round trip) of walking? I always change shoes at work, but would ideally like something that doesn’t look completely out of place when I get to work in case I get pulled into something right away. Thanks!

    • Rockports are supposed to be durable with a good warranty on wear, which might go the distance, but it would be an investment.

      That being said, I had to give them up for Aravons, a dress shoe variation from New Balance as I am now dealing with a bunion and orthotics in a wide, and most of their shoes (not all, read the fine print) have an insole you can swap out.

      I have one pair of Finn Comfort shoes that are built like a TANK and might give you a few years of that walking commute. I haven’t looked at Doc Martens in a while. They have durable soles if they have a style that suits you.

  8. ironic3500 :

    I’m an American girl who moved to England last year- I went from driving every day, in schlubby trousers, to sit at my huge cubicle/shared office…. to walk/cycle/train to work in fitted professional dresses/suits on old, potholed stone roads to a hotdesking office with only a tiny locker for personal storage on the other side of the building. Comfort has always been key but is now essential. My tips (keywords in caps for convenience, not shouting)-

    MINIMIZE- Pare down your palette of neutrals so you can invest in durable, stylish shoes (an expensive combination). I eliminated brown and dark grey completely… I love navy too much so I kept black, navy with caramel trim, and a pair of dark red when I want a color pop.

    SOLID BRAND- I buy almost exclusively CLARKS because it meets the quality, durability, and professionalism I need.

    SHOE STYLES- I have a pair of smart suede BROGUES and ANKLE BOOTS which I wear every day. You can wear these styles with a dress/suit jacket if they have a slim silhouette; if they’re a bit bulkier (brogues) I wear it with a cardigan.

    STRATEGIC BACKUPS- I have standard BLACK FLATS with a lot of foot coverage that I keep in my locker, in case I have to wear NEUTRAL RAIN BOOTS that day to work- usually not embarrassing in this climate, and protect my nude tights from getting splashed. Properly colored nude tights are hard to come by for a WOC :-)

  9. Dansko clogs :


  10. I just wear sneakers and change. When I worked at a military installation and had to meet the Admiral across the complex I wore my sneakers and apologized for being so casual. His reply was “ I don’t understand why more women don’t do this. “. I am of those who wore heels around NYC when I was a buyer and am paying the price now. As for flip flops, check out Vionic with built in arch support. I live in them all summer.

  11. I can’t abide running into male colleagues wearing sneakers. I demand comfortable business shoes. I also think a large shoe collection at work is stupid with a little self reflection. Who cares you wear heels for 10.5 minutes a day?

    It’s dang expensive and a shame to beat up on the streets/train/bus, but I love a low Ferragammo Vara (could even wear the baby carrier on daycare runs in the Vara). Chelsea boots in bad weather, maybe higher boots. Aquitalia has nice things too. Cole Haan often. And Payless will have a good wedge every once in awhile.

  12. globalista :

    As a former flight attendant, now in the corporate world with a professional dress code, I am drawn to the sensible heels I used to wear as crew. There are lots of articles, forums, and blogs about the best flight attendant shoes that you might check out if you’re looking for basic black or navy, professional heels that can handle a lot of walking. You could even check out a couple of brands that cater to the crew community – Zeddea, SkySoles, Piccadilly, Skypro.

    My all-time favorite heels are by Fitzwell, a discontinued Zappos brand – with a small selection still available on Amazon, eBay and Poshmark. I have worn them standing and walking for 10+ hours a day. All their styles have gel cushioning built into the footbed.

    Ecco and Franco Sarto are the closest replacements for the Fitzwells I have found for fashionable pumps that can also handle an urban commute and/or long hours standing. Ecco has some great mid-heels, and “shooties” that are really supportive.

    If you need arch support, Vionic, known for their sandals, now makes flats and even kitten heels.

    My other advice would be to embrace androgynous shoes and go for a pair of oxfords or brogues. They’re more supportive and comfortable just by design, but it’s also easier to add gel or custom insoles to these styles. Try Clarks, Franco Sarto, Hobbs, Everlane, Mamahutu (some fun color combinations), and don’t be afraid of the men’s section.

    Finally, if you happen to be in Spain, I would recommend 24HRS shoes found at El Corte Ingles department stores (also available online in the UK, EU and Australia). They’re really comfy, shock-absorbing, flexible shoes. Some of their flats and loafers can pass as professional, but I would use them mainly for commuting and switch to something else at my desk.

  13. I am on my shoes all day and by evening they are hurting. I am still breaking them in but foot pain is friends said that better don”t use shoes.then i saw orthofeet comfort and comfortable shoes i purchased it really i was surprised. the pain has gone..really these shoes where awesome.

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