fitness · shoes

These shoes were made for walking

A couple of weeks ago, I was in NYC for the weekend, visiting dear friends and going out for some cultural fun. I even blogged about the burlesque body positivity fest here. But those shows don’t get started until late, so one has to fill the hours until the doors open with something.

So we went shopping. Shoe shopping! This is, in one way, my favorite kind of shopping; I am lucky to happen to have feet in a standard size (8.5–9, depending on brand) and a medium-to-narrow width. This means almost all shoes in my size fit me. It’s just a matter of chance, and not everyone has this experience. I have friends with wider feet, longer feet or narrower feet, all of whom find shoe shopping a pain.

There’s another way, though, in which I find shoe shopping challenging. I’m always, always, searching for that elusive, perfect, unicorn shoe: the super-comfortable-but-snappy-looking work shoe. It has to be pretty flat (and I mean hardly any heel at all), but supportive. And I have fussy princess feet that get blisters just being in the same room with tough shoes.

Lately, I’ve added another item to my already-burdened shoe wish list: I have to be able to walk for a decent amount of time/distance in above-mentioned dream shoe. Why? Convenience and comfort. I want to be able to take advantage of opportunities for more everyday movement (say, a walk during lunch or striding across campus/around town comfortably for meetings, etc). For me, work shoes don’t tend to feel good enough to stand up to longer walks. So I have either suffered and then bitterly regretted wearing them, or turned to my low-rise hiking shoes/sneakers. The latter is fine– lots of people wear casual shoes on campus, which is a lucky thing for me. But I still yearn for a magical combo of fashion and multiple function.

Readers, I am here to tell you today: I’ve finally found it!

In the course of two weeks, I’ve found not one, not two, but THREE pairs of shoes that 1) fit me perfectly; 2) look snappy-to-me; and 3) are sturdy and supportive for a decent walk in everyday life. YAY! By the way, I’m not hawking brands or anything, but I did want to share my shoe solutions, also in hopes that you’ll share some of yours in the comments.

Now, to the shoes themselves.

In the 90s, I wore Doc Martens. I had two pairs: a regular lace up pair, and a 3-tone Mary Jane pair. They were soooo cute! However, because of the narrowish-feet thing, they never fit me properly. However, I decided to check them out again in New York, going to an actual store (which was filled with 20-somethings who have recently discovered Doc Martens for themselves). Herewith my new Docs!

Black patent-leather Doc Martens.
Black patent-leather Doc Martens.

I love love love them! They didn’t even need breaking in– they fit and were comfortable for conference wear immediately after purchasing. This model was a bit narrower than the usual DMs, so they fit really well.

For my second dream-2019 shoe, I went to the Camper store (also in NYC). They have a variety of fun color shoes that tend to be very functional (read comfortable). Yes, they sell shoes with heels, but there are no stilettos in sight. I love me some slingbacks, so I bought these for wearing out on the town.

Oxford slingbacks. One shoe with yellow side panel, and the other with blue.
Oxford slingbacks. One shoe with yellow side panel, and the other with blue.

These are super-comfortable, and also stylish-to-me. Many of the Camper shoes have complementary colors on left and right shoes, which is nothing but fun. I wore these to a dance concert in Brooklyn, taking the subway and walking at least an hour or so in them the same day I bought them. And my feet gave me no complaints.

Finally, I ordered some sneaker-ish shoes I saw online. I love sneakers, but like to look a little more formal in the feet sometimes. Here are my new orange nubuck walking shoes:

Orange nubuck sneakers, complete with toe cap.
Orange nubuck sneakers, complete with toe cap.

These are by Ecco, a brand of comfy walking shoes. They come in many colors. Orange for me as a no-brainer– I think it goes with everything. They’re not a totally perfect fit (they come in whole sizes only), but so far I’ve been very happy with the support and comfort and style.

Maybe it’s some kind of shoe-cebo effect, but I’ve been wearing my fake-o Fitbit and noticing my step counts going up. I’m taking the opportunity to get more steps in at work and while out at activities, in part because I can. MY FEET DON’T HURT! YAY!

What about you, dear readers? What cute-to-you shoes work for you in regular non-athletic contexts? I’m always on the lookout for new solutions to the elusive search for the perfect shoe, so don’t hold back if you have valuable information… 🙂

6 thoughts on “These shoes were made for walking

  1. These are all super cute! I especially love the work-appropriate Docs. Very cool. Myself, I’ve been living in Toms lately. I first got one of their canvas pairs a couple of years ago, but have since bought a pair of flats, a pair of sandals, and a pair of booties. They’re incredibly comfortable on my feet, and since I already know exactly what size I need, I can just order them online without trying and they fit!

  2. Depends on person’s job. I know someone who has over 10 prs. of trail / light hiking shoes that she wears for job. She does some site inspections of infrastructure but most of the time work in office. Unfortunately I work for a boss who expects a slightly less casual attire especially when attending meetings and for group corporate training instruction.

    I no longer wear pumps. I need to wear dress shoes with a strap so my toes don’t grip /ball up.

  3. Love your new shoes. I’ve also been shoe shopping this fall. Looking for ones I can walk around in campus in. My knee isn’t fond of heels.

  4. Comfortable stylish shoes are so wonderful! I had a similar NYC shoe experience long ago where I found the perfect stacked heel work loafer that I wore forever. Unfortunately, when I spotted the exact same replacement shoe (same brand) at a store back home it turned out to be a noticeably lower quality construction that was nowhere nearly as comfortable. New York must be where the best shoes go, which probably makes sense considering how much walking happens there.

  5. My favourite brand these days for dressy but walkable shoes is called Un tour en ville. My best find though was a pair of boot shoes by Canal Grande and I have spent the whole day in them completely comfortable. My go-to though for what I call workshop shoes when I stand for a day are Clarks or Merrels. They have Mary Janes and loafers that look pretty but are super comfy. The cloudstepper line in Clarks is amazing.

  6. I love my Clarks Funny Dreams, but the sole despite being some sort of rubber is slippery, so be careful with slick surfaces.

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