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Being on your feet all day is a particular kind of hell — just ask any of the nurses, bartenders, waitresses, custodians, or teachers in your life. When sitting is a rarity, finding the right pair of shoes is crucial, lest it’s your goal to become a frequent flyer at the podiatrist’s office. (As someone who worked in retail for years, of this I am sure.)
So what shoes aren’t torture? And which ones won’t cause all sorts of bodily harm after years of wear? Here, seven people who stand all day shared their tips on the most comfortable pairs they own, from Crocs and Danskos to the best Nike sneakers. Beware, though: Some of them are admittedly function over fashion, but hey — ugly shoes are back.
I use every brand of work shoes — Dansko, Blundstone, Doc Martens, Crocs. I've tried the off brands, too. But the only ones worth a damn are the middle-aged hippie lady brand Born. My Born clogs are just cute enough to not make me feel like a total schlub, can be worn comfortably with or without socks, have great arch support, don't pinch my toes, and have some sort of memory foam cushion business inside. Plus, they’re half the price of all those other brands.—Ella Grace, bartender/waitress
I’m a huge fan of Sam Edelman's Francis Scalloped Flats for their superior cushioning, which sets them apart from similar styles and brands at this teacher-friendly price point (example: Steve Madden). They also remind me of the scalloped flats Chloé makes, so I get some style points post-work, plus they come in some snazzy colors (I'm partial to the Blood Orange and the Leopard). —Annie, middle school history teacher
As unflattering and unfeminine as they are, I’m a big fan of Danskos. I have a regular pair and an "XP" pair (extra wide and extra cushion). They support my feet and stay mushy during my extra-long shifts! People I work with are also huge fans of regular Nike sneakers. There's a whole culture of foot apparel among the uniformed workers. (i.e., everyone at the hospital). —Alexis, physician
I haven't found a perfect perennial shoe yet, but I'm in some combination of Bogs and Muck Boots in the field, although I switch to a trusty pair of old Chacos for the hot months, even though having open faced footwear isn't always a good choice.—Melody Powers, organic farmer & brewer
Currently, I’m a nanny, a photographer, and a multimedia artist, but for about 5 years before this I was a hostess, and through all this, my Steve Madden lace-up boots have and will continue to be my main work shoe. I just slip in a sport insole for extra comfort and they’re ready for anything. —Beth, photographer and nanny
I love Nike Tanjuns; they're breathable, lightweight, and have plenty of support while still looking cute. —Ian, food stylist