Those of us who walk a lot during our commutes know the literal and figurative pain of finding footwear that is both easy on our feet — and on the eyes.
“You don’t have to wear clunky or ugly orthopedic shoes but you should definitely be picky when buying your commuting shoes,” said Dr. Juliana Paternina, a foot and ankle surgeon. She practices in New York City and northern New Jersey, so she often sees patients whose commutes include a significant amount of walking.
Here are Dr. Paternina’s best tips for finding the perfect fit:
-Shop for new shoes at the end of the day. During the course of the day our feet normally swell a little, so this will ensure the right fit.
-Be sure to have both feet measured. If you have one foot longer than the other, buy the shoe size that fits your larger foot.
-Your shoes should not fold.
-It is very important to understand what type of feet you have: flat, wide forefoot with narrow heel, high arches, etc. This will help you find your “go to” brands.
-Don’t break in shoes! Shoes should be comfortable immediately. Walk around in the store before you commit.
Know Your Value checked in with several women to find out which shoes they swear by during their long commutes to work.
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Made from recycled water bottles once destined for the landfill, Rothy’s classic-looking flat shoes are designed to be worn all day long. And best of all — they’re completely washable! Ailene McGuirk wears her Rothy’s while walking back and forth to drop off her daughters at two different schools in Hoboken, NJ, and then she clocks another three to four miles on her feet during her workday in pharmaceutical sales. McGuirk said, “I like them because they are stylish, comfortable, and washable — key with kids and Hoboken streets. Also they are super light, so I can swap on heels and carry the Rothy’s without issue.”
You may not want to automatically write off pumps for your commute. If you have a formal dress requirement at your office, commuting in heels may be preferable to lugging a second pair of shoes in your bag. Stacy Ferrara, an executive assistant, has commuted by foot on both sides of the country. In her years in New York City, her commute included a 15-minute walk. She said these Nine West heels were “surprisingly comfortable for a pointed-toe shoe, and they held up very well. They were affordable, too!”
B.0.C’s goal is to create a ridiculously comfortable and good-looking shoe for everyday life. There are a wide variety of styles to choose from: sandals, wedges, clogs, flats and boots. Between her work in development for a non-profit and her business coaching mompreneurs, Dawn Apuan spends a lot of time on her feet. For her mile-long commute and workday at a standing desk, Apuan, who lives in Seattle, recommends B.0.C boots. “I've worn them in sun, rain, and snow, with pants, dresses, and skirts. Super comfy and versatile,” she said.
Steve Madden’s slip-on shoes combine the comfort of a sneaker with the look of a shoe, and they can be paired with pants or skirts. Krista Hurlburt, who works in data analysis at USAID in Washington, D.C., told Know Your Value, “I haven’t had luck finding regular flats that are comfortable for more than just walking around the office.” Instead, Hurlburt wears these sneaker-shoes for her 20-minute walk to work. “They are comfortable, easy to slide off and cute,” she said.
When Ferrara made the move to San Francisco, she was faced with a 30-minute commuting walk. Between the length of the walk and the hills along the way, she finally made the switch to sneakers. “Everyone is far more casual here,” she said. These Nike Cortez trainers provide her with the same classic vibe as her Nine West pumps, but they made the walk a bit easier.
Do you love walking, but your feet don’t? Merrell’s Jungle Moc may help. This low-maintenance shoe has a contoured footbed, an air cushion for shock and stability and even organic odor control. Vai Naik, who has been walking a mile to her job in banking operations in Jersey City, NJ, twice a day since 2011, is the first to admit that these shoes will not be the most attractive option on this list. However, after suffering from plantar faciitis for years and undergoing treatments that only had temporary effects, Naik recently discovered these shoes. “It’s been six months of pain-free living,” she said.
Prefer a doctor-approved shoe? Dr. Paternina’s favorites include: