Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Flats for Standing All Day

Belle –

I have been working on a campaign all year. With little time to exercise I have recently (with much hesitation) converted to a standing desk. Any recommendations on comfortable/stylish footwear to help those in need? Office attire is sharp casual.

-LB

Standing desks are great.  I wish I could switch to one.  However, finding shoes that are comfortable enough to stand in all-day and still professional is not great.

For your purposes, I think you want flats.  Even a comfortable heel is exhausting to stand in for long periods.  So a chic flat is probably the best choice.

The way I see it, you have three options: 1) wear comfortable shoes at your desk and switch to more professional/less comfortable shoes when you leave your desk; 2) find shoes that are both comfortable and professional; 3) adjust the surface you’re standing on to improve your comfort.  Let’s cover all three.

Comfortable Flats

What do I mean by comfortable?  I do not mean sneakers, flip-flops, Crocs, Uggs, or bedroom slippers (no joke, I’ve seen it).  I mean the kind of shoe you would wear to walk around Georgetown on a Sunday after brunch — comfort comes first, but chic is a close second.

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Cole Haan Juliet Flat ($128)

Cole Haan is a great brand for comfortable shoes.  These Juliet flats would make a great commuter shoe.  I also like their Avery flexible round-toe flat.  The shoes usually have a decent amount of padding, just make sure you try them on at the end of the day.  You need to know what size will fit your swollen feet, not your fresh-as-a-daisy early morning feet.

Other shoes to consider include the M.Gemi Felize loafer, these French Sole Nantucket flats, and these Hush Puppies flats.

One more tip, make sure your comfortable shoes are slip on.  If you need to run into a meeting, you do not have time to untie, unzip, or unbuckle your shoes.  Choose something that is easy to get on and off.

More after the jump…

Professional, Comfortable Shoes

These are the Holy Grail of professional footwear.  They exist, but finding them requires a quest.

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Dr. Scholl’s Tenacious Flat ($98)

Dr. Scholl’s makes a fairly comfortable flat that has a sleek look to it.  I like these leopard flats (they also come in neutral hues).  And they make a round-toe flat that has a sleek look to it.

Another option is to buy a professional flat shoe in a slightly large size and add your own padding.  Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles are great.  If you need more support and you have room, I like Spenco insoles for full support.

A sleek, flat boot is a good option in the fall and winter.  Choose something without buckles or extras, in a low height, with a crisp look.  These Jack Rogers boots look pretty good to me.  I also like these perfectly basic (and comfortable) Ciao Bella boots.

You may also consider a boot with a sliver wedge.  They’re tough to find.  I own these Loeffler Randall boots from last year.  The closest thing I could find from the current year are these Jessica Simpson boots.

Changing the Standing Surface

If you’re using a standing desk, you need to be standing on the right surface.  An anti-fatigue standing mat provides enough cushion to give your feet, legs, and back a rest.  Standing on a hard surface for long periods of time is just setting yourself up for failure.

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    13 comments

  1. Laura says:

    As a chemist who does a lot of standing on my feet, I have had luck with shoes from Born and Clarks. Some of the styles are definitely more stylish than others, but they have good cushion and arch support. I recently purchased the Born Pelton flat and it has performed well so far. No achy feet at the end of the day!

    October 15, 2015/Reply
  2. MOH says:

    Definitely stand on the right surface. I have a standing desk at my office with a standing mat (made by the same company that built my desk – Varidesk). I usually stand for about half of my work day, however many hours it is on a given day. I prefer to just take my shoes off and stand in my bare or stocking feet on my mat, and then slip my shoes on for walking through my office. This works particularly well because my standing desk just rests on my normal desk which has a wood front that hides my feet.

    October 15, 2015/Reply
    • Kate says:

      I bought my own gel mat on Amazon and stand on it barefoot. I’m lucky to have my own office and have the desk positioned so you can’t see my feet from the door, but it helps a lot.

      October 15, 2015/Reply
  3. Samantha says:

    I second switching out shoes. I keep a pair of Rainbow sandals that are well-cushioned underneath my desk and switch back to regular shoes any time I walk outside my office. Because I’m behind my desk, no one ever sees I’m wearing flip-flops. This is preferable to me over a gel mat, which I’d have to move in and out of the way anytime I want to sit down.

    October 15, 2015/Reply
  4. SLA says:

    Like MOH, I have a Varidesk and the Varidesk mat. Some days I can get away with bare stocking feet. However, other days I’m constantly in and out of the office and want to keep my shoes on. I highly recommend AGL flats and the Cole Haan Milly Wedge. The AGL have great support. The Cole Haan Milly Wedges are by far the most comfortable shoes I own. I own 3 black pairs (just in case) and 3 additional colors. The heel is low enough to still be comfortable standing all day, but high enough to keep pants from dragging.

    October 15, 2015/Reply
    • K says:

      Does Cole Haan still make the Milly Wedge? I’ve been looking and can’t find them anywhere!

      October 15, 2015/Reply
  5. V says:

    They are on the pricey side, and are not the most fashion forward, but AGL flats are extremely comfortable and very well made. Nordstrom carries a good selection of them. I find that they run small, so you may want to size up, especially if you are adding insoles.

    October 15, 2015/Reply
  6. S says:

    After using a standing desk for the past year and a half, I can say that I also thought I needed a flat at first, but a small heel can be the best choice. A Clarks, Born or another “squishy wedge” (I have a pair of AK flex soles) are good. I bought mine a half size larger for more room in the toe box when standing. A gel mat to stand on is a must!

    October 15, 2015/Reply
  7. Erin says:

    Hi Belle,

    A quick follow up question–what are your thoughts on the Loeffler Randall boots? I would love a pair (either the Matilde tall boots or Felix booties), but are curious about quality, fit, and comfort. Are they worth the price compared to other more high-end brands? I live in a rural context and am a few hours away from the nearest store that would carry them–your advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

    October 15, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Quality is good, comfort is 7-8, but they’re tough to get on and off.

      October 15, 2015/Reply
  8. Cait says:

    Kind of off topic but what is “sharp casual”?

    October 15, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I was assuming it was somewhere between business casual and professional.

      October 15, 2015/Reply
  9. Anna says:

    I’ve been really comfortable in Aerosoles. You have to wade through some really ugly shoes, but they have a few pumps and basic loafers that are polished enough for my office.

    October 16, 2015/Reply