It’s sweltering out there in the middle of the summer. It’s hard enough finding workwear that doesn’t leave you drenched during your commute to the office, but finding shoes that don’t make your feet sweat and blister can be a huge challenge. Many women would love to wear their Birkenstocks every single day, but unfortunately, they aren’t appropriate in most offices. So, we’ve done some legwork to find and test work-appropriate sandals that are polished but also very comfortable to walk in.
Work to Weekend: Sperry Dawn Echo
The Sperry Dawn Echo ($89.95) features a 3.5 inch cork wedge. The heel lends the shoe a slightly more formal look than your flip flops, but they are incredibly comfortable to walk in. I spent an entire day in them running errands and my feet didn’t feel any worse for the wear. They pair perfectly with sun dresses and cropped pants, but they work well with shorts too, if you decide to wear them for the weekend. All in all a good investment if you’re looking for one sandal to get you through the summer.
If You Need To Be Formal: Cole Haan Grace Grand
If you’re in the opposite camp and need to wear formal workwear to the office, Cole Haan’s Grace Grand Sandal ($270) is engineered to get you through the day without your feet feeling a pinch. I use the word “engineer” literally here, because these shoes were developed by scientists in Cole Haan’s innovation lab to take the pressure out of the heel and ensure that the toe box is not pinched. Even though these shoes feature a 3.5 inch heel, they also include a layer of energy foam and padding under the achilles tendon, distributing weight across the foot. I wore these shoes for an event where I was forced to stand for most of the evening and they lived up to their promise of comfort.
Elegant But Walkable: M.Gemi Spirale
If you’re looking for a simple, elegant pair of leather shoes, M.Gemi has several that fit the bill. The brand makes all of its shoes in Italian workshops, so the brand tends to have a European flair. I tried the Spirale ($248), which is one of M.Gemi’s most popular shoes this summer, with a strap that seems to wrap around your leg, creating a lengthening effect. It also features a 3.5 inch heel. The shoe is made entirely of vachetta leather. I will note that it took me about two days to break into these shoes, since the leather is quite hard, but then the leather seemed to mold to my foot. These shoes look very sophisticated and work well with formal work outfits. They are also great for summer parties.
In Case You Need A Closed-Toe Shoe: Margaux Espadrille
Some workplaces simply don’t allow open toed shoes in the summer. In this case, your best bet is to go with an espadrille that is made from breathable cotton and linen, to give your feet plenty of space to breathe. New York based startup Margaux creates an elegant espadrille ($225) that is comfortable and work appropriate. The brand created these shoes in collaboration with Mark D. Sikes, a designer known for striped shirts. The stripes on these shoes, which appear either on the laces or the base, give them a chic look. I wore them with cropped pants and also with a sun dress. The innersole comes embedded with a thin layer of padding and the sole is made of rubber. This is a perfect alternative to flats–and your feet will be far less sweaty.
Best in Class: Dansko Dawson
The most comfortable shoes I tried, by far, were those created by Dansko. The brand started as a comfort footwear company known for its clogs, so walkability and orthopedic health are very important to the shoe designers. But in recent years, the brand has been working to incorporate its technology into a wider range of shoe designs that include shoes that can be worn to work. My pick would be the Dawson Vintage Pull Up ($150), which comes in a 3.25 inch block heel. I wore them with a pantsuit to an interview one day and with a maxi dress the next, and the shoes managed to make both outfits look more put together.
Every part of the sandal is designed for comfort. The leather is incredibly soft, requiring no break-in time. The outsole contains shock-absorbing material and the footbed has cushioning that provides plenty of arch support. All of this is optimized to make them incredibly easy to walk in.