Staples : Shoes

How do I buy the right shoes for work?

You’re trying to put together (at the very least) an acceptable professional wardrobe, and in doing so you might feel overwhelmed by the mass of information (and opinions) out there. One thing you know is that you’re going to have to get some new shoes. But there are a lot of different styles out there all suited for slightly different occasions or outfits. Now while this guide won’t be an extensive look at all the different options out there, the information will deter you from making some rookie mistakes.

Most common mistakes in purchasing shoes

One of the most prominent mistakes I see new professional men making is buying work shoes before they know anything about the fit or quality. They go straight for the stylish looking pairs, only looking for a low price. If your shoes are made from cheap materials, then chances are that they won’t support your weight, and you’ll end up paying for it with sore feet. And with how much time you spend in those shoes, it’s not hard to envision those issues multiplying fast.

A lot guys are also spending less than they should on comfortable and long lasting shoes. It seems more popular to go for the shoddily made somewhat stylish pair and replace them every year or so when they inevitably give out than it is to make an investment in a high quality, comfortable shoe that will last you for several years. These cheap pairs of shoes still add up in price significantly over the long run and they are an obviously less comfortable experience.

Many men do not have enough different pairs of shoes to choose from. After a working day there tends to be a lot more moisture in your shoes. The moisture gets absorbed by the leather and lining, which can cause the lining to rot and the leather to wrinkle or crack. Not to mention the odor associated with that moisture. This is where shoe trees come in. They help absorb moisture and hold the shape of your shoes so that they can last much longer, years potentially.

The general rule is to wait 24 hours before wearing a pair of shoes again, offering them ample time to dry out and harden. Keeping a shoe tree in the most recently worn pair of shoes is the best way to ensure that your shoes retain their shape when they harden again. So you need at least two pairs of high quality comfortable shoes at any given time, one to wear today and one with the shoe tree inside that’s waiting for tomorrow.

Best styles of shoes for work

If you're only going to cover the bare minimums, then make sure the pairs you choose can cover your outfits from all but the most formal events to your day-to-day work attire. A black pair of toe cap oxfords will serve you well for this range, but for the other pair you should elect to get something slightly more casual such as a pair of single strap monk shoes or brown brogues. You will eventually need something for more formal black tie and white tie events. Read a great guide to Oxfords/Brogues at which should give you a better idea of when different styles of these are appropriate.

Now only having two pairs of shoes is the bare minimum to keep your shoes from rotting, but you should remember that adding another quality pair to your ensemble will increase the lifetime of all of your pairs, since you only have one pair of feet to wear them. So instead of just replacing the two pairs you have every few years or so, invest in an additional pair every once in a while. This way you can purchase pairs that are much more unique and stylish, but not as appropriate to wear frequently. And by your thirties you can have quite the respectable collection to suit the whole spectrum of formality and style.

Finding shoes that fit

There are a few simple things to keep in mind while shopping for shoes. Make sure the last (model used to create the shoe) of the shoe fits your foot. Some have wider heels or longer toes or differing arches. You need to try on the shoes and really pay attention to how your foot feels in them. The leather for most shoes will only stretch a certain amount, don’t think that there will just magically become room at the end for your toes one day. Your feet might be slightly different in size, and the size between brands also differs. So trying on different sizes can prove very fruitful.

By now you should feel confident enough in your knowledge to go buy a couple pairs of suitable work shoes. If price is the only thing you’re wondering about, remember to not go off of that. Instead, look for quality and comfort. It is not uncommon to find shoes for $150 that will do the job justly, it just depends on your specific feet and tastes.

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