Take a weight off your feet with the best shoes for anyone whose day involves a lot of standing
Anyone who is on their feet all day – chefs, vets, hospital staff, parents of small children to name but a few of the people who rarely sit down – can vouch for the fact that decent shoes are the key to survival.
Obviously, your choice will be dictated by what you’ll be doing, but generally busy feet need plenty of support and shoes that fit properly. Wearing ill-fitting or poorly-made shoes for hours every day can lead to all sorts of physiological issues including neuromas, bunions and back pain.
Shoes for standing all day should offer plenty of room for movement – your toes need to wiggle freely and there should be room for your feet to expand if the temperature rises.
Often, but not always, comfortable footwear needs to adhere to a dress code or even safety regulations. But, where possible, most people want to feel good about the aesthetics of their footwear. While comfort and style don’t always go hand in hand, some of the findings in this round up have shown that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
A thick sole or well-padded insole offers support and absorbs impact, as does a wide foot bed. Playing fast and loose with the health of your feet is never recommended. Comfort is king – so let this be your north star.
What to look for in a shoe for standing in all day
How thick is the sole and insole?
Cushioning is essential for anyone who is going to be on their feet all day. Soles made from foam, malleable rubber, or cork, are a great starting point, and insoles featuring gel or padding are going to do wonders for your sense of comfort.
How important is a contoured foot bed?
Contoured foot beds tend to offer support to the arches of your feet, which relieves pressure and prevents pain. When it comes to comfort in footwear, anything with arch support should be right at the top of your shopping list.
Does the shoe fit properly?
It might seem basic, but you’d be amazed by how many of us are hobbling about in the wrong sized shoes. Your toes should not be right at the end of the shoe, so they have plenty of room to move. If your feet are wide, never grin and bear a regular fit – it will only lead to agony.
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The best shoes for standing all day in 2023
1. Classic Croc: Best clog
Price: £45 | Buy now from Crocs
The Marmite of shoes, Crocs have been dividing opinion since the early 90s with their distinctive clog shape. But, love them or loathe them, no one can deny that this foam footwear is essentially the last word in comfort. They are almost distractingly comfortable: you can’t help thinking about how outrageously good your feet feel when you’re wearing them.
They feel light, your feet have space to move thanks to the very wide toe area, nothing rubs, and you feel bouncy with every single footstep. What’s more, the plentiful holes mean your feet can breathe, and they’re waterproof. The heel strap offers extra support.
Crocs even do a range of clogs especially for medical professionals with slip-resistant properties that answer to exacting industry standards.
While black is always a safe bet in terms of colour, especially for professional settings, Crocs have a kaleidoscope of other shades and patterns to choose from including tie dye, and also offer ‘jibbitz’ accessories to personalise, which are essentially little badges to attach to the upper section of the shoe.
Key specs – Colours available: 40+; Sizes available: Child 4 to Adult 16
2. Uneek SNK: Best for outdoor adventures
Price: £110 | Buy now from Keen
These trainers are built for action, so would suit anyone whose days are spent on the move, whether running errands or walking miles.
With a rubber outsole, which is thick as well as light, and an open air upper made from recycled plastic bottles, plus a cord that is easily adjustable, and a generously cushioned insole, complete with sturdy arch, it’s hard to think of a more comfortable or supportive shoe.
They feel light and springy. There’s nothing heavy about these, and the breathability of the upper makes them ideal for anyone who struggles with sweaty feet or issues like Athlete’s Foot.
There are a few colours to choose from but we feel the black is the most versatile, as it won’t show up grime as much and offers a more timeless aesthetic.
Key specs – Colours available: 5; Sizes available: 2.5-8.5
3. Arizona Shearling: Best sandal
Price: £130 | Buy now from Birkenstock
A woolly sandal? Really? Yes, really. Birkenstock has long been a bastion of comfort where footwear is concerned, but the brand has really upped the ante with these Arizona sandals.
With a suede outer and a shearling and lamb’s wool inner, the classic Arizona (two straps across the top of the foot) sliders feel like a slipper but, thanks to the signature EVA sole, are hardy outdoor shoes. Obviously, these won’t be appropriate for every occasion: if you plan to hike or bike, we can’t say these are the best choice, but for anyone on their feet in a casual setting, they’re perfect for any season other than winter. Those with narrow feet will be delighted to know these are available in a ‘narrow’ fit.
Fashion isn’t everything, but it’s worth noting how many celebrities and style mavens have strolled about in these, teaming them with everything from wide leg trousers to beach dresses.
Key specs – Colours available: 2; Sizes available: 2.5 – 11.5
4. Queenie Sneakers: Best for laid back chic
Price: £165 | Buy now from Sante + Wade
How do you combine smart-casual, chic, and comfortable? Quite easily, actually. These beautiful sneakers not only nail the whole ‘goes with everything’ box-fresh white trainer look, but also nurture feet in the process.
The foot bed is super cushioned, being composed of dense memory foam and recycled cork. It’s blissful from the moment you first sink your feet in. They’re flexible and supportive, all in one. You can feel the strength of the support on your foot’s arch even when standing, but, despite all the ‘behind the scenes’ hard work, these trainers boast a sleek silhouette and are surprisingly lightweight. You won’t need to break these in: the leather is soft from the word go. We do recommend sizing up.
Key specs – Colours available: 6; Sizes available: 4.5 – 11
5. 1460 Leather Lace Up Boots: Best boot
Price: £159 | Buy now from Dr Martens
There are loads of reasons that Dr Martens are enduringly popular, some 75 years after the company was first founded to create boots for the working man. Aesthetically, they offer a grungy aesthetic that’s easy to dress up, but it’s comfort we’re interested in, and DMs will always deliver, since they were designed with support and durability in mind. This is largely thanks to the patented AirWair soles, which are thick and boast plenty of cushioning that makes walking feel bouncy.
But here’s the rub – pardon the pun. You need to break them in for about a month – yes a month – before they are comfortable. This means arming yourself with robust blister plasters and trusting that after this period of podiatric purgatory you’ll have boots that mould to your feet and can be worn all day, every day, in complete bliss.
What’s more, thanks to being made from real leather, they will always keep your feet nice and warm.
Key specs – Colours available: 6; Sizes available: 3 – 15
6. 237 Trainer: Best trainer
Price: £90 | Buy now from New Balance
Trainers are supposed to be comfortable, right? But then you put the 237s on and the width, the solid and springy foam sole, and the general lightness take sneaker comfort up a level. The sole itself is almost wider than the shoe, which speaks to a sense of sturdy, grounded support that is most welcome for anyone who does a fair amount of standing. It’s as if these were made with long days in mind.
The curve of the sole means they almost propel you forward, which is a very good thing, providing a purposeful, efficient gait.
The casual retro aesthetic (there’s a wide choice of colourways, too) of the mesh and suede upper means you aren’t sacrificing style for something built for long days. Overall, they’re comfy and cool.
Key specs – Colours available: 6 +; Sizes available: 4.5 – 11