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Shoes you wear to work are some of the most important items of clothing you’ll ever buy. This goes for work of all types, too. People who stand on their feet all day — restaurant workers, teachers, nurses — need the most comfortable shoes that continue supporting them as the day wears on. People who work in areas with heavy machinery or any kind of potential danger need work boots with a steel toe and a hefty grip, as well as supportive insoles. And people with office jobs, including the work-from-home ones, also need shoes that give them just the right amount of support and protection.
What to look for in the best work shoes for men
“Safety is your number one concern when choosing a shoe, and some jobs have certain requirements, like a steel toe or non-slip,” says North Carolina-based podiatrist Jane Anderson.
Those requirements are not a place to try to push the boundaries. “Having a good work shoe is probably something that can make or break whether you have an injury,” she adds.
There are three main factors to consider when shopping for the best work shoes for men: protection, support and comfort. Think about not only how long you’re standing but how you’re moving, what kind of surface you’re moving on and what other variables might be happening in the environment around you. Are you standing rather still at the front of a classroom, or are you moving quickly around tables and chairs in a restaurant? Is the floor made of wood, linoleum or concrete, and does it tend to get slippery? Will you be around loose nails and screws, or outside where weather might also impact your shoe choice?
Aside from job-specific elements to consider, Anderson has a few go-to considerations for any kind of shoe that’s getting a lot of use.
“One of the general principles about shoes — especially for something like a casual dress shoe — is that if it’s completely flat, thin or flimsy, it’s not good for your feet, ” says Dr. Anderson. “Also, you want a shoe with a little bit of arch support and that bends at the ball of the foot. But, you shouldn’t be able to bend it in half.” That’s because too much flexibility means not enough support.
Even if you are working from home, Anderson says it’s best to keep your feet supported and protected in a pair of durable men’s slippers or house shoes instead of regularly going barefoot.
“This year has been really interesting in regard to shoes and feet,” she says. “With so many people are working from home, you’d think that’d mean less issues. But because people now are barefoot a lot more, we’re seeing a lot more complaints of plantar fasciitis and stubbed and broken toes.”
With the help of Dr. Anderson’s insight, we rounded up the 12 best shoes work shoes for men for all sorts of professional environments. Shop them ahead.
Danner Bull Run Moc Toe Boot
One of the worst things a men’s work shoe can do is crush your toes, says Anderson. This is not only uncomfortable in the moment but can lead to injury over time. Danner’s Bull Run moc toe boot has a roomy toe box, which is an absolute essential in shoes you wear for a long time. Your feet swell as you stand and move on them, and that bit of room will make all the difference.
Keen Utility Sparta Shoe
Keen Utility makes solid, no-frills shoes that are often workplace-approved for meeting certain safety requirements. The Keen Utility Sparta Shoe, for example, is slip- and compression-resistant against pressure and falling objects of all kinds, making it a good choice for working on messy floors. The toe has impact and compression protection to guard feet from shattering glass or anything that might make its way on the floor.
Wolverine Rev Construction Shoe
Wolverine’s Rev Construction Shoe doesn’t have the bulk of a boot but still has all of the protection against tough work areas. They are slip-resistant, of course, but they’re also made with Wolverine’s signature DuraShocks Flex technology. This not only supports the footbed but it also absorbs shock as you stand and move, putting less pressure on your joints throughout the day.
Cat Footwear Invader Work Shoe
You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of Cat Footwear’s steel toe work boots, including the Invader Work Shoe The style’s rubber soles are slip-resistant, the steel toe protects your feet at all costs, oil-resistant, and the Electrical Hazard makeup protects up to 600 volts of open circuits.
Carhartt Force Sneaker Boot
Carhartt was founded on workwear and has some of the best safety and construction shoes for men around. The Force sneaker boot is super durable and can withstand the intensity of being on your feet all day. They’re made with a moisture-wicking material and a soft sole, keeping your feet both dry and supported for hours. They are super lightweight, which is ideal for having to walk throughout the day. Your feet will stay supported rather than feel weighed down.
Nike Zoom Pegasus 37
If you can get away with wearing more performance-specific sneakers to work, Anderson recommends it. They’re made to absorb impact and keep your feet stable, and the Nike Zoom Pegasus is one of our favorite Nike sneakers for walking and other day-to-day activities. If you’re wearing these every day, don’t forget to replace them after about three or four months, says Anderson.
Vionic Baldwin Lace-Up Sneaker
Vionic shoes are made with foot health in mind, and these lace-up sneakers are a great option for those in a casual work environment. Created in partnership with podiatrists, these styles offers underfoot support that stabilizes the foot in a neutral position. That design might help people who tend to overpronate and have issues to match, like heel and ankle pain or plantar fasciitis.
Blundstone BL990 Work Chelsea Boot
The fashion crowd has adopted Blundstone’s shoes recently, taking the brand’s emphasis on functionality and upping its cool factor. Still, there’s no denying that at their core, they make great safety shoes for men. The BL990 has an easy-to-wear Chelsea boot shape that’s equipped with a steel toe, oil and acid-resistant outsole and water-resistant upper. Plus, these shoes have the American Podiatric Medical Association’s stamp of approval.
Hoka One One Bondi 7
Paying attention to what’s happening under your feet is important, too. “If you’re standing on concrete all day long, for example, you’ll need more shock absorption,” says Anderson. She recommends Hokas because of their deep sole and ability to diffuse impact from hard surfaces. They’re one of the best work shoes for standing all day.
New Balance 990v5
New Balance styles are also ideal for those who work on their feet all day or crave optimal comfort when running errands in between Zoom meetings. The brand’s 990v5 silhouette has about as much comfort and support a shoe could possibly contain. The midsole cushioning and reinforced areas of extra traction elongate the shoe’s life.
Cole Haan Grand Ambitiou Postman Leather Oxford
When it comes to dress shoes for the office, few rival Cole Haan’s options in term of comfort, support and style. These are the kind of shoes that are good for every guy to have in his closet. If you’re not wearing them to work, you will get good use out of them for weddings and other fancy occasions. Underfoot, they have plush cushioning to soften your every step.
Dr. Martens Fellside Chelsea Work Boots
Dr. Martens is another brand that’s mastered the art of the functional-meets-street-style-ready work boot. These Chelsea boots are a great investment for all types of work, especially if you’re not sure what kind of environment you might end up in throughout the day. Complete with a sturdy steel toe, these are super protective. Plus, they’re easy to get on and off.
Oofos Sport Slide
If your workplace is at home, you may or may not be wearing shoes often. Although Anderson says it’s fine to be barefoot some of the time, giving your feet a bit of support and protection is a good idea to prevent any sort of overuse over the day. She and her colleagues wear Oofos shoes when in the office. “They’re really comfortable, making them great for just walking around the house, especially if you have plantar fasciitis,” she says. “It’s kind of a reminder to put on a shoe for part of the day.”