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Work Shoes: What to Wear and What Not To

Ready for a low-down on work shoes? This is a no-nonsense guide on which shoes will help you get that promotion (without breaking the budget of course) — and which shoes won’t.

Below are four shoe styles you’ll want for your work wardrobe, followed by a list of shoes to leave at home when you’re headed to the office.

Close-up of woman wearing heeled work shoes.

1. The goes-with-everything work shoe

Calvin Klein Women’s Gloria Pump, Barely Nude 110, 7.5
  • Calvin Klein’s iconic dress heels…
  • Poitned Toe
  • Slip on Closure
  • Imported

The basic black pump is the work-horse of office shoes, and for good reason. But I’d suggest a more versatile option: the nude pump. I dare you to find an outfit in your professional wardrobe that doesn’t go with with pretty neutral pump.

If you only buy one pair of work shoes this year, you’ll want them to be nude pumps.

2. The lady-like flat

Semwiss Women’s Ballet Flats Comfortable Casual Dressy Shoes,Work Flats Office Shoes Pointed Toe Leopard Flats Black Size 8
  • 【No Heel Drop and Friction】The…
  • 【Memory Foam Insole】Memory foam…
  • 【Casual Dress Shoes】Pointed toe…
  • 【Rubber Anti-Slip Sole】The…
  • 【Satisfied Service】A satisfying…

You may not want to wear heals on the daily, but your flat days don’t have to involve flip flops or Crocs. A classy ballet flat is an office-appropriate choice that can give your arches and calves a break on occasion.

Not every ballet flat works for the office, though. A good question to ask when shopping is this: Would Audrey Hepburn wear these? The iconic actress loved flats, but hers were lady-like, not child-like. You wouldn’t find Audrey in shoes with wild embellishments, cheap construction, or crazy colors.

3. The office bootie

Lucky Brand womens Fayth2 boots, Black, 7.5 US
  • Leather upper with side cutouts
  • Memory foam insole
  • Synthetic sole
  • Block Heel
  • Heel Height 1.75 inches inches

A sleek bootie can work with skirts, dresses, and slacks. Look for options with minimal styling and quality leather (real or faux).

4. The heeled oxford

DREAM PAIRS Women’s Oxford Heels Pointed Toe High Chunky Shoes SDOX2303W, Size 11, Black-PU
  • Supportive Insole: A 3-layer insole…
  • Stable Walks: Set on a 2.7-Inch…
  • Comfortable Fit: These round toe…
  • Sure-Footed Design: The lightweight…
  • A Retro Staple: Made with classic…

Oxford shoes are a trend-turned-classic. As flats, stilettos or wedges, they make any outfit look chic and are the perfect compliment to a pencil skirt, a sheath dress or a pair of slacks.

5. Chunky loafer

DREAM PAIRS Womens Loafers, Slip On Platform Chunky Penny Heeled Loafers for Women Dressy and Work, Womens Business Casual Shoes,Size 8,Black-PU,SDLS2319W
  • Stylish & Grippy: These womens…
  • Comfy To Wear: The skin-friendly,…
  • Platform Loafers: With a…
  • Easy On & Off: The slip-on design…
  • Cute & Refined: The almond toe…

The chunky loafer is a newer addition to the work wear shoe catalog — and it’s a good one. Wear this edge style with skirts or ankle-length pants. If you work in a creative environment, you could even try them with a pair of cute ankle socks. See more tips in: How to wear chunky loafers.

Office shoes: What not to wear

1. Platform heels

Platform heels have their place, but that place is not your office. Keep your heels under 4 inches tall to spare your feet unneeded stress and look more professional at the same time.

2. Sandals

If you can wear a pair of shoes to a beach party, those shoes aren’t good for the office. Steer clear of strappy sandals, flat or heeled.

3. Party heels

Not all pumps are created equal. Lacy, sparkly, ruffly, fringed, or tassled heels are for parties, not meetings. If you’d wear them to a nightclub, don’t wear them to work.

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Saturday 8th of June 2013

love these shoes they are so gorgeous...the right pair of shoes at work is a must it boosts confidence and comfy at feet


Friday 10th of May 2013

Peep toes, leapard print and patent leather are not always welcome in more conservative work environments.

Thursday 8th of March 2012

As the author says you can have too much of a good thing.The professional woman wants to be fashion current but at the same time does not want her wardrobe and shoes to be the reason she is noticed in the work place. It's a fine line between fashion and function for this woman. The atmosphere in her office will tell her a lot about what kind of footwear she should be wearing.

Chrissy Gerrish

Wednesday 26th of October 2011

These shoes are stunning! The ribbon trimmed pumps from Newport News are gorgeous. I love shoes that are different but style coincide with my girly style. I also love the nude heels. I have been trying to find the perfect nude heels and these definitely make the cut. Keep up the good work!

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