If your feet are killing you by the time lunch comes around, it's probably time for a new pair of work shoes. For women, the classic work shoes are low-heeled or flat pumps in brown or black. However, the advent of workplaces that are more casual and women in jobs with more physical demands has changed that. For instance, you may work at an office where everyone wears jeans and sneakers. Regardless of your personal style, it's best to stay neutral and look for quality in a work shoe so you have something you're happy with for awhile.
Happy Toes and Heels
Your toes need ample space to rest in your shoe, but shoes that are too big make your toes shift around, and you may get calluses walking at work during the day. Stand when you try on work shoes and note whether your toes are cramped. Some women's shoe styles have a very pointed toe that may squish your toes, depending on the footwear's style and quality. Your heel should be comfortable as well. Don't purchase the shoe if your heel lifts out of the shoe when you walk, or the shoe digs into it.
Shoes with the Right Fit
Ensure the shoes fit on your larger, wider foot, and shop for work shoes at the end of the day, when your foot is slightly larger because of swelling. If one foot is considerably larger than the other is, consider purchasing the larger shoe size and placing an insole in the shoe for your smaller foot. Choose a shoe shaped similarly to your foot. If you have wide feet, steer clear from narrow, tapered shoes.
Classic and Basic
Purchase a shoe style that won't go out of season in several months. Look for a basic flat or low-heeled pump, slipper or Mary Jane style that goes with most of your wardrobe. Choose a neutral color like brown or black. If you work in a more casual or "fashion-savvy" workplace, play with alternative colors or rich textured materials like suede, Oxford or shoes with small embellishments or details for a fashionable touch -- but never choose looks over comfort. Shoes that look great but pinch throughout the day aren't the best work shoes. Avoid open-toed, strappy styles in the office for safety reasons.
The best work shoes give you excellent arch support, Walk around in them while shopping and note whether they have enough cushioning. Walk on different surfaces and consider whether you have carpet, tile or cement floors at work. Choose shoes that breathe well. Cheap plastic and faux leather footwear may not breathe as well as canvas and leather shoes. Do not purchase shoes with insoles in mind, since they can reduce the shoe's cushion and arch support. In addition, note that quality shoes have very little "break-in", so if they're uncomfortable from the start, they're not the best option.