If you spend any time listening to conversations in the teacher’s lunch room, you realize that most teachers are constantly on the hunt for the Best Shoes for Teachers. I know I was.
My first year of teaching was a wild and wooly roller coaster ride. With master teacher observations, mandatory after school BTSA meetings, and everything I needed to do for my classes, there wasn’t much time left to think about my wardrobe.
I created a small, but functional collection of outfits to wear and figured I was good to go. Everything seemed to be working perfectly until one day when a student asked me why I always wore my bedroom slippers to school.
He thought my lovely, stylish, not to mention comfy, suede Birkenstock clogs looked just like his mom’s house slippers.
Time for a New Plan
Teachers log lots of miles every day as they move from student to student, constantly zig zagging to all points throughout their classrooms. Having feet that scream out in pain and discomfort is unacceptable.
You get enough of that from some of your students. You just don’t have time for that kind of behavior from your feet!
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to solve the misbehaving feet problem. A few guidelines and recommendations will make finding a terrific pair of shoes a breeze.
Let’s see what the experts have to say.
How to Choose the Best Shoes for the Classroom
You may already be aware that no two feet are exactly the same size. They don’t stay the same, either. They’re always in a state of flux and change as you age.
Your feet are unique, which makes it something of a challenge to get a perfect fitting pair of shoes. Never fear.
Armed with the following recommendations from the shoe-fitting experts will make your next shoe buying trip simple.
What the Experts Recommend
- Always have your feet measured.
- Make sure you are standing so you get the most accurate measurement possible.
- Save shoe shopping for later in the day, since feet can swell as the day wears on. The same happens ever earlier on hot days. (Your feet can increase by up to one half of a shoe size by the afternoon.)
- Wear the same type of sock or hosiery that you’ll normally wear when trying on shoes.
- Try both shoes on. Focus on fit, not on a size number.
- Begin by fitting your larger foot and then add an insert of pad if necessary for the smaller foot. (Experts agree that if the size difference between your feet is more than 1 ½ shoe sizes, you’ll need to buy two pairs of shoes to fit both feet properly.)
- Make sure you walk around in the shoes for a few minutes. Don’t rush this one. Try walking on a hard surface as well as carpet while you concentrate just on your feet.
- If the shoe feels too tight, size up a half size or more if necessary.
- Your arches should be comfortably supported. (Make sure the arch supports are not hitting your foot in the wrong place.
- The ball of your foot should be in the widest part of the shoe.
- There should be ½ inch of space between your largest toe and the edge of the shoe.
- There should be about ⅛ inch of space between your heel and the heel of the shoe.
- Make sure there are no glue bumps or uncovered thread knots that will poke and rub your feet or ankles. These irritants will not go away. They’ll be there for the life of the shoe, so ask for a different pair in the size you need.
A Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon has this advice:
The Benefits of Properly Fitting Shoes
Did you ever think of properly fitting shoes as a form of alternative medicine? The folks over at Good Feet do, and for good reason
Almost 85% of the population spends their days suffering the effects of foot-related problems. A crummy-fitting pair of shoes can cause an amazing array of problems.
Do you experience any of the following?
- Ankle issues
- Knee/Hip pain
- Aching lower back
- Shoulder/Neck tension
Not all of these issues are caused by poor-fitting shoes, but many are. Think about it. If your feet are in alignment, they help keep the rest of your body in alignment too. Throw off the alignment and all kinds of preventable health issues can ruin your day.
The results of a battle over dress codes in the UK back in 2016 also brought to light how detrimental to a woman’s health wearing high heels can be. Wearing these shoes during the work day can throw off the alignment of the spine.
One of the side effects is difficulty breathing. Improper breathing negatively impacts the vocal cords, making public speaking difficult. If you’re a teacher, you don’t need anything interfering with your ability to make yourself understood in the classroom.
The Markers of a Well-Made Pair of Shoes
Construction – glued vs stitched
There are some terrific glues on the market today, but stitching is still the hallmark of a quality pair of shoes.
Material – quality leather such as full-grain vs pleather or bonded leather
Full grain is durable, breathable, and long-lasting. With proper care, a quality pair of full grain leather shoes can last several decades.
Pleather is also referred to as vegan leather. It may look like a good quality leather, but it’s really plastic. It can perform well, but doesn’t have the breathability of leather. The truth is, it doesn’t breath at all, and can be the cause of foot odor.
For complete comfort, there should be a full lining inside the shoe. The most comfortable and long-lasting are made of leather. Just as a leather upper can help keep your feet dry and healthy, a leather lining will add to the level of comfort.
Quality, Flexible Soles
It may not be immediately apparent, but leather soles are breathable and add to the comfort of the shoe.
If you have rubber soles, be sure they’re flexible and replaceable.
In addition to a full innersole that goes from toe to heel, there should be cushioning that comes under the ball of the foot and the heel. If not, the balls of your feet and heels will pay for it. Ouch!
Caring for Your Shoes
Once you’ve spent your time and hard-earned money on a great pair of shoes, you should be rewarded with many hours of fashionable, foot-loving comfort.
There are a few things you’ll want to do to extend the life of your new beauties. In a nutshell.
- All suede and some fabrics should be treated with a water repellent solution immediately after you take them out of the box and before you wear them for the first time. (If they get wet during wearing, repeat the treatment as soon as they are dry.)
- Clean all dirt and debris immediately after wearing.
- Leather shoes should be polished regularly.
- Athletic shoes and other fabric shoes should be hand-washed. (Throwing them into the washing machine can break down the glues holding your shoes together.)
- Keep all shoes away from direct heat. (The damage may not be immediately noticeable, but it will shorten the life of your shoes.)
For a fabulously handy article on cleaning all types of shoes, you’ll want to bookmark this one created by Wiivv.
How to Use This Review
You’ve probably already scanned up and down this page and have seen the selection I’ve included for you. If you’re wondering, here’s the method I used in choosing them.
- Men and women can certainly wear each other’s shoes. However, since most don’t, I’ve included two main categories. The men’s grouping highlights three styles, and the women’s features six styles.
- One pair of shoes just doesn’t meet the needs of most folks today, so I’ve broken the men’s grouping into Loafer/Slip-on, Clog, and Oxford. The women’s grouping is broken into Loafer/Slip-on, Pump, Flat, Mule/Clog, Oxford, and Sandal.
- Finally, I spent several hours checking one of the best resources for polling customer satisfaction and product desirability. Each of the shoes I’ve presented for your consideration were the top favorites of thousands of shoppers. When people vote with their “pocket book” you can be confident you’re getting an honest, reliable opinion.
Top Three Men’s Shoe Styles for the Classroom
Some days are casual and then there are some that call for something a little dressier. I’ve given you two versions of a slip-on loafer to consider.
Ecco Men’s New Jersey Slip-on
- Full-grain leather upper.
- Fabric lining.
- Polyurethane Sole.
The soles are created with a “direct injection process” which gives the shoes anatomically correct midsoles and increased cushioning, stability and durability.
- Features a leather insole with a moisture-absorbent foam pad underneath the insole.
- Available in two shades of black, medium brown and darker brown.
- Sizes 5 to 13.
Some men reported that their shoes were either a bit too large, or too small. To prevent this aggravation, please make sure you measure your feet, and check Ecco’s size chart before ordering.
Skechers Men’s Equalizer Persistent Slip-On Sneakers
Most days in the classroom demand casual comfort so you can get on with the business of teaching. Skechers were an instant favorite when they entered the market in 1992. With comfort and innovative styling, they remain a favorite today. These no-lace sneakers have dual side elastic fabric panels for easy slip-on fit with a flexible traction out-sole.
- This shoe has a fabric and mesh upper
- Synthetic sole that helps absorb shock
- Memory Foam insoles for extra comfort
- Features a shock-absorbing midsole for greater comfort
- Available in eight different color combinations.
- Sizes 6 ½ to 14.
You may find it necessary to replace the memory foam insole after a few month’s wear.
Birkenstock Unisex Boston Soft Footbed Leather Clogs
Birkenstock’s have been around for over 200 years. They offer a shoe that gives great stability. With the contoured footbed that puts your body in correct alignment, you get a shoe that helps to alleviate a number of foot-related issues. This is my favorite year-round Birkenstock.
- This shoe is available in leather, suede leather and oiled leather
- Birkenstock shoes feature a synthetic sole with a leather innersole and their signature cork foundation sandwiched between the sole and innersole.
- Available in nine colors and materials
- Sizes 4 to 15 (men’s)
These shoes are designed to mold to your feet. As a result, it will take a little time to break them in.
Skechers Men’s Segment Rilar Oxfords
This is a good-looking, light-weight oxford that will meet all of your casual dress requirements. Skechers has been a favorite brand since the company’s founding in 1992, and for good reason. They offer a comfortable, fashionable product.
- Good-looking, oiled leather upper
- Secure synthetic sole
- Air-cooled memory foam innersole
- Available in Black and Brown
- Sizes 6 ½ to 14. (Also available in wide sizes.)
Some people report this shoe can be quite squeaky. I’ve always found squeaky shoes amusing, but not everyone does.
Want a few pointers on men’s shoes? Here you go.
Top Six Women’s Shoes for the Classroom
Clarks Women’s Emslie Warren Slip-On Loafer
- Leather upper for breathable comfort
- Rubber sole that offers quiet, grippy heel and sole
- Soft, cushioned innersole
- 2” heel
- Available in Black, Dark Brown, and Navy
This shoe can run a little narrow.
Naturalizer Women’s Michelle Dress Pumps
This is a lovely pump that features a 3” heel and a 1/2 inch platform. Most teachers I’ve known through the years keep the heels for very special occasions, but this heel height should be comfortable for several hours of standing and average walking requirements.
- Feature leather uppers for cooler comfort.
- Synthetic sole.
- Full length, cushioned innersoles
- Available in eight color choices. They are also available in a soft pink suede.
- Sizes 4 to 12 extra wide
If you have narrow heels, you may want to add a heel pad to take up a little space in the back of this shoe.
Clarks Women’s Ayla Low Ballet Flats
- The upper is textile.
- The sole is a lightweight EVA rubber.
- The full length innersole contains high-density foam for excellent cushioning and is removable and washable.
- Available in six fashion colors.
- Sizes 5 to 12 wide.
Some women found these shoes to run a bit small.
Dansko Women’s XP 2.0 Clogs
This version of the Dansko clog boasts a lighter weight construction. It has an ergonomically designed, removable dual density footbed. The footbed for this style also takes advantage of Dansko’s natural arch technology. This ensures a shoe with excellent support and amazing comfort.
- Leather uppers ensure truly comfortable wear.
- Synthetic sole for sure-footed walking.
- A padded instep collar add extra comfort.
- XP 2.0 is available in a wide range of colors and patterns
- Sizes 4 ½ to 13
Some women have reported that this style can run a bit large. You may want to size down.
CLARKS Women’s Padmora Oxfords
There are lots of things to love about this shoe. The boxy toe will give you plenty of room comfort, even later in the day. Folks with Plantar Fasciitis sing this shoes praises, and it’s a great choice for people with a high instep and narrow heels.
- The uppers are suede leather
- The soles are rubber
- Available in two colors, brown and sand
- Sizes 5 to 12
These shoes tend to run a bit large, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when making your final size decision.
Clarks Women’s Breeze Sea Flip-Flops
- The uppers are man made fabric
- Soles are synthetic
- Available in 16 different colors including white, black synthetic patent, and satiny rose gold.
- Sizes 5 to 12 even sizes only
Some women have reported that after a while, these sandals can squeak.
A Final Word About Fit
Do you find yourself wondering why one pair of shoes doesn’t fit as well as another? Wonder why a dress shoe doesn’t feel as comfortable as your running shoes? Or why you need one size in one style and have to size up or down for a different style in the same brand?
The answer is, it’s the last.
Every shoe has its last. Wikipedia explains a last as “a mechanical form shaped like a human foot. It is used by shoemakers in the manufacture and repair of shoes. Lasts typically come in pairs and have been made from various materials, including hardwoods, cast iron, and high-density plastics.”
So, why doesn’t everyone just use the same last for all shoes? Good question.
It seems that lasts are designed based on what the shoe will be expected to accomplish. There’s just no way the last for the Ecco Men’s New Jersey Slip-on Loafer would work for the Naturalizer Women’s Michelle Dress Pump. Even adjusting for size, the shoe you’d get just wouldn’t work.
Add to that the difference in measurements. Each country approaches the development of a last differently.
What the shoe is made of also impacts the fit on the last and ultimately on your foot. A shoe made from polyurethane will fit differently from the same design in leather. A textile version will fit much differently than the polyurethane or leather. You can make it even more complicated by adding spandex threads to the weave of the textile!
Finally, unless you’re purchasing a custom-made pair of shoes built from your own personal last, your shoes were made in a high production factory. Sadly there’s no way the manufacturer can take into consideration all the possible variations in individual feet.
If you love tracking down your next great pair, this just adds to the challenge. If you don’t care for shoe shopping, this thought may be a bit disheartening.
What You Can Do
If you’re shopping in a store, take your time. Give yourself enough time to make a good choice.
If you’re shopping online, make sure you understand the return policy. Then, make sure you try the shoes on right away and are confident you have a good fit before heading out your front door.
Some folks go so far as to order a shoe in two different sizes, and then keep only the pair that works for them.
One More Idea
Are narrow heels and slipping shoes your problem. Give one or more of the tips on this video a try. I especially like #3.
By following a few simple guidelines, choosing styles that are designed for lots of standing and walking, and taking your time to make your final decision, the next pair of shoes you add to your closet should give you exactly what you’re looking for…comfortable feet!
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