Unpopular opinion: commuting is the best part of the day. I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and according to my Maps App, I am 2.9 miles from the Man Repeller office, located just north of SoHo in Manhattan. From mid-March until November, I walk to work nearly every single day—over the Williamsburg Bridge, across the LES and through SoHo. I often walk home, too, totaling nearly 6 miles of commuting daily. This is not including wherever I go in between—during market weeks that number can hit as high as 20 miles in a single day. Twenty-freaking-miles.
I record my steps (using the Steps App available in the App Store) and often screenshot and post my total miles on my Instagram, just to share the crazy number with the world. At this point, I’m a known schlepper.
That’s why my friend Susan Alexandra, designer of magical beaded bags and jewelry, recently texted me: “I’m formally requesting a roundup of the cutest summer shoes that you can wear while walking the bridge. Comfy and cute.” I realized that maybe I—commuter of bridges, market-appointment trekker—am definitely qualified to recommend stylish commuter shoes that really, truly go the distance. Then I asked the Man Repeller community if this was something they cares about too, and learned she wasn’t the only one who needed this particular itch to be scratched.
“Cute comfy sandals that you can walk in all day!” —@kelseythorntonn
“Shoes! Sandals that are cute but comfy to walk a mile and some.” —@sana_mou
“Functional and fashionable sandals!” —@hannahmaemorris
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of calluses, blisters, cuts, and terribly sore feet. I’ve learned that raffia is a no-no, thin soles will always hurt the balls of your feet, backless shoes for the most part are not good (especially while walking the incline of the bridge), and for heaven’s sake, don’t wear high-top sneakers (ankle blisters!). While there are many seemingly benign shoes that seem like they’d qualify but don’t, there are also plenty of options that surprisingly pass my Bridge Test—a term I have just now coined.
Guidelines for passing The Bridge Test:
+ Shoes must have at least a half-inch sole with a bit of cushion (rubber soles are ideal)
+ Avoid pointed toes. Period.
+ A wedge is best if you want height. Shockingly, a slight heel is okay if it’s a platform wedge (like an espadrille).
+ If you’re going to wear a loafer, go for a supple leather rather than a stiff patent.
+ When picking a sandal, go for soft lacing or straps rather than stiff
+ When wearing flats or sneakers, socks are your friends!
Different destinations call for different shoes, of course. Many people can’t wear sneakers to work, and you probably don’t want to wear open-toe flat sandals out dancing. Therefore, below I’ve rounded up the best shoes broken down by popular destinations: work, dinner, a night-out dancing, and simply walking far distances. Now my question for you is: where are you headed?
En Route to Work:
My number one recommendation for the work commuter is a loafer with a rubber sole or even a comfy driving shoe (those little prongs in a driving shoe act like tiny foot massagers as you walk!). As mentioned above, this shoe should be made of a soft leather or fabric rather than a stiff patent leather. For a dressier look, I recommend a tiny wedge rather than a simple ballet flat (because you definitely don’t want your sole a millimeter from the pavement—ouch). And, for those of you who can wear a lace-up at the office, might I suggest a smart and simple low-key white or black sneaker? If you can go the sneaker route, wear them with ankle-length lightweight trousers like these or these to keep put together. Pro tip: take your shoes for a little test run before walking endlessly.
Heading to Dinner:
A summer shoe you can wear walking to dinner is my sweet spot of shoes, and often you can actually wear the same styles to work, too, if you work at an office like Man Repeller where your shoe choice is really in your hands, err, on your feet, entirely. My number one recommendation in the summer may be a surprise because it is indeed backless, but I absolutely love the Katie mule by Camper. This mule has a rubber sole and heel, and it also has a really soft leather toe shaft. If an open-toe isn’t your vibe, I also love a caged sandal, a platform, or a really fun style that’s been popular this summer: the sneaker sandal. If you go for a flat caged sandal or sneaker sandal, you can dress them up with a linen shorts suit or a tea dress or skirt.
Going Out Dancing:
To be honest, I dance my best with a bit of height. My legs reach out longer! I have a more graceful glide! If you’re walking to your local disco, definitely skip the heel and go for a flatform or fun platform wedge like an espadrille (but make sure the fabric on the espadrille isn’t too stiff). My favorite options are by Soludos or Castañer. Wear them with A-line shorts and a going-out top or a flirty little number like this or this.
The most obvious option here is a sneaker, but you don’t have to wear your gym shoes out if you’re walking long distance. My favorite summer sneaker is the Fieyue sneaker because it has a rubbery toe and enough support, but is lightweight and won’t cause a case of footsweats (gross, sorry). I wore mine today and clocked 15 miles. I recommend wearing the sneaker with these Bombas no-show socks. In terms of sandal options, behold the slingback Birkenstock style, which just gets better and softer with wear and age.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this shoe-shopping journey, walking to work is my favorite time of the day. I know I’m not the only person who’s looking to carve out a little time to breathe deeply—fresh-air preferred—and do a little mental and physical stretching before and after an all-consuming workday. So, my last little bit of advice? If it’s your shoes that are standing in the way of this—don’t let ’em.
Might I Suggest Identity by Edith Young, Photos by Madeline Montoya.