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- M. Gemi
- Nothing completes your boardroom-ready look quite like the right pair of power heels or flats.
- Perhaps the most important element of your work wardrobe is your shoes, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the best places to find office-appropriate footwear.
- We like Everlane’s dress shoe selection the best, but Madewell, M. Gemi, J. Crew, and Rothy’s all have great options.
It is simply the case that one can never own too many pairs of shoes, and when it comes to work-appropriate shoes, the “correct” number of pairs is practically infinite. Of course, finding a pair of flats or so-called modest heels that are both attractive and acceptable to the corporate powers that be can be a bit of a challenge. But with some help from our favorite office-ready shoe purveyors, you may want to keep your shoes close and your credit card closer.
When picking a great pair of work shoes, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, are they comfortable? If you’re already feeling pinched at work, the last thing you need is to have shoes that are literally pinching your feet as well. After all, it’s difficult to feel empowered when you’re constantly bending over to adjust your strap or massage your heel.
You’ll also want to keep heel heights in mind. While I prefer to live about four inches above my natural height, I would also prefer to sleep and pet cats for a living. Alas, in order to be part of the professional world, it seems that society has dictated that I live in heels of a more moderate one-to-two-inch height. Also important to consider is the width of your heel. As impressive as your ability to teeter totter around on a one-inch circumference may be, that’s probably not something that you can (or should) put on a resume or to the test in your office. Luckily, you don’t need to be in stilettos to pull off a killer look.
Furthermore, you may want to consider your preferred work shoe color. While black, nude, and the occasional navy shoe are common suspects, it’s also well worth adding a pop of color to your wardrobe with some more creative hues. Don’t shy away from white, either – sure, they’ll show dirt a bit more easily, but let’s be honest, in your sterile office environment, you’re not really at risk of getting things particularly dirty.
Regardless of which of our favorite office-appropriate shoe purveyors you decide to shop in, we’re sure that you’ll have a decidedly professional (and fashion-forward) experience.
Here are the best places to buy women’s dress shoes online:
- Best dress shoes for women overall: Everlane
- Best work-to-weekend shoes for women: Madewell
- Best work-appropriate boots for women: M. Gemi
- Best dress shoes for women who like variety: J. Crew
- Best sustainable dress shoes for women: Rothy’s
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best dress shoes for women overall
Why you’ll love it: Everlane’s classic collection of shoes are ethically sourced, responsibly made, and will keep you moving throughout the day.
When it comes to the professional woman’s wardrobe, few brands are better represented than Everlane. It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a decade since the company was founded, but in its nine years of existence, Everlane has proven that cutting out the middleman and employing responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices are both great for business, and better still for fashion. And that’s certainly no exception when it comes to the brand’s beautiful collection of shoes.
What I love best about Everlane’s collection is its rather manageable size. Sure, there are still more than enough options from which to choose, but you won’t spend hours upon hours scrolling through seemingly endless variations of what ultimately looks like the exact same shoe. Rather, in keeping with the brand’s broader ethos, the shoe collection is straightforward and elegant, offering elevated basics at reasonable prices.
If you’re looking for a simple yet chic flat, look no further than the Day Glove, one of Everlane’s perennial best sellers. Available in a wide range of colors, this ballet flat is incredibly comfortable and looks fantastic paired with a pair of slacks or just about anything else. As it turns out, wearing a heel is not a prerequisite for looking put together, and the Day Glove proves just that.
Taking the Day Glove up a notch is the Day Heel, which incorporates a two-inch block heel with the same beautiful design and fit as its flat sibling. I love its back pull tab, side vents, and cushioned insole, all of which make this heel easy to put on and easy to keep on. Plus, this shoe comes in a wide range of colors that span the classic suspects like black, rose, and bone as well as the bolder options like bright red, bronze, and other metallic offerings.
I’m also in love with the Editor Heel, a sleek kitten heel that looks effortlessly sharp with its miniature stiletto. While it runs a bit big, the soft, Italian leather material may just convince you that this is the last pair of heels you’ll ever need.
None of Everlane’s heels go above two inches, which makes them extremely comfortable and wearable all the livelong day, and most styles come in both leather and suede versions to fit your personal aesthetic.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, ethically made, manageable selection of styles
Cons: If you’re looking for a higher heel, Everlane may not deliver
Read our full reviews of the Day Glove and Day Loafer
The best work-to-weekend dress shoes for women
Why you’ll love them: Madewell shoes are perfect both in and out of the office, won’t break the bank, and are definitely comfortable.
I was a Madewell fangirl before I joined the workforce, and now, I’m a Madewell fan-professional. Not only does the retailer offer a fantastic selection of work appropriate clothing, like cardigans, dresses, and trousers, but it also has one of the chicest and accessible shoe collections I’ve found for the younger demographic.
With great options for both the summer and the winter, Madewell’s shoes are, as you might imagine, well made, and reasonably priced, with most coming in at less than $130.
What I particularly appreciate about Madewell is its ability to turn classic shoes into fresh, modern offerings. Take, for example, the all-important loafer. While Madewell certainly offers this staple pair in your usual black leather, there are also a few updated options. My personal favorite is the Crackle Metallic version, which is just bright enough to catch your eye, but not so aggressive that you’ll feel the need to hide your feet any time a senior partner comes around.
If you’re looking for a great pair of mules, Madewell certainly has you covered. These shoes come in a wide range of heels, prints, and colors, which means you can dress up or dress down your professional wardrobe however you see fit. I also love the solid craftsmanship of these shoes. The pair I own has more than withstood the tests of time, weather, and situation.
Pros: Modern takes on classic styles, inexpensive, wide selection of colors and prints, available in stores and online
Cons: The dressiest of office environments may not be well-served by Madewell shoes
The best work-appropriate boots for women
- M. Gemi
Why you’ll love it: If I could only wear one type of shoe for the rest of my life, it would be a pair of boots, and they would probably come from M. Gemi.
You may not think you’re fancy enough to buy Italian-made shoes, but M. Gemi is here to prove you wrong. The direct-to-consumer brand is best known for its beautiful loafers and flats, but as it turns out, the high-quality footwear company also makes some of the most beautiful ankle boots that you’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever questioned whether or not boots are work appropriate, M. Gemi is answering with a resounding “yes.”
Made in artisan Italian workshops with almost unbelievably soft leather or suede, the Corsa ankle boot is not only insanely comfortable, but extremely versatile as well. The beautiful silhouette has a fitted shaft and sleek sole, and looks fantastic paired with a sharp pair of cigarette pants or a dress.
While it takes some time to break in a pair of boots or any pair of work shoes, this simply isn’t the case with M. Gemi. Its products are ready to wear right out of the box, and I’ve literally never gotten a blister from its shoes, even after very long work days. Plus, with the just-over-two-inch heel height, you won’t feel as though you’re at risk of falling and breaking your neck when you’re running from meeting to meeting.
If you’re not into the boots look, you could also check out the famous Stellato Sacchetto. The company’s constant best seller, this pointed flat has a soft suede upper, a tiny heel, and an effortless sophistication. The shoe quite literally wraps your foot in comfortable leather, and comes in a range of surprising colors that rotate out by season.
As it stands, I love the sage color, but M. Gemi is always coming up with new earth tones that never go out of style.
Pros: Truly quality craftsmanship, beautiful and comfortable material, warm inviting earth tones, unique look
Cons: M. Gemi shoes do come at a premium, but they’re worth it
Read our reviews of the Stellato Sacchetto Flat and the Corsca Ankle Boot
The best dress shoes for women who like variety
- J. Crew
Why you’ll love it: If you believe more is more when it comes to shoe options, then dive right into the crazy shoe world that is J. Crew.
With a seemingly endless roster of styles, colors, and patterns, J. Crew is truly the shoe lover’s dream come true. While this may sound a bit overwhelming, I appreciate that J. Crew’s website allows you to narrow down your choices based on the kind of shoe that you’re looking for.
A particular treasure trove, I’ve found, is its heels department, where you can find elevation of the slim or chunky variety, the miniature or stiletto variety, or just about anything in between.
The Elsie Suede Pump is a personal favorite of mine. Think of it as the shoe that every woman needs in her closet, what with the slightly curved heel that is generously sized at 3.5 inches, and the perfectly pointed toe. I find this pair to be especially useful on presentation days, when I’m looking for a bit of additional lift.
The fact that J. Crew has both IRL and online presences certainly makes shopping considerably easier, especially considering the size of its shoe catalogue. I’ll often scour the internet for a pair I like, then go to my friendly neighborhood store in order to take it for a test run. And of course, with different selections in different stores, shopping is always a fun surprise.
Pros: Huge selection of shoes, higher heels available, ease of shopping either online or in-stores
Cons: Some J. Crew shoes can get pretty pricey, but there are also less expensive options to offset those pairs
The best sustainable dress shoes for women
- Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Why you’ll love them: Rothy’s recycled water bottle shoes are far from a gimmick – in fact, they’re some of the best work-appropriate flats you’ll ever own.
There was a time in my life when being seen in public in a pair of flats felt like the cruelest punishment imaginable. But that was because my idea of flats was generally relegated to awkwardly large sneakers that, while comfortable, were undeniably unsightly.
Luckily, both my view on flats and my taste in flats has since evolved, and now, the greatest reward I can give myself is a day in a pair of Rothy’s flats.
The company’s rounded flats ($125), pointed flats ($145), and loafers ($165) are made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles and other recycled materials, are machine-washable, and feel light and flexible on your feet.
The brand’s innovative approach to footwear makes way for a comfortable, chic, and environmentally friendly shoe that is as easy on the eys as it is on the planet.
Thus far, the company has repurposed 12 million water bottles (and counting) and joins the growing movement of brands also using recycled plastic to make sneakers, leggings, and even watch bands. But it’s not just the upper of the shoe that is sustainably made – the insoles contain recycled foam, while the rubber soles are carbon-free. The adhesives used are non-toxic and vegan. Plus, the packaging for the shoes is made from post-consumer recycled materials and is biodegradable to boot.
There are more than 20 styles each of The Flat and The Point, and another eight styles of The Loafer, which means that no matter what setting you’re dressing for, you’ll find a great match. I love the simple Black Flat for everyday wear, and the more eye-catching Fuchsia Navy Snake Point for statement-worthy days. Really, though, you can’t go wrong with any of these shoes.
If there’s any company that can convince me that wearing a heel is not an absolute prerequisite for getting a big-girl job, it’s Rothy’s.
Pros: Sustainable, creative, and comfortable materials; beautiful range of styles; great patterns and colors
Cons: Starting at $125 a pair and going up to $165, these aren’t cheap for flats