When you try on a new pair of shoes, the first thing you’ll likely do is take a spin to see how comfortable they are. How shoes feel when we walk in them is important, but a first impression can often be only half the story. Many people have jobs or activities that require standing for long hours, and how shoes feel when you stand hour after hour can be just as important. Of course, you can’t exactly test out every shoe for a couple of hours. But there are a few things you can look for when shopping for the most comfortable shoes for standing all day:
Arch Support: Arch height varies from person to person. Keeping arches supported, is key to reducing pressure on your hips, knees, and back. If you are standing all day in flat shoes, you’ll be at risk for overpronating your feet, or rolling your foot inward, which can cause pain and discomfort. While many people look for shoes with high arches, the secret for less pain isn’t necessarily there. Instead, shoes should provide good overall support for the whole foot, keeping arches from collapsing which can mean different arch heights depending on your feet.
Cushioning: Standing all day can put stress on your entire foot, not just your arches. That problem can get worse if you are standing on hard surfaces like concrete or tile. Shoes with cushioning, a thick sole, or both will help absorb pressure from the weight of your body and place some distance between your foot and the hard floor. Cushioning does not automatically mean arch support and visa versa, but it is possible to get shoes with both.
Ankle Support: Ankle support can also help make standing more comfortable and help you avoid accidents and pain. Most gym shoes and tennis shoes will offer some of this since they lace up higher on the foot. However, sandals with ankle straps can also help provide extra support around the ankles.
If you have chronic foot or lower body pain from standing, it is also good to talk to a podiatrist to see if inserts can also help. But footwear is one of the best places to start for preventing fatigue and pain from standing. Here are your best options:
1. The Best Overall
Brooks Women’s Ghost 11
A gym shoe with good cushioning is a great comfortable and supportive choice. The Brooks Ghost shoe is a running shoe, but the design that favors stability and support is also good for standing. The shoe is also breathable but still with a thick rubber sole for solid traction. Laces on gym shoes help stabilize your foot and ankle, too.
What fans say: “I am not a runner, but… stand on my feet 10 to 12 hours a day and get about 10,000+ steps a day (no sitting at all). These have been awesome! No aches, no Achilles pain. No break in period. They are just so great I don’t see how I could find a better shoe”
2. The Best Lightweight Gym Shoe
adidas Women’s Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
With slightly less support than our top pick, these fashion-forward comfortable shoe picks will look great with casual outfits and are light on the feet. Designed to be a super lightweight running shoe, they still offer stabilizing support. The cushioned sole is made of ultra-soft foam, making it a good choice for hard surfaces while it’s high enough to provide good ankle support. It also comes with more than 20 color combos to choose from.
What fans say: “I work at the front desk of a hotel where i work 8 hour shifts where I stand the whole time. The sole of these shoes are so soft and comfortable that it makes the standing not so bad!”
3. The Best Work Shoe
Cole Haan Women’s Original Grand Wing Oxford
Cole Haan’s Grand Wing oxfords combine the classic, polished look of a traditional oxford with the soft, cushioning sole of a tennis shoe. The more formal look of this faux-leather shoe makes them great for office settings. However, they include laces (unlike many women’s work shoes), offering more ankle-stabilizing support. However, the cushioning sole has minimal arch support. Consider getting Cole Haan’s Gramercy oxford if you need more arch support, though that sole is less cushioning.
What fans say: “So comfortable since the first time I put them on. The first time wearing them I was attending a 3 day conference, TONS of walking… Never had any discomfort! Also, I get compliments on them all the time. By far my favorite work shoe ever!”
4. The Best Casual Work Shoe
Dansko Women’s Xp 2.0 Clog
Dansko’s clogs have long been beloved by people whose jobs involve standing all day, from doctors and nurses to teachers. The thick sole is extra cushioning, but the newer 2.0 design is lighter and less likely to weigh your feet down than the previous version. The shoes are treated, making them easy to clean and non-staining, especially good for people in healthcare, food service, or any other profession who might get messy at work. The contoured sole also gives great arch support. High on the foot, there’s a good amount of ankle support, too.
What fans say: “I’m an operating room nurse & I stand on my feet 8-10 hours a day & am constantly either running around or standing still. These are fantastic & I swear by these!… I leave work as if I haven’t been standing all day & my feet don’t hurt at all!”
5. The Best Canvas Sneaker
Vans Unisex Old Skool Classic Skate Shoes
Canvas sneakers are an easy, go-with-everything choice from dresses to jeans but they usually also have flat soles with little arch support. While not as comfortable as gym shoes, these skate shoes offer much more arch support and cushioning than most classic canvas sneaker models. The waffled sole, designed to help you grip skateboards, actually has the benefit of providing a layer of cushioning. They sit relatively high on the foot with laces for ankle support. Slight contouring in the sole offers support, but you can also add an insert for more substantial support.
What fans say: “These are way more comfortable than I would have imagined. I have worn these all day many times over and my feet were as happy at night as they were in the morning – not like typical skate shoes!”
6. The Best Sandal
Birkenstock Essentials Unisex Arizona EVA Sandal
The EVA foam footbed of these Birkenstock shoes conforms to the foot’s shape, providing excellent arch support and cushioning. A deep heel cup also provides comfort. The raised toe bed is designed to make you grip your toes as you walk and stand, which the manufacturer believes helps increase circulation in your feet. Rubber construction also makes them waterproof and easy to clean. However, you won’t get the most ankle support with these.
What fans say: “These are very comfortable, and I think the black ones look enough like leather to fool most. But the comfort!!!! I went to the park with my wife and walked several miles over various terrain, and my feet felt great. Likewise, I have worn them to work on casual day, and they stand up to all day wear as well. I also took them to the pool with no worries!”
7. The Best Ballet Flat
Hush Puppies Women’s Chaste Ballet Flat
While ballet flats will rarely provide superior support compared to a gym shoe since they lack much ankle support, but there are some brands that sell flats with more cushioning and arch support. If you want a classic ballet shoe look, Hush Puppies’s flats are a cult favorite. The sole and heel have cushioning pads, and the inner also has cushioning arch support. And because it comes in more than 30 different prints and color, you have multiple options for multiple work outfits.
What fans say: “A really comfortable ballet flat. I’m a children’s librarian so being able to run, jump, skip, and of course stand all day is very important. These have good cushion, of course not much arch support, but thats par for the course in ballet flats. The upper has a lot of give, which I think helps. There aren’t any rigid places to rub and cause hotspots or blisters. Overall, excellent shoe, cute and comfy.”
8. The Best Budget Loafer
VenusCelia Natural Comfort Walking Flat Loafer
Made of breathable leather and with a nonslip rubber sole, these office-appropriate loafers feature a memory foam insole for cushioning and support. While they don’t offer the most in terms of arch or ankle support, they’re a comfortable pick at an amazing price. These are available in more than 20 colors, including metallics.
What fans say: “These shoes are wonderfully comfortable! […] I’m on my feet all day and have bad knees. These feel great!”
9. The Best Budget Ballet Flat
Skechers Bobs Plush-Linen Back Ballet Flat
With a memory foam insole which provides cushioning and support, a flexible sole, and a breathable fabric top, these ballet flats are shockingly comfortable and can be had for a great price. However, some reviewers have noted that they don’t provide the most in terms of arch support. And when it comes to ankle support, there’s not much. Some reviewers suggest choosing a half size larger.
What fans say: “I’ve been wearing these for a few months to work and I can’t wear anything else besides these now. It took a few weeks for my feet to get adjusted to new shoes like they always do but now they are soooo comfortable.”