There are lots of professions and situations that require standing all day. Doctors, nurses, salespeople, cooks, chefs and bartenders all work long hours on their feet, and need shoes that will give them enough support. Even if you don’t work in a job that requires standing, there are lots of situations where you might find yourself standing all day: concerts, weddings, vacations, etc.
Finding a pair of shoes that provide enough support and traction - while still being comfortable - is a tall order. Sneakers are an obvious option, if the situation is casual. But if there’s a dress code or it’s a professional/formal environment, sneakers are a no-go. Learn more about what makes a pair of shoes good for standing all day, and how to pick the right pair for different situations.
What Makes A Shoe Good For Standing?
Sizing, materials and construction are the keys to picking a good shoe for standing in.
The Right Size
As is the case with any type of shoe, wearing the right size is important. A pair of shoes that’s too small or too big will result in a poor fit that won’t be comfortable, and may lead to chafing, blisters, or even more permanent foot issues.
The right width is equally important as the size. A shoe that’s too narrow or too wide can cause excess movement of the foot within the shoe, and lead to the same issues as wearing the wrong size. As people age, their feet often grow wider and most of them don’t realize it, so they keep buying the same poorly-fitting shoes and blaming the poor fit on the break-in process. The next time you buy a new pair of shoes, pay attention to how tight they are in the forefoot and consider trying a wide pair.
Admittedly, wide shoe sizing is convoluted and difficult to understand, so follow our wide shoe sizing guide to better understand how wide width shoes are measured.
First and foremost, the outsole of a shoe needs to have good traction. It should have enough grip to handle the normal variety of surfaces you encounter in a typical day.
Secondly, it needs flexibility. Flexibility allows the shoe to bend with your foot, eliminating hotspots and making the shoe feel like an extension of you.
Thirdly, the shoe needs shock absorption, which goes hand in hand with flexibility. Shock absorption is the shoe’s ability to absorb an impact without transmitting that shock up your leg and into your joints. Every step is a small impact, and you take thousands of them every day. Even standing in one place is impactful - unless you’re standing perfectly still, you’re still taking small steps.
A shoe’s outsole is tasked with a lot of responsibilities. Fortunately, advanced materials like Vibram® soles have improved outsole quality tremendously.
After the outsole, the insole is the second line of defense. The outsole needs to be firmer so it can resist wear or abrasion, but the insole is responsible for cradling the foot itself. A good insole is soft enough to provide shock absorption and comfort, but firm enough to provide support and stability. Shoes that are too cushioned can negatively affect your balance and even change the way you walk.
Samuel Hubbard shoes use a four part insole that includes a leather top layer for breathability, memory foam footbed, Poron heel cushion and a deep contoured heel cup.
Shoes For Concrete Floors
Concrete floors are especially brutal on the feet, but concrete is one of the least expensive floor surfaces to build. Unlike wood or vinyl, concrete has no shock absorption, making a good pair of shoes extra important. When you’re spending all day on concrete surfaces, you need a pair of shoes with a high quality insole and outsole to cushion each step.
Listen to retired Home Depot CEO Frank Blake discuss how he chose Samuel Hubbard shoes after years of walking on concrete floors across the country.
Both the Hubbard Fast and the Dress Fast are great shoes for concrete floors, depending on how formal you need to look.
Standing desks offer lots of health benefits and have been proven to improve posture and core strength. This all comes at the expense of your feet - standing all day can take a major toll on them. A good pair of standing desk shoes isn’t that different from a good pair of walking shoes - they need support, flexibility and comfortable insoles. As an added benefit, consider a standing desk mat for extra cushion.
For a casual, almost sneaker-like shoe, it’s hard to beat the Hubbard Free (aka the “UnSneaker”). For a more polished look, consider the Bucks.
Traditionally, dress shoes aren’t great for standing. They typically have a very stiff sole which resists leather creasing, at the expense of comfort and flexibility when walking. More recently, a new generation of dress shoes has popped up that buck the trend and offer better flexibility for walking and standing. Thanks to more advanced materials, these dress shoes have flexible soles with better shock absorption and better insoles with more cushioning.
Both the Founder and the Market Cap are both excellent dress shoes for standing all day. The Founder is a traditional Oxford style dress shoe while the Market Cap is a cap toe brogue.
The All Aboard and the Tailored Traveler are both classic women’s dress shoe styles, depending on whether you’re looking for an Oxford, or an open top slip-on.