When it comes to shopping for shoes for work, there are many things you need to consider. Even I, a shoe-fluent editor, have struggled to land on perfect pairs in the past. This is because we place a lot of demands on our work shoes. They need to be versatile and go with a plethora of looks. They also need to be comfortable—depending on your role, you may have to be on your feet a lot, which will be a significant factor in your choice. Then there's your commute—will your shoes hold up in changeable weather? That's all before we've even got into aesthetics. Are they polished enough? Granted, some workplaces and uniforms will be flexible with casual attire (that, or you my even be provided with shoes to wear). However, if you've found yourself here on Who What Wear UK, I'm willing to bet that looking stylish is of equal concern to you, so I'm approaching this subject matter from that standpoint. Work-shoe shopping in a word? Challenging.
Throughout my career, I've found that the more trend-proof the shoe, the better it serves me for work. That's not to say your work outfits have to be boring or lacking personality, but I believe that any look can be elevated with a pair of classic shoes. This something my colleagues wholly agree with. "For me, work isn't a place where I try out new trends, it's where I showcase my most-honed looks, which might feature a trend-led piece here or there, but ultimately, they're centred around timeless items—shoes included," says affiliate editor Emily Dawes.
Following this sentiment, I thought—especially as we approach a new season—that it might be useful to show you the shoes that our editors wear most on their office days, in the hope of inspiring your own footwear choices. And don't fret; our days of wearing heels Monday to Friday are behind us, though there is still a heeled style we regularly show up in. Many of the work shoes our editors favour are flats, which is especially great seeing as the biggest shoe trends this season happen to be flats themselves.
Scroll on to see what our editors deem to be the best shoes for work.
1. Sleek Loafers
Style Notes: Loafers infiltrated our wardrobes almost a decade ago in a way previously unseen when Gucci's Jordaan loafers became the flat shoe du jour. Fast forward to today and they're back, with more simplistic, classic styles lending themselves perfectly to workwear.
Style Notes: Our reliance on heels has dwindled significantly since lockdown, but there's no denying the joy to be experienced when slipping on a pair—particularly if after-work drinks are on the cards. You needn't opt for skyscrapers; small kitten heels have been having a moment for a while, especially in slingback form. Plus, the strap around the ankle makes them stay on better than other heel styles.
3. Knee-High Boots
From assistants (here's looking at you, Andy Sachs) all the way up to Anna Wintour, if there's one shoe style that fashion editors genuinely wear for work, it's leather knee-highs. Ideal for the latter half of the year, our editors wear this sleek style with everything from slip skirts and knitted dresses to underneath tailored trousers for a some extra warmth on particularly chilly days.
4. Ballet Flats
Understated, elegant ballet flats are about to be huge this autumn, but fashion types have long remained loyal to them, particularly when workwear comes into play. Unlike other shoe styles, I find that ballet flats pair well with the majority of my trousers, dresses and skirts, making them a go-to in my weekly outfit repertoire.
5. Mary Janes
Following a similar thread to that of ballet flats, mary janes may feel very on-trend right now, but fashion people will tell you that this is one shoe that never goes out of style. Choose flats or look for block heels if you prefer your work shoes with a bit of height.