Professional in Sneakers

Although it’s been debated before, it is certainly possible to look professional in an active job. Pants with stretch, knit tops that move with you, and supportive flats can take you far. But some days, for some jobs, it is just impossible to wear anything besides some sort of sneakers. I will be having one of those days next week in Manila–I will be on my feet at a trade show for 10 hours, with at least one hour before and after for set up and tear down. What’s a girl to do? Even my beloved Nine West ballet flats with reinforced sole and gel insert won’t cut it for that day. I have been looking into simple black sneakers to carry me through the night, and here are my favorites.

These basic sneakers by Simple are, well, simple, with a classic silhouette and minimal detailing. They have gotten high marks by reviewers, and are made from organic cotton and recycled tires. What’s not to love?

The Privo flat by Clarks is a cross between a ballet flat and an athletic shoe, which gives it support and a sleek style. And Clarks are known for all-day comfort!

And of course, there are Toms. Friends swear by these, saying that they are the most comfortable, supportive shoe they own. Combine that with the fact that they give away  a pair of shoes to a needy kid for every pair you buy, and it’s hard to turn down.

I haven’t decided which ones I’m getting yet, but I will let you know how they turn out!


  1. TOMS. Do it. I was skeptical at first but I am officially a convert and pretty much wear them every day.

  2. I have the Privo by Clark and they are awesome! I wore them all around Ireland and they’re still my go-to shoes for long days of travel or walking around.

  3. toms are great for travel, but i have super flat feet and they won’t give me enough support if i’ll be walking a lot.

  4. I am so, so jealous that you can wear sneakers! I’m a conference planner & when I’m on-site it’s usually 14-15 hours straight, on my feet, running all over a hotel. We are required to dress business professional, so suits, and absolutely no sneakers or anything remotely resembling them.

    As you can imagine this is one of the most painful aspects of my job (literally!). After years of trying different shoes/insoles/ect, the best I’ve found are men’s dress loafers (I get mine from Bass). They always seem to look a bit more formal to me than the women’s, and they have better support. I add my Dr. Scholls insoles & go for it. They don’t completely eliminate the aches & pains, and aren’t as stylish as I’d like, but it’s the best compromise I’ve been able to find.

  5. Ditto – I’m a conference planner, and in the 20-odd years I’ve been doing this, I have NEVER found a shoe that stays comfortable throughout the day. Dansko’s (nurse shoes) come the closest I have found, and look passable with dress pants.

    Old meeting planner trick… change shoes and heel heights a few times during the day – just stick an extra pair of shoes (or two) in your bag, or ship them with your exhibit booth to the show, and when you unpack, voila, there they are! Changing heel height changes the pressure points on your foot, and eases at least some of the discomfort. It does work!

    So, you might think about getting the Toms AND the Clarks!

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