The Best Dress Shoes for Women in 2022

We love Clarks Juliet Palm Loafers because they mold to the shape of your foot.

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Shopping for travel-appropriate dress shoes can be quite the conundrum: not only do you need something suitably stylish, but you’ll also want to ensure the comfortable pair can be worn long after, too. They should easily go with your best dress or trousers and offer enough orthopedic support for hours on your feet at an event, or when exploring a new city.

We spoke to a handful of podiatrists to get insights on exactly what to look for as well as some of the top styles to consider. When it comes to a dress shoe that’ll tick off all the right boxes when it comes to comfort, style, and versatility, our top recommendation is Clarks Women’s Juliet Palm Loafer, thanks to its expandable footbed.

Here is our complete list of the best dress shoes for women:

Best Overall: Clarks Women's Juliet Palm Loafer

Clarks Women's Juliet Palm Loafer

Amazon

Why We Love It: This leather loafer will expand and contract to best fit your feet, even if you’re standing all day long.

What to Consider: The style runs small and narrow.

Clarks Juliet Palm Loafer is our favorite dress shoe for women. The breathable leather exterior makes this option ultra-comfortable, even if you’re going to be on your feet all day. The cushion-soft padding and insoles support the foot from heel to toe while the curved topline makes it easy to slip these shoes on and off without needing a shoe horn, or to fuss over straps.

We also love the slight heel that sets this loafer apart from the classic silhouette. It’s great for pairing with dresses or skirts, but that stacked heel and rubber sole offer the same stability as a flat shoe.

Sizes: 5-12 | Material: Leather, rubber | Weight per shoe: 6.4 ounces

Best Loafer: Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Ruler Loafer

Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Ruler Loafer

Amazon

Why We Love It: This loafer features orthopedic support — but you’d never know it based on the gorgeous faux-leather silhouette.

What to Consider: This pair is a bit tight on the toes and might require going a size up.

We love a loafer that can withstand tens of thousands of steps in a single go — and the Dr. Scholl’s Shoes Women's Ruler Loafer does all that and more. The slip-on fit and extra elasticity make it easy to throw this shoe on without much fuss. The comfort-insole technology with anatomical cushioning that Dr. Scholl’s is known for means you won’t have to worry about sore calves or blisters even if you’re someone who prefers walking over taking Uber or public transit. We also love that this pair comes in a variety of colors and patterns ranging from classic black to playful leopard print.

Sizes: 6-11 | Material: Synthetic leather, rubber | Weight per shoe: 1.7 pounds

Best Oxford: Mona Flying Women's Leather Perforated Lace-up Oxfords

Mona Flying Women's Leather Perforated Lace-up Oxfords

Amazon

Why We Love It: This versatile Oxford was designed for comfort and comes in a variety of unique color combinations.

What to Consider: They’re narrow and have a bit of a break-in period.

“When shopping for a dress shoe, I typically try and find one that may accommodate an orthosis device, but my favorite are Oxfords,” says Samantha Landau, DPM, MPH, and instructor of Orthopedic/Pediatric Sciences at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. “I will seek out an Oxford with a higher ‘heel drop’ which is just a fancy way of saying increased heel-to-toe difference.” According to Landau, for traveling and long-term wear, this style holds up the best. There are many variations — but leather uppers like these from Mona are the nicest for both style and comfort.


Sizes: 5-10.5 | Material: Leather, rubber | Weight per shoe: 1.76 pounds

Best Wedge: Anne Klein Women's Tara Wedge Pump

Anne Klein Women's Tara Wedge Pump

Amazon

Why We Love It: This practical heel is part strappy wedge sandal part orthopedic-approved cloud.

What to Consider: The shoe runs narrow and might not be comfortable for those with wide feet.

You don’t have to forego heels in order to find a travel-appropriate dress shoe. The Anne Klein Women's Tara Wedge Pump features a comfort-focused wedge design that looks great paired with dresses from morning meetings to evening cocktail hours. The cushioned footbed and flexible, lightweight sole support you with less worries of shin splints whether walking long distances or standing on your feet for hours on end. This option is also available in a handful of fun colors, ranging from neutrals to snakeskin. 

Sizes: 5-11 | Material: Textile | Weight per shoe: 8 ounces

Best Sandal: Dolce Vita Women's Noles Heeled Sandal

Dolce Vita Women's Noles Heeled Sandal

Amazon

Why We Love It: This elegant heel was designed and crafted in the United States.

What to Consider: They’re not ideal for heavy walking or dancing.

The Dolce Vita Women's Noles Heeled Sandal is one of our favorite options for beachfront events or warm-weather business meetings thanks to its stable heel and open-toe design. The block heel and padded footbed make this super comfortable while the breathable material ensures you won’t have to worry about your feet getting sweaty in the sun. This option is available in a ton of colors and materials including a stunning hot pink patent leather — you know, if you’re looking to channel your inner Barbie.


Sizes: 6-10 | Material: Synthetic leather, rubber | Weight per shoe: 1.3 pounds

Best Slingback: Amazon Essentials Women's Square Toe Slingback Flat

Amazon Essentials Women's Square Toe Slingback Flat

Amazon

Why We Love It: This stunning slingback is versatile enough to wear anywhere thanks to the subtle design and adjustable buckle closure.

What to Consider: They’re best suited as office shoes, as walking tends to loosen them and make them uncomfortable.

There’s something about the slingback design that just exudes a sense of je ne sais quoi — and the Amazon Essentials Women's Square Toe Slingback Flat is no exception. The budget-conscious flat comes in a variety of stunning hues from bright lavender to dusty rose while the minimal silhouette can easily be paired with dress pants, denim, and even skirts. We also love that the back strap is made of hidden elastic and can be adjusted throughout the day to accommodate for swelling as needed or to make removing the shoes easier.

Sizes: 5-13 | Material: Synthetic leather | Weight per shoe: 10.55 ounces

Best d'Orsay Flat: Toms Julie Flat

Toms Julie Flat

Amazon

Why We Love It: This casual flat is made from plant-derived and recycled materials.

What to Consider: The shoe is quite stiff and might take some time to break in.

Toms has come a long way from its shapeless slip-on days (although we still admittedly love their classic slip-on). The Toms Julie Flat offers a much more feminine alternative to the classic flat; the d'Orsay silhouette is elegant and can easily pair with everything from dress pants to dresses while the built-in lining, cushioned insole, and impact-reducing rubber heel can help reduce rubbing, blisters, or arch pain. We also love the myriad of solids and prints available, including taupe, plaid, and a cow-hair design.


Sizes: 5-11 | Material: Synthetic leather | Weight per shoe: 1.06 pounds

Best Bootie: Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Teammate Ankle Boot

Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Teammate Ankle Boot

Amazon

Why We Love It: This bootie offers ample cushioning and shock absorption for lasting comfort.

What to Consider: The narrow opening makes this option more difficult to slip on and off.

Ankle boots will always be one of our favorite dress shoe options, especially in the cooler months when a heel or flat might not make the most sense. The Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Teammate Ankle Boot stands out thanks to the built-in anatomical cushioning and lightweight, flexible design. The block heels can also make these booties easier to walk in, even if you are not used to, or comfortable, walking in heels. Pair these with trousers or jeans and a blazer for an instant business-casual look that’ll transition from day to evening with ease.

Sizes: 6-11 | Material: Microsuede | Weight per shoe: 1.79 pounds

Best Ballet Flat: Sam Edelman Felicia Flat

Sam Edelman Felicia Flat

Sam Edelman

Why We Love It: This bow-trimmed style is timeless and comfortable enough to wear all day long for multiple days in a row.
What to Consider: The soft leather might start to scuff with heavy wear.

The Sam Edelman Felicia Flat is an excellent example of the ballet flat: it’s simple and elegant while still packing a serious punch in the style department thanks to the variety of textures and colors. The slightly elasticized opening can help limit tightness or rubbing at the heels and toes while the soft leather exterior can expand and contract to accommodate for any swelling that might occur from being on your feet all day. The classic silhouette can easily be paired with jeans, skirts, and even leggings, too.

Sizes: 4-13 | Material: Leather | Weight per shoe: N/A

Best Splurge: Gucci Brixton Horsebit Convertible Loafer

Gucci Brixton Horsebit Convertible Loafer

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: This versatile loafer converts between a closed shoe and a mule thanks to the folding heel.
What to Consider: The stiff leather interior can take a while to break in.

The Gucci Brixton Horsebit Convertible Loafer is one of our all-time favorite shoes. The leather and brass loafer might cost significantly more than the average shoe on the list, but the iconic design and superior leather quality make it a good investment in luxury footwear. We love that the leather molds to the foot for a customized fit — but keep in mind that the stiff material might take a little while to break in, so you’ll want to give it some time before you plan to wear them on a trip.

Sizes: 4-12 | Material: Leather | Weight per shoe: N/A

Tips for Buying Dress Shoes

Prioritize Comfort

According to Texas-based podiatrist, Dr. Anne Sharkey, DPM, it’s important to remember that our feet swell naturally over the course of a day, so shopping for new shoes in the afternoon or evening ensures you will have a pair that fits well for both day and night use. “Look for any friction points when trying shoes on,” she suggests. “If your skin is feeling pinched or tight at a first try-on, pass on those shoes as repeated use over time will surely lead to blisters and discomfort.”

Keep your intended event in mind

It can be tempting to pick up the most stylish or trendy shoes on the market, but you’ll want to keep your intended event in mind as much as possible. If you’re looking for a pair of shoes to take you on the subway and through the city streets, for example, you’ll probably want to opt for a flat shoe or a low heel that you can really move in. Looking for an appropriate dress shoe for a destination wedding or fancy dinner party? That’s when a higher heel or a wedge might make the most sense.

Know your true size

Buying shoes online can be tricky, especially if you’re shopping for European or UK-based shoe designers. Start by reading reviews before making a purchase to get an idea of whether the shoe runs large or small. You’ll also want to check a conversion chart to make sure you know exactly what your U.S. size translates to in foreign sizing.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What dress shoe style is comfiest?

    The most comfortable dress shoe for you will depend on your specific preferences. If you’re comfortable wearing heels, you’ll want to look for shoes with a heel height between 2-3 inches to balance comfort, stability, and fashion. Heels higher than 3 inches significantly increase the pressure placed onto the ball of the foot and contribute to ankle instability.


    Dr. Sharkey suggests considering block or wedge heels as they provide more stability as opposed to higher, more narrow heels which significantly increase the risk of ankle sprains. For the best support and comfort, look for heels with a back and avoid slide-on and mule styles unless they’re flats.

  • How can I make dress shoes more comfortable?

    “You shouldn’t need to break in shoes or make them more comfortable,” says Dr. Sharkey. “They should fit well from the beginning!” Dr. Sharkey suggests looking for wider toe boxes as tight, narrow toe boxes force our toes to conform to the shape of the shoe leading to a host of problems including blisters, corns, calluses, hammer toes, bunions, and overall discomfort.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Travel + Leisure contributor Kaitlyn McInnis interviewed podiatrists and used her experience as a travel writer and former lifestyle editor to curate the best dress shoes for women to suit most needs.

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