The 11 Best Neutral Shoes of 2022

Keds’ Champion canvas sneaker takes the top spot.

In This Article

Jump to a Section

In This Article

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

11-best-neutral-shoes-of-2022-tout

Nordstrom / Aquatalia / Nordstrom

Finding an amazing pair of shoes is no easy feat (pun intended, of course), but it’s hard to go wrong with a neutral option. Footwear in black, beige, white, and gray should be a must-pack for your next trip since these colors can match everything you're bringing. And, with so many different silhouettes to shop for, you’re basically guaranteed to find the perfect ones based on your taste and budget preferences.

After researching dozens of options, the Keds Champion canvas sneaker stood out as a lightweight lace-up style with a cushioned footbed that’s great for everyday wear. If that’s not for you, we’ve selected a slew of other versatile styles, including heels, sandals, boots, wedges, and more. It’s also worth noting that most, if not all, of our chosen pairs have extra cushioning for support and comfort (an added bonus in our book). 

Here’s our list of the best neutral shoes that go with everything:

Best Overall: Keds Champion Canvas Sneaker

keds-champion-canvas-sneaker

Amazon

Why We Love It: This wallet-friendly lace-up sneaker is durable, comfortable, and breathable.

What to Consider: Although the sneakers are great for everyday wear, they’re not designed for running or hiking.

While the Keds Champion canvas sneaker actually dates back over a century — first debuting in 1916 — it remains timeless thanks to a comfy fit and classic silhouette. Our top pick pairs well with any outfit, be it jeans, a skirt, or a dress. These lace-up sneakers also come with a cushioned footbed for optimal support and a lightweight canvas upper that’s ideal for hotter temperatures. The rubber outsole provides incredible grip, and, as a bonus, the material is also water-resistant. Lastly, the twill lining — which has a distinct woven pattern — is known for its durability.

Price at time of publish: $55

Sizes: 4-13, including narrow, wide, and extra-wide | Materials: Canvas, rubber | Colors: White, navy, gray, black

Best Boot: Aquatalia Reeta Suede Ankle Booties

aquatalia-reeta-suede-ankle-booties

Aquatalia

Why We Love It: These soft suede booties are comfortable, weatherproof, and stain-resistant.

What to Consider: They’re an investment at nearly $500 a pair.

The Italian-made Aquatalia Reeta Suede Ankle Booties may cost a pretty penny, but when you consider the fact that they’re designed to last for seasons on end, they’re well worth the higher price tag. These booties (like all Aquatalia shoes) feature the brand’s signature weatherproof coating. Not only does this repel water and prevent it from entering the boots so your feet stay dry, it protects against stains, too. We also love how this pair has a chic, Western-inspired flair thanks to a supple suede upper, sleek side zipper, and almond toe. The 1.5-inch block heel adds height without sacrificing comfort.

Price at time of publish: $475

Sizes: 5-12 | Materials: Suede, rubber | Colors: Black, brown, navy

Best Loafer: Franco Sarto Carolynn Loafer

Franco Sarto Carolynn Loafer

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: These stylish faux leather loafers boast contoured padding and ergonomic insoles for top-notch support in every step.

What to Consider: These loafers run small, so prepare to size up.

In addition to good looks, these Franco Sarto Carolynn Loafers offer a faux leather construction that’s generally easy to clean and maintain. The tassel detail is a fun-yet-subtle touch, while the chunky built-in platform and lug sole — which is about 1.5 inches total — add a subtle lift. Speaking of the latter, the shoe’s lug sole offers excellent traction and stability as you stroll (whether you’re on rocky terrain, flat sidewalk, or grass). Also, the ergonomic insoles were specially designed to feature contoured padding for some extra pep in your step(s).

Price at time of publish: $99

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Faux leather, faux patent, crinkle patent, or microfiber | Colors: Black, white, navy, brown

Best Mule: Cole Haan Piper Mule

cole-haan-piper-mule

Amazon

Why We Love It: The modern, minimalist-inspired design is easy to dress up or down.

What to Consider: With an open back (and without water resistance), they’re not the best pick for long walks or rainy weather.

Thanks to their effortless slip-on design, the Cole Haan Piper Mules are great for someone looking for an elevated version of an everyday staple. The leather construction and miniature heel are incredibly fashion-forward, while the pointed-toe silhouette adds a hint of edginess. It’s also worth highlighting the cushioned footbed and its breathable, moisture-wicking leather lining. In short, think of these open-back mules as a more formal — but just as comfy — version of your favorite slippers

Price at time of publish: $100

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Leather, suede, haircalf, or chambray; rubber | Colors: Black, gray, beige, ivory

Best Sandal: Cushionaire Lane Cork Footbed Sandal with +Comfort

cushionaire-lane-cork-footbed-sandal-with--comfort

Amazon

Why We Love It: They’re functional, fashion-forward sandals at a budget-friendly price.

What to Consider: Some may find the cork footbed too firm or stiff, and it takes some time to break in.

As you can guess by the name, these wallet-friendly sandals from Cushionaire are known for cushiony support. With this in mind, we’d be remiss not to mention the cork footbed, which provides a firm foundation plus plenty of arch support. At the same time, it’s also flexible enough to mold to your foot’s specific shape, so don’t be surprised if you see an indent in these sandals once you’ve worn them a few times. The adjustable straps provide a secure, customizable fit so it’s less likely your feet will slip and slide out of the shoe as you step.

Price at time of publish: $30

Sizes: 5-13, including wide | Materials: Vegan leather, vegan suede, or cork; leather, EVA | Colors: Black, brown, gray, navy, white, tan

Best Flat: Margaux The Demi

4.8
margaux-the-demi-at-amazon

Amazon

Why We Love It: Unlike many ballet flats, this pair features 5 millimeters of foam padding.

What to Consider: The structured leather may feel snug at first and require some break-in time.

Handmade in Spain, these stylish shoes can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. And, while ballet flats aren’t particularly well-known for offering a ton of support, this pair has five millimeters of foam padding inside. The Italian leather version is arguably the most popular, but they’re also available in suede, haircalf, and woven demi varieties. As a bonus, the flats can be customized with hand-painted monograms or daisy prints. Plus, if consumers have any questions about sizing, they can book a private appointment with one of the brand’s expert fit specialists.

Price at time of publish: $198

Sizes: 3-14 | Materials: Leather, suede, woven demi, or haircalf; foam | Colors: Black, brown, navy, ivory

Best Heel: Marc Fisher LTD Zala Block Heel Pump

marc-fisher-zala-block-heel-pump

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: These leather pumps feature a block heel, which can be easier for walking (versus traditional high heels or stilettos).

What to Consider: If not treated, the leather material may be easily damaged by water and other stains.

These Marc Fisher Zala Block Heel Pumps are especially good for business trips, meetings, and formal events. They offer a more modern — and comfier — take on traditional pumps with their wider 2.79-inch block heel that adds stability and reduces stiletto-like wobbling. The pumps also have a super-soft leather lining plus a padded footbed (which is always a nice touch, especially when wearing heels). The classic pointed-toe design is one that won't soon go out of style, either.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5-12 | Materials: Leather or suede  | Colors: Black, beige, navy

Best Sneaker: Allbirds Women's Wool Runners

Allbirds Wool Runners

Allbirds

Why We Love It: These soft and supportive sneakers are designed with durability and comfort in mind.

What to Consider: The wool material may be too warm for hot climates.

There is so much to love about the Allbirds Wool Runner Sneaker, starting with the fact that it’s constructed with merino wool for a pillowy-soft and cozy feel — that may make you (almost) forget you’re wearing actual running shoes. It’s also worth noting that wool is naturally odor-resistant and moisture-wicking in case you do break a sweat. The brand is also committed to sustainability, which is why the insoles feature a castor oil-based foam while the shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles. When the sneakers do eventually get dirty, there’s no need to fret: Simply remove the laces and insoles and pop them in the wash.

Price at time of publish: $110

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Merino wool, EVA | Colors: Gray, white, black, beige, navy

Best Slip-on: Dr. Scholl's Shoes Women's Madison Sneaker

dr-scholls-shoes-madison-sneaker

Amazon

Why We Love It: These lightweight slip-ons look dressier than traditional sneakers.

What to Consider: There’s not a ton of cushioning, so this pair is not ideal for strenuous activities.

These slip-on sneakers from Dr. Scholl’s are a versatile wardrobe staple — and you may be tempted to pick up a few neutral colors to work into a travel rotation. The cushy foam insoles are supportive, while the thick rubber sole provides excellent traction. It’s also worth highlighting the padded collar (which provides added comfort) and elastic side panels (so you can seamlessly slip on the shoes while remaining hands-free). Finally, thanks to their simple, sporty design, these slip-on sneakers can be worn with leggings or sweats for casual outings, or jeans and skirts for a laid-back and still sophisticated look.

Price at time of publish: $50

Sizes: 5-13, including wide | Materials: Faux leather, fabric, or recycled microfiber; rubber | Colors: Gray, black, white, beige, navy

Best Oxford: Nisolo Emma d'Orsay Oxford

nisolo-emma-dorsay-oxford

Nordstrom

Why We Love It: These oxford shoes combine comfort, style, and durability with their cushioned insoles, slip-resistant heel cap, and waterproof leather.

What to Consider: The shoes run small, so order a half-size up.

Interestingly enough, the Nisolo Emma d'Orsay Oxford was actually designed for actress Emma Watson, and the brand describes the shoes as “refined, elegant, and timeless — just like her.” Best described as a less-sporty version of a slip-on, these shoes are handmade in Mexico with breathable, waterproof (!) leather. The cushioned insoles have shock-absorbing and antimicrobial properties, which may reduce discomfort and prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria, respectively. The shoes also have a subtle stacked leather heel and a slip-resistant rubber heel cap for added security. For the best fit, order a half-size larger as these shoes run small.

Price at time of publish: $160

Sizes: 5-11 | Materials: Leather, rubber | Colors: Gray, black, brown, cream

Best Wedge: Rockport Women's Briah Perf Sling Wedge Sandal

rockport-briah-perf-sling-wedge-sandal

Amazon

Why We Love It: They’re supportive, stylish sling-back wedges at a wallet-friendly price point.

What to Consider: The nubuck material is prone to scratching.

Featuring a durable, full-grain leather exterior and a comfortable textile sockliner, these Rockport Briah Perf Sling Wedge Sandals can elevate any look with minimal effort. As fashionable as they appear thanks to the leather’s laser-cut accents and a 2.7-inch heel, they also deliver in terms of traction. The supportive rubber outsole (which looks like real cork) is known for its slip-resistant properties and excellent grip. The adjustable strap closure allows for a secure fit, too.

Price at time of publish: $120

Sizes: 5-11, including wide | Materials: Leather, microfiber, rubber | Colors: Black, white, gray, beige

Tips for Buying Neutral Shoes

Consider what colors you wear the most

Before shelling out cash (and sacrificing valuable closet space), think about the colors you wear often to choose the neutral shoes that will work for you. For example, if your closet is mainly comprised of black, tan, navy, or gray clothing and accessories, you’ll likely find yourself gravitating towards a similar-hued shoe.

Prioritize versatile styles

Versatility is crucial when you’re choosing shoes to purchase for a trip. While there are many different styles and silhouettes, it’s wise to select a pair that you'll be able to wear for multiple occasions, be it sightseeing, attending a work meeting, lounging, or anything in between. Depending on the climate, this could mean sneakers, flats, boots, or even sandals.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is the best neutral color for shoes?

    Neutral-hued shoes are fantastic because they go with anything, including all colors, patterns, and prints. In this case, it’s best to stick to basics like black, white, cream, beige, brown, and gray, or switch things up and choose navy, which, yes, is considered neutral, too.

  • Why are neutral colors best for traveling?

    When packing for a trip, you’ll likely be tight on suitcase space. That’s why it’s important to prioritize versatile basics like neutral clothing and accessories. These items work well with everything, so it’s easy to create different outfits using the same key pieces.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, freelance commerce writer Lauren Dana Ellman researched dozens of contenders before narrowing down the best ones based on her own experience as a shoe lover who is admittedly quite picky when it comes to trying — and ultimately buying — the perfect pair.

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles