In the world of the service industry, the unsung hero of any shift is the shoes on your feet. They can tell the difference between a painless clopen and that mysterious lower back pain that starts hitting just as the lunch rush picks up. But finding the right shoes can be a big question (or even venti) – you want something that speaks to your personal aesthetic while protecting the joints and ligaments of your future self. And when that perfect balance of style and substance doesn’t magically appear, sacrifices have to be made, to your style or your cartilage.
This is why we asked the good people of the Gram what were their favorite shoes for working a barista shift. From the nearly 200 comments we received, there was a general consensus on what you should and most importantly should NOT wear.
When it comes to being on your feet all day, the majority of reviewers agree: the boot is the best. We do not talk by Lucchese here, although in my part of the country, I wouldn’t be too shocked to see a pair. Baristas want thick, cushioned soles and wear protection after hundreds of hours behind a coffee machine. And for that people went with Doc Martens and Blundstones. Beyond that, however, the choice is left to your own style. Fancy a Chelsea boot or an English oxford, a slip-on or a ten-eyelet lace? It depends on your personal taste.
For the non-boot crowd, the humble Vans sneaker popped up again and again. In particular, the Hedly and Bennett vans collab were the benchmark for many commentators. Non-Vans sneakers include the Nike ACG collection as well as the Air Max, merrel or Solomon hiking shoes (which honestly make a lot of sense, although they can be… a style challenge), along with a New Balance, Saucony – which we won’t talk about because they refuse to send me sneakers – and even a all the birds thrown in there.
And what would the service industry be without clogs, that goofy shoe that’s so bad it’s kinda cool? And if the clog of the day is undoubtedly the Crocodilethe post-modern nihilistic marshmallow you can set foot in, many people have suggested a more refined option, the Dansko hoof. The Croc has the advantage of being more cost conscious, but the Dansko has a good weight and could serve as a projectile that you can easily launch from your foot at the first sign of danger.
But despite all the varied opinions on what to wear, there was one shoe that resonated the loudest like the one at do not to carry. It is unfortunately the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. We can be honest here, shoes changed forever with the invention of Chucks; it was the shoe that would make you run faster and jump higher, and its classic design hasn’t changed in the century since its invention, for better or worse. It is an iconic silhouette, which it also happens to wreak havoc on your body. Can you believe people were playing professional basketball in these? ! Chucks will always be part of the classic, casual style, but keep them in the closet for your barista duty.
Whatever your style, one thing is for sure, people in the service industry have no choice when it comes to good quality footwear. You don’t have to wear your ill-fitting Shoes For Crews on your after-work outings, posing as a member of the hospitality industry. Shoes these days are designed to provide the support you need for those long doubles on your feet while still offering the obscene ones you don’t mind having them a nanosecond longer than necessary.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor of Sprudge Media Network and a Dallas-based writer. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.