Working in hospitality is an extremely varied job, but one thing that can be guaranteed is you will be on your feet about 99% of the time. Because of this, you need a well-made pair of shoes that will keep your feet comfortable as you’re running food and rushing between tables, all while trying to remember what each table needs. You always have something to do when waiting tables and the last thing you need is the distraction of aching feet or shoes that are falling apart.
Good shoes don’t just keep you going through your shift, they will protect them and other parts of your body. It might not be obvious, but poor quality shoes can cause issues with your legs - especially your knees - and your back. Keeping yourself comfortable and healthy is just as important as doing your job well.
Best Shoes for Waitresses
OUR TOP PICK
One of the most popular brand for comfortable shoes (both on this list and in general opinion) is Skechers. Although there are cheaper Skechers on this list, these walking shoes are our top pick for their ability to provide comfort and support in a smart-casual style.
Available in an impressive 16 colors, these shoes are designed for people who enjoy going on long walks but are also great for someone working on their feet all day. You have a lot of jobs to be getting on with while serving tables, but the one activity you will definitely be doing to most is walking. (It’s worth getting a step-tracking app to see just how much distance you cover over your average shift).
All shoes need to be worn a couple of times to break them in, but these walking shoes don’t just get softer with each wear, their mesh top layer material is specifically engineered to naturally expand as you walk. The mesh fabric is also breathable and lightweight so you won’t be irritated by it and also won’t end your shift with sweaty or grimy feet (because let’s be honest, walking around a restaurant for 12 hours a day can be pretty gross).
As well as the comfort provided by the mesh material, these shoes also feature the new Skechers Goga Max insole for cushioning and support.
Breathable mesh material
Mesh material expands to fit natural foot shape
Skechers Goga Max engineered insoles for cushioning and support
Less affordable - these shoes aren’t the most expensive option but are still an investment
If you’re looking for the comfort of a pair of Skechers without the usually high price tag, then Skechers Bobs are a great option. Available in 6 colors, these shoes are simple looking and made from durable canvas which will provide comfort whilst still looking formal.
The best feature of these shoes is definitely their memory foam footbed that will provide both support and comfort. These are the two most important things to consider when buying shoes that you will be wearing for long periods of time. Sneakers are the best for providing proper foot support, but if you need something more formal, memory foam is a great option.
It’s important to consider the shape of your feet when buying shoes as few styles, other than athletic sneakers, will properly fit their arched shape. The Skechers Bobs may have flat soles, but the memory foam, as the name suggests, will mold to the shape of your foot and eventually fit you even better than sneakers.
Memory foam footbed
Slip-on style will require exact sizing.
Other than heels, the go-to style for formal women’s shoes is ballet flats. Ballet flats are simple, stylish, and allow you to look professional without having to endure the pain of heels.
Available in a range of 14 colors and patterns, these shoes are great for a formal restaurant or somewhere more casual where you can add some character and personal style to your uniform.
Due to their shape, ballet flats can be uncomfortable and ankle cause blisters and other issues, but these shoes are different. They have a traditional faux leather exterior but have a soft faux suede interior lining to provide comfort and to ensure they don’t rub your skin or cause discomfort.
Large range of colors and patterns
The third pair of Skechers to feature on this list might not be the most stylish option, but they just might be the most sensible. Serving tables in a cafe, diner, restaurant, or bar are all very different experiences. In a bar, you will likely be walking through a lot of water from bartenders making drinks and the glass-wash area.
On a busy day when things are getting on top of you, who knows what may end up on the floor around the pass, kitchen, and bar and slipping when carrying food is really not an option. These slip resistant shoes with memory foam footbeds will provide support and comfort whilst also providing much-needed protection. In short, these are the most sensible option if you work in an environment with a lot of water, alcohol, and ice.
These shoes, like the Skechers Bobs, have memory foam footbeds which will mold to the shape of your foot to provide custom comfort and support. Also like the Skechers Bobs, they have flat soles that aren’t great for supporting the arch of your foot which is needed when walking great distances on a long shift, but this should be counteracted by the memory foam.
Only available in black
The Keds Women’s Champion Leather Sneaker is the most casual style of shoe on this list. If you work in a formal bar or restaurant then these might not fit in with your workplace dress code. Because of this, it’s definitely worth double-checking exactly what is expected of you - and what is not allowed - before investing in these shoes as they are on the higher-end of the price scale.
If your work requires you to wear sneakers as part of your uniform, these are a great investment in comfort. These shoes are worth the higher price if you need something that is both cool and comfortable without spending your hard-earned money on a pair of sneakers you would have to be careful not to get dirty. When working as a waitress, you have to be prepared for your shoes to get dirty and worn, so it’s worth investing in a pair that can easily be wiped clean and won’t fall apart in the washing machine.
Smart casual style
Range of colors and styles
Easy clean leather upper
Higher price range
Best Shoes for Waitresses Buying Guide
How Much to Spend
During an average waiting shift, you will probably end up walking miles, even if that’s just round in a circle from the waiters’ station to the pass and to the floor again. Because of this, your shoes will become dirty and damaged in just a few hours so it can be tempting to buy a pair of cheap shoes which you won’t mind getting dirty and can be easily replaced when they fall apart. This might seem the most sensible option but will actually do you more harm in the long run.
Waiting tables doesn’t always pay particularly well, so investing money in something for work can feel like a waste, but if you’re regularly buying cheap shoes then you are actually spending more money than if you invested in one pair of good-quality shoes.
One of the worst things after a long shift on your feet is waking up the next day with your feet aching like you’ve run a marathon and that can really ruin a day off. If for no other reason, invest in a good pair of shoes for yourself.
Style vs Comfort
When it comes to deciding which shoes to wear for your next 12-hour shift, style is probably not high up on your list of requirements. Of course, you might want to look good while you’re working, but that doesn’t mean you have to choose something uncomfortable. Comfort does not have to equal ugly.
Even if you don’t mind how you look when you’re working, your manager might have other ideas. If you work in a casual bar or restaurant, then you will probably be able to wear sneakers as part of your uniform, but if your restaurant requires staff to dress formally, then trying to find shoes to support your through your shift can be trickier.
If you can, discuss with your manager just how formal they need you to dress, you might be able to get away with sneakers if they’re black and non-descript. But always remember: formal women’s shoes DO NOT have to have heels.
Long Lasting Shoes
As well as comfort, durability is an important factor to consider. Even the most well-made shoes will eventually fall victim to being walked miles in for hours a day, but it’s still worth investing in a solid pair. Durability might conjure images of hard, tough leather boots, but you can still find a pair of shoes that will last a long time and still be comfortable.
When it comes to durability, don’t assume that spending more will automatically mean your shoes will last longer. Some shoes cost more because the material is delicate and difficult to work with. Try and find a pair with rubber soles that will survive walking back and forth on hard floors all day, but with a thick interior material. Your shoes will first wear away at the ball and heel of your foot, so extra cushioning there can always help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best style shoe for waitressing?
As a waitress, you will be on your feet pretty much all day so will need to be wearing comfortable shoes, but will also need a pair that still look smart and are in line with your uniform. If you can, try and wear proper sneakers that will support the arch of your foot and have proper cushioning. Try not to wear sneakers with flat bottoms, such as tennis shoes, as they might look good but won’t give you the proper support you need.
I work in an up-market restaurant, how can I find smart shoes that are still comfortable?
There seems to be some kind of paradox where it is impossible to find formal women’s shoes that don’t give you blisters within minutes. The trick for this is to find sneakers that look as close to formal shoes as possible. If you still can’t find anything formal enough, make sure you buy some insoles and gel inserts that will protect your feet during your shift.
Is color important?
Your workplace will likely have its own dress code which you will have to abide by so choose a color that will be appropriate, but there are other things to consider too. Working as a waitress may not mean you’re in the kitchen where things can get really messy, but it does mean you will be clearing dirty plates, walking for hours, and probably also cleaning the pass out back and taking the garbage out at the end of your shift.
All of these things mean that the best color option for your shoes is, without a doubt, black. Even if you do choose to buy cheaper shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty, your manager and your customers will almost definitely mind.
You will be representing your place of work at every moment throughout your day and the last thing someone wants to see as you bring out their food is dirty soiled shoes. It’s not possible to keep your shoes squeaky clean, so try your best to hide the dirt with dark colors.