Choosing the best shoes for waitressing will make your waitress job infinitely easier, especially during those long shifts. Let's face it, waitressing is tough. Those who have never worked as a wait staff employee in the food industry will never truly understand how brutal this job really is. Being on your feet all day really wears down your body fast, but unlike construction workers (who are also on their feet all day), waitresses are unable to wear super-padded and comfortable work boots - it's usually part of the restaurant's dress code.
Ultimately, you want waitress shoes that are not only comfortable, but are also supportive. Yet you must also adhere to those strict dress codes. It's a tough paradox, and it's no wonder why so many waitresses come home home with ailing feet, blistered toes and even long term problems like strained ankle ligaments and fallen arches. If left untreated, these issues could evolve from a "minor annoyance" to a full-blown health problem.
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Untold thousands of health studies have linked improper-fitting shoes to foot problems, but also knee, back, hips and neck problems. Nobody wants their body to wear down, especially when it's done in the name of making an honest living. So what choices do you have?
Allow me to present:
Choosing The Best Waitress Shoes - An Easy Checklist
Step 1: Determine Your Restaurant's Dress Code (as it relates to footwear).
Every restaurant has their own take on "acceptable" and "unacceptable" work shoes. And what makes this even more frustrating is that there often isn't any rhyme or reason to these mandates. For instance, the swanky, high-priced restaurants will often have a much more lax shoe standard than budget eateries.
The point is, you need to know exactly what is and isn't allowed in your place of work. If possible, get it in writing (it should be easy, just have your manager print you a copy of the policy). If there is no policy, you'll need a confirmation from your supervisor as to what's considered appropriate - the last thing you need is to buy some great-fitting shoes only to find out that he or she had a change of heart and will no longer allow them.
My best advice is to bring in a picture of the shoes you're considering buying.
Most restaurants are very sensitive to their employees' needs and are willing to go the extra mile to keep them comfortable and healthy. So it's very likely that color is the only deciding factor. But don't take my word for it, double check before spending your hard-earned money.
Step 2: Find A Waitress Shoe That Supports Your Foot
You've got two major priorities once you begin shoe shopping: Comfort and Support. Both are equally important, as the most comfortable shoes in the world could actually cause damage to your person if it doesn't support your weight properly; conversely, a very supportive shoe that fits your foot in a very uncomfortable way will only make you miserable - especially on those agonizingly long shifts.
Any championship athlete will tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to proper footwear. What works for some people might not work for you. The only way to determine your best shoe for waitressing is to go out and try a bunch on. Almost any reputable shoe store will be glad to help you find the perfect pair.
A quick note on trying out work shoes: Be sure to test any potential shoes on a hard floor. Many shoe stores and department stores have carpeting, which looks great but can actually mask the padding and shock-absorbing qualities of any shoe. And considering you'll be on your feet all day, working on what's probably a very hard surface, it's worth your time to give them a true benchmark test. Hardwood floors are a good option here, as are concrete parking lots.
Step 3: Take Care Of Your Waitress Shoes
Your shoes are your tools. Policemen have guns, carpenters have hammers and waitresses have shoes. You're going to put a lot of miles on your footwear, and their ability to withstand shift after shift of constant usage could be the difference between you going home happy and limping home as a sore, worn out and physically exhausted mess.
The best advice I can give here is to never use your work shoes for anything besides waitressing. That should save some wear-and-tear and reduce your need to buy a new pair at every turn. Believe me, these are going to take a beating as it is, don't reduce their lifespan any further than necessary.
Along those lines, keep your shoes dry. After you take them off, leave them out for the night to air out before putting them in your closet. The natural moisture from your feet can wreak havoc on the materials, glues and dyes, making them wear out faster. Take the extra step and make sure they're dry. Of course this is even more important if your feet get wet in the rain, a big puddle, a kitchen mishap or even an annoying toddler who spills his drink on your shoes.
Where To Find Good Waitress Shoes?
You have several choices when it comes to finding the best shoes for waitressing. Start at dedicated shoe stores, particularly ones that specialize in workplace shoes. You should be able to find a store like this near you through you local phone book or even Google. These stores employ knowledgeable staff who understand the hardships of working on your feet all day.
Another option is a department store. These places usually stock a decent supply of work shoes, though their shoe salesmen might not be as knowledgeable regarding your needs. If you still can't find anything that works, try the big "have everything" stores like Wal-Mart.
A Quick Note For Saving Money When Buying Work Shoes:
Did you find the perfect pair of shoes for your feet, but about fell backwords when you saw the price tag? In many instances you can find the same pair of shoes online at cheaper prices. Just make sure you remember the exact make, model and size when you order.
I'd highly recommend not buying shoes online without trying them on in person first.
Keeping your feet healthy and comfortable is the highest priority for any waitress. The right shoes for the job can make all the difference in the world; you'll work better, get fatigued less easy and stay cheerful longer. And in an industry where your wages are directly tied to your performance, it's easy to see why finding the best shoes for waitressing is so important.