A Good Pair Of Waitress Shoes Should Feel Comfortable And Properly Support Your Feet
Waitressing is tough. Don't make it any harder by wearing inferior or improper shoes.
A good pair of waitress shoes isn't just a luxury, it's a necessity. As every waitress knows, spending hours on your feet will take its toll, and without proper footwear, that that toll could lead to reduced energy and performance, and ultimately fewer tips.
And in the food service industry, tips are king. Unlike other jobs, your paycheck is directly related to your performance - you can't sit back and take it easy just because your feet hurt and expect to make any money. Therefore, proper footwear is probably the best investment you could ever make.
(Note: I've found the biggest selection and lowest prices of proven waitress shoes at Endless.com)
Ultimately, a good pair of waitress shoes should provide a combination of comfort, support and durability while also meeting your company's dress code standards. In a perfect world, all four of these factors would blend together into one holy grail of waitressing footwear; but in reality, you'll probably find that you'll have to make compromises at certain levels. But the closer your can get to finding a pair of shoes that meet these criteria, the happier you'll be; and if you're happy you're more likely to work harder and stay sharp on shift - and that ultimately leads to more money!
Durability In Waitress Shoes
If you're like most people, you don't want to buy something that won't last. Make no mistake, waitressing is tough on shoes. They are like tires on a race car (you are the race car in this analogy, by the way). When you spend hours working on your feet, it will take its toll on your shoes. And if they aren't built for the long haul, they are going to wear out fast. And the faster they wear out, the more often you'll need to replace them.
Forget that. You don't work hard to throw your money away on inferior products. Sure a good pair of high quality 'kicks' might cost a little more upfront, but they will likely pay for themselves several times over when you consider how long they last. As a very simple example, let's say you spend $80 on the best waitress shoes you can find, and they last an entire year before you need to replace them. Compare that with spending $15 on cheaper products that you replace every two months. At the end of the year, that $80 investment actually saved you $100 compared to the cost of replacing the cheaper ones. Of course that's assuming you can find decent shoes for $15, which is probably a stretch in and of itself.
Here's a quick way to check how durable a pair of shoes will likely be: Grab one shoe at the heel and the toe and try to bend the sole. A rock solid sole should be difficult to bend, whereas a cheaper one will bend freely - sometimes you can even bend them in half! Stay away from the latter, it's almost always a sign of lighter construction, which means it won't last nearly as long.
And of course use your best judgment as well. How solid does the shoe feel? How tough are the different materials? Is the stitching tight? Are the treads useful for the indoor serving environment. All of these things will play a role in how long any pair of waitress shoes last.
What's the point in buying a durable pair of shoes if your foot isn't properly supported? A pair of wooden clogs might last decades, but when your foot is sliding around inside and the natural shape of your foot isn't supported by the construction, you're asking for trouble. The food service industry is very hectic, and as you undoubtedly already know, your feet move very fast! I don't have to tell you how many times the average waitress must "juke" around an obstacle, coworker or customer with a full tray in her hands. And if your shoe can't support your foot and ankle in this world, you could end up with an injury or a long-term foot condition.
Besides, our feet absorb a lot of impact throughout the day. That impact travels up to our ankles, knees, hips and even our backs. This is why choosing a good pair of waitressing shoes is so important, because a good pair will support your entire body and reduce the jarring impacts that can cause problems in all of your joints and muscles.
When you spend ten hours or more on your feet, there is no substitute for comfort. Shoes that don't fit your foot right will make you miserable, trust me. When you're out shopping to find the best waitressing shoes, pay particular attention to how each pair feels. If something doesn't seem quite right when you're trying them on, it's not going to get any better after a long, hard day. Don't assume that you'll "get used to it," or "it's not a big deal," because it is. If something doesn't feel right, move on to another pair.
Speaking of which, when you're trying them on, make sure to walk around on a hard concrete floor or even an asphalt, because that will give you a more accurate representation of how they will feel on a hard surface. And since most shoe stores have indoor carpet, you'll have to seek out a hard floor. But be prepared for the salesman to give you a hard time, as he or she will be worried that you'll scuff them up. Just be upfront and honest about why you need to see how they feel on a hard surface before buying them.
A good, comfortable waitress shoe should conform to your foot. The arch support should line up with the natural arch of your foot, your toes should be free to wiggle around (but not slip), your heel should fit firmly inside the shoe and nothing should feel "tight" or "loose" in any direction.
Company Dress Code Policies
Last but not least, make sure you conform to your company's dress code. Most places have strict policies regarding the appearance of footwear, and failing to comply with them could result in disciplinary action... or at the very least you'll be unable to wear your newly-purchased footwear. So take the time to learn your company policy before you shell out any money.
Most places give employees a company handbook that includes such rules. But if you don't have one, or if your job doesn't give them out, ask your supervisor or manager. In most instances your work will be very understanding of your needs, and might even make compromises if you can explain how much better of a worker you'll become.
Where To Buy Waitress Shoes
I'm a huge fan of buying online, because the prices are always so much lower than they are at local retail stores. For instance, Endless.com (Amazon's shoe department) has some jaw dropping prices and is backed up by Amazon's legendary service and support.
That said, I highly recommend trying on shoes in person before ordering them. That's the best way to ensure a good purchase. So pop in to a couple of professional shoe shops and try on several pairs, then note your favorite brand, line and size - then when you get home, place the order online. You'll almost always save a decent amount of money.
NOTE: I would strongly suggest against telling the shoe salesman your plan, as they probably won't be that thrilled (who could blame them?). I'd just play the "I'm here to try on some shoes," and then the "thanks for your help, but I'm going to keep looking" lines.