Given a choice, what would you wear: dress shoes or athletic shoes?

Dress shoes or Athletic shoes for comfort?


  • Total voters
    126

srivats

Super Member
I met my friends for a couple of beers and we had a big discussion about shoes. I was wearing a pair of aldens and my friends both had athletic shoes on. I was made fun of (in a friendly manner, ofcourse) for wearing aldens to a pub, but we digress ...

Both my friends strongly expressed the opinion that given a choice, they would wear athletic shoes all the time. Mind you, these two are guys that wear a suit atleast 3 days a week and have properly fitting AEs on their feet while they are at work. They are not newbies with leather shoes either, they have worn proper dress shoes for years now.

I have always felt that my feet were more comfortable in my aldens for non-athletic activities. I do own athletic shoes and they get worn I am exercising or running or playing. I used to have them on all the time when I was in grad school (not too long ago) but ever since I found alden, that habit changed.

I was wondering what members at AAAC felt about this. Leave aside "trad", leave aside the right/wrong aspect of wearing athletic shoes to work and leave aside the monetary aspect associated with dress vs athletic shoes. From purely a comfort viewpoint, given a choice, what would you wear most of the time: a pair of dress shoes or a pair of athletic shoes? Why?

I apologise if this has come up before ...
 
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eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
I am not sure why but, I've never felt comfortable wearing athletic shoes/sneakers for anything other than working out. Although, I must also say that virtually all of the athletic shoes I have had much experience with, have been very comfortable and afforded excellent protection for and support of my feet. The few times I have worn them for other than exercise, I could not wait to get home and correct my 'indiscretion'!

Having said that, there is nothing quite like wearing a pair of vintage, well crafted, leather classics...customized to your feet through years of hard use and looking almost as it they came straight out of the box, as the result of your care and maintenance of them. While it can be pretty common for a pair of properly cared for quality leather shoes to provide a quarter century of more of service, my running shoes generally give up the ghost after less than four to six months of service during my exercise sessions. Our old friends always seem the best! ;)
 

AAF-8AF

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
From a perspective of purely comfort, I would choose athletic shoes. But, that only includes foot comfort. I would not be comfortable wearing athletic shoes together with most of my pants and other wardrobe items.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
I prefer leather shoes. I like the way they feel, sound and look.

Sneakers and hiking boots are great for the activities they are designed for. But for just knocking around, gimme leather.
 

Leather man

Super Member
Because most athletic shoes are made from a mixture of leather and nylon or at least have made made linings I find them way too hot and a prime cause of athletes foot - pun intended!

Therefore I only wear athletic shoes for sports and otherwise wear leather dress shoes all the time.
 

srivats

Super Member
While it can be pretty common for a pair of properly cared for quality leather shoes to provide a quarter century of more of service, my running shoes generally give up the ghost after less than four to six months of service during my exercise sessions.

While I personally agree with most part of your post, it is unfair to compare the life of a good quality welted shoe (that you dote on :)) to a pair of mostly synthetic shoes that is probably does not have a stitch except for decoration! Also we probably use them much more harshly while we to physical activities.
 

PeterSawatzky

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I wear black lo-cut Chuck Taylors almost every day. I've been wearing them since grade 10. They're comfortable, cheap, expendable and unassuming, but not unstylish. They're perfect for what I need as a graphic designer in a sign shop. I save my AE's for dressier occasions.
 

Cruiser

Connoisseur
I wear black lo-cut Chuck Taylors almost every day. I've been wearing them since grade 10. They're comfortable, cheap, expendable and unassuming, but not unstylish.

I will admit to having at least one pair of these in my closet at all times since the mid 1950's (currently a pair of black high tops) and until 1975 I probably wore a pair for at least a portion of every single day; however, I consider them to be at the bottom of the comfort scale for modern day athletic shoes. When you could buy them for $4 a pair they were a much better buy.

When "comfort" is discussed in this forum, all too often folks merely talk about how something feels; however, to me comfort is far more than that. It's also about how I feel wearing something.

For example, a suit and tie might feel as comfortable as jeans and tee shirt but I might not feel as comfortable in the suit if I am doing things where I have to be overly concerned about damage to the clothing. If I pulls some electrical cords loose or am moving my computer/monitor and have to crawl under a cubicle desk to do this, the comfort of the suit loses out to jeans; but if I'm in a more formal business meeting I'm more comfortable in the suit even if it doesn't feel as comfortable as jeans otherwise.

It's the same with the shoes. From a standpoint of what my feet feel like and nothing more I think that a good quality pair of athletic shoes is always going to win. But from a standpoint of how comfortable I'm going to feel wearing them, the choice of shoe will always depend on what other clothing I'm wearing. Therefore, if I'm at the pub in a suit or wool pants the dress shoes are more comfortable whereas if I'm at the pub in jeans the athletic shoes win.

Cruiser
 

Quay

Super Member
Most of the day I prefer leather shoes. For all-round comfort I have a pair of plain toe bluchers from BB that were comfortable on my feet from the get-go and have only gotten better. They also are comfortable to my eye.

I am also happy with my New Balance running/walking shoes which I wear for long walks though I don't find myself wanting to wear them all day.
 

rwjones

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I wear black lo-cut Chuck Taylors almost every day. I've been wearing them since grade 10. They're comfortable, cheap, expendable and unassuming, but not unstylish. They're perfect for what I need as a graphic designer in a sign shop. I save my AE's for dressier occasions.

+1 for Chuck Taylors; they're versatile, don't have a logo, and inexpensive. They don't have an arch, though, and for some that might actually make them less comfortable than dress shoes.
 
Because most athletic shoes ...have made made linings I find them way too hot and a prime cause of athletes foot - pun intended!
+1 I never have sweaty feet in real shoes, always did when I wore trainers. Also, those squishy padded linings just feels insecure and unsupportive to me. Everything is compromised for light weight: fine for running, not for walking and standing.
It's like claiming that a vinyl bean bag chair is more comfortable than a real piece of upholstered furniture.
 
I couple years ago my last pair of athletic shoes wore out on me, and I vowed not to replace.
So I've been getting by with blutcher mocs, boat shoes and a pair of jack purcells as the for casual shoes (though I do have a pair of non-marking tennis shoes I only wear on court).

I must say I do miss athletic shoes, much easier to do stuff like lifting andcarrying heavy stuff, or playing baseball with friends, or just for days when you do a lot of walking.
It's not that I wore crazy nike sneakers, but I usually had a pair of new balance for everyday wear.
 

Zot!

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
+1 on the Converse, although it's pretty hard to call them true athletic shoes these days. They almost have more in common with Sperrys than Nikes. So maybe you'd add a third category for casual non-athletic shoes.

I can't stand proper athletic shoes these days- all that padding makes your feet sweat. My guess is that a lot of people prefer these to traditional dress shoes because old-style dress shoes are very hard on your feet before they are broken-in. Thus people avoid wearing them unless they have to (and there are less and less situations where you do these days), which means they never get properly broken-in. It's a vicious cycle.

PS- the uncomfortableness of traditional men's dress shoes is, IMO, the most unheralded reason for the decline in popularity of the suit. I understand that there are a number of other factors, but consider that when your feet are uncomfortable pretty much the rest of your body is.
 
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hbecklin

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
From a purely comfort standpoint, I like New Balance 992s. They last for a long, long, time. Oh, and they're made in the USA. Can't beat that. But they are rather expensive and they can look silly on my huge feet.

I rarely wear them in situations other than for exercise, preferring dress shoes for their styling. But comfort? 992s win every day.
 

PeterSawatzky

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
+1 on the Converse, although it's pretty hard to call them true athletic shoes these days. They almost have more in common with Sperrys than Nikes. So maybe you'd add a third category for casual non-athletic shoes.

This is a good point. I find Chucks comfortable because they fit my feet well and break in very quickly, not because they have advanced shoe technology built into them. I find spongey soles annoying actually.
 

Kurt N

Super Member
I have to switch to athletic shoes sometimes, just to get a little relief from a pinched nerve in one foot that tends to be aggravated by thinner-soled shoes.

Not everybody has that particular issue. But in general, given the reports about Americans getting heavier in recent decades, you'd expect more people finding that dress shoes just don't provide enough support and comfort. I think there's more to the story than just that people stopped caring how they look.
 
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