The Best & Most Comfortable Shoes for Teachers

12 Shoe Models Featured

We reviewed 42 pairs of shoes; the Nunn Bush Sherman Oxford (men) and the Clarks’ Hope Roxanne Loafer (women) are the best shoes for teachers.

The writer, tester and editor for this article are all teachers. We spoke to colleagues, tested 36 models in-store and read hundreds of Amazon reviews.

For men, our #1 pick is the Nunn Bush Sherman. It’s a true Oxford with the sole of an athletic sneaker. It’s comfortable, inexpensive and good for all surfaces. 

Our top women’s choice is the Clarks’ Hope Roxanne. The model is comfy and breathable enough for all-day wear but formal enough for PT meetings.

We also picked top models in categories like ergonomic shoes, tennis shoes or clogs.

To read more about our top picks – overall and in specific niches – keep reading.

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Table of Contents

Best Shoes for Teachers (Men)

editors pick

98/100

Our Score

editors pick

Nunn Bush Men's Sherman

Nunn Bush Men's Sherman

Why this product?

A stylish leather oxford with the sole of a walking shoe. Comfortable and presentable. Excellent value-for-money.

98/100

Our Score

These Oxfords have the sole of a sneaker or a walking shoe. They look formal but are easy on the feet thanks to the memory foam and EVA used for the sole. The foam cushions your feet; the EVA gives you strong arch support as you stand and walk through the day.

The padded collar and tongue give these shoes a nice, soft sneaker feel. There’s no break-in period either. The faux leather is immediately soft and buttery, which is rare for a dress shoe.

The rubber outsole is slip-resistant, non-marking, oil, and abrasion-resistant. Our testers liked the way it gripped the ground. The sole is pretty thick too. You’ll have to put in a lot of miles to wear it down. Its treads are thick enough to wear outdoors, e.g. on road trips.

The shoe has a nice, thick heel with lots of cushioning. This makes it a good choice for folks with plantar fasciitis, heel pain, and painful foot cramps. The toe box is elevated to match the heel, making the sole uniform overall. This is good because uniform heels give your feet a natural, healthy posture.

The upper is faux leather, making these relatively easy to clean. A wet rag is all you need to wipe away most stains. The leather is thick, with a one-piece vamp that doesn’t crease and overlays that increase durability.

This shoe is an absolute workhorse. It looks formal enough for a high-school classroom but is tough enough for the messiness of elementary school. It’s inexpensive too, meaning just about any teacher can afford it.

Pros

  • Value-for-money
  • Quality leather
  • Stylish design
  • Athletic sole

Cons

  • Limited breathability

Best Shoes for Teachers (Women)

99/100

Our Score

Clarks Roxanne Loafer​

Clarks Roxanne Loafer

Why this product?

This shoe is both functional and comfortable. It doesn’t crease. Ergonomic, wide toe box. Ankle collar provides ventilation.

99/100

Our Score

We chose these shoes because they’re so versatile. The leather upper comes in a range of different colors. They work in a casual or formal setting.

The rubber sole is thick and bouncy. Clark’s Cushion Soft technology uses high-rebound foam, hidden inside the shoe, for shock absorption. This cushioning makes for a comfy shoe, especially on hard surfaces.

One issue with thick soles is that they tend to be stiff. Not the Roxanne. The lateral slits on the sole allow for plenty flexibility. Our testers report the Clark’s Roxanne was an excellent walking shoe that gave them an effortless, natural gait.

For even more cushioning, the Roxanne comes with an Ortholite footbed. Ortholite footbeds are the best; they last forever and offer great support. It’s not an accident that so many shoe manufacturers use them instead of making their own in-house. 

The leather upper is high-quality. It’s thin and supple, with a construction that prevents creasing. It’s also lightweight, which makes the shoes perfect for all-day wear.

Something that’s a little hard to see on the Amazon pictures is the Stretch Gore Panels. These make the shoes easier to get on and off without compromising on the snug fit. 

These shoes are smart and durable but inexpensive. They’re as breathable as a Mary Jane shoe thanks to the wide ankle collar. Easily our top women’s shoe. Also, they are the perfect footwear for nursing students as well.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Stylish
  • Well-cushioned
  • Lots of wiggle room

Cons

  • Sole is not 100% uniform

Best Male Teacher Shoes - Formal

98/100

Our Score

Clarks Tilden Cap Oxford

Clarks Tilden Cap Oxford

Why this product?

Stylish, easy-to-polish and comfortable. Stretch Gore Panel adjusts to your foot volume and width. Outstanding value-for-money. 

98/100

Our Score

The upper is 100% full-grain leather. The quality is immediately obvious when you take them out of the box. Our testers were surprised that this kind of quality leather is available at this price point.

We like that the toe cap, vamp, and quarter are all separate. The vamp is pliable and soft, which makes it unlikely to crease. The toe box is rigid, which makes it easy to clean and shine.

A Stretch Gore Panel makes these easier to slip on and off but doesn’t affect the shoes’ profile. It’s a nice detail that you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for it.

First off, there is some discreet cushioning in the heel collar. Too often, a thin leather upper will cut into your heel– especially during the breaking-in process. This tiny sliver of cushioning takes the pain away. 

The footbed comes from Ortholite, the number one producer of footbeds in the world. Ortholite footbeds are soft and breathable, making for a very comfy shoe

The lining is a mix of fabric and PU; it’s smooth and pleasant against your foot. We’d prefer an all-fabric lining, as a general rule. Still, our testers didn’t notice any negative effects from the PU. 

This stylish shoe is an excellent option for any formal occasion in or out of school. They’re very comfortable, and they look fantastic. Two thumbs up.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to polish 
  • Excellent footbed

Cons

  • Sole isn’t 100% uniform

Best Female Teacher Shoes - Formal

98/100

Our Score

Vionic Magnolia Serenity Mary Janes

Vionic Magnolia Serenity Mary Janes

Why this product?

Formal-looking and versatile. As comfortable as a quality walking sandal. Best-in-class orthotic footbed. 

98/100

Our Score

We love these cute shoes from Vionic. Formal events can drag on; this is the perfect shoe for standing through them comfortably.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Vionic was founded by a podiatrist, Phillip J. Vasyl. The Vionic Magnolias were made with foot health in mind – and are endorsed by the American Podiatric Medical Association. 

Why? First, the jersey-covered EVA footbed. It’s smooth and soft but supportive. Our testers reported feeling moderate arch support with the shoe on; comporable to EVA Birkenstocks.

Second, these Mary Jane shoes have Vio Motion Support tech inside. This technology promotes the foot‘s natural curvature by elevating the medial arch and keeping the heel firmly in place. This improves foot posture, gives you a natural walking gait and prevents foot fatigue.

One thing to note here. If you’ve got very flat feet or other foot issues, these shoes will take some getting used to. Try wearing these shoes an hour or two at a time before wearing them all day long.

Our testers loved the little details too. The leather upper has a wide ankle collar for breathability. The straps aren’t just there for style points. They lock your foot in place, like a sandal would. This locks your foot into the orthotic insole, making sure you’re getting its benefits.

These stylish shoes are perfect for formal school events and gatherings. 

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Versatile
  • Easy-to-clean
  • Wide toe box

Cons

  • None

Best Smart Casual Teacher Shoe (Men)

95/100

Our Score

Cole Haan Crosscourt 2

Cole Haan Crosscourt 2

Why this product?

A tennis shoe that looks like an Oxford and performs like a sports shoe. Incredible comfort. High-quality leather and rubber. 

95/100

Our Score

This oxford-inspired sneaker is both smart and comfortable. The leather uppers come in brown, black, or white. The soles come in black and white. The black leather, black sole version is formal enough to apss or dress shoesfpass.

That being said, we think the white outsole looks better. It’s a classic look. Our testers especially liked the white sole, tan leather combo. If you’re looking for an elegant shoe that could double as a dress shoe, this is it.

The outsole has rubber pods in the heel and forefoot. These give added support and make the shoe more comfortable. It’s rare to see forefoot cushioning in a shoe like this, and our testers really liked it.

These shoes were designed using Cole Haan’s Grand 360 Design and Engineering comfort philosophy. This philosophy dictates that shoes be light, flexible and comfortable. As a result, this shoe has the kind of weight and flex you’d expect in a running shoe. Very comfortable, for sure.

The sock liner is well-cushioned and soft. The toe box is just a little assymetrical, giving your big toe the extra space it needs. An all-around excellent shoe.

Cons

The Crosscourt 2s have one disadvantage: they’re not very breathable. Some air does come in and out thanks to the wide ankle collar and the tongue structure. Still, if you want a really breathable shoe, look at the sneaker and clog models below.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Versatile
  • Black-on-black version looks like a formal Oxford

Cons

  • Limited breathability

Best Smart Casual Teacher Shoe (Women)

96/100

Our Score

Dr Martens 1461

Dr Martens 1461

Why this product?

The second-oldest Dr Martens design in the world. A timeless classic that combines comfort with style. Leather is highly durable.

96/100

Our Score

When most people think of Doc Martens, they think of boots. But believe it or not, this is the second style that Dr. Martens made. It’s a timeless classic – and if it weren’t for the yellow welt stitching, it’d be our top formal shoe.

This modern version is slightly narrower than the original to better accommodate a woman’s foot. The upper comes in durable leather.

The PVC outsole is very comfortable underfoot, thanks to the Doctor’s famous air-cushioned sole. It’s also functional, being both slip and abrasion-resistant.

With a 1 1/4″ heel and a 1/2″ platform, they almost provide an extra 2″ of height. It’s a nice little lift. If the sole wears out before the upper does – common given the thick, premium leather – the shoes can be resolved.

We love Doc Martens in general, and this shoe is no exception. They’re extremely comfortable and durable. This is a practical shoe that just happens to look lovely. 

Cons

If you want your Doc Martens to look their best, you’ll have to take care of the leather. This means cleaning, nourishing and polishing it. Another con is that the leather takes a few days to break in.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable
  • Classic design
  • Excellent value-for-money

Cons

  • Requires regular care to look its best

Best Sneaker for Teachers (Men)

93/100

Our Score

New Balance MW577

New Balance MW577

Why this product?

An excellent walking shoe with a smart casual design. Easy to put on and off. Incredible cushioning. Available in wide sizes. 

93/100

Our Score

If you can wear sneakers to work, do yourself a favor and check out this pair. The upper is 100% leather, with black, bone, and white options. The shoe is made in the USA, with excellent construction quality.

Our testers note the shock-absorbing properties of these shoes while walking. They say the foot, and the heel especially, feel very comfortable. This appears to be because of the ABZORB cushioning system, which combines rubber and memory foam.

The ABZORB tech is reinforced by a durable polyurethane midsole. This midsole provides stability and arch support while making the shoe more durable. The shoe feels decidedly better than foam-only models.

No laces on these shoes. Instead, they’ve got hook-and-loop velcro straps. This is perfect if you have to change shoes option – e.g. if you teach privately at people’s homes and offices.

Overall a very comfortable shoe. Also very durable. New Balance is designed for walking, it has thick rubber outsoles; a stylish upper reinforced with overlays; a tough heel cup.

Available in wide and extra-wide. Important for folks with wide feet and anyone who needs to use an orthotic insert.

Cons

The only real con to this shoe is that you can’t wear it in most schools.

Pros

  • Comfort
  • Easy to put on and off
  • Best-in-class cushioning
  • Available in wide sizes

Cons

  • Not always dress code-appropriate

Best Sneaker for Teachers (Women)

95/100

Our Score

Propet Women's Wash n Wear Slip-On

Propet Women's Wash n Wear Slip-On

Why this product?

Excellent foot and arch support. Lightweight and easy to put on. Smart enough for most smart casual dress codes. 

95/100

Our Score

Propet is a fast-growing comfort shoe company that specializes in stability and foot support. This model is no different.

The footbed is exceptionally soft. It’s also removable, so you can use your own inserts if you want. This is a rare case where Propet’s own inserts are excellent out of the box, though.

This slip-on moc comes in leather or suede and a range of different colors. We like the all-black model, although the white-on-white and mushroom brown colorways are nice too.

This shoe has a unique stretchable neoprene collar. This makes it easy to get on or off. This is a great feature who changes shoes often, e.g. pre-school teachers and private tutors. 

The rubber outsole is durable and gives good traction. That’s to be expected; this is a walking shoe, after all.

Something we didn’t expect is that these shoes are machine washable. Yes; even the leather upper on these shoes can survive machine washing. This makes them easy to keep clean. 

This is a great walking shoe from Propet. It’s extremely comfortable, easy to maintain, and relatively inexpensive.

Pros

  • Best-in-class comfort
  • Excellent sock liner
  • Thick, durable outsole
  • Easy to put on and off

Cons

  • Limited breathability

Best Teacher's Clog/Mule (Unisex)

98/100

Our Score

Birkenstock Tokyo Super Grip

Birkenstock Tokyo Super Grip

Why this product?

Breathable, formal-looking and durable. Incredible orthotic support. Sits firmly on the foot thanks to a 2-strap design. 

98/100

Our Score

Birkenstocks have been manufactured in Germany since 1774. Since then, they’ve perfected their world-famous cork soles. These are supportive but springy, and they mold to the shape of your foot over time.

The soles’ orthotic effect is felt immediately. They improve foot posture by bringing the arch into its natural position. They also have a light massaging effect thanks to the ridges built into the heel, mid-foot and forefoot areas of the shoe.

Two adjustable buckles, one at the front and one at the heel, keep your foot in place. The breathable leather upper is ideal for warm summer days. They’re effectively closed-toe sandals, which allows them to sneak past most dress-codes.

The footbed liner is suede. This is a nice touch. Suede feels nicer against the skin than leather, which makes a difference when you’re not wearing socks. It doesn’t stick to your skin nor chafe it.

These clogs have a Super Grip sole. Made of high-quality rubber, it’s nonslip, oil-and grease-resistant. The sole meets the EU safety standard EN ISO 20347. 

The EVA midsole is light, flexible, and shock absorbing. The outsole is rubber designed to smooth out slight irregularities in the floor so you don’t feel them. This property also allows for greater shock absorption and therefore reduces the impact on your joints. 

The cork footbed/insole feels natural and comfortable underfoot. A deep heel cup offers plenty of stability and support. Our tester said their foot felt very secure in these shoes, despite them being clogs.

Anyone who’s ever worn a pair of Birkenstocks will recognize the distinctive raised toe bar. It encourages your toes to ‘grip’ the sole, which is good for your calf muscles and circulation.

After nearly 250 years, the people at Birkenstock know what they’re doing. This is a great teacher shoe

One thing to note is that this shoe runs wider than usual. It’s a good choice if you need extra space for a bunion, an orthotic insole, or foot swelling.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Excellent foot and arch support
  • Cork sole molds to foot shape over time

Cons

  • A bit pricey

Best Budget Clog/Mule (Unisex)

90/100

Our Score

Crocs On the Clock Clog

Crocs On the Clock Clog

Why this product?

Formal-looking. The  athletic sole that’s a cut above other Crocs. Outstanding value-for-money. Spill-proof and slip-proof. Breathable thanks to the wide ankle collar. 

90/100

Our Score

The first thing to note is that these are slip-ons. They don’t have the back strap you see on classic Crocs clogs. The enclosed heel makes them look considerably more formal. 

They’re easy to clean. Dirt doesn’t cling to Crocs, and there’s no absorbent material to collect odors. All you need is soap and water to bring these shoes back to their original condition. 

These Crocs are slip-resistant and durable. They’re intended for baristas and kitchen staff, jobs that really punish footwear. In a classroom environment, these shoes should last for years. 

Our tester said the fit was loose but secure. She didn’t feel like the shoes were going to fall off as she walked around, nor did she feel like the sides were pressing against her feet.

Crocs are known for being comfortable; these shoes are no exception. The Croslite foam and deeply cushioned footbeds are supremely soft underfoot.

We think these are great shoes for teachers, especially during the warmer months. 

Pros

  • Value-for-money
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Spill-proof

Cons

  • Need to be fitted carefully as there is no back strap

Best Minimalist Shoe for Teachers (Men)

94/100

Our Score

Vivobarefoot RA 2 Classic Oxford​

Vivobarefoot RA 2 Classic Oxford

Why this product?

A smart casual Oxford with a minimalist sole. Excellent construction quality. Leather doesn’t crease. Can be folded easily for portability. 

94/100

Our Score

Most schools won’t let you walk around barefoot, in which case you’ll have to go for the next best thing; the Vivobarefoot Ra II. 

Let’s start by looking at the zero-drop heel. Vivobarefoot shoes don’t have a heel; they’re completely flat. This allows for a natural posture where the ankles, hips, shoulders, and crown are lined up correctly. 

The next major feature is the assymetrical toe box. This lets your toes spread out and grip the ground. It gives your feet more space without being unnecessarily wide.

These shoes have a super thin, super flexible sole. This allows your feet to move naturally and cushion your body.

The cork insole is thin too. It’s non-slip, and it has a nice cooling effect. It molds to your foot over time, making these shoes get progressively more comfortable.

Something we really like is the leather used here. Vivobarefoot calls it Wild Hide Leather.It’s tough and durable; we couldn’t even get it to crease in-store.

Testers report it’s boot-like, in the sense that it feels rugged and durable. It comes from free-roaming cattle on small-scale farms in Ethiopia – and is apparently sustainable. 

Vivobarefoot go to great lengths to keep their products out of landfills. When the shoes are old and worn out, you can return them to Vivobarefoot. The company will mend, remake, and resell them under the Revivo brand name.

The outsole is Vibram rubber; it offers decent traction in urban environments. Reassuringly for a sole that’s only 4mm thick, it’s puncture-proof. So you don’t need to worry about sidewalk hazards like broken glass etc. We confirmed this via an in-store demonstration.

If you want a teacher shoe that lets your feet work and move as nature intended, get the Vivobarefoot Ra II. We’re big fans of this shoe and this brand. They’re ethically produced, good for your feet, and beautiful. Plus, our testers say it fits true to size.

Cons

Although we enjoyed the cork insole while testing it, some consumers complain about it. They report it can ride up the heel as you walk. You may want to get a custom orthotic if this happens to you.

Pros

  • Leather quality
  • Construction quality
  • Foldable
  • Puncture-proof sole

Cons

  • Require some getting used to

Best Minimalist Shoe for Teachers (Women)

92/100

Our Score

Camper Peu Cami

Camper Peu Cami

Why this product?

Dries quickly and lasts a long time. Inexpensive and re-usable. Can be applied with a great deal of accuracy out-of-the-box. Works on leather.

92/100

Our Score

Camper is a Majorcan company that has been manufacturing shoes since 1877. The Peu line was inspired by walking barefoot. 

The toe box is reasonably wide, letting your toes spread out more naturally. This is great for fighting foot fatigue and discomfort. 

The rubber outsole is TPU. It offers good traction and strong resistance to abrasion. It’s quite flexible, allowing four feet to bend and stretch naturally.

This means that the whole shoe functions as one single sock. This makes them comfortable, durable and highly flexible. The disadvantage is that these shoes cannot be re-soled.

The molded insole is inspired by the natural shape of a human foot. It’s very comfortable, offering a nice amount of support and cushioning. The insole is removable, so you can use your own inserts if you want. This is great for people who use orthotic inserts. 

We love the elasticated lacing system Camper uses. Not only does it look cool, but these shoes are easy to slip on and off. This makes a big difference when you’ve only got five minutes to yourself between classes. 

These shoes look gorgeous. They come with a leather or suede upper in a range of different colors. The less formal your work environment, the more adventurous you can be. 

Cons

These shoes are not designed to be worn without an insole. Without an insole, the stitching on the inside of the shoe can chafe against your feet. The same goes for the back of your heel. This can lead to irritation, discomfort and even blisters.

The best way to get more of a barefoot feel is to replace the soles with thinner ones. Do not just remove the insole. The shoe is not made for that.

Pros

  • Removable sole
  • Excellent leather
  • Outstanding insole and outsole
  • Beautifully designed 

Cons

  • Sole is a little thick for a barefoot shoe

Buying Guide

Here are the main things to look for in the right teaching shoe. 

1. Style

Most teachers have to conform to a dress code. This usually means formal styles and colors: the oxford, the ballet flat, etc. Look for a leather or discrete textile upper; black, brown and blue for color. 

If you’re a private tutor (or just lucky), you may get away with wearing tennis shoes, clogs, etc. Walking shoes are a good choice if you move around on foot a lot.

2. A Quality Outsole

When we talked to teachers, this was their biggest gripe. Most formal shoes aren’t meant to be worn for more than a few hours at a time. They have thin, rigid soles made from materials like leather and wood.

This isn’t good enough because a teacher may spend up to 12 hours in the same pair of shoes. They need forgiving outsoles, not rigid ones. Cushioned outsoles with comfortable heels – we like EVA memory foam and rubber – are best.

3. The Insole

A cushioned footbed makes a big difference when you’re standing for long periods of time. 

When researching the shoes above, we paid special attention to the footbeds. Specifically, we looked for materials like cork, foam, and gel.

4. Inner Lining

One thing we want is breathability. Hot, sweaty feet quickly become blistered feet. Pain shortens your temper, limits your patience, and makes you a worse teacher. 

The second thing we want is cushioning and overall comfort. Look for soft textiles, moisture-wicking fabrics and soft materials like calfskin leather.

5. Breathability

Many formal smart casual shoes, have poor breathabilityThis can be okay if you work in a moderate climate. In some locations, though, it’s far from ideal.

A few features can help us here. Perforation is one. A wide ankle collar that lets air in and out is another. Cooling sock liners are third.

6. Fit

With a relaxed fit, your shoes have extra space and wiggle room. They also feel cooler, and are less likely to overheat.

Another advantage is that a relaxed fit means there’s space for socks and/or orthotics. You can wear thick cotton socks when it’s cold or get the arc support you need.

Our Verdict

Our top pick for women is the Clarks Hope Roxanne slip-on. It’s comfortable, it has a nice flexible sole, and it’s dressy.

Our top pick for men is the Nunn Bush Sherman. It’s a true oxford with the sole of an athletic walking shoe. It’s also great value for money, which is important if you’re a teacher.

Writer:

George P.H.

Last Updated:

April 28, 2022

George P.H.

George is the founder of Shoethority. He started testing and studying shoes after a series of sports injuries. He now shares his knowledge with Shoethority readers as a writer, tester and editor.