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Dressed Up Comfort

The best new styles fuse fashion and comfort as customers seek more formal options for work, events, travel and more.
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I recently attended a Roaring ’20s party at a beautiful venue on the Jersey Shore. As a friend walked toward me in an elegant sequin dress, I noticed that she was moving very slowly. No, she wasn’t making a grand entrance – the sole had literally just fallen off the bottom of her shoe! Having purchased the heels several years ago, she decided to shrug it off with a laugh, exclaiming – “I guess it’s finally time to buy a new pair!” 

It’s true – consumers have decided that now is the time to refresh their wardrobes and purchase new shoes for weddings, parties, excursions and work – often because they want to and sometimes because they have to! The ideal option is something that can do it all, offering comfort, elegant touches and a little pizzazz to party in. We’ve asked several brands what is being offered to accommodate.

Are you seeing the “dressed up comfort” trend and how are you responding?

“We are absolutely seeing the trend of dressing up but with a modern twist of casualness. For us it’s essential to incorporate a non-compromised comfort and laid-back attitude, while having the ability to style up. We are introducing several new programs for spring that are versatile and can easily be dressed up or down, including the Janelle and Malena.” 

– Kelsey Jayne, footwear design director, Dansko

 “The way consumers think about their office attire has changed. Working from home created a shift to comfort casual, which we continue to see as people return to the office. This shift has opened the clog category as a top choice for dressed up comfort. Our KLOGS design team has layered on new materials and colors to our fan-favorite casuals that work perfectly in this new climate.” 

– Matt Dieckhaus, VP of sales and marketing, Latitudes

“We have some new patterns coming out with ornamentation on shoes. In the past we have used it on our sandals, and that has always sold well for us, as our designers know how to source ornaments that are quality and also stand the test of time.  Consumers are looking for a cross between dress and comfort; casual and dressy; and multi-purpose with ease.  We have a lot of slip-ons without working buckles coming into fall. We are also seeing a resurgence in heels.” 

– Ayelet Lax Levy, president, Naot USA 

“There’s no doubt that over the past year we’ve seen a spike in dress and what we'd call 'polished casual' shoes. We’ve seen demand for Rockport’s ‘event-ready’ category of shoes pick-up, and the past three months show an 18% increase compared to last year. Professionals headed back to the office, even in a hybrid model, are investing in new work attire and are excited to do so. Recent Rockport data shows nearly half (48%) of professionals are very or somewhat excited to dress for the office again.” 

– Lisa Laich, chief marketing officer, Rockport

“We are seeing this for both men and women. Customers are looking for a fashion comfort causal shoe that can easily transition into a dressier shoe if, and when, needed. We accomplish this by using mixed materials, hardware, and neutral colors.” 

– Rich Rask, president, Rieker Shoe Corp.

“Hälsa is starting to see a change in attitude for versatile fall styles with fashion/comfort so that the consumer can go from the office to going out. Bold, fresh looks are what Hälsa is offering; along with a fully removeable insole so it’s like a vacation on their feet.” 

– Tony Adams, VP of sales, Hälsa

“During the 2020 and 2021 seasons there was a major pendulum shift to comfy casual, easy-on, easy-off disposable footwear. We see this currently swinging back to something more in the middle. Due to more social and group settings to celebrate weddings, graduations and the like, dress shoes are in high demand. This category will return to being about 25%-30% of our total business, where it dipped after the pandemic to almost zero. As some people go back into the office, this category will continue to grow, although now in a more balanced way.” 

– Frank Cammarata, founder, The Enjoiya Group

“The past two years have emphasized a trend that was already ongoing: comfort has become an essential element of the modern living. Today 95% of the world's population wear rubber-soled shoes, for leisure and also for business or formal occasions. Thanks to our special patented technologies and our Italian DNA, we offer people stylish and extremely comfortable shoes, be these sneakers or more formal styles.” 

– Mario Moretti Polegato, founder, Geox

“We couldn't agree more! The consumer is tired of wearing her sneakers and slippers; she's ready to step back into her favorite heels. We are responding with fresh silhouettes with feminine details, bling, rich materials like velvet, and bringing back dress boots in a big way for fall.” 

– Danielle Kalish, senior director of design, LifeStride

“Finding the sweet spot between dress and comfort has been a focus of the Spring 2023 collection. Arcopedico as a brand is known for being a great travel shoe, but we shied away from that message during Covid. Now we are happy to get back to that brand message.” 

– Sydney Simas, VP of sales and marketing, Simco Imported Shoes

“For Fall/Winter 2022, we remain centered in comfort but are premiering a group of luxe leathers on our wedge bottom that definitely dress up our Sereniti clog silhouette.” 

– Megan Gold, design director, Alegria

“Both fashion and comfort are intuitive to ECCO. Over the next seasons, the brand will collectively lean into this dressed up comfort segment by building out our existing franchises of such offering (Modtray and Shape for women, Helsinki and City Tray for men). The brand will launch new products adhering to the overall market need, yet true to the core of the brand—comfort heels for her, hybrid footwear for him; all perfect for dressing up or down, for work or leisure.” 

– Kevin Isbell, studio director, ECCO Studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

“This is a big trend we’re seeing. Vionic has several new styles that address the consumer demand for returning to the office, like the Angelica city sandal (modern style, versatility, comfort) and the Brookell (woven metallic upper for shine and refinement, statement-making buckle). Vionic provides a curated selection of travel-perfect styles, with polished, versatile sandals including the Kaila.” 

– Scott Radabaugh, senior design director, Vionic

Take Your Pick: 

Dressed Up Comfort Options

ENJOIYA/SORAIA

Enjoiya introduces a sleek, dressy option; the Soraia open-toe, sling back pump that can be worn with skirts, dresses and wide-leg pants, thanks to a 2-1/2-inch sculpted block heel. Black is the strongest color in smooth, nubuck and patent leathers. Fuchsia, canary yellow and bright cobalt provide pop colors, while ivory rounds out the pallet. The padded sock, gore-sling and flexible sole provide an ultra-comfortable experience. MSRP $89.95. 

RIEKER/DEHLI

The Dehli from Rieker makes a subtle statement in a shimmery hue on a synthetic upper with a soft padded insole offering comfort. The shoe is built on a proven last, with lightweight long-wearing thermal rubber outsole and strobel construction. It is a comfort shoe that can easily transition into a dressier shoe when needed. MSRP $140.

ECCO/S LITE HYBRID BOOTIE

Offering the distinguished look of a more formal men’s shoe with the same level of comfort as his favorite sneakers. Some styles in the S Lite Hybrid collection offer a dual-fit feature for extra width and a leather-covered inlay sole made with cushy, lightweight and temperature-resistant Phorene. Luscious leathers are courtesy of the ECCO Leather Tannery. MSRP $175. 

GEOX/WALK PLEASURE

This formal shoe features a fusion of comfort and elegance from the brand: Walk Pleasure. The versatile style has a waterproof and breathable “ultra-comfort” sole made using dual-material molding technology. A rigid body in thermoplastic polyurethane on the heel and at the side of the tread surround a soft insert which extends across the entire sole, as well as the front part of the tread and right to the outer edges at the sides of the outsole for comfort and cush-ioning. MSRP $200.

LIFESTRIDE/STRATFORD

The tall shaft dress boot is back in a major way with the Stratford, featuring a sleek block heel and pointed toe. A thin, feminine ankle strap is complemented by a small metal buckle. The rich brown crocodile gives a modern, luxe vibe that is easy to style with jeans and dresses. It also has arch support, cushioned insole, hidden stretch details, flexible outsoles and a variety of sizes and widths for a perfect fit. MSRP $119.99. 

ROCKPORT/TOTAL MOTION R+M COLLECTION

Designed in collaboration with fellow Boston-based innovator Ministry of Supply, Total Motion features sleek colors, breathable materials and on-trend design. The collection incorporates Rockport’s energy-dispersing Total Motion Technology and Ministry of Supply’s temperature-regulating, NASA-developed Apollo Phase Change Materials, offering the wearer unmatched comfort all day long. MSRP $135.

HÄLSA/DANA

From the new Demark collection, this fresh and colorful suede wedge can go from office to opera. The Dana offers dual functional side zippers, along with the hand tooled leathers. The shoe offers height without hurt, plus arch sup-port and a streamlined silhouette. Equilibrium + technology provides an orthotic style footbed to help realign the feet back to their natural position. MSRP $179.95.

ALEGRIA/SERENITI

Sereniti features a super comfy footbed made of memory foam, polyurethane and cork that molds to the foot. The heel height is right in the pocket — not too high or too low. The last was created to keep your center of gravity on the heel (not the ball) of the foot, which makes it a great career fashion option. Sereniti luxe leathers include rich suede and hair on hide. MSRP 149.95.

KLOGS/NAPLES

The KLOGS team is intently focused on updating colors and textures to meet the needs of the comfort casual consumer. The latest color of the brand’s iconic Naples style, Cashew Full Grain, pairs well with denim. Naples keeps you comfortable in the office without sacrificing style. MSRP $144.95.

NAOT/HALNY

A perfect staple for all occasions, the Naot Halny is a clog crafted of soft, smooth leather. The shoe offers Naot’s removable cork & latex footbed for all day comfort. The 1.5-inch polyurethane sole with a metal shank is extremely lightweight, durable & abrasive to prevent slipping. This collection uses a hand-sewn Strobel construction making it strong and flexible. MSRP $179.95. 

VIONIC/ROSABEL

Shown in a fresh, natural green; Rosabel stands out from the crowd, fusing fashion and comfort with a 2.4-inch block heel. This spring stunner is also available in classic blue and neutral hues. Vionic’s Rosabel style is not only versatile enough for formal events, but is also casual enough for everyday office wear. MSRP $139.95. 

ARCOPEDICO/LYLA

The travel-ready Lyla is a new style for Spring 2023 that is an updated version of an Arcopedico classic. It features a knit upper that is flexible, vegan and machine washable. The bow detail on the vamp offers a feminine silhouette, while the sole offers Arcopedico’s patented twin arch support for all day wear. Lyla will be available in seven colors. MSRP $99.95.

DANSKO/MALENA

Mixed materials with a metallic hit elevate this sandal to something dressy with a casual, modern twist. The style is a platform, yet rides like a flat form with a cushioned footbed for comfort. A low pitch keeps it casual. Decorative stitching and wood grain finish dress her up. MSRP $140. 

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Jul 22, 2022

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