Five places to buy stylish, smart, & budget-friendly work-at-home shoes

November 17, 2017 work-at-home shoes blog post Sarah Lentz
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How do your feet set the stage?

The right shoes can be a critical element of your writing environment (both inner and outer). If they affect our self-perception when we're wearing them to an office (or other workplace away from home), why would they not affect us when we're working at home?

Some of my shoes say, "I'm all about the comfort, right now," while others say, "I'm a professional (with excellent taste), and I'm the best at what I do."

It might sound ridiculous, but some shoes just make me feel smarter and more capable than other shoes do. It has to do with the idea of "enclothed cognition" -- which I learned about from Daniel Threlfall of Your Success Rocket and the Launch Your Copy course. The clothes -- and shoes -- you wear can change the way you think, feel, and perform. 

It's not woo-woo. It's science

Dr. Adam D. Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University led a study (resulting in this report) where subjects performed cognitive tests wearing either their normal (casual) attire or a white lab coat which they were told was a doctor's coat. The results confirmed what Dr. Galinksy says in his own words, "Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state."

More studies are needed to determine whether the effects of our clothing (and shoes) wear off. But anyone who has dressed up for Halloween or for a costume party knows how something as simple as playing dress up can have a noticeable effect not only on how others see us but on how we see ourselves. 

A woman who dresses seductively may feel more seductive or more powerful. A man who dresses like Don Draper -- or Don Corleone -- may also act the part. 

Remember: it's science. And we keep proving it over and over again.

It doesn't mean I can morph into someone like Marilyn Monroe just by purchasing and wearing a pair of shoes I found one evening on Zappos -- a spunky pair of platform heels by Naughty Monkey -- but I know I feel different in my four-inch-heeled dress boots than I feel in my faux-shearling slipper boots. 

Both pairs say different things. 

The shoe (or lack thereof) must serve the wearer.

It needs to be said, here, that you don't have to wear shoes to get into a creative flow when you're working from home. Some writers work better with bare feet or with their favorite slippers or thick socks. 

Some like to go fancy with designer shoes, as if to pay their home office a compliment by showing up dressed to impress. 

It's all about how you set up your creative environment. And the key is to do what works best for you. 

That might not include wearing shoes.

But if it does -- and you'd like some tips on finding good, comfortable, gorgeous, and home-business-friendly shoes without spending too much -- you're in the right place. 

This should be fun!

5 things to look for in a work-at-home shoe

1. Quiet soles  -- for when you go to the kitchen for more coffee or tea (or something else), and you don't want to wake up someone who's sleeping. 

2. Comfortable fit. This is a no-brainer, really, but there are plenty of great-looking shoes out there that are punishment to wear, even if you're sitting down. Don't do that to yourself -- or to those who will read your writing, because you might not think your shoe-related discomfort will 

3. Easy on and off. If your hands are full, or you step outside to get the mail and need to slip off your shoes at the door to slip into something you can go outside with (to get the mail, take out the garbage, etc.), you probably don't want to have to fuss with straps, buckles, or zippers. 

On the other hand, you don't want your shoes so easy-off that they're slipping off your feet while you're walking. I've found I usually need some kind of strap with shoes that don't hug enough of my foot, but if the straps have some elasticity, I can usually hook the strap with one finger and slip my foot into the shoe. I'd rather not fuss with buckles and ties that need to be undone and then refastened every time.

4. Slip-resistant soles. You probably won't spend the whole day on carpeting, and when you step onto a smooth floor, you don't want to end up sitting on it, because your shoe soles are slippery and someone just happened to have spilled a bit of juice or dropped an ice cube (which melted) or a bit of oil or butter. It happens. A grippy rubber sole with some traction helps. I prefer a good lug sole, but that's me. 

 5. Shoes that match your personality -- and the way you want to see yourself. Don't just focus on the budget here and grab something as plain as it is practical. Just because it satisfies the first four criteria doesn't mean it's the best shoe for you. This isn't a best 4 out of 5 thing. You want to like the way your shoes look -- on and off your feet. 

Your shoes, like the other things you're wearing, affect your self-perception. So, if your shoes are ugly . . . let's not go there. Just say no to ugly shoes.

That said, the shoes you find ugly might be someone else's rock-star shoes. Don't fight it. Personal taste is personal. 

If you love a sassy pair of stilettos, and you can actually walk in those things, those might be your favorite work shoes. If you're a boot-lover, you might have a pair or two that you save for your work-at-home, getting-in-the-groove shoes. 

Or maybe you love dressy flats. There are so many to choose from, and you can pick a pair for each day of the week -- or maybe you'll want a pair for freelance writing, a pair for blogging, a pair for writing your book, . . . you get the idea.

But where do you find the right shoes that won't strain your resources? Everyone loves a bargain, right -- good value for a budget-friendly price?

If that sounds good, then read on. 

5 Places to Shop

* I should add here that all the shoe images shown below are for women's shoes, but the information regarding the individual shoe store websites applies for men's shoes, too.

Return shipping is not as easy with 6pm as it is with Zappos; for starters, 6pm does NOT provide a postage-paid shipping label. Once you go into your account on and ask to return the shoes, you'll see the return address, which you'll have to put on a label of your own making. You'll also be paying for return shipping. And you'll need to use the original packaging, too, with the LPN barcode that helps them identify the items in your order. 

I've ordered one pair of shoes from them and was fortunate enough not to have to return them. The boots were such a good deal, though, it was worth risking the headache. 

Okay, so I know the first pair of shoes below breaks one of my rules (the easy-on-and-off rule, but in this case (and in so many others) cuteness trumps easy-care. Plus, the straps will make sure the flats don't fall off while I'm walking. 

And I made them both red on purpose. Because red. Enjoy.

When I've got the money to spend a bit more on one really good pair of versatile shoes, Zappos is my go-to, because they make it so easy. If the shoes don't fit right, or I don't like them for any reason, I can go to My Account on, opt to return the shoes, print out a postage-paid return shipping label, re-package the shoes (in the same boxes), tape on the label, and take it to the nearest UPS store to send it off.

And here's another pair that breaks the easy-on-and-off rule. Darn it. The second pair probably slip on better, but the zippers are there to help if not. 

As you can see, I'm favoring rule #5 over rule #3 (which is more of a suggestion, really). If I have to choose between shoes that will stay on my feet when I'm walking and shoes that I can easily step out of, I'll go with the first thing.

DSW has free shipping and free returns for purchases over $35 (which, let's face it, is pretty easy to spend on shoes).

Famous Footwear is one of the first places I'll look when I need a new pair of a specific type of shoe, because we have a Famous Footwear branch near home, so if the shoes don't work, I can easily return them to the store and even exchange them for something else while I'm there. 

They have free shipping on orders of $75 or more, and free returns to the store. But if you don't have a branch conveniently close to home, and you need to return it by mail, you'll need to print out a return form to enclose with your shoes and create your own return label with the return address provided on the website. 

They have sales throughout the year, and if you're on their email list, you can catch opportunities to get free shipping on orders of less than $75. But if you've got a branch close to home, you can also arrange for free pick-up of your order.


I know some people cringe at the idea of shoe-shopping at Payless, but I've found so many great shoes for myself and the kids at this store, and since they carry wide-width shoes and more half sizes than I've found when shoe-shopping for kids at Kohl's or Target, they've been a life-saver more than once. 

They offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more and free returns to their store, but if you don't have a branch close to home (and ours closed up shop less than a year ago, which was a bummer), returns by mail are much like they are with 6pm and Famous Footwear.

The customer receipt has instructions for returning your shoes by mail, and Payless doesn't reimburse you for shipping charges unless they ship you the wrong item or a damaged one. 

I really miss the store. 

And a couple more:

Ebay is my go-to place for finding clothes for my kids, my favorite jeans, and affordable tech helpers (like Bluetooth earbuds). I've also bought a few pairs of shoes over the years and even sold a few. 

Whether you're looking for new shoes or you're open to pre-owned pairs that are barely worn and still look new, this is a great place to shop for them. 

As for shipping and returns, the cost depends on the seller. Some don't accept returns at all, some will accept them within a clearly-defined window (like 14 days), and some will accept returns with no time limit. I've yet to find a seller that would pay for return shipping, unless the shoes arrived damaged or they sent me the wrong thing. 

Just recently, I bought a pair of jeans for one of my kids, and the seller sent me two packages -- one with the jeans and another with a top that was probably meant for someone else. I contacted the seller, who told me to go ahead and keep it or give it to someone else, since it wasn't worth the the cost of shipping to return it (presumably because the seller had another he could send to the customer who'd ordered it). As it happened, it fit the same kid for whom I'd ordered the jeans, so now he has a complete outfit. 

Back to shoes, both pairs below are pre-owned, but the first seller accepts returns within 30 days, while the second seller doesn't accept returns at all -- which, honestly, doesn't make sense and irritates me just a bit. 

Even if a shoe is technically the right size, it's not guaranteed to fit or fit comfortably, so this seller's return policy makes it far less likely that I'll become a paying customer. I always need to try on shoes, and if I don't have the option of returning them if they don't fit or their soles are too slippery or the style looks ridiculous on my size 9W feet, I won't bother with them.

While I've yet to order shoes from Amazon -- precisely because I don't know how easy it is or isn't to return shoes to them -- I've run across plenty that have tempted me. 

I usually end up buying them somewhere else, though, or choosing something different from a store that makes returns easier (and free, if possible).

I know I'm going crazy with the straps (recklessly flouting my rule #3), but with pumps, I've found I usually need a strap to keep them both on, since one foot is slightly larger than the other, and I'm too cheap to pay for two different sizes.

The exception are shoes that hug more of the foot but that still allow me to slip them on and off fairly easily -- which is why I gravitate toward ankle boots (hence the second image, which is sweet torture and may persuade me to give shoe-shopping at Amazon a try). 

One More Thing

I just found the same boots (in the image above) at for $33 -- using a promo code, "Flash17," to save an extra 25%. This promo code expires tomorrow (Saturday, November 18th), but there will no doubt be others. This is too good a deal not to share, though, so I'm adding it to this post. 

And now I'm wondering why I didn't make one of my top five.

After doing a Swagbucks search on "Fergalicious Whisper Boots," I found it on several other sites, including Famous Footwear (for $20 more than the Amazon price) and (where it was sold out). offered the best deal.

A few words on

  • Free shipping with no minimum purchase.
  • Free returns (with a pre-paid return shipping label)
  • Refund of full purchase price, minus a $6.95 re-stocking fee per item. 

And they do take PayPal, if that's your preferred method of payment. 

And, squeaking in at the last minute, we have, which also provides free shipping with no minimum purchase. Returns are made easier with an available return shipping label, but $6.95 will be deducted from your refund to cover shipping fees.

And they also have the same pair of boots, along with many others, but even with their current promo code (saving the buyer 25%), the price comes to $52.46, with $69.95 being their regular price for these boots. So, still has the best price.

This was fun!

I hope you enjoyed at least skimming over this post, and if you've found something that helps you in your search for comfortable, stylish, and affordable work-at-home shoes, my work here is done. 

And I'd love to read something from you, too, so feel free to leave a comment, send me a message, or give me a nudge on Facebook or Twitter. 

5 places to buy stylish, smart, and budget-friendly work-at-home shoes for the serious professional (with great taste).

By Sarah Lentz

Writing and designing book covers are two of Sarah Lentz's favorite things. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their four kids, and two messy but adorable guinea pigs.

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