As a New York City college student, comfort is key when it comes to shoes. Unless you’re taking an Uber or the subway, living in the city means walking an hour (at least) every day, so shoe choice is important.
Thus, the perfect NYC shoe must be comfortable, stylish, and durable. In other words, those designer pumps you just bought might be gorgeous, but they definitely won’t do your feet any favors. Don’t worry: That doesn’t mean all of your favorite shoes are off the table—through trial and error, I’ve found that there doesn’t always need to be a tradeoff between style and comfort.
As a college student, most of my days consist of going to class and grabbing lunch with friends! I love white sneakers or loafers for everyday wear since these are closed-toed and versatile. When I want to dress up, I opt for low-heeled strappy sandals during the day and leather ankle boots at night. Of course, on the few days per year that Manhattan sees snow, low-key snow boots are a must.
Sometimes finding comfortable shoes for NYC that meet all three of my rules can be difficult—especially when on a student budget—so I’ve narrowed it down for you. Keep scrolling to shop the only six kinds of shoes I keep in my NYC closet, from high-end splurges to affordable, student-friendly kicks.
Basic, I know, but this fashion staple is still a favorite of mine. While it might sound counter-intuitive to wear white sneakers in one of the world’s dirtiest cities, this timeless look is one I can’t pass up! To me, a good sneaker is everything when it comes to maintaining style and comfort. Casual enough for class and stylish enough for brunch in SoHo, white sneakers are a must on my NYC shoe list. Pair them with a sundress during the summer, and with your favorite jeans during fall and winter.
Perfect for any season, loafers are both comfortable and stylish! Like I said before, flat shoes are your best friend—especially ones that are closed-toed and closed-ankle. I mean, is there anything worse than getting a piece of gravel (or who knows what else) in your shoe after every step? Loafers are also super easy to dress up or down. I love pairing them with a denim skirt when it’s warm and with frayed-hem jeans during the colder months. Loafers are sophisticated enough to wear to work or your Uptown dinner plans while remaining relaxed enough for class.
According to our editors, chunky dad sneakers are out, and sleek athletic sneakers are in. Given that NYC is a walking city, it’s a no-brainer that athletic sneakers are one of the best types of shoes to protect your feet while still maintaining style. Luckily, we live in a time when athleisure prevails, so no one needs to know that those pristine Adidas Boosts have never actually set food in a gym. When wearing athletic sneakers, I embrace the sporty look and pair them with black leggings and a casual tee. This look is one of my favorites to wear to class purely because of its comfort, but it’s also elevated enough for a coffee or lunch date.
It goes without saying that high heels are not your friend when it comes to walking around New York City. Serena and Blair might have made it look easy, but trust me, you’ll end up with blisters and sore soles before you’ve even made it down your building’s stairwell. That being said, I opt for low-heeled strappy sandals as a high heel alternative. Formal enough for date night and casual enough for everyday wear, these shoes are just the right amount of stylish without compromising comfort.
Flat or low-heeled, this timeless staple is perfect for fall and winter in NYC. Durable and fashionable, I far prefer leather or patent leather over suede when it comes to boots. Trust me, an NYC winter day can go from lovely to a snowy tundra real quick, so you’ll want to be prepared for the worst. Plus, the nightlife is one of NYC’s best assets, so you’ll want to wear boots that can withstand a night of dancing (aka being stepped on every five seconds). For a night out, low-heeled leather ankle boots are my go-to. Pair them with high-waisted jeans and a fun blouse and you’re good to go.
Snow boots are a must-have in NYC (duh). But in an effort to remain stylish even in the worst of weather conditions, I prefer low-key snow boots to big, clunky cold-weather boots that scream "I’ve had these since I was 12." I opt for sleek ankle-high lace-ups that could pass as regular boots, preferably in black since snow boots are bound to get dirty. Luckily tons of brands are making more fashionable snow boots, so they’re not hard to find! Despite their sleeker look, low-key snow boots will still keep the warmth in and the snow out—trust me.