I wear Sanuk Boardrooms at work. They aren't as minimalist as VFFs, of course, but they are near-zero drop and comfy as hell. Plus, they look like dress shoes which is important. I highly recommend them.
I would speak to your HR person or manager - show them the shoes and see what they think. I took a look at the new line up and some of them look as though they may be more 'passable' in a work environment.
Try the Vivo barefoot line of shoes. Great construction and they give the same benefits as
VFF's while maintaining a more conventional look. I am a barefooter and they are my go-to shoe when I need to wear shoes,
I wear either the KSO or the Treks to work everyday and have so for over a year. The safety commission had an issue with them in the science labs but I pointed out that they are safer then most of the shoes the women wear.
I wore KSO's at work for a while, but I work in a Creative depeartment so I got a pass. Then I tried RunAmocs, but could not find a size that fit me well enough. They looked like clown shoes with the big flat toe box.
I currently wear THESE around the office. They let me walk as barefoot as possible, but they look "normal" and are comfortable as heck, plus only 35 bucks. In fact, I plan on experimenting by glueing Vibram sole material onto the bottoms of a new pair so I can wear them outside. I have everything I need on order.
One of these days when I have nothing to do I want to design and make my own minimalist shoes.
I did some Googling and came across several forums where the general recommendation was to go with minimalist driver style shoes.
I also found a review for Flexible Footwear Shoes. They're a bit pricey ($400), but custom fitted/custom made, and have neutral heels. They also actually look like dress shoes. There was some concern expressed about how well padded the soles were, but the description sounded a lot like my Crocs- and I can tell you that after a few weeks that thick feeling is gone as the sole shapes to your foot. Crocs start out at about an inch thick, and become closer to a quarter inch thick after you've worn them long enough. This shoe sounds thinner to start with.
There were also numerous suggestions to take your existing business shoes to a cobbler and have the heels removed and the soles replaced with something more flexible. If you can find a cobbler in your area, that might be your best option. At least until they come out with formal VFFs. :-)
I bought and wear the Merrell Barefoot Tough Gloves at work and purchased them for this sole reason. They look like a pair of Diesels with the added benefit of a Vibrams sole. Since I've completely converted to a standing desk, I also purchased an Air Step Anti-Fatigue mat to ease the burden on my feet from standing on that hard work floor all day. Good luck with your decision!
I wear a set of the brown leather KSO Treks to work Monday through Thursday. We're a "business casual with jeans" kind of office, so we're less formal than a lot of places and it's not a problem for me.
I consider the leather Treks to be my business casual Vibrams. I have a set of regular KSOs that I use for playing outside and getting dirty.
I work in a doctors office, now a part of a large hospital, and rotate between black KSOs, black Treks, and pink classics with my scrubs. No one has ever said anything to me. In fact they all think they're pretty cool, if a bit "strange."
My only fear is that when we switch to uniform scrubs in July that they will enact one of those silly "all white shoes only" rules. I will be distraught. I may try to make my Sanuk's I have try to qualify in that event.
I wore brown KSO Treks to the office most of last summer. We're a tech company, with a biz cas dress code, and since I'm in Legal, if HR had an issue with it they would have been coming to me anyhow ;).
Some of the sales guys thought they were pretty funny-looking, which is true, of course, but I got no actual flak for doing it. Since it's winter out now, I've reverted to normal shoes, but as soon as the snow melts I'll be back into the Treks.
I've been wearing Merona Rollin driving mocs from Target for several months. They're $35, and if you rip out the insole and heel insert, almost totally flat. The sole is extremely flexible, and my feet have plenty of room to spread. The only problem for me is that they only come in black.
I really dislike the Merrell tough gloves. They are extremely narrow. I can wear the Merrel Bare Access because they're mesh and my toes can spill out. I don't like the Vivo's at all. The soles have no heel but they're like a hunk of tire and are not even close to the flexible feel of the vibrams. This is crazy. There has to be someone who makes a simple, business casual shoe with a vibram sole.
I hope these are the shoes you're been searching for. We set out to create a shoe that looks indistinguishable from the most conservative Oxford. A shoe you could wear through a job interview and into a black tie affair, without compromising barefoot comfort. And in that end, I believe we've succeeded =) I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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