In "A Woman's Right to Shoes" (ABC Radio By Design, 29 September 2010) Christine Cremen discussed the trade-offs between comfort and fashion with footwear. The problem is not so severe for men, but as someone with flat feet, I have difficulty finding comfortable shoes which look acceptable. Particularly when travelling, I need shoes which can be used for walking but also going to a formal dinner. Christine Cremen talked of "car to bar" shoes, I need ferry to conference ones and think I have found them in the Ascent Apex.
The Ascent brand of shoes are sold by the Athletes Foot stores. These combine running shoe technology for comfort in more formal looking shoes for school children and adults.
Attending a large conference can be a painful experience. It can involve standing up most of the day chatting with delegates and walking between the exhibition hall and the conference area. Even if you can dress down during the day there is then the conference dinner to attend. The Ascent has the sole of a comfort walking shoe, with enough support for someone with flat feet and a plain black upper which is good enough to wear with a suit. This saves having to take two pairs of shoes to a conference. A bonus is that the reinforcing in the sole is made of plastic, rather than steel, making them able to go though airport metal detector.
My search for travel shoes has been a long one. On a trip to Greece my shoes fell apart and I ended up with a pair of Scholl Professionals from the local apothecary (chemist). These are black leather walking shoes have worked very well, but are not formal enough for wearing to dinner with a suit. The Ascent Geelong I purchased are similar to the Schools, looking a bit like a soccer boot, with long lace up section and top stitched from several pieces of leather. These are very comfortable and provide good support for flat feet, but are not "dressy" enough for formal occasions. The Ascent Apex has the same sole as the Geelong, but with a plainer upper. I worried it may not be as comfortable, not being as moulded to the foot and with less lacing, but they worked well for a week at WCC2010.
But these shoes are still not perfect, they have very little tread and so would not be good for climbing over slippery rocks, for example on a bush-walk or on wet marble at the acropolis. There is the Ascent Delta Safety Shoe which does have a tread, but they might look a little odd with a suit. The safety shoe has an oversize sole which looks like the dress shoe has been glued to a boot sole. But at least these soles are made entirely from plastic (with a fibreglass safety toe cap) so they are lighter than a typical boot and can be worn through an airport meta detector.