The Dansko Professional

by Jessie K on January 26, 2011

Today we’re going to have a serious discussion about these shoes.

They’re called Dansko “Professionals.” They retail for $105 on Zappos.com and they are everywhere.

I first became aware of their existence more than five years ago when I moved to the rural south and noticed all the Horse People and Progressive Yoga Moms around me wore them, and my first thought was, “??”

Why would anyone put something this hideous on their feet?

And then I bought a pair. Because when I started asking around, everyone said the same thing: “Oh, they’re so comfortable.” (Hence the price tag.) “I can throw them on and go to yoga/weed the garden/chase my three year old/haul mulch/clean the barn.”

In essence, they are the perfect muck-about shoe. They easily slide on and off so you don’t have to bend down to put them on.  I’ve worn them in the garden, to the dump,  back to the chicken coop and out to dinner in them.  They made sense here. But then I went to New York and noticed a lot of Manhattan — no, not Manhattan women, Brooklyn women — Progressive Brooklyn Yoga Moms — wore them too, and that’s when I said, “The heck??” It was then I was forced to accept the Professional was more than just a style aberration, a fashion hiccup. They had reached a tipping point.

The problem with the Professional is that because they’re so comfortable and utilitarian, many otherwise stylish women make the mistake of thinking they can throw them on with any old thing.  This is untrue. I mean, you can — you can wear whatever you want — but you risk sending a very powerful message about the kind of stylish woman you are, and it may not be the message you intend.

Lets outline  the most egregious Dansko Professional looks, shall we?

Number one: The Professional with a dress.

I see this look often. It’s a look that says, “After I finish baking this batch of kale chips, lets meet Windsong and Cobalt at the Lilith Fair!”

Now I know why ladies sport this look: “Because it’s so comfortable!” The wind carresing your bare legs while the equivalent of an H1 Hummer with tinted windows protects your feet. It’s the best of both worlds! You feel light and feminine on top and heavy and supported on the bottom.  The problem is that the bulk of the Professional takes over, it weights the lower half of the body and makes the legs look chopped off at the ankle, which looks stumpy. It’s like asking Carrie Underwood to out maneuver Rosie O’Donnell — Carrie will lose every single time and Jesus can’t, in this case, take the wheel.

Number two: The Professional with leggings or tights.
Setting aside for a moment this looks like the lower half  of a Keebler Elf, this ensemble does get one thing right in that the tights match the color of the shoes.  This creates one long unbroken line of glamour; the legs look less chopped off at the ankle.  But it’s still like wearing Keebler booties. My feeling is that if comfort and utility are what is desired, a more flattering option is a boot, either something tough and edgy like this or sleek like this.  Both options hint at a woman who is interested in more than just mycology.

Number three: The Professionals with tights and a dress.

Just look at the picture.

Number four: The Professionals with tights/leggings and socks.This suggests serious vision impairment or a case of corns.

Number five: The Professionals with argyle.

And to think condoms are only 98 percent effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy.

Number six: The Professionals with jeans.

Truly, the most flattering look for the Professional.  Particularly when the jeans have a slight flare at the bottom, hugging the shoe, creating one long, unbroken line from the feet to the waist, drawing the eye up, not down, which lengthens the leg and gives the appearance of added height.

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