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.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

chin January 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

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True, so true. You always keep me laughing, Jessie.

Wild Plum Cottage January 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

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I live in Northern California – all these looks are popular here. We’re pretty crunchy around these parts. The only way to wear Danskos is with jeans, absolutely.

Laura January 26, 2011 at 8:42 am

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Love it! In my book, they are also acceptable with hospital scrubs. My first pair of danskos was bright nursing school white.

The Dating Optimist January 26, 2011 at 9:09 am

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HA HA HA HAAAA, brilliant! I love the birth control style best. For laughs I mean. So so funny, Jessie. —Amy

Jessie K January 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

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Thanks, Amy! Now I want to hear about your Q&A with Adam Sandberg for Glamour. LUCKY!

Kathryn January 26, 2011 at 10:04 am

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Another PSA- NEVER wear them if it’s icy, they’re like ice skates, Norwegian style.

Danielle January 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm

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Ha! It drove me crazy, CRAZY that everyone in Boston wore these. I regarded them as just another declaration of their we’re-so-smart-we-don’t-care-how-we-look puritan ethos. The New England version of the Brooklyn mommy thing. Blach. Why would anyone go out to dinner dressed like a hummel. Now don’t even get me started on the dress fleece in Boston.

Meaghan January 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

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Having grown up as a horse person, Danskos have been a part of my life for a long time. However, I have noticed that I have a curious tendency to fall off of them. I thought it was just me – I tend to be a bit clumsy. But I started asking around and many, many other people I know also tend to fall off of their Danskos. I finally decided that I valued my ankles much more than I loved the look of my Danskos (only with jeans, of course). And I have since discarded my much-loved, and tell worn Danskos. I am quite envious of people who have the agility to wear them without injuring themselves!

Jessie K January 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

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Meaghan! I topple over mine as well! I guess they’re fine for city sidewalks but treacherous for lawns and fields.

Sarah May 15, 2014 at 6:35 pm

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I love my Danskos, although I don’t wear them anymore and have nightmares about them. I have fallen off them and broken a bone in top of my foot, not once, but three times. The last time I threw them in the back of the closet and haven’t unearthed them since.

Meredith January 27, 2011 at 6:37 am

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I have the same problem with crocs. They are everywhere and I hate them. In the top three of the dumbest looking shoes ever. What’s worse is people who wear crocs with socks. Seriously!!??!?

Bladerunner January 27, 2011 at 7:31 am

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Your whole post certainly rings true here in Portland, OR. Feh. I have a pair of Danskos, but only because I got them from a friend because she was giving them away and I was interested in having something for walking around in the muddy garden. I think they’re ugly, horribly clunky and awkward for walking in. Though they’re convenient for dashing out into the garden or to take the garbage out. Plus I rather like the idea of wearing $125+ shoes out in the mud.

Katie January 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

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All I can say is, “Amen, sister!”

Eric January 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

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One of the joys of working in a public school is that I get to see each and every one of these Professional “style” variations every day. Sometimes on men.

Jessie K January 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

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Is this your way of admitting that you wear them too? ;-)

Eric January 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

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No, but I will certainly admit to having considered it. Alas, I think with my little size 8.5 feet, they would just look like hooves.

paula January 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

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you’re insane.

carter @ the kitchenette January 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm

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This made me gigglesnort, a lot.

Also, can you please call my mother and tell her that tapered jeans do not enhance the look of The Professional? I haven’t the heart to tell her.

Jessie K January 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

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I agree completely! But the tapered pants thing is not something you can always explain to someone. They either get what works…..or they don’t.

Janelle April 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm

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Oh my gosh. I’m at work reading this and I couldn’t stop laughing. (I just bought my first pair less than a year ago) My colleagues here actually told me to quiet down! You are SOOO funny!

Paula S. April 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

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Meredith, please let me explain it to you. (I used to think Crocs were stupid looking, too.) Then I worked four evenings a week in a convenience store, often not having time to sit down once from the time I walked in until I locked up and got in my car seven hours later. I noticed the day shift woman I relieved wearing them. I finally bought a couple of pairs and it was like walking on air. Better than Easy Spirit, Sketchers, or LL Bean, which are all fine for an ordinary walk or heavy duty shopping. But these ratty looking Crocs relieved my misery at work. As for the socks, I had to add socks to keep my feet from freezing while tending to the outside duties when it was bitterly cold.
I have smallish feet–size 6–so they look just as bad on me as they do on big feet. I have to wear the smallest size and that, combined with their shape, makes it look like I’m wearing a child’s shoes.
Now that I don’t work at the store, my collection of ten pairs is in a box in the closet and worn very rarely, only when I need to. But the next time you question someone’s unfashionable shoe choice, bear in mind they may have good reason.

Theresa January 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm

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This is hilarious. Such a sexless shoe. And for some sick reason, I want a pair.

GW March 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

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Thanks for the blog–and great photos! I just bought some Danskos and am trying to figure out how to wear them! Fun post.

laurie October 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

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I love to wear them too, so comfortable, but they are going to have to go!! I fell off my shoes two times in one week. once walking across the lawn and once leaving church carrying my grandson!! Luckily he was not hurt, with a twist of my body he did not even hit the cement! But I did! I can not afford to break an arm or a hip! The shoes will have to go! As to the crocs—you need to look into them further. I have 5 pairs of “cleo” crocs and wear them all the time…. Everyone I asks me where I got them. Probably why I “fall off my Danskos”

beanses November 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm

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i am a transplat from the bay area – the combination of being practical, smart, even chic all collide in these shoe with some sporting them for their political/fashion look and some rocking them cause they are great shoes for getting through a work day that requires lots of running around and no sitting down. having picked up a second and third retail job to supplement my admin work (where i would never wear these myself) after getting off work late at night with aching feet, back and legs – i am willing to forgo some of the concern superficial hang up if it means that at the end of a 12 hour day that i can still be nice and not need to act like a cussword. i’ve tried flats, very chic boots with inserts but gotta tell you. it’s that time.

beanses November 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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*transplant

daisy December 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm

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I too am a transplant from the Bay Area who is doing admin work. I depended on my pair of Danskos (made originally by Sanita; then they parted ways; so this year I bought a pear of Sanita clogs… had to return the Dansko ones)…

I wear them as shown in one of the photos above: with black tights (but not with a flimsy dress). I also wear them with jeans.

I am not going for fashion awards but the shoes are so comfy for my long days, that I will survive any looks I receive for wearing clogs. :)

Michele January 28, 2013 at 10:55 pm

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I was breaking in a new pair of Danskos when I fell off one step and broke my shoulder in 5 places. I am facing 2 months off work and a six month recovery at best. These shoes should come with a surgeon’s general warning!

Jessie K January 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

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Yikes. Maybe they should come also with a complimentary pair of crutches. Get well!

D May 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

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Own several pairs of Dansko shoes – absolutely love them. The shoes have kept me from having foot surgery! No more pain – they are the only thing I wear now. Come in cute colors and styles. As you age ladies you will realize that comfort is more important…

Kimberly Roush August 1, 2013 at 6:12 pm

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I am laughing also. But, just like D, I have to wear them.
They are the only shoe that supports my arch. Thus I protect my tendons
and can thus continue all of my exercise – like hiking daily.
Yes it is tough to not look perfect. But then I have grown up with someone that places all of her value on her looks. Superficial is the word
I use for that. I have twisted an ankle 1-2 times over the years. However, I have learned to avoid that type of accident in these shoes. It certainly helps to wear enough socks so they fit snugly. Finding the right socks
for that is tough. I even jog a bit in them when I have to.
I can make it from one side of an airport to the other
faster in my Danskos than any of you women can in your oh so perfect
appearing shoes – those heels that make a woman vulnerable!
And believe me I wore my share of them when I was young.
If looks are your primary concern in life, perhaps rethink your values. I actually get lots of compliments on my clogs.
And since I hate shopping – I never have to shop. I just reorder.
Oh and forget trying to wear a dress with them !!!
Who needs dresses anyway? Dresses equal injured feet due
to having to wear silly shoes.

Reva August 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

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Hi All,

Originally, Dansko shoes were actually Sanita shoes(clogs) from Denmark. If you would like better selection and quality, check out Sanita clogs. Sanita has been making clogs since 1907 in Denmark. Dansko had a contract/agreement with Sanita until 2007. I also just discovered Sanita and I am so happy that I have so much more selection like wood/ boots.

Moondancer November 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm

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I happened upon this blog while searching online for Dansko shoes on sale. I want to ask that you not slam these shoes so badly. I am not a yoga mom, soccer mom, horse person, nurse, or teacher. I’m a data analyst in a professional environment. Before my career, I danced ballet for 15 years so wearing 3-inch heels didn’t seem like it should be a big deal, after all, my feet were “conditioned”. Except that I’ve fractured at least three toes, have the beginnings of bunions, had bursitis in both hips and knees, and live with a pinched cervical nerve that when irritated renders my right shoulder virtually useless – all due to the shoes that I was wearing. I started wearing Dansko – a black pair of clogs with a floral tooling design that has certainly changed my world. I don’t come home with feet swollen half again their normal size and everything else I’ve been dealing with is better already or getting there. Don’t get me wrong, I love and miss my “dressy” heels, but I also want to be able to walk when I’m 50. Dansko has some pretty neat styles other than the Professional clogs that are every bit as comfy and supportable.

Jessie K December 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm

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Just having a bit of fun.

daisy December 23, 2013 at 12:33 pm

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I am a fan of the clogs (Sanita moreso than Dansko) and I enjoyed your post! I laughed while reading it! Thanks for writing about them! I didn’t know how they were perceived across the country! (I did hear about them from my sister in law who fits your description: “After I finish baking this batch of kale chips, lets meet Windsong and Cobalt at the Lilith Fair!”

:)

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