These Stylish Shoes Are Comfortable, Durable, & Designed For Women In STEM & The Trades


Showcasing both how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go, until relatively recently safety boots for women in STEM were simply scaled-down versions of shoes built for men. The only options were ill-fitting — since they hadn’t been designed with the end user in mind — and had a bulky, unprofessional look. (Although I privately wondered if a man would have to worry about his safety boots looking “professional enough.”) Xena Workwear founder Ana Kraft was understandably less than impressed by this lackluster selection when she was working as a project engineer, which led her to prototype a steel-toed boot that not only looked stylish and fit a woman’s foot but also adhered to the rigorous industrial standards she faced. Today, the brand seeks to empower women in traditionally male-dominated industries by offering stringently-rated safety boots in chic styles that you can actually look forward to wearing.

All of Xena Workwear’s boots are OSHA-compliant and ASTM certified with protective steel toes, rugged outsoles that are oil- and chemical-resistant, and slip-proof traction on both wet and dry surfaces. (It’s worth noting that their shoes aren’t rated for oily surfaces, however.) Some pairs have low-conductivity zippers, others offer full-fledged electrical hazard (EH) certification, while still others include metatarsal protection. If you’re interested in exact specifications, they break it down for you on every product page and even provide a printed card with purchase that details the ratings if you need to convince skeptics.

Just as much attention is paid to looks and wearability. The designs are sleek, modern, and go with just about anything. Leathers come from Leather Working Group (LWG) certified tanneries, which virtually guarantees fantastic quality with an emphasis on sustainability, and there’s an option for waterproof vegan leather as well. Inside you’ll find breathable mesh so feet stay sweat-free on even the longest days, with cushioned insoles for comfort that pulls overtime — plus antimicrobial technology to keep your hardest-working boots at their best no matter how many shifts in a row you wear them.

Shop Comfortable, Stylish Work Boots

From Chelsea boots to equestrian styles and biker-inspired designs, there are plenty of chic options worth adding to your rotation. Keep reading to discover the brand’s top sellers, all backed by shoppers’ reviews attesting to their industrial-strength protection.

1. The Cult-Favorite Chelsea Boot

The end-all, be-all Omega channels a Chelsea boot with a sturdier undercarriage. In addition to the OSHA compliance and ASTM certifications mentioned above, these steel-toed boots are EH rated with a low-conductivity zipper. Combined with a heel tab and an elastic ankle gore they’ll be a cinch to slip on in a rush, and ease right off at the end of the day. With sleek lines in full grain leather, they dress up easily for meetings or that dinner you have planned after work.

A helpful review: “For my job, I often have to walk manufacturing or plant floors and then go into executive meetings and offices. These are perfect for transitioning and being functional in both areas. I love them so much that I even want to wear them outside of work.”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Available sizes: 5 — 12 (including select wide sizes)

2. This Waterproof Boot With A Metal-Free Upper

They might be recommended for light duty, but the Inertia boots are safety-spec heavyweights. Both OSHA and ASTM friendly, these steel-toed boots forgo metal eyelets and even comply with the automotive industry standards for non-metallic uppers. The taller ankle shaft and triple-braided laces ensure good ankle support with an adjustable fit, and the (sustainable!) waterproof leather promises to withstand almost any terrain while feeling flexible throughout.

A helpful review: “These boots are amazing! The quality is high and they are super comfy! They look like regular boots, you wouldn’t know they are safety shoes by looking at them. I’ve bought two of the xena footwear styles and am about to buy more. The sizing says go up by half a size but if you wear thicker socks I would recommend going up a whole size.”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Available sizes: 5 — 12 (including select wide sizes)

3. A Vegan-Friendly Boot That Dissipates Static

The aptly-named Valence boots deserve a mention not only for reducing static electricity buildup with an SD 35 rating but also for offering a vegan leather option. (If you’re buying leather, though, it’s full-grain.) The boots feature metal-free uppers in line with auto industry requirements, as well as OSHA and ASTM, while the elastic ankle gores give them an iconic Chelsea look that’s easy to style for a range of occasions.

A helpful review: “I LOVE these boots. I need to be in SD safety toes to walk on the factory floor, and I have a lot of safety shoes, but these Chelsea boots are almost the only pair I wear now. I sized a half size up and they’re perfect. I’ve even gotten complimented on them, when they didn’t know they were safety shoes. Slip on- great. Stylish- great. As soon as I saw the email these were released I couldn’t buy them fast enough and I’m so happy I did!”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Available sizes: 5 — 12 (including select wide sizes)

4. This Fierce Moto Boot For Metatarsal Protection

Buckle up: The Fusion is a full-throttle boot in accordance with OSHA and ASTM standards that looks designer. The textural combination of leather and suede is wrapped up with a supple leather ankle buckle, with a hidden ankle zipper for convenience. Underneath its luxe exterior is a steel toe with a flexible interior metatarsal guard — Mt75, to be exact — plus the rest of the classic safety requirements like oil- and chemical-resistance plus dual-density outsoles.

A helpful review: “I was super nervous spending this much as the most I’ve spent on shoes was $90 on custom vans. These are stunning, I’m obsessed with how they look! Super stylish and if I saw them in a store I’d buy them. But enough on the looks let’s get to how they feel! They’re so comfortable and light! They feel like a normal comfy boot and not like a heavy steel toe work boot that I’m used to. I cannot wait to wear them!”

  • Available colors: 1
  • Available sizes: 5 — 12 (including select wide sizes)

5. These Limited-Edition Riding Boots

Equestrian style gets an industrial makeover with the Nova riding boot. The knee-high boot provides extra coverage and warmth while an elastic gore in the shaft alongside a low-conductivity zipper ensure the perfect fit that’s easy to slip off at the end of the day. It’s EH rated to withstand up to 18,000 volts in addition to the rest of the OSHA and ASTM specs. You’d spend almost as much on a leather fashion boot in department stores, but this pair is built to be industrial-strength and looks just as nice. It’s a limited release, so jump on your size if it’s available.

A helpful review: “Incredible boots that are worth every penny. I’ve been wearing knee high steel toes to work for the last few years and no other brand compares. […] These boots are seriously up to safety standards while simultaneously being comfortable and gorgeous. I’ve waited several weeks to review these boots because I wanted to break them in before giving proper feedback. I work in a wood shop; These bad boys have taken a beating and they stand the test. ”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Available sizes: 5 — 12 (including select narrow and wide sizes)

Also Nice: This Genius Blazer With Hidden Storage

After boots, this should be the next big innovation in your work wardrobe: The Everywhere blazer, a sharp-looking jacket with secret utility storage that’s comfortable and easy to care for. The single-button blazer’s longer silhouette features two welt pockets on the front, one of which contains an integrated badge loop so your most-needed identification is always handy. Inside are two more roomy pockets for double the cargo space: a zippered security pocket with a jewelry clasp to protect your valuables, and on the other side a drop-in pocket that’s easy to access. The sleeves are designed to roll up and stay put when needed, plus the knit fabric is machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant to boot.

A helpful review: “I absolutely LOVE my Xena Utility Blazers! I have them in every color and wear them all the time – They look great with jeans and dress pants. The fabric and design are like no other blazer I’ve ever worn – it has stretch and is as comfortable as a sweatshirt, has pockets inside and out for tools, PPE, badges, etc. and it fits like it was tailored specifically for me!”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Available sizes: XS — 2X

Discounts For Military, First Responders, & Students

Paying it forward, there’s a generous discount policy for everyday heroes in the military (active duty, veteran, or dependent), first responders including police, fire, and EMT, and students who are tomorrow’s change-makers. Get $20 off your purchases with an approved ID — because your shoes should be the last thing you have to think about. Valid in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Get your discount code here.

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