When Melanie Griffith commuted from her Staten Island home to an Uptown job wearing a business suit and athletic shoes in the film "Working Girl," busy women understood.

Fashionable footwear, especially high heels, is often uncomfortable and sometimes painful, so it can take shoes meant for running to get one through some days.Now some athletic shoe manufacturers have gotten the message. They've expanded their lines to include footwear that combines updated, dressy styling with comfort.

The Rockport company, known for its sturdy walking shoes, offers low-heeled fashion looks for spring and higher-heeled pumps for fall. Nike's i.e. line includes short boots and lace-ups in polished leather and suede, jazzy canvas slip-ons and sandals. Easy Spirit, a walking shoe manufacturer, says its new dress shoe looks like a pump but feels like a sneaker.

"It's an opportunity to get at a new customer, someone more classically style-oriented," said Addie Swartz, Rockport's women's product manager.

Rockport's sandals and penny loafers with one-inch heels come in red, white, black and pink. Pumps are available in eight colors and black patent. "Dressports" for men include a wing-tipped shoe that's Wall Street ready.

Fashion colors and contemporary styles are selling points, but so are high-density foam and shock-absorbency.

The sleek flats are favored by flight attendants, nurses and women who wear pants, Ms. Swartz said. For the loafer set, the tasseled styles may look like any other, but they are alleged to be cushy soft.

At Nike, the shoes are trendy and splashed with bright colors meant to dazzle a young customer. "Women are looking for an alternative to the white aerobic shoe," said Karen Sparks, public relations officer for Nike.

Women originally gave up fashionable flats for the comfort of the basic athletic shoe but then decided they wanted something stylish, she added.

Last fall the company fielded casual sandals and flats in fabrics and leather that can go from the beach to the office. Picture a golf-inspired two-toned La Quinta flat in white with black, blue or champagne.