Putting one foot in front of the other or Shoes!


I was at the shoe store last night and over heard a conversation between two women regarding some of the shoes which are currently fashionable. Specifically, platform heels. These women were mother and daughter, the daughter was probably mid 40’s. They both looked to be middle class and as the store was in Marina del Rey, Ca, chances were that they are educated and could well be anywhere between conservative to liberal.

The comment regarding the platforms was that they were “Sunset Strip.” The implication was strippers and ladies of the evening. Giggle, giggle. Really?

Now, I fully admit that I am a dedicated shoe fanatic. I love them, but I also know that there are shoes which are more appropriate than others in different situations.

(Just a little personal history, I wore platform shoes from middle school through most of High School. After that, pumps with stiletto heels were the norm. Today I have everything from flats to moderate platforms. Haven’t bought any of the sky high ones. Yet.)

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that one of the things which I talk about is dressing for success. And one of the areas where many women fall down is, indeed, their choice of shoes. Let’s face it, shoes are fun! They add colour, texture and can really finish an outfit and make a statement.. The challenge is that you need to be aware of what the statement is and is it the one you want to be making.

I admit, I tend to lean towards the conservative in my style of dress for work. Well, barring the saris. But that is a different blog. I also advocate having a little fun. Basic black / blue / grey can get boring fast. There is a very fine line, though, between classy fun and frivolous or just down right tacky.

So let’s talk shoes. There are a few rules which I go by and which other people who are image consultants and stylists also agree with. Overall. We have seen in the past how that goes!

Flip flops and thong sandals. These are great and incredibly comfortable. But , unless you work in a spa or at a pool, they should be left at home and worn in very casual setting. Sorry, ladies, even the ones embellished with rhinestones are really meant to be worn for fun jaunts on the weekends, not in a professional setting.

Trainers. Also known as sneakers, tennis shoes, and a plethora of other things. These are great and comfortable and on a casual Friday, fantastic. As long as they are clean and in good shape. If you work for a company which is casual every day, then they work as well, although I would probably have more than simply white sneakers. A wardrobe of several different colours and styles will extend the life of your shoes and help you to look more professional overall. You can also choose to wear other shoes such as cowboy boots and various flats. In a professional setting, trainers should be relegated to casual days and to wear to and from the parking garage or Metro stop.

Strappy open toed heels. I am going to go out on a limb here. During the summer, on a Friday, these work. Because during the summer, for many companies, standard of dress are lower and women are allowed to wear things such as sun dresses to the office. But be sure that you understand when summer ends and regular dress code (or expectations) go back into effect.

The reason I say that I am going out on a limb with strappy sandals is that, in general, open toed shoes are considered no no’s when it comes to professional dress. And if you wear any open toed shoes, please make sure you have a decent pedicure. This doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but nails and cuticles trimmed, filed and buffed is a good idea.

Now we get into the classics. Pumps, sling backs and peep toes. Non-platforms. All of which fall into the category of go to shoes if you are working in a professional environment. There are only a few things I need to say about these and some of it is personal preference. Once again, depending on you place of work, usually these will be neutral in colour, and coordinate with your outfit. Subtle flourishes are great, but don’t allow them to overwhelm you and your overall look. The other thing I would stay away from is patent leather. Especially in red. I have nothing against red shoes. In fact, at one time I had 4 pair in my closet and they all got plenty of wear. But let’s face it, red patent leather just screams. And unless it is the right outfit, do you really want your shoes to be that loud? (The exception to this would be on a Friday with a retro style cherry print dress with a little jacket. Bu the look would need to be played to the hilt! Which can be fun, but you would need to have a lot of self confidence to pull it off!)

Now we get to platforms. Platforms come in everything from 1/8 of an inch to 2 – 4 inches. From Espadrilles to stilettos. For the professional, my suggestion is to stick closer to the ground. The reason being maneuverability and image. Heels by their nature tend to lend the feelings of vulnerability to a woman. Yes, heels add height and stature, but they can give the illusion of a need to lean on someone for stability. This perception can be especially true with Stilettos and very high platforms. Because even though the platform really means that the foot isn’t at the acute angle which it appears, the illusion is that the woman is walking on a very tiny area and can topple over at any given point in time. Is this the image which you are trying to cultivate.

Now, that having been said, I am a 3” heel girl. As said preciously, I do tend to veer towards that classics. Although it is not unheard of for them to have interesting detail such as a touch of lace or print. Even sculpted edges and an occasional rhinestone. Contrasting piping can make a huge difference in the look of a shoe. But for work, even if you are young, leaving the sky high platforms for evening activities is probably a good idea.

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