Shoes! . . . everywhere shoes! Leather shoes, slingback heels, Michael Kors ankle boots. Shoes in storefront windows – dangling displays of pumps, collections of eye candy, foot candy . . . more pairs of pretty shoes than Imelda Marcos could dream of . . . . staring back at you from the covers of magazines, prancing across your wide-screen TV, enticing you with the allure of a new look, a stylish way to stroll onto the summer pavement and across the blistering streets of Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. How could a woman resist!
Almost everyone can be tempted by the latest styles being offered by dozens of designers competing for your attention – and your shoe dollars. Thankfully – or maybe not so thankfully – into this vast array of choices, the cold hard light of reason sometimes slices like a laser and focuses on just what will really work to propel you to the forefront of the professional world.
Such a dazzling selection really needs to be tamed, and it may even be comforting to know that someone is out there asking questions, collecting information, and figuring out exactly which styles really do work for the contemporary banker, physician, and attorney.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOE STYLE
Over the years the traditional pump has emerged as the clear winner in this contest for the hearts and minds of professional women. We have consistently recommended it above every other style, and last August we were asked by one of our clients, an attorney from Nevada, whether a pointy-toe variety might be equally effective.
I had to admit that I didn’t know. What we did know was that a heel not too tall, and a color not too bright were more effective, but we then and there resolved to answer her question about the pointy toe. We began by sending the question out in a coast-to-coast survey, then we interviewed a dozen men and women executives, and finally we had information indicating that both too pointy and too boxy were less effective than a rounded toe (see illustration).
Not content with this result, we also asked our associates to wear the pointy-toe shoe to interviews, and only then did we have the final feedback that the rounded-toe shoes produced the better reaction.
There’s a vast selection of pumps with the requisite rounded toe available in outlets and malls across the country, but another consideration is certainly comfort, especially for a professional or executive who contemplates wearing the shoes to the office, to lunch, and all day long. “Shoes that hurt my feet drain me of energy faster than anything else,” says one investment banker. Another client, a criminal defender, explained that she wished that she could find shoes that both looked good and remained comfortable as she walked back and forth in court all day.
One of our favorite brands is Easy Spirit, and we recommended it to her. If you haven’t tried them yet, your feet are in for a pleasant surprise. “It’s really worth getting the right brand,” a physician admitted to us, delighted that she could finally feel comfortable while wearing effective shoes to work.
SHOES AFTER HOURS
No well-dressed woman wants to wear the same shoes on the weekend that she wears to the office during the week; not only is that too stressful for the feet, it’s also counterproductive, especially if you happen to be meeting clients on the golf course or at a restaurant or coffeehouse. Today more business is transacted in a social context than ever before, and it is important to dress well for leisure occasions because you never know who you’ll run into.
The weekend is the time to wear those new styles and stretch your imagination, always keeping in mind that you want to look like you’re not working – even though you may be. For leisurewear, boat shoes are often an overlooked choice, and they work well for both men and women who want to look like millionaires on vacation.
If you prefer to visit the beach during your free time, a pair of sandals can serve you well, especially if they have a Vibram sole, one of the most durable and trusted rubber soles ever affixed to the bottom of footwear. Another stylish – and, not incidentally, healthy – choice is the Paleo minimalist barefoot shoe, which has the added advantage of enhancing the biomechanics of your gait.
In summary, with a little thought and planning you can select shoes for work and play that look good, feel comfortable, and reflect well on who you are. Last but not least, with all the varieties available to American shoppers, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you’re looking for before going shopping to prevent yourself from succumbing to the Imelda Marcos syndrome.