Are stilettos appropriate for the office?

LogoMs. Manners put her foot AND her stilettos in her mouth when she wrote in this blog that high heels could dash high hopes when climbing the corporate ladder. Here are some comments from some unhappy readers with high heels and even higher career aspirations.

Dear Ms Corporate Manners,
We have a manager in our region that is fond of fancy footwear. The problem is that her footwear would be more appropriate for an, um, street corner business than a professional business. On Monday we were treated to the bright fuchsia satin heels with the black satin rosettes, and on Tuesday it was 4 ½ inch high candy apple red patent leather. Actually, I would not call these shoes high heels, they are straight up stilettos. In the event of an emergency I’m pretty sure they could be used as a deadly weapon. Sometimes her shoes are in stark contrast to her other attire, sometimes she pairs them with black satin mini-skirts. Surely this can’t be considered appropriate attire for a professional woman, right? And because she travels around from office to office, I am not sure who would address this dress code issue. What to do?
Pumped in Pittsburg

Dear Pumped,
The shoes you choose to wear to work should be coordinated to your clothing, and they also should be comfortable. Extremely high heels are never recommended. We all need to be able to focus on our customers and not on how uncomfortable our feet are. Maybe your toe-tapping manager thinks her high-heeled shoes are perfectly appropriate, but sooner or later she’ll find out that she’ll never be taken seriously in those shoes. If you are really concerned, maybe a discreet word to her would bring results.
Ms. Corporate Manners

mannersDear Ms Corporate Manners,
I was highly offended by your advice for “Pumped.” I have never had a problem being taken seriously in my high heeled shoes, and I would even dare to say that the vast majority of women who work for our company would feel the same way. I have found that feeling good about one’s appearance brings about a better attitude, and attitude is what people take seriously. Fashion has changed greatly since the 1950’s. In fact, I find it more frustrating that because I am a woman, I am not taken as seriously as a man would be, since men do not have to worry about the height of their heels. I was not aware that the color of our shoes was limited; we are not told that we can only wear brown, black, or gray shirts to the office, why should we do the same for our shoes? Shoes are meant to compliment an outfit. Fashion is an expression of the self, and if someone wishes to wear colorful clothing that is no different than someone who chooses to only wear black. In fact, I am more comfortable in heels than I am in flats. I would also like to point out that not everyone who wears heels looks like they are on “um, street corner business.” Maybe we should focus more on our work instead of what other people are wearing. 
Stiletto-ly yours,
Taken Seriously in My Sling Back Leopard Print Pumps

Dear Ms Corporate Manners: 
I feel that if the person is comfortable in wearing high heels, then why does it matter? If it does not affect her job performance, who are we to judge what a person wears? I didn’t feel your response was fair. Where I work, we have managers who wear high heels and are taken seriously.
Mad in Heels

Dear Ms. Corporate Manners:
I just read your response to “Pumped,” and I find it a little ridiculous that you would broadcast to your readers that someone wouldn’t/shouldn’t be taken seriously because of their shoes; not to mention, assuming someone’s “comfort level” is a little ridiculous. A response that included the company’s dress code policy regarding shoes would have been much more appropriate, especially since heel height is specifically addressed with a specific height number listed. 

Taken Seriously in Stilettos 

Ms. Corporate Corporate Manners, 
Let me start off by saying I normally agree with you 100 percent, but when I read high heels could dash high hopes when climbing the career ladder, I strongly disagreed with your reply.  First, I think it is very inappropriate of someone to talk about a co-worker like “Pumped” did. To stereotype a person as someone who would work a street corner just because of the shoes she is wearing if very appalling and rude. I think it is great that people can express themselves through fashion and if it is not offending their customers, I don’t see the problem. We all have different styles and cultures. Isn’t that part of what makes our workforce so great – having “diverse” people? Also, who is to say that the heels are uncomfortable for the person wearing them? I own several pairs of heels and enjoy wearing them and never have any trouble from them. It actually helps my posture to wear them. I agree we should all look professional when servicing our customers, but the lady wearing them probably does think she looks professional. If employees are going to concentrate so much on what the other employee is wearing instead of concentrating on assisting our customers, then I say let’s pass out uniforms so that everyone can wear khaki pants, plain brown shoes, and a blue polo shirt. That sounds much better right?? I don’t think so. I also hate to think that your readers would focus so much on how a person looks instead of how well the employee actually did his/her job. Why can’t we just embrace that everyone is different and dresses differently? I think the world would be a pretty boring place if we all looked the same. Sign me,

Ms. Corporate Manners, 
After reading the story about the high heels…. I see that the person in question is a manager. Why is her associates so worried about some shoe? We are all here for our clients, and with a better and nonjudgmental attitude, we all look better! 
Team means more than shoes!

Denise wrote on Facebook: “If she can squat down while filing and get back up in them without falling over – sure, go for it!”

Wendy wrote on Facebook: “I see why you wrote what you did but I feel in todays society that if a woman is dressed professionally and acts professionally the size of her heels should not matter. Women are judged too harshly in the corporate world as it is. I think men should be criticized then for dressing too casually these days. I would rather see and engage with a smart woman in heels then a woman dressing what someone might think is corporate attire and not expressing herself in a minor creative way or “outside of the box”.”

© Penny Aviotti and Ms.Corporate Manners 2003 – 2013.

One response

  1. Good answer badk in return of this issue wih genuine arguments and describing all concerning that.

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