Shoes can make or break an outfit. They can also have a huge impact on your professional presence: a sleek pair of heels can construct an image of sophistication and authority; alternatively, donning a pair of worn sneakers or overarching stilettos can make you look unprofessional and invite colleagues or clients to take you less seriously. Additionally, as footwear greatly influences mobility and comfort, executive women must choose their shoes wisely. Outlined here are three top styles for professional shoe choices – and tips on how to make them work for you.
Pumps are a classic high-heeled choice for executive women. Often they go best matched with the colour of a woman’s suit, though coordinating colours with another prominent accessory, such as a purse, also works well. In a professional setting, pumps are generally the highest heel appropriate: extremely high heeled shoes like stilettos risk looking too flashy in the office, not to mention can be very uncomfortable when worn all day.
An example of a sophisticated yet simple pump is one from Gianvito Rossi’s spring 2012 collection (see image), courtesy of the Harper’s Bazaar article “12 Perfect Spring Pumps.”
This low-heeled shoe, popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, has been revived in the last few years on runways and in the boardroom. Many credit this style return to Michelle Obama, who at 6 feet tall chooses a lower heel, so that she does not tower over whomever she stands near. (See this previous Look of Success blog post for more on what you can learn from the First Lady’s professional clothing choices.)
The kitten heel is certainly the best option for tall women who do not want to add extra height yet seek the formality of heels. It is also an ideal heel for women who, like Mrs. Obama, must spend long hours on their feet.
If you work in a business casual office where heels are not a daily requirement, ballet flats are an excellent alternative – just stick to the more polished versions that project professionalism. A recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek depicts “The Season’s Best Ballet Flats” that are at once office-ready, comfortable and warm-weather appropriate. J. Crew’s Ballet Boutique also speaks to the popularity of ballet flats while providing a spectrum of colours and styles within the ballet genre. Like heels, flats can pair with both slacks and skirts.
If comfort remains an issue but you can’t bear the idea of parting with high heels, check out this blog post on Canadian designer Ron White and his All Day Heels® shoe – which has proven to be a top choice for both celebrities and politicians on their feet in prominent places. Remember, the key to the best executive footwear is finding a balance between professionalism, comfort and style!
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