In Her Shoes: A Working Woman Explains the Importance of Fabulous Footwear

June 14, 2011 2:07 PM

Clare Gilderdale is the Coordinator of Employer Relations at the University of Toronto Career Centre and she shares with us how her own career evolution has transformed her from the feet up…

As I was perusing articles offering women career advice I had a stunning revelation – I am a “professional 30-something woman”. What happened to the carefree days of my twenties when I was oblivious to the career-implications of wearing flip-flops to work? Those days have passed me by and left me with: more confidence, a firmer sense of self and, most importantly, nicer shoes.

This new-found ability to locate work-appropriate footwear has been transformative. Throughout most of my 20’s I wore black boots with everything unless it was the summer and then the aforementioned flip-flops made their debut. These days I have multiple pairs of shoes and sandals in a variety of colours, heel heights and styles. My 25 year-old-self wouldn’t recognize my feet. She would marvel and ask herself: “how did that professional 30-something-woman locate shoes that make sense with outfits?” The she’d throw on some faded black pants, zip up her black boots and casually saunter off to work.

I believe something happens to us as we transition into our 30-something professional selves. It doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t the result of a secret coming-of-age ritual where our savvy and stylish 40-something colleagues pull us aside, look at our feet and say “really?” (although that may have happened to me). Instead it is the culmination of the experiences of our 20’s which provide us with a growing confidence in ourselves.

We begin to find our voice in meetings, we volunteer to chair committees and we stop being so afraid of the office bully; this all finds expression in our shoes. We’ve all heard the expression “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” but in order to do this you need the self-awareness that comes from knowing you are good enough for nice shoes and the self-assurance to wear them.

Don’t wear nice shoes for your boss, don’t wear them because you’re meeting with an important client and don’t wear them because an online article told you to; wear them because it feels great to be a person who can marvel at her own feet!

– Clare

Here are the four basic pairs of shoes we think every working woman needs in her wardrobe right now…

Classic work shoes

1. The classic black pump – It’s the building block of the any woman’s work wardrobe. Sure, it’s not the most fashion forward, but a black pump adds instant polish to your work look and can take you anywhere, day or night. The platform on this Miu Miu Pump really adds a lot of comfort for the ball of the foot, which is why we love a platform heel best for a busy day.

2. The nude pump – The nude pump is the necessary counterpart to the classic black pump in summer. It goes with absolutely everything and makes your legs look impossibly longer and slimmer. This nude Miu Miu Platform Pump is our must-have Spring/Summer shoe.

3. The fashion shoe – It’s important to stay current at work, so one “fashion” shoe per season is a must. This season, wedges and chunky-heel slingbacks are very popular. We think a heel is a better choice for work between the two – wedges are better for the weekend – and we love the leather open-toe slingback “Renna” from Chloe.

4. Classic flats -Because your feet need a break sometimes and you can rock that Audrey Hepbrun/Jackie O. look. This Fendi studded ballet flat has the right patent and trim to make you look current and put together (if not tall).

Once you’ve got the basics covered, the sky’s the limit with the rest – so knock yourself out on slingbacks, peep toes, kitten heels and prints like snake and leopard. But now that you know better, like Clare, you must do better and leave the flip flops and clunky black foot-jails at home.


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