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Feb 08

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High Heels In The Workplace

HeelsInTheWorkplace

Recently, a number of experts weighed in on the issue of whether or not high heels help or hurt women in the workplace. Fashion experts agree that stilettos are tawdry and should be avoided. However, experts in other arenas thought all heels made women too sexy looking. Wrong.

When it comes to looking “sexy” you can’t be overt; however, you can be covertly sexy. Women’s legs are sexy simply because of their curvy shape. So, are women to be relegated to pants that hide the legs and good sturdy walking shoes that are matronly? The last thing women need is to go back to the “miniature man” look of the “dress for success” eighties where any hint of femininity was forbidden.

Which of the two women above (wearing the same heels) looks “too sexy” for the workplace?  My feeling? Both look covertly sexy! The woman on the right has a friendly and wholesome smile, while in the photo to the left, she has a bit of a “come hither” look, so she could be judged to be more sexy by some.

Ultimately, heels under 3 inches (7.5 cm) will look professional, unless the style is gaudy; and classic pumps (court shoes) always look polished and professional. The Chanel-style shoes in the photo above are also professional.

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16 comments

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  1. Kathy

    I agree! My attitude even changes when wearing heels vs. flats. Heels change your walk and confidence level, and always add a touch of class that says “I care about my appearance.”

  2. Kelly

    I don’t think the shoes in either picture make one sexier than the other. My concerns with the photo on the right are the flirtatious earrings, the little split in the front of the skirt, and the bare legs. (I think they’re bare?) So…what about nylons in the workplace?!?! How are bare legs perceived?

  3. Michele Ferguson

    I was glad to see both of these, while covertly sexual, were professional. Where I live, it is highly unusual to see a woman in a skirt or dress. Tweety pajama bottoms seem to rule. Personally, I do not own any “pants” other than jeans. Nope, no sweatpants or reasonable facsimile, either. No shorts in the summer! I love skirts and dresses!!!! I know I am in a minority, but hey, I’ll “let” you wear your pants if you “let” me wear my dresses!

  4. Sandy Dumont

    Kathy,
    Attitude is what it is all about, isn’t it!

  5. Sandy Dumont

    Kelly,
    You’re right – the shoes have nothing to do with “too sexy.”
    Nylons in the workplace, now that’s another subject entirely. One magazine survey reported that the majority of men thoughy bare legs were flirtatious. Women need to keep that in mind when going bare-legged with skirts. Of course, the length of the skirt and the style all play a roll as to whether a woman looks flirtatious. Gender-bias experts have concluded that women are labeled bimbos when they dress provocatively.

    My feeling is that if your legs are so perfect that you look as if you are wearing nylons, go right ahead and go bare legged. In other words, if your legs are not a distraction, you won’t be judged negatively for either (1) having distracting splotches, broken or protruding veins, etc., or (2) having legs that are so ultra pale that they catch the eye (that’s the case with me!).

    Today, nylons are considered old-fashioned or passe in most big cities. It is in small towns and cities that are conservative where a woman must look around and dress according to the local standards. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, in other words.

    Feedback, readers?

  6. Sandy Dumont

    Michele,
    You go girl! When you feel good about who you are and what you do, you shout it to the world. I predict that you will be an inspiration to others.

  7. Andy

    The hose thing is really tough – especially in the colder climates. They do seem to give a skirt or dress a more polished look. Also shoes, other than open-toed and sandals, seem to have been made to wear with stockings and can be quite uncomfortable without.
    At 5’10, I tower over most people as it is and think that goes over that well with some men. So heels are a little touchy.

  8. Julia

    Both of these women look great. However, in the utility industry where I work, how you dress depends completely on where you are. The skirt in a service center would be bad news, no matter how professional it is.

  9. Sandy Dumont

    Andy,
    The hose thing is changing by the minute. We’ll all have a different viewpoint in five years.

  10. Sandy Dumont

    Julia,
    I agaree. I’ve got clients in the utility industry and in the car sales arena. Most of them wear pants!

  11. Toni

    If these ladies both have professional office positions then I say neither looks too sexy. They both look appropiate, polished and professional for the workplace. Also, everybody’s different, maybe this is who they are and this is the look that gives them the confidence to achieve and succeed at their business.

  12. Maritza

    Sandy!

    Both ladies look great! I like you comment, Toni. Not only goes according what you do, but where your work takes you. I wear from jeans to business suits.

    Regarding the nylons, all depends where I go and what type of event. I do use a “self-tanning” lotion that has worked wonderful over the years. Great for when the ocassion is casual. But when I am giving the conference and I am in front of many people or if it is a very important business meeting I make sure that if I am wearing a dress or skirt I wear nylons. As an International Trainer and entrepreneur, I like to look professional even when I am wearing casual clothing. My next big event is a “First” for me. A Golf Tournament! I am lost here : ) I’ll be one of the speakers. Research, research. I don’t think I’ll be wearing nylons.

    Sandy, I enjoy your newsletters and articles. They keep us thinking and learning.

    Thanks!
    Maritza

  13. Connie

    I agree that both of these ladies look great. Another consideration: a slim skirt with a slit in the front, plus no hose may give a different message when seated. It’s important to check out every angle.

  14. Sandy Dumont

    Maritza,
    You’re right, these days we have to play it by ear and consider the occasion. I would agree that when you are speaking you are wise to wear nylons. And you’ve got the right atitude about casual attire – you can’t let your brand down ever!

    Glad you are enjoying my newsletters and articles. Thanks for the feedback. Incidentaly, are you a member of NSA? I’ll be in Nashville tomorrow for their annual Winter Workshop.

  15. Sandy Dumont

    Connie,
    Very wise advice. I did’t take these photos, so I’m not certain whether or not the model is wearing hose. Slits in the front of a skirt must always be very discreet so as not to appear provocative.

  16. Heather Miller Tokarz

    I wanted to take a moment to point out a health related issue concerning heels – Sandy you said that anything over 3 inches is too much for work.

    My chiropractor is constantly reminding me that heels over 2 inches can cause back pain, knee problems, bad posture and other issues because our bodies are not designed to walk around constantly on our toes.
    I would suggest that if a woman is unsure if a pair of heels would be workplace appropriate for her, she should also think about how wearing those heels for an entire workday could affect her body.
    Of course, wearing heels all day is a great calf workout!

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