In every program on Leadership Presence for women I give, I ask the same question,
What is your favorite accessory and it is unanimous, SHOES!!
What is it about shoes that women love? Do shoes define a women leader or does the woman define the shoes?
I was in Macy’s downtownSan Francisco Saturday shopping for a client and the shoe department looked like New Years Eve. There were crowds of women looking for a sales associate to help them. The women had armloads of shoes to try on from the glamorous high heels, to the smart looking flats and then some. What goes through a woman’s mind when she tries on the shoes and looks at herself in a mirror wearing the shoes?
Several of my clients have at least 75 pairs of shoes for all occasions and they end up wearing the same reliable ones that are comfortable and they can actually walk in for several hours.
I remember Imelda Marcos, former Philippine First Lady who had from a 1000 to 3,000 pairs of shoes. That is a serious shoe collection! She was known as the world’s best-known shoe collector. You could say she would not wear the same pair twice.
For those of you, like me, who are overwhelmed by the amount of shoes she has accumulated, she opened the Marikina City Footwear Museum in Manila featuring her footwear. The exhibits include shoes made by such famous designers as Ferragamo, Givenchy, Chanel, and Christian Dior in size 8 ½, (just my size). What about Jimmy Cho, Prada and Manolo Blahnik?
This morning I had an Apple Workshop and I was talking to the trainer about Shoes. She said that she remembers in China the story in her grandmother told her about how they use to bind the children’s feet. Besides being a sign of beauty this showed the husbands wealth because he was able to take care of his wife.
Shoes often represent a particular style or era.
In 1939, the “Wizard of Oz” featuring the ruby red slippers on Dorothy suggested that shoes had special qualities, when Dorothy clicks her heels and is transported toKansas. Rachelle Bergstein’s “Women From the Ankle Down says the message in the shoes ‘will help us achieve our dreams’. Red, she reports became the new trendy women’s shoe color.
The 1960’s known as the youth culture brought the rise of comfortable sneakers so called because the shoes were so quiet that you could sneak up to a person and not be heard. Birkenstocks and other sandals that were so called comfortable went with the hippie revolution. Otherwise you had the fashionable Mary Quant an English designer who created the mod movement mini skirts, hot pants and knee-high lace-up boots. We used to call them go go boots. Nancy Sinatra wore a similar pair of the boots when she sang the song ‘These boots are made for walking. We now see boots of all lengths and colors worn all year round. I was on my way to the office and this woman was crossing the street wearing a chic black sheath with open toe bone short suede boots.
When women flooded into the workplace in the 1970’s, they returned to wearing heels to appear taller and see eye-to-eye with their male colleagues. The 1975 guide “Dress for Success’ said that businesswomen should wear simple closed toe pumps with a 1.5 inch heels, along with tailored suits in neutral or dark colors. If women wanted to be taken seriously this became the uniform for many executive women or college graduates entering the workplace.
Expensive Manolo Blahniks became popular after the television series “Sex and the City” which ran from 1998-2004. When successful women can’t find the perfect man, they console themselves with the perfect shoes: Manolo Blahniks.
Now we have so many choices it is hard to decide. Should you wear heels, boots, flats, flip flops, mules, etc.? It is common to see women in suits wearing their tennis shoes to work and then changing to heels when they get in the office. Or you see still a lot of flip flops with business wear. If you are a flip flop fan, podiatrists are waiting to help you. Flips flops are probably the worst shoes for your feet because they do not support your feet.
Here are a few suggestions selecting the right shoes to compliment your legs rather than choosing the latest style:
Higher heels will elongate the leg, duh we knew that. However if they are too high a petite woman will look like she is walking on stilts. The ideal height is 1-2” so they say. It all depends on your feet.
Slim legs look best with a low cut vamp. You want to avoid the chunky heel which will only make your legs look thinner.
Athletic calves look best in high vamp shoes (where the top comes up further on the Foot.
Long feet can be minimized with color combinations, such as “Spectator” shoes
Next time, I will provide you with recommendations for comfortable shoes that are also attractive.