You may not know this, but I have another great passion besides clothes – British politics. And no, these two are not mutually exclusive. Just because you love fashion and care about looking good does not mean that you don’t care about serious issues too. But I digress. I love it when our political system actually works and democracy is fully evident. Tomorrow, of course, is a big day for democracy (no matter which side of the debate you are on) with the EU Referendum vote taking place.
In another example of democracy in action, Nicola Thorp’s parliamentary petition on making it illegal to wear high heels at work (which has over 142,000 signatures) has now been allocated inquiry time by the Commons Petitions Committee. Any petition over 100,000 signatures is granted parliamentary time.
You may remember that Ms Thorp was the temporary receptionist sent home for not wearing shoes with the required ‘two to four inch heel’.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (who she was temping for) have since issued an honest statement expressing their embarrassment about the situation and the steps they are taking to rectify it. Interestingly, Portico the agency in question, have been suspiciously silent on the issue.
Ms Thorp was wearing shoes that were perfectly adequate for an office environment. It begs the question, why can’t women be seen as smart and professional wearing flat shoes? Of course, they can, and I believe every woman has an ‘ideal’ heel height – it’s just a matter of finding it. With so many heel styles and height options available these days, there’s an option that will work for almost any woman in almost any work environment (see my blog post on wearable heels for more on this topic).
The Petitions Committee will examine the issue and hear oral evidence from witnesses, working with the Women and Equalities Committee. Unfortunately the deadline for public comments has passed but click here to see the comments and experiences other women have shared. And check back on this page for dates and details of the oral sessions.
Have you ever been forced to wear high heels at work?
The debate around dressing for work hit the headlines again last week, with high heels taking centre stage.
PricewaterhouseCoopers came under fire for sending a temporary receptionist home for not wearing shoes with the required ‘two to four inch heel’. The debate rumbled on in the press and on social media, culminating with Julia Roberts leading a ‘barefoot rebellion’ at the Cannes Film Festival (which, incidentally, has refused entry to women not wearing heels in previous years).
It’s not an issue of ‘fashion’, rather of gender equality. Why should women be told to follow such anarchic rules? And I don’t mean that men should be made to wear ties (as I read in one newspaper); ties don’t have the same physical impact on the wearer. High heels can cause a myriad of back and foot problems. The receptionist in question was wearing shoes that were perfectly adequate for an office environment. And it also begs the question, why can’t women can be seen as smart and professional wearing flat shoes?
The key to footwear success in the office is finding your ‘ideal heel’, and I believe every woman has one (it may be flat). It’s determined by your height, balance, and whether you can walk in them. Yes, high heels can boost confidence, but this is rapidly undermined if you are struggling to walk, needing to sit at regular intervals or look like you are about to fall over at any minute. Thankfully there are so many heel styles and height options these days – from loafers to ballet pumps, kitten heels to wedges, block heels to stilettos– there’s an option that will work for almost any woman in almost any work environment (see my previous blog on wearable heels).
A parliamentary petition calling for a law making it illegal to require women to wear heels at work has now reached over 100,000 signatures, so this debate is not going to go away any time soon. I’d love to hear your views.
Wearable heels are big news again this spring. And I think this is fantastic news. Why should we cripple ourselves in unwearable stilettos, or consign ourselves to flats when we’re desperate for some height?
For me, height is particularly important. Sometimes your look needs some elevation (literally) and flats don’t quite cut it. I’m only 5’3” and I love wearing culottes – but these demand heels, otherwise I’m in danger of looking short and, heaven forbid, frumpy. My block heeled sandals and mules give me that added height without sacrificing comfort. And they’re incredibly versatile. My very wearable red Dune block heeled sandals get worn with dresses, boyfriend jeans, silky joggers and culottes all spring and summer long.
Wearable heels provide the perfect combination of height, comfort and walkability. They can be block mid heel sandals (like these monochrome beauties from Kurt Geiger), peep toe shoe boots (Russell & Bromley’s are fab) or even mules – there are loads of options to choose from. The white mules you see here are from Autograph at M&S last year – but thankfully they’re doing them again.
Choosing wearable heels also means I don’t have to carry an extra pair of flats in my bag. And, because of the heel shape, there’s no danger of sinking into grass or getting caught in pavements, grates or escalators (which I’ve done twice already this week in stilettos!). Height, comfort and versatility – what’s not to love?
Next week is Valentine’s Day, and I’m sure many of you will be dining out with your beloved, or enjoying a romantic evening in. But many women have another love in their lives: shoes.
Women have a relationship with shoes that men don’t quite understand. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, women’s shoes tend to be beautiful, with the ability to transform the everyday into something spectacular. Secondly, they are the one article of clothing that remains constant – no-one has to diet to fit into their shoes! Thirdly, and this is vital, high heels make every woman look taller and slimmer.
But please don’t wear high heels if you are uncomfortable doing so. I have a theory that every woman has their own personal ‘optimum’ heel height, whether that’s flat, four inches or somewhere in between. Now that there are so many stylish flat options, (just see Hannah Rochell’s fab blog En Brogue for inspiration) there is more choice than ever before.
When shopping for shoes:
- choose quality over quantity. The one and only Marlene Dietrich advised buying one pair of good shoes instead of three pairs of poor quality
- do not be seduced by a sensational pair of shoes in the sale that you know you will never wear, or that are cripplingly uncomfortable
- remember your ‘optimum’ heel height – we all have one!
Unsure of what shoe styles and heights work for you? Give me a call – I’d be happy to help.