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.