Your shoes tell a story

Your shoes will show others who you are, writes Jackie O’Fee.

I’ve just arrived home from a fabulous trip with my family through the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Two years of planning and saving coming to fruition, then over. Hmmm. Did someone mention “Post-holiday blues”? 

Actually, I’ve been quite inspired by my travels and although keen not to do any “work” while I was away, there are some things you simply can’t turn off. 

Years ago, I flatted with a dentist who would say “nice overbite” when watching some beautiful actress on TV. I’m pretty sure that an architect would notice details in architecture, and entrepreneurs would take an interest in new business ideas while travelling too. It all becomes part of our knowledge bank. 

So, with all of those fabulous things making up a style soup in my head what do I actually want to talk about in this column? I want to talk about shoes. Shoes, you see, will make or break your outfit. 

Shoes send messages that you may not even remotely be aware of. I remember a few years ago reading in The New Zealand Herald about the fraud conviction of a man who had cheated many people out of large sums of money through his supposed financial planning business. One of the key witnesses stated [something like]: “It was his shoes. They didn’t look right for a man who was supposed to be a successful financial businessman. It made me start to question who he really was.”  

There’s a great quote about shoes that I often use when speaking to groups of business people; I’m not sure who to attribute it to but it goes like this “Court shoes say ‘business’, while strappy heels say ‘sex’. Decide the conversation you want to be having.”

 Your shoes will show others who you are. Scruffy shoes will suggest you are lazy and do not care, “comfortable” shoes are often worn by those who score highly for being practical and pragmatic. Vertiginous heels suggest you are comfortable with who you are and, providing you can walk with purpose in them, can be quite intimidating. 

There’s a few rules of style with shoes when it comes to matching them to your outfit. 

For men, a belt and shoes should match when wearing business dress. Lace up shoes are smarter than slip-ons, as are shoes with leather soles.

 If you can imagine a school boy wearing your shoes, you need do rethink your choice. It used to be that your socks should match whichever was darker between your hem or your shoes but now socks are the style statement that ties used to be. If attending a cocktail function or black-tie event, look for dark shoes that are highly polished. 

For women, open-toed sandals can often look wrong with business dress, so you need to choose your summer shoes wisely. Avoid anything too strappy and go for a substantial heel.

You also need to invest in a pedicure if wearing these as no one wants to see ugly, calloused feet at the office. If you can’t wear a heel, make sure your flat shoes have a business-like look to them.  Definitely avoid heavy orthotic shoes for work. Choose a patent loafer over a ballet flat or flat sandal and unless you work in a very relaxed office, leave the trainers for the weekend.  M


Jackie O’Fee is the owner of personal style consultancy Signature Style. She works with both individuals and organisations.

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