When I was in junior high school,I started wearing high heels. Not all the time. Just for things like Easter Sunday and my aunt’s wedding.The heels were three inch “spikes”. I don’t remember them as being particularly uncomfortable. Then again, I didn’t wear them all that often.
During high school, I wore heels for things like Easter Sunday and the Father-Daughter Tea at my high school. (The one and only prom I went to, I wore flats, as my date was my height.) Other than that, the shoe that went everywhere/did everything was a Bass Weejun loafer. Since I never did anything fancy, loafers mostly worked just fine.
What I wore for work depended on the job. Since most of my jobs were of the waitressing variety, my shoe of obligation and choice was the white nurses shoe, a clunky-comfy white, rubber-soled oxford tie.
Fast forward to my business career.
When I first began working in an office (mid 1970’s), women wore pumps that looked sort of like loafers, only they had a small square 1” (or so) heel and, instead of a slot for a penny, they had gold bar on them that looked like a tie clip. I had many pairs, in many colors.
When I got out of business school (1981), those pumps were still in service, augmented by a somewhat spiffier looking pump – sleeker, slightly higher heel. How many pairs of Eitenne Aigner did I own over the years? Answer: plenty. Boots, too. Those are Etienne’s to the left. (They were actually reasonable comfortable and looked a lot nicer than those loafer-clunkers.)
Somewhere along the line, really high heels crept into the work picture. Really high by my standards, anyway. That would be like the 3” spikes I wore in junior high to my aunt’s wedding.
These heels were often worn with the menswear skirt-suits and floppy bow-ties that us career gals sported. Must have looked really swell. But not as swell as the getting too and from work look: business suit, white athletic socks, and sneakers.
This is Tess from the movie “Working Girl.” Our hair might not have been that big. Our skirts might not have been that short. But the shoes and socks are right. It was an especially fine look when you were wearing black or navy opaque stockings. Then your legs looked like a race horse with their ankles wrapped.
Over the years, tech got less formal, and for the most part, when I had on a skirt, my shoes were some sort of low-heeled loafery sort of thing. One step above a flat. Comfy, and you didn’t have to do the sneaker thing.
I have a couple of pairs of heels – strictly for weddings – but they’re not all that high. I don’t think there’s anything in the closet that goes above 2 inches. Plenty high enough!
Mostly, as is befitting a women of a certain age aiming to get her 10,000 Fitbit steps in a day, I’m in comfy shoes. The more orthopedic looking, the better. (Only kidding.)
But when I’m out and about, I do see working girls (no, not that kind of working girls), and plenty of them are wearing heels.
I don’t envy them.
Those high heels may look good (especially to men), but I know from experience that they’re uncomfortable, and your feet are killing you when you kick them off. And I know from reading that they can cause all sorts of leg and foot problems later in life. Not worth it, working girls, not worth it! (And that goes for you, too, Ivanka, tip-toeing along next to your father, making sure you don’t get your heels caught in the West Lawn. Even if you can afford to have a personal chiropodist on call.)
Anyway, I was interested to see a couple of articles in The New York Times on Brit Nicola Thorp, who:
…reported to work awhile back as a temporary receptionist in the financial center here, she was shocked when her temp supervisor said her flat shoes were unacceptable. She would need to get herself shoes with heels at least two inches high. When she refused, she was sent home from the accounting firm PwC without pay. (Source: NY Times)
Not one to put her feet up when there was work to be done, Ms. Thorp:
…started a petition calling for a law that would make sure no company could ever again demand that a woman wear heels to work. The petition garnered more than 150,000 signatures, helped spur a popular backlash — dozens of professional women posted photographs of themselves on Twitter defiantly wearing flats — and prompted an inquiry overseen by two parliamentary committees. On Wednesday, more than two years after Ms. Thorp, now 28, strode into that office in her chic but sensible black flats, the committees released a report concluding that Portico, the outsourcing firm that had insisted she wear high heels,had broken the law.
(Note in defense of PwC, it was Portico that had the high-heel rule, not PwC. PwC has enough controversy on their plate, these days, thanks to the recent Oscar snafu.)
Parliament, which seems an altogether more sensible lot than our Congress, is keeping at the problem.
On Monday, more than two years after Ms. Thorp was sent home over her shoes, members of Parliament called on the government to tighten the rules so British women would never again be forced to wear high heels at the office. (Source: NY Times)
Personally, I don’t think we actually need to have a law about this.
What we really need is for women to just stop being such dedicated and foolhardy followers of fashion that they’re willing to wear shoes that are crippling them. Come on, working girls, you have nothing to lose but your bunions.