Sunday, August 24, 2008

These Heels are made for Working

By: Erika Kelley


A few months ago, I found myself in the mall again. This time, however, I was actually accompanying my husband. He was shopping for a pair of shoes. While he was perusing, I decided to do a little perusing, too. And guess what? I stumbled upon a pair of fierce Nine West high heel shoes. The first feature I noticed was the price: $9.99. The second element I noticed was the color: gold (gold matches with most of my earth-tone-colored clothes). The third detail I noticed was the heel: quite a bit higher than the heels I normally purchase (typically 3-4 inches). I glanced at the price again and then ran my fingers over the heels. $9.99 for a pair of gold Nine West shoes, who’s measuring the height of heels?

After purchasing our new shoes, we ventured home. I commenced my new-purchase-routine: matching new shoes with existing attire. I decided to try on a few outfits and parade around in my new shoes. Because the heels were so high, I decided I would match them with my extra-long Ann Taylor slacks -- pants I never bothered taking to the cleaners for hemming because most of my heels were high enough that the pants never brushed up against the floor.

The next day I headed off to work with my new fierce, gold, Nine West shoes. First stop, a quick visit to see my friend and co-worker. I strutted into her office and sang: Gooood Morrrnninnng. She smiled and gave me that, you-are-so-crazy-look. Crazy for my new shoes, I thought. She spotted them instantly and we took a few moments to admire them for the star-quality-appearance and for its I-have-a-family-and-lots-of-bills-affordable-price.

By lunch time, I realized I needed to take these shoes to the shoe repairman to get the heels shortened because my toes hurt! I ascertained something else: not everyone appreciated the shoes as much as my friend and me. While assembling folders for our training the following day, a few of my co-workers (four females and one male) decided to share their opinions about my shoes. There were no ooohhhs and ahhhs and no talks of fierceness. Instead, a female co-worker jokingly asked where was my pole. It took me a second to realize that she was insinuating that I was a stripper because I had on high heels (and extra-long Ann Taylor slacks). A few of my other co-workers agreed that my shoes were extremely high and questioned me about the height. I admitted I wasn’t too sure and stated I felt I was dressed appropriately. To that riposte, the co-worker that made the stripper comment, asked her friend to get a ruler. Her friend obeyed and they fittingly measured the height of my heels. In unison, they revealed the height to the group: 4 ¾ inches.

After that revealing conversation with my co-workers, I found myself pondering over the appropriateness of shoes in the workplace.

I did some research and learned that heels that are between 2 ¾ and 4 inches are most appropriate for the workplace (2-3 inches for work environments with strict dress codes). In an article by Desiree Stimpert, “Work Shoes with High Heels,” she provided a list of appropriate and stylish shoes, acceptable for the workplace. Interestingly enough, in addition to Steve Madden, Calvin Kline, and Ralph Lauren, Nine West made the cut.

What’s also astonishing is that experts have found that high heels tone women’s legs and strengthen pelvic muscles. In tests, Dr. Maria Cerruto, of the University of Verona, Italy, discovered, ‘‘Wearing heels during daily activity may reduce the need for the pelvic floor exercises necessary to keep that part of a woman’s anatomy toned and elastic.’’ Enough said.

I eventually had my gold Nine West shoes shortened to about 4 ¼ inches (much better for my toes!). But, like the women polled in the article “Heel Thyself,” by Jennifer Memolo, I continue to wear my heels daily (and change into flip flops or sneakers when walking to the parking lot and driving) and advocate: here’s to maintaining “professional chicness” in the workplace, toned legs, and strengthened pelvic muslces!

27 comments:

Ari said...

Not for nothing Erika but there are some haters where you work. I have seen you at work and you always look very professional and nice. I think the pole comment came from someone who can't figure out how you raise twin boys, work full time, and still find time to write. More power to you...you high heel wearing, aggressive, published writer you!

Monica Robinson said...

I have come to learn that heels height is a personnal opinion. When I was much younger the heels were as you stated 3-4 inches. As I got older the heels for the workplace are mostly 2 inches. Being an Adminstrative Assistant for a Vice President i must dress professionally and wear heels everyday, but I must wear what is comfortable for me. Since i have bee out of work due to my car accident I have worn nothing but flats all summer. I wonder what I will wear going back tp work. Flats do not cut it for me.

Erika said...

Ari, I love you! LOL Thanks for the comment, my friend. :-)

Erika said...

Sorry to hear about your car accident Aunt Monica. I hear you about the flats...there are some fierce flats out there though -- check out Nine West, Aldo, BCBG...

Thanks for the comment.

Yolaika said...

I honestly hate wearing heels to work, it slows me down. But I wear them for two reasons, I am too short and it makes me feel more professional in the workplace. Weird, huh?

Erika said...

Hi Yoly! I had to laugh when you said your heels slow you down. I've noticed the more I wear heels, the faster I seem to walk (over time).

And I agree about heels making me feel professional -- something about heels...they have a commanding presence ;-)

And I'll admit it...I've secretly always wanted to be 5'8 (LOL)

Thanks for stopping by...

Tiffany Whitaker said...

Erika,

I love your article entitled "These Heels are made for Working"! It was incredibly incisive. During my early to mid twenties I wore heels to work and felt like I was on the catwalk. Then something happened - when I was twenty-nine I had surgery on two toes. From that point on I was forced to wear shoes that were comfortable. Some were not as attractive as I would have liked, but I put my health first. Recently I have returned to heels, but...sparingly, very sparingly. Now enough about me - Erika, you wear your heels and be proud! As long as they dont harm your feet you hold your head high --and you work that catwalk! Luv ya girl and continue to be you! !

Talisha said...

I loved your article!!!!

Have you seen me walk in heels before??? It is a sad sight, but I love heels. I don't pay much attention to the height of the heel as I do the style. I don't really "wear" heels to work, instead I keep them under my desk with intentions on walking around in them to show off. Due to the fact that I can barely keep my balance in them, it rarely happens.

When I wear flats to work, I'm looked at as being too casual. So, for now I will keep buying my heels, not to wear, but to impress the cleaning man who has to keep moving them out the way every night...

Macy's in Cherry Hill has a nice shoe department. Check out-Carlos Santana and Michael Kors. I even picked up a sexy pair of Calvin Kline opened-toed heels a few weeks ago.

We have to go shoe shopping one day!

I did realize while writing this, that I only buy heals so people can comment on how cute they look and how cute my feet looks wearing them.

Paula said...

I say the higher the better (until they hurt, that is)! They are so flattering and more importantly, fun!

Yardley Messeroux said...

I don't think high heels isn't appropriate for a professional environment, especially if most of it is covered by long slacks. However, I happen to work with this woman who for some reason thinks she's Carrie from Sex in the City. She wears the most inappropriate outfits I've ever seen in the work place. Fierce as heck, but way too much for this stuffy corporate office. I think she gets away with it because she works with all males, so why would they really complain.

As for her shoe game...sick! But there are those days when the hooker heels make their gaudy appearance. If the sole under your toes is more than an inch and a half thick, and the heel in the back is ~4.5 inches and up, I say leave 'em at home to enjoy during your personal time. Unfortunately, how you dress at work can effect how others preceive you as a professional, or a not so professional.

Erika said...

Ladies, Ladies...your comments have me in hysterics :-)

@ Tiffany: Thanks for the luv, my friend. I love your flats and your heels. Especially those two pair of heels that you recently purchased -- Hot! You are always stylin'!

@ Talisha: About walking in heels, check this out: www.legworkdvd.com (scroll down to the bottom on the right, "Do & Don'ts"); I'm sure you will get a kick out of this.

It's also on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usrs6cm2vQg (How to Walk in High Heels)

And yes, it sounds like we need to get together for a shoe shopping day...I'm always game.

@ Paula: Hi "Queen of High Heels" aka "My Work Twin"...I'm taking notes :-) And thanks for re-introducing me to DSW!

@ Yardley: I couldn't agree with you more. I think we as women have to remember to use discretion and be cognizant of the fact that there's nothing wrong with "work-chic," but be careful not to cross into the "cocktail or party mode" style of dress while at work. 4.5 inches? Yikes! Definitely not work attire LOL

No need creating an uproar in the workplace ;-)

Thank you all for your comments!

Andy said...

Less important to me than the height of the heels, is the weight of the hate. Had the heels been shorter, they would have been too short, or the color of the shoes too flashy, or too small or big -- whudeva. See jealous folk are always enviously critical yet resentfully admiring of what they can't be -- the person in the shoes.

Isn't it all too often that the better one looks and feels about who they are the more ugly and self doubtful envious people feel about themselves? Misery loves company and fierceness requires confidence so wear those $99.99 lookin' heels for $9.99 and keep the envious scowling because the confidence radiated is invaluable and the inability for the envious jealous-hearted to measure up -- priceless!!!

Erika said...

Thanks, Andy.

No doubt about it, envy is a terribly-ugly trait...

My mom taught me at a young age that there will always be someone who is smarter, prettier, etc. But, don't let that take away from who you are as a person. We have to learn to love the person that we are.

When we allow feelings of inadequacy to creep in and focus too much on what others have, we miss out on recognizing (and developing) our own special qualities and unique characteristics.

I appreciate the comment.

Jennifer said...

Hey Erika:
I like your article. You have connected personal notes with citations from other authors and researchers. The decision on the height of the heels is definitely a personal choice. I know that we can be professional in flats (check out Susan Taylor former executive editor of Essence magazine when you see her in flats).

I think the primary lesson from this experience is to remember that you are the only one who defines who you are ans what you stand for. Once you are clear about that the height of the heels are truly secondary.

Erika said...

Spoken like the wise person that you are, Jennifer.

Thanks for checking out this piece and offering your comment.

women wearing high heels said...

I fully and admittedly admire women in high heels. It makes everything about a woman more attractive physically and I think maybe gives some women a bit of a swagger and confidence which can be appealing as well. I think women should wear whatever makes them feel good about coming to work though even I wonder if over 4 inches of heel height to be a bit extreme, dare I say too sexy, for the work environment.

Erika said...

I echo your sentiments, WWHH. Thanks for stopping by!

Mark said...

I enjoyed your article Erika, I only wish you had held firm and stayed with the 4 3/4 inchers. That is a sexy height and I'm sure you enjoyed the shorter, mincing steps and ramrod straight posture those heels required of you. I could understand the problem if you had a skirt on, but with long dress slacks on (and go for even longer ones that almost touch the floor) I'm sure you looked perfectly professional. My advice is to wear the 4 3/4 inchers whenever you want and enjoy the wonderful walk they will give you.

esk said...

Truth be told, heels over 4 inches require much concentration when walking. :-)

Thanks for stopping by.

Mark said...

And the concentration they require spices up your work day, makes it more fun! Take pleasure in your new, restricted gait, which is exquisitely feminine and pleasing to the eyes of others. Enjoy your greater height and stand-at-attention posture. Of course take care with your steps but those will improve as time goes on. Remember, as a lady this isn't something you have to do, it's something you get to do. Best wishes.

esk said...

"this isn't something you have to do, it's something you get to do" - priceless.

Enjoy your holidays!

Mark said...

You may wish to consider a new heel-wearing regimen such as this: 4 inches twice a week, 4 3/4 inches twice a week, and 5 inches once a week. I suggest wearing rigidly creased dress slacks on the three taller days, and either slacks or a dress/skirt on the two shorter days. You'll be able to "relax" a bit at 4 inches. You'll get quite used to the 4 3/4. At 5 just remember you must take small steps and get wherever you're going in the office in a graceful, refined manner. You cannot run nor even hurry.

Enjoy the view!

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I don't know how the women do to work and walk with high heel shoes, is too uncomfortable, my wife always say me that is to tired, for that reason I like to give her a good heel massage.

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