Reading that Belinda Earl, the style director of Marks and Spencer, says that women should ditch their uniform power dressing suits in favour of more comfortable attire has made me reflect on my penchant for comfortable footwear, shoes and sandals that enable me to move quickly from one place to the next. Perhaps I’m not so out of touch after all!
Like many ladies, I own a rather lovely collection of stylish footwear; boots, shoes, sandals, but mine are all safely stored away in their original boxes in my closet. I also have many lovely, stylish friends for whom fabulous shoes are an integral part of the way they dress.
Why is it then that for me killer heels are the last thing on my mind, often shoved at the bottom of my handbag to be changed into once I arrive at a venue, but then usually forgotten about until it’s time to go home?
I’m not the only busy person in my group. Many of my friends have family commitments, are self-employed, have various demands on their time. And yet they manage to arrive at a lunchtime or evening date looking super-cool, teetering along on their elegant heels.
I refuse to consider that it’s to do with age either! I’ve not changed my choice of footwear because I’ve hit yet another decade. Neither have I moved into support bandages, baggy cardigans and carpet slippers in a desire descend comfortably into decrepitude.
Perhaps I’m a rebel, refusing to conform to what I feel is the stereotypical business woman image of sharp suits and killer heels. It’s true that since I left the blue-chip business world I’ve not needed to power dress like I used to; I’m not as ‘corporate’.
As a counsellor and hypnotherapist my personal, business and media appointments all require me to be smart, presentable, but not intimidating. With that in mind I always endeavour to look professional, with makeup, jewellery, smart clothes and flat shoes or sandals.
Is it time to analyse my motivation? Do I feel that perhaps my choice of footwear defines me and how I’ll be perceived? Certainly I know that we all make decisions about the people we meet within a matter of seconds, often without fully appreciating the instinctive vetting process that we automatically apply.
We all assess each other’s clothing, stance, attitude, body language as soon as we meet and with that information we determine how we’re going to proceed with the interaction. Is it going to be friendly, cautious, effusive, professional? Of course, this initial assessment is then modified and adapted as the relationship develops and we get to know each other better.
As I often see clients at my home it’s important that I take care to look professional whilst putting people at their ease. Choosing to wear comfortable shoes can feel relaxed and less formal. On the occasions when I run courses or do media work I often have to walk a distance to the centre or studio so comfortable flat shoes are often a practical decision.
Perhaps I need to set out earlier and arrive in good time so that I can start to wear my lovely unworn shoes. Or maybe it’s time to make more of an effort in certain circumstances so that I up my game and look more chic. It’s certainly time to consider dusting off my killer heels!
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.