There’s been some debate about how much toe is appropriate in the workplace. I can’t speak for all companies, but in fashion, design, and other creative companies strappy sandals, and open toe shoes are fairly common (of course, with a nice pedicure). What if it’s an open toe shoe with a moderate heel or a ballet flat with a peep toe like my mother’s generation wore, which is now back in vogue? Just wondering, does it have anything to do with the heel, or is it just the fact that they expose toes?
Nicole G., New York, New York
Dear Nicole G.:
Yes, workplace attire guidelines are stretched in creative companies such as fashion, interior design, advertising, public relations, as well as other industries. Strappy sandals, open toe pumps, flip flops, slides, and just about any other type of uncovered shoe style is worn to stay on trend, or to show off a nice pedicure. In other cases, it’s justified because such shoe styles are manufactured or endorsed by the employers, or their strategic business partners and clients. Oftentimes, companies supply their employees with substantial employee discounts and allowances as part of their compensation package. This is a way of branding strategically through their employees.
I must confess that I am a total shoe fanatic, with a variety of open toe shoes and strappy shoes in an array of colors and heel lengths inside my closet. I’m especially attracted to those that have “Made in Italy” embossed on their soles, as I associate them with superior craftsmanship. However, when it comes to a shoe intended for the workplace, strappy and open toe ones do not get a ringing endorsement from me. There are so many people with foot fetishes, particularly toe fetishes shown in videos and adult content Web sites, that it’s best to air on the side of caution. Why expose toes in the workplace when they are considered to be a sexually provocative body part similar to cleavage? Besides, there are plenty of comfortable and stylish closed toe alternatives available. As for the 1950’s inspired, ballet flat versions; they still expose toes. It’s all about keeping the “tootsies” covered—just as your male counterparts do.