In the legal world, among the last bastions of dress-codes, there's debate: are open-toed shoes professional? As the Careerist put it, "It might not seem worthy of debate, but I can assure you that passions run strong on this one:"
"When in doubt, no," said one lawyer friend when I posed this question to her. "In fact, that's a good fallback answer for any question about law-clothes. You can't take any chances with being taken seriously."
Now, she's at a corporate firm, and this is surely a hard-line position, but to believe the debates on The Careerist (discussed on Above the Law), it's a very real debate for a career in which, at the end of the day, it's all about representing other people. Writes Vivia Chen on the former,
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: "In my day, I always wore pumps to court," said in a woman in her fifties. "Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?" Her companion shook her head, then asked: "How did she do?" The first woman replied, "Her work was good, but her shoes weren't right." On one side are lawyers who say it's always bad form to show your toes. "Toes and feet are either unattractive, or, in the rarer case, maybe sexy," says a lawyer who's worked at several high-powered firms. "I don't want to look at someone's toes in meetings or at work, and I also don't think it's appropriate to flash the sexy red-toe pedicure at work either." Another friend, who just picked up six pairs of Manolos at the summer sale last week, says that kind of conservative attitude is nonsense. "If it's fashionable and tasteful, why not?" she asks, as she looks down at her new strappy tan sandals.
Chen quotes Kat Griffin, the founder of business-dress guru Corporette, who opines: "Peep toes are marginally better than flat-out open-toe shoes, but even then a closed- toe shoe is the preference. Don't wear open-toe shoes unless you've seen a much more senior lawyer do it." Others whom she consults say that on the West Coast, a peep-toe is just fine, while others feel that even in the East, "it's the overall presentation that counts."
Above the Law went one better and queried judges. And while most of them were okay with it ("Since the judge (me) wears "peep toe" shoes to court, it is surely appropriate"), emphasizing being professional and low-key over specific dictates, one judge's words should probably be the last word on the subject: "Occasionally a lawyer totters to the lectern on very high heels, which doesn't lend credence to her argument (peep toes or not)." Whatever you decide about your peeping toes, make sure you can walk in your shoes: falling is one things everyone will notice. Or perhaps the last word should go to commenter "Tim," who wrote on the ABA Journal website: "If one's toes are shapely, I say flaunt them."
Little Toe Peep [The Careerist]
Wearing Peep-Toe Shoes to Court? Women Judges Weigh In [Above the Law]
Are Peep-Toe Shoes Too Provocative for Women Lawyers? [ABA Journal]