Readers often write in to ask me about what the different office dress codes mean. What are the differences between conservative, professional, creative and business casual? How do I know which category my office falls into? The easiest way to tell is to look at people’s shoes.
A hard and fast guide? No. But you show me a woman’s shoes, and I can probably tell you where she works.
Closed-toe with a moderate-high heel? She’s probably in a professional or conservative environment. If she’s wearing nylons and she’s under the age of 55, her office dress code is probably on the strict side.
Does she have on shoes that would look at home on a runway, a red carpet or the pages of Vogue? She probably works in a creative environment like PR or advertising. Or does she wear ballet flats, sneakers or flat boots? Her office is probably business casual (unless it’s Friday, and then who can tell?).
For the next three days, we’ll have posts that use a pair of shoes from each type of office as a base for a few work-appropriate outfits. And we’re going to start with the conservative/professional crowd.
I don’t consider 2.5″ a kitten heel. This miniscule lift is a kitten. Instead, I think that a height between 2.5″ and 3″ is the most comfortable choice for most women. I can run all day in an under-3″ heel and get home at night with just a mild twinge of discomfort. You can go up to 3.75″ (maybe 4″ if you’re on the smaller side) before the shoes start to look too high for a professional environment. But if you’re at all concerned, I’d be cautious and stay under-3.5″.
I think Ann Taylor pumps in general are the most comfortable brand on the market right now in a mid-price point. They’re padded in all the right places and cushioned without being clunky. I also like the Perfect Pumps that come in at 3.25″, and these menswear-inspired Valerie heels at 2.75″.
Looking for other closed-toe shoes in a medium heel height?
J.Crew has three options to choose from: the pointed-toe Everly at 3.25″, the Valentina D’orsay at 2.75″ and the Sloane, round-toe heels at 3.5″. The Corso Como Del pumps also come in at 3.5″ for a price of $129.