+ Interview Attire

Professional Heels in Three Heights

On Friday, I was walking through the law school on on-campus interview day, and I saw things.  Things that changed me.  Things that I cannot un-see.  Most of the job seekers were wearing matronly, clunky shoes, others were wearing sickeningly inappropriate heels in sky-high heights.  (The ratio was probably 6:1.)

After attending interview day, I realized that there are generally three types of professional women:

  1. The kind who value comfort over style, and reach for the matronly but comfy shoe first;
  2. Those who try to strike a balance between comfort and style, with style just edging out comfort;
  3. And women who would watch their toes break into pieces before they’d give up their stylish heels.

But fear not, whichever category you belong to, there is an interview-appropriate shoe to fill your needs.

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Left, Comfortable: Naturalizer Verra Pump ($99) // Trotters Paulina Pump ($99) //Geox Marie Claire Pump ($150)

Middle, Chic and Comfy: Rockport Total Motion Pumps ($139) // Michael Kors Flex Pump ($80) // Cole Haan Bethany Pump ($248)

Right, Stylish Basics: Charles David Pact Pump ($99) // Pelle Moda Esme Pump ($159) // Copertina Pump ($129)

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Comfortable.  The shoes in this section all have a sub-3″ heel.  They’re all made by companies with a commitment to comfort.  The difference between these shoes and most of the comfortable heels I see women wear is three-fold: 1) simple shapes, 2) sleeker styles (no clunk), and 3) no hardware.

Still not sold?  There is nothing wrong with wearing a pointed-toe flat ($23 and every penny is gorgeous) or a sliver-wedge dress shoe instead of a heel.  Because the worst thing a woman can do is shove her foot into a shoe she’s not comfortable walking in.  You won’t feel confident in the wrong shoe, and you run the risk of doing the baby-giraffe walk into your interview.

Chic and Comfy. The shoes in this section are the bridge between style and comfort.  They have 3″ with padded footbeds, arch support, and other extras to give your feet a break.  I’ve owned Rockports, Cole Haans, and Kors Flex and been happy with all of them.

A word of advice: The shape of your foot will determine which shoe works best for you.  I have high arches, so the placement of the arch support determines whether I’m comfortable or covered in blisters.  So if one brand fails you, give another a try.

Stylish Basics. These shoes have 3.5″ to 4″ heels.  I recommend wearing a shoe no higher than 3″ for an interview, but I know some of you are petite or just love heels.  These shoes are still interview-appropriate in their style, even if they push the envelope a bit with their height.

If, for some reason, you want an even higher heel, go with a hidden platform heel in a basic shape.  If I can see the demarcation between the shoe and the platform, it makes it more obvious that you’re wearing sky-high stilettos.  A hidden platform (unless it’s higher than 1″) creates an optical illusion that helps conceal the extra height.

LEAVE A COMMENT

    17 comments

  1. LS says:

    Hey Belle these shoes are all awesome, but I’m unfortunately still in the camp where I can’t wear heels or even pointed toe flats. For round toe, do you think a patent shoe like this would work for interviewing?

    https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/aetrex-erica-patent-leather-ballet-flat-women/3866484

    February 17, 2015/Reply
  2. SLG says:

    Love all these recommendations, Belle, and thanks for taking a stand against ugly matronly shoes. 🙂

    A question: what are your thoughts on pointed vs. round/almond toes on work pumps? I bought the Favian leather pump from Ann Taylor last year and now I’m wondering if I should have bought a pointier one to stay current.

    February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I think both are fine. I think almond are a little more “grown up,” but they’re so hard to find.

      February 17, 2015/Reply
  3. L says:

    I have long wanted to say this: I hate pointed-toe flats. With very few exceptions (D’Orsay aren’t as offensive to me) I think they are matronly and make the foot look large and awkward.

    February 17, 2015/Reply
  4. Rebecca says:

    I love my cole haan shoes, especially the wedges with air technology. It is hard to find a version without the bow, but when I do I stock up. I agree with you about trying different brands to get the right arch support. I am flat footed and Michael Kors shoes never seem to work for me.

    February 17, 2015/Reply
  5. Kelly says:

    I’m sorry, but I purchased the Cole Haan Bethany pumps and they are the worst shoe ever in my opinion. First off, they’re very uncomfortable, ever since Nike sold Cole Haan, I find that with most of their shoes, and they are very matronly. I like a touch of toe cleavage, just a little is feminine to me and you don’t get any with these shoes. Mine are sitting in my closet barely worn….

    February 17, 2015/Reply
  6. Emilee says:

    I would NEVER wear heels for a job interview! Between campus tours (walking of course) and giving a job talk, I feel like you never know how much you’re going to walk. Nothing worse than asking your potential future boss to stop because your feet are covered in blisters. Flats or low wedges all the way. Sorry if you think this is “matronly”, “ugly”, “tacky”, “horrifying”… but I’m already nervous enough as it is on interviews, no need to be uncomfortable as well. Of course I’d be interviewing for what you’d consider a “non glamorous” job in science, so what do I know?

    February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Crystal says:

      Belle’s previous post said: “Most of the advice will focus on job seekers in professional offices where traditional attire is required.”

      Yes, obviously, some professional interviews will require a different wardrobe. Anyone with a good head on her shoulders should know when the weather necessitates an updo, when pants (or a skirt) would be preferred, and when flats would be necessary or preferred over heels. Walking all over campus all day? By all means, wear flats. And Belle, in fact, accounted for that: “Still not sold? There is nothing wrong with wearing a pointed-toe flat ($23 and every penny is gorgeous) or a sliver-wedge dress shoe instead of a heel. Because the worst thing a woman can do is shove her foot into a shoe she’s not comfortable walking in. You won’t feel confident in the wrong shoe, and you run the risk of doing the baby-giraffe walk into your interview.”

      As for what type of flats to wear, there are plenty of professional-looking flats that don’t make you look like a slob, and don’t also make you look overly feminine or trying too hard. But apparently, from the unjustified tone you took in your response, that’s only for us “glamorous” women.

      Signed,
      A lady who works in law and science

      February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:

      The post specifically says that flats and low wedges are perfectly acceptable, so I don’t know where the anger is coming from.

      February 17, 2015/Reply
  7. Kelly says:

    I really need strap to hold the shoe onto my foot. I have a half size difference in my shoe size, and I hate to try to ” fill in” at the heel or toe. I am totally coveting this SJP heel https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/sjp-phoebe-patent-leather-mary-jane-pump-women/3849716?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=&resultback=0

    Any idea for something in a lower price point?

    February 17, 2015/Reply
  8. Pink says:

    I don’t know why, I just feel flats looks so causal( no matter what kind/shape they are). And I think the more formal/important the occasion is, the more you should wear heels(and wearing heels can be trained, you don’t have to feel uncomfortable to wear heels by all means). I probably would NEVER wear flats to a job interview, also because I love wearing heels. Is there anyone can relate to me? 🙂

    February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Anne says:

      Here! I’ve been an attorney for nearly 20 years and I still feel woefully under-dressed if I walk into court in flats. I won’t even fight a traffic ticket in flats!

      February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Meg says:

      I don’t necessarily love wearing heels, but I’ve been getting much better at it and totally agree with your outlook on flats. The best way I wear them professionally is with a *gasp* pantsuit (cold climates necessitate it sometimes) and then with a pointed toe bc I find round toes uncomfortable/childish looking. I hate to give away my secrets but if anyone with super narrow feet and long toes is looking for a good shoe, I just bought a few pairs of Cole Haan on 6pm.com for sub-$80 each – finally a heel I can walk in.

      February 17, 2015/Reply
    • Anna says:

      They change the way you stand and carry yourself. I definitely feel more powerful in heels.

      February 18, 2015/Reply
    • Sarah says:

      I’ve seen other women look awesome and professional in flats…I just don’t. I have trouble achieving the look they can get. Heels it is!

      February 18, 2015/Reply