Your Guide to Suiting Footwear
Suits are powerful and have been a central part of the professional world for a long time now. A person wearing a suit sends subconscious signals to surrounding people and in turn, it has a great effect on how they perceive said person. There was even a scientific experiment conducted to prove this; one person in a suit was jaywalking and another person in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Whenever a person in a suit would jaywalk, three times as many people would break the law and follow them – showing the subconscious influence clothing has on people around you.
Suits are most commonly associated with the corporate environment which hosts a strict, conservative dress code. But this isn’t always appropriate for all workplaces. Along with this, COVID has introduced a more hybrid workforce in many industries, combining working from home and in the office, which can push the dress code toward a hybrid also.
In the instances where you want to leverage the power and influence of a suit but don’t want to feel too dressed up and out of place, different footwear is a functional way to dress up or down the outfit to suit your environment.
Below is your guide to styling suits with the appropriate footwear – highlighting when appropriate and relevant tips.
The business women’s staple. There are a variety of reasons this style of shoe has weathered the times. The most obvious being that it gives women additional height – in a work setting this can create a perception of greater dominance, make clothing appear more elegant and make the woman seem taller. Wearing a pair of pumps can significantly improve your posture and create an illusion of increased confidence. The scientific reason for this is because the elevation of the back heel is counterbalanced by the straightening of your back and the rest of your body automatically adjusts the desired posture as a result. The actual reason is because you look good, and you should feel good.
Pairing a pump with a suit is a sure-fire way of not only appearing more confident to outside parties but also subconsciously increasing your internal confidence.
This type of shoe works well with straight leg suits as well as skirted suits.
If you are on the shorter side, pairing a wide-leg, high-waisted pant with pumps can work wonders in gaining a few illusive inches.
Not quite as formal as the pump, not quite as casual as the sneaker. They are a great alternative to the pump when you have a longer commute (and don’t want to do the working girl shoe switch). The classic style is super chic yet still manages to let you live that busy city life without hurting your feet – sensible, comfortable, and cute.
The loafer comes in various styles itself including the classic vs the backless, heeled vs flat, slim vs chunky. Prior to purchasing a pair, consider what your wardrobe already consists of and the style and tailoring of your suits, as this will have an impact on what shoes will be complementing.
Loafers are best worn with tailored pants that finish on or just above the ankle bone. They can also be paired with dresses and skirts, but avoid wearing them with anything that finishes above the knee.
The easiest way to make a suit look effortless is to pair it with sneakers. Modern suits are so much more versatile compared to what they used to be and can be transformed from formal to casual relatively simply.
Adding a simple, block-coloured sneaker can take a suit down a few levels of formality whilst remaining chic and business casual appropriate. This is a great option for a business-orientated woman working in a more creative environment.
Sneakers can be paired with your classic black and white suit as well as more colourful alternatives – my personal favourite is a pastel with a white sneaker. The key here is to ensure you have an appropriately tailored suit to communicate professional acumen whilst being able to have a bit of fun and express your personality through colours.
Going for a plain black or white sneaker is a safe bet as you know they will go with whichever colour suit you choose.
It is recommended going for a leather outer shoe for ease of cleaning. Dirty, worn shoes look unprofessional and unkept, so be sure to maintain them to maintain your brand.
About the writer
Emma is a Civil Engineer turned Strategy Consultant navigating her way through the corporate world. Realising the level of confusion and angst of young professionals figuring out workwear etiquette, she begun posting her daily outfits to provide inspiration and guidance. From there, she has been working towards educating young professionals in all aspects of workwear. She aims to take a logical and structured approach to help women procure their own work wardrobe that makes them look and feel their best – because when you look good, you do good.