Office wear can be a nuanced idea and something that can be difficult to get just right. Everything you wear – down to your footwear – says something about you, your appreciation of the company’s attitude, and your understanding of an appropriate look for your line of work. Here’s how to navigate the tricky world of office footwear to ensure you get it just right.
Workplace or organizational culture is the overall character and feeling of your company. The sector or subject matter the business works in helps to define the culture. For example, the feeling of working in a law firm is very different from the feeling of working in a media agency. However, company culture has far deeper roots than the key business principles of an organization. Workplace culture is fundamentally created by people. While structures such as hierarchies and organizational charts can feed into this, it is the humans in a workplace who define a culture. From management styles to the tone people use when they interact, there are miniscule elements that all come together to create the culture of a workplace.
Understanding a culture may not be as easy as it seems. How a company appears to be on the surface or from its marketing materials may not be representative of its culture. That’s why how to dress in a particular company or job role can be difficult to ascertain, especially if you are just starting a new job. Often you need to spend a little time in a business to be able to read between the lines in terms of everything from culture to acceptable office wear. And shoes can be the part of an outfit that can let you down if you’re not careful.
When it comes to clothing, most people know to err on the side of caution until you are sure what is acceptable in a particular workplace. In general, it is wise to dress more conservatively and on the smarter side, until you understand more about an organization. But shoes make a huge difference to both your comfort and confidence. You don’t want to have to wear uncomfortable shoes for months until you know it’s ok to wear something that works better for you personally. Yet you don’t want to misread a situation and wear shoes that will show you up to be totally clueless about what is acceptable footwear.
Here are some different types of workplaces, general insights into the culture and what footwear usually fits the bill.
The creative industries are vast and varied, and some can be more corporate in culture, while others might be more relaxed and arty. Creative businesses could be anything from advertising agencies and graphic design studios, to art galleries and tech start-ups. The culture of organizations like these may appear to be more relaxed – and often they are – but look for some clues before you dress down too much. In particular, look at what other people wear, and specifically look towards anyone in a similar role as yours. There is often a distinction in dress code depending on whether a role is client facing or not.
If you’re sure the dress code is comfortable and creative rather than conservative and formal, the range of shoe wear you can incorporate into your outfits can be liberating. In most cases, it’s appropriate to go for either bold, statement making shoes, or comfortable but fashionable shoes, which could be designer sneakers such as those by Balenciaga (balenciaga кроссовки).
In environments that are clearly corporate in focus, such as law firms, financial services and accountancy, the culture is usually more formal and the dress code is clearly defined. Suits, shirts and ties usually fit into the culture and expected office style. For shoe wear, this often means smart and polished leather shoes, or something similar. Nothing too loud, and nothing too casual, is usually the general rule. If comfort is an issue for you in an environment like this, look at softer leather shoes and shoes with orthopedic support. If you yearn to wear sneakers at work, looking in this direction can help you find something that feels a little like sneakers on the inside at least.
Jobs in restaurants, hotels and others that fall into the hospitality remit can come with the longest hours with much time spent on your feet. At the same time, these customer facing roles often mean you have to look a certain way, as the way you dress also represents a brand. If a uniform isn’t provided to you in a job like this, prioritize comfort when you look for shoes. This is what will get you through particularly arduous shifts. Many employers will allow plain black sneakers, so check if this is the case. If you need to look a little bit smarter, flat black pumps or worn-in black leather shoes are the next best options.