Privilege Blog

The Black And Tan Of Work Shoes

As it turns out, my new office dress code is business casual. And it’s the California variation, which tends decidedly towards the, um, casual.

All to the good at this juncture. First, I’ve gotten spoiled by comfort, what with so much sitting on my sofa. Second, as you know, I’ve focused recently on how to dress well without Chanel. In other words, how to put together a casual wardrobe with a coherent thread of elegance. I expect to be able to dress for work fairly easily, using the clothing at hand.

We shall see, of course, but Plan A is in place. By the way, career hint, always focus on Plan A until it proves untenable. Develop Plan B silently, so as to distract no one. Including yourself.

So, while I didn’t have to cull the suit-filled fields of the Stanford Shopping Center, I did need to pick up a few things. Most of all, new shoes. Because, as it also turns out, I will have the option of walking to work several days a week. Exercise ticks off yet another item on my list of soul-settlers.

As you can imagine, these will not be gracing my feet any time soon.

Although I do understand why these Miu Miu booties became the iconic shoe of the season. Blush, suede, glitter, buckles.

In fact, I have always worn black, or brown shoes to the office. I bought a pair of red office shoes, but they reminded me too much of shopping. Counter-productive, in the scheme of things.

Actually, most of my shoes have been black. Feet in the office are for walking the halls, being put down firmly when necessary, and grounding one in reality. I do not want anything to pop in my vicinity.

The Black Of It

The Manolo ballet flats, on which I have relied for several years, served valiantly. But they will not do for walking 30 minutes on city streets. These Aerosoles, which shod me quite happily through the streets of Manhattan and San Francisco, are too clod-hopperish for an office. Why have we stopped using the word clod-hopper, I wonder?

My new shoes are from Beautifeel. Dreadful name, but I quite like the shoes. The opposite of good field, no hit. I have lace-ups in hand, the slip-ons are ordered. In a trial long walk to a neighboring suburb, the comfort was pretty much as advertised.

The Tan Of It

These Steve Madden brogues, despite their dark cloud of brand shame, still make the starting lineup. Anyone else notice how talk of work encourages sports metaphors? To say nothing of aggressive harvesting and military action terms? Carpe profit. Old habits die hard.

But Mr. Madden does not himself a brown universe complete. So a pair of Beautifeel Dolis are also on order. Due to ship from Israel at the end of the month.

When you look at my clothes, strewn about, ready for the playing grounds, you see that there’s probably no need for shoe pop. Note the inklings of purple? Began with the J. Crew Liberty print, increased with lavender gingham. I suspect my grayed hair has made room for new shades to join the team.

I believe wholeheartedly that one can make sufficient impression with a subtle approach. I’d rather start quiet and escalate. That applies to career Plan As and Plan Bs, by the way. By my age one has developed a consistent approach across all sorts of territory.

Miu Miu glitter booties via net-à-porter
Manolo ballet flats, and Aerosoles, me. Beautifeel “Kimberly” and “Jennifer” via Footwear Inc.
Steve Madden brogues, me, brown Beautifeel “Doli” via Beautifeel

36 Responses

  1. You ask: “Why have we stopped using the word clod-hopper, I wonder?”

    I answer: Because Red Skelton is no longer on TV! ;-)

    And about the shoes you show above, any of them come in narrows? I hope, I hope, I hope.

    …Probably not. *sigh*

    1. Ahem, I believe that was Clem Kadiddlehopper (although I am not sure of the spelling and too lazy to look it up) – not clodhopper. And some of us still use the word, as shown by this post. I am showing my age, aren’t I?

  2. “Although I do understand why these Miu Miu booties became the iconic shoe of the season.”

    I’m glad you do – all I can think is “These people DO know Michael Jackson’s dead, right??”

  3. I suspect I would have used going back to work as an excuse for a major shopping trip. Far better to pick up a few needed items, live your new job for a few weeks, and then go shopping.

  4. I feel like the two black shoes from “Beautifeel” are very similar, why would you wear one over the other? I like the “Doli” in dark brown.

  5. The Beeutifeel shoes look stylish and sturdy…perfect in fact.
    I have mostly black shoes too…and am still hunting for a red pair.

    It is interesting that the greying of hair allows us to add some soft shades that we might have previously shied away from. I’ll bet that you look and feel fabulous with some unexpected colour!

    The fact that you can walk to work is such a luxury and it’s so healthy and “green” at the same time.

  6. I think the subtle approach will be very effective. I quietly dress in comfortable yet stylish clothing and work on a little “pizzazz” with my accessories. People now comment frequently on my outfits and remark how nice I always look…People also copy the way I dress, the sincerest form of flattery, no?

  7. “Develop Plan B silently, so as to distract no one. Including yourself.” <—How do you keep coming up with SUCH TRUTH? You, lady, are a motto maker.

    Also, a color that I think would look kind of awesome on you – a rusty caramel kind of color. Hmm, is there a word for this? Not auburn, not sepia, but that perfect blend of yellow, brown and red. You would look FAB.

  8. What a bonus to be able to walk to work so healthy.

    The Doli shoes have a very Edwardian look would like to see what you would wear with them.Ida

  9. I hate those booties. I don’t really ever have such a strong reaction to shoes or apparel, but really, close to $1000 for clown shoes?

  10. Anything can be done in sturdy shoes!
    I am always on the look for a stylish shoe that I can walk in, really walk in, for half an hour or more.
    Your picks are great, you’re so good at this!
    I am very happy you can walk to work, it really puts things in their place, doesn’t it?

  11. Purple goes so well with grayed hair! I compliment my mother all the time.

    Would you feel uncomfortable if your new co-workers knew your blog? :-I

  12. My work shoes of choice are flats. I sometimes wear a small heel – but usually regret it! My workplace is also business casual – and I find I am usually more “dressed” then the others in my office. But I don’t mind – I wear what I like – what makes me feel good – and that looks good on me. Then I can concentrate on my work.

    Congratulations on your new job – please try to keep up with your blog.

  13. When I was working I wore mostly black shoes, some brown. I still like black shoes even though I am starting the process of pushing back on black. On the other hand I have also come to accept that I am not going back to work anytime soon even though I always assumed I would be doing so.

    I have therefore decided to invest in some completely frivolous shoes in colors I like, although still comfortable to wear. Should I go back to work, I am certain shoes will still be available.

  14. I have been feeling very kindly toward collared shirts lately, after rejecting them for a few decades. In particular, a sold-out shirt from J Crew in “wild ikat” is calling my name, though it is, as I noted, no longer available. Sigh.

    On a different note, should I be glad or appalled that I could actually wear those Miu Miu shoes to work? Professorial privilege, I call it.

  15. That’s great that you can walk some days! It’s hard to fit exercise into a full-time work schedule so building into your commute is a plus.

    Don’t get so busy listening to your iPod that someone runs over you!

  16. Looked at the website. The Claudia brown/bordo is my favorite shoe there. They’d look great with everything. Love the cut, not geriatric.

  17. Over the hump! How is your first week going!?

    I’m lucky to be able to walk or ride my bike to work frequently (weather permitting). If I decide to “dress up” (usually days that I teach), I have a pair of red Clark Mary Janes for walking and carry my heels in my bag.

  18. Wishing you the best in your next phase. I have trying out the Beautifeel brand on my list. If the feet aren”t happy, nothing else matters at this point. Love those JCrew Perfect shirts. Wish there were more patterns to choose from as they are super comfortable and light weight, so good for fall layering as well as warmer days. Enjoy your re-entry. I am also returning to work now and so far I am liking the perspective an absence from the work world brings.

  19. If you are within a walking distance to your work, you really don´t need other shoes than those used for sports walking. You can keep your in-work shoes at the office and exchange shoes on arrival!

  20. All smart, sturdy, and stylish choices Lisa!! I love how Jennifer has a modern, Mary Poppins-ish heel and a square-pointy toe, I’m going to check those out immediatey as I’m on my feet the whole time at work.
    Your melange of outfits at the ready all look very fun…not boring officey at all, and the lavender gingham top really made your outfit pop in the previous post, it’s wonderful.
    Here’s to back to school…I mean work, shopping! ;)
    xo J~

  21. I love all your new work clothes Lisa, and how you found a way to make business casual pretty and business-like, which is not an easy feat.

    p.s. I think a good tailor could fit those pants perfectly on you with a few tweaks.

    Hope your first week back was a great one!

    xo Mary Jo

  22. You make it look so easy! Style + comfort can be such an elusive state. I know from whence I speak, as I seem to be perenially out of fashion’s step as I clodhop my way through style-conscious Barcelona. And it’s not just the shoes….

  23. I find the Steve Madden Brogues very pretty. It would be quite a style change for me , but I am thinking about something like that, I think they can even look cute with skirts.
    And Lisa, funny, maybe you will think that I am completely crazy, but I am preparing this post on Synchronicity and it is the second time today that I see the Miu Miu ankle boots. Perhaps you know “The Blonde Salad” ? Otherwise, there is something out there or perhaps it is just me showing mild sighs of schizophrenia.

    Here is what I am talking about…

    1. My 19 yr old daughter bought those Steve Madden oxfords Fall 10 on sale at Famous Footwear for $24. The shoe is not brogue-y at all. It is made of a very very thin leather and are lightweight.BTW she does have narrow feet

  24. Ally Bean – These shoes are good for wide metatarsal, narrow heels. I don’t think for narrow over all:(.

    Jan – Ha!

    DocP – My stated philosophy is to start with the minimum sufficient effort.

    kathy – The shoes have different heel heights. I think that will help with my capacity to walk all the way to work as often as possible.

    hostess – I find that this walking is adding to my good mood, as much as red shoes do for some:).

    Debbie – That is clearly the sincerest form of flattery. I wonder what sort of accessories you use?

  25. Hijab – Thank you. And I am so impressed by your color sense as you are exactly right. I have a caramel sweater and I’m always amazed that it looks good on me. I will wear it one day to work.

    Ida – I agree, like button up boots. I will probably wear them in a very conservative way:).

    Patsy – I just look at them as objets:).

    Marilyn – Thank you!

    DaniBP – Thank you. High praise, you have such elegant style.

    Paula – I was very open about the blog to everyone in the hiring process.

  26. Ming – I have always worn flats too. But to an extent it seems that if the shoes are sturdy enough to walk in, to be suited for the office they need a heel to counteract the sturdiness. If that makes sense. I will absolutely try to keep up with the blog.

    Mardel – Hshahahahaha. Yes, I imagine black shoes will still be available.

    MJ – Kadiddlehopper! Perfect. Age is a good thing.

    Miticia – I look forward to reading your illustrations.

    Miss Cavendish – Sigh. And professorial privilege is a lovely thing indeed.

  27. RoseAG – The walking is making me very, very happy. And I don’t even listen to an iPod.

    kathy – Definitely quirkier.

    firstmilk – Wise woman.

    CashmereLibrarian – I suppose I’m just seeing if it’s possible not to carry shoes and walk anyway. Isn’t it a luxury not to have to get into a car?

    Erin – Congratulations on returning to work. The J. Crew perfect shirts are wonderful. I have the purple gingham, and one in Liberty of London print. I’d be open to some more.

  28. mette – I’m stubborn. I’m going to try to do this without changing.

    WendyB – Anyone needs a 55-year old, non-tall model, I’m game:). I’d need a beautiful blush dress to go with them, don’t you think?

    Jessica – Thank you! Now I just need some more shirts, some cashmere sweaters, knit jackets, and pants that fit:).

    Mary Jo – Thank you. I do plan to take the pants to a tailor, at some point when I catch my breath a bit.

    Laura – Thank you! I hope Barcelona is fun.

    Amanda – Yes. They are the shoe of the season! And I think you could carry brogues off very well.

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