Did you know that it’s perfectly legal for a company to send you home from work if you refuse to wear high heels? Nope. Neither did I. That is until the news broke this morning that 27 year-old Nicola Thorp was sent home when she turned up for her temp job as a receptionist in flats and refused, when asked by her employer, to nip out and buy a pair of “two to four inch heels” to change into. Ouch.
What followed has made Nicola, an actress, my new hero. She pointed out that her male colleagues were allowed to wear flats, so it was pretty discriminatory to try and make her wear heels if she didn’t want to. Apparently her employers, LwC, then “laughed” at her. Nice. She called an employment helpline to find out what her rights were and they told her that a company was within its rights to enforce a formal dress code. So in the eyes of the law, they had done nothing wrong (they also told her to wear make-up for her new role and had given her a chart of “acceptable shades”; also legal).
Nicola was pretty cross by this point, so she decided to start a petition to make it illegal for employers to force women to wear high heels to work. YES NICOLA! I’m very lucky; I work in an industry where I can wear what I like to work which is great, because I actually don’t even own any heels (you can read more about that on my blog dedicated to the subject of flat shoes, EnBrogue.com). But why on earth should other women have to go through the agony of wearing high heels when the men they work with don’t? What if a woman has a bad back or disability that means wearing heels isn’t an option for her? Fiona Bruce got a lot of stick for wearing trainers to read the BBC 10 o’clock news last week, even though she had broken her foot! And what if a woman simply prefers to wear flat shoes because it’s 2016 and SHE HAS A CHOICE? It’s utter madness.
MORE: HOW TO WEAR BROGUES
Anyway, if you agree with Nicola (which I’m sure you do) you can sign her petition by clicking here. Meanwhile, here are a few tips to help making flats in a formal environment a bit easier.
Vamp it up
Don’t assume that wearing heels is the only way to elongate your legs; choosing a low vamp – that just means that the shoe is cut lower on your foot, so you show more skin – gives the illusion of longer legs, and is more flattering to wear with a pencil skirt
Make a point
There’s something about pumps with a pointy toe that looks a little bit smarter than a round-toe ballet pump. Not only that, some women say it gives them a similar confidence boost to the one other women feel when they wear heels
Mix masculine and feminine
If you’re wearing a trouser suit, opt for a feminine shoe and make sure your trousers are short enough to show off your ankles. And while brogues look great with tailoring, it’s hard to pull of a completely boyish look (massive applause to those who do!), so consider wearing your lace-ups with a contrasting outfit, like a floral print dress.
Your flat shoes should always look considered, not like you meant to put your heels in your bag to change into but forgot them as you ran out of the house. Scruffy ballet pumps with holes in the soles are a definite no-no. Always make sure your shoes are in good condition and nice and clean.