The sound of the stilettos hitting the marble floor becomes the siren of a powerful woman walking down the aisle. The perfect walk is appreciated by the peers and that glamorous pair of heels adds an air of confidence to her. But not many are aware of the pair of worn out flats under her table that she slips into the moment she sits down.

This is the face of the corporate woman today – choosing fashion over comfort because that has become the unsaid norm.

While some firms do impose this rule on women, other working women claim it to be something that the female employees assimilate from their peers.

An employee of the French Embassy in New Delhi shares that she observes a growth in the number of women, under 30 wearing heels, saying that most of the leading shoe brands do not feature kitten heels – they will either have ballerina flats or 6-inch heels. “It is an unsaid thing to wear formal with heels. While women choose to wear really high heels, others are compelled to wear them because of a dearth of short heels. They surely make you look good with your formalwear and this is aided by the peers and the designers equally.”

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Warsha Bharadwaj, who recently joined her first job in a multinational firm, says, “the first day I walk in and I see most of the women dressed as if they were about to walk the runway. At first, I was shocked, but into the job for a week, I realised that I had absorbed this work culture. And it wasn’t something that the firm had mandated to do but it was the women who were doing so.”

Women have begun to spend more on footwear and their looks and thus there is a change in footwear. There is a cross that women have found between heels and comfort and that is wedges. The broad heels give the height and the comfort by providing support to the entire foot. Adding to this, a manager at a business planning firm said, “I would surely wear heels when there is a formal meeting, and I like the way my posture changes with wearing heels.”

The need for wearing heels is not just restricted to the corporate world but is a necessity in the glamorous and a requirement in the airline sector too.

“It is an absolute crime to walk into a casting room wearing flats or anything less than four inches. It doesn’t give you the grace that is required. The parties too are a point where you are judged for what you are wearing and since heels are an important part of it, we have to wear those foot killers for long hours,” says Sonali Kumar, an aspiring model from Delhi.

However, there is a maximum heel height limit for cabin crew of airlines. Ladies must have heels that are no higher than three inches to decrease the risk of accidents and maintain the height too.

Heels have known to make someone feel more confident about themselves. They tend to walk and talk in a more poised manner, getting more attention than usual.

Manisha Dua, a senior executive in Office Services claims, “I personally believe that a workplace has a certain decorum and dress codes are meant to align with the business needs. It is a personal choice of ladies who may lean towards fashion and give up on comfort.”

Nevertheless, many have been choosing comfort despite all the notions attached to wearing heels. Women have become more conscious of their health and feel that attires do not make or break confident images.

“Heels have become a part of power dressing in India primarily because they add to the posture and hence provide a more confident look. However, more and more women, especially those in their 30s and beyond, are shunning them now. Primarily because of the ill-health effects. “Certain industries do need you to wear heels but most new workplaces are open to the idea of smart yet casual dressing,” says Reha Bublani, head of curriculum at a youth leadership consultancy, who believes that workplace attires do not necessarily mean towering heels.

In an article, Dr Annamalai, a consultant at Manipal Hospital says, “there is 22% pressure on the forefoot. This increases rather dramatically to 57% with two inches and 76% with three inches. That is a lot of pressure on the foot.”

We see an array of responses and views on the formal footwear and dress code. Women choose to experiment, stay within their comfort zone or even choose the trickier path. But all do agree with the health hazards of them and opt for comfort in the long run. Despite this all, are we really in need of a particular kind of footwear to define our seriousness?

Pic Credit: SHEfinds

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Jagriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV