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Paralegal Career Dressing: Why I Don’t Wear Peep Toes to Work

Paralegal Career Dressing: Why I Don’t Wear Peep Toes to Work
Merona Elinor Slingbacks (Target)

Or, Okay, Maybe Sometimes

If you’re a professional working in a conservative office, or even in a business casual work environment, you know that bringing up the subject of pantyhose or open toe shoes for work will start an argument amongst your peers that’ll make you wish you’d thrown out politics or religion as conversation starters instead.

For the record, I don’t get why ladies’ toes should not be seen at work. Except if they’re unkempt. And then, no way, man.

But talking to some colleagues recently about strange things that have happened to me over the course of my 20-plus year paralegal career reminded me why I generally keep my toes to myself at work.

I also generally don’t talk about clients, vendors, or colleagues, not just for confidentiality and professional reasons, but because it’s just a better idea not to, and I’m not one of those famous anonymous paralegal bloggers who can say anything they want as long as they’re not busted. (Rats, why didn’t I think of that back in 2008? ๐Ÿ™‚

But as a paralegal, you do meet all kinds, and you need to be prepared to meet all kinds. Plus, I don’t plan to say much about this experience, and it happened a long, long time ago.

First, I have been offered cash presents by clients. That’s kinda creepy even when it’s meant as a compliment for work well done. (For newbies, you must diplomatically decline to accept money, even if you are eating Ramen noodles for lunch every day.)

Second, I’ve been privy to some surprising admissions by clients, one so startling that I discreetly left the conference room, and made sure I didn’t go back in by myself.

And then there was the time that someone I met during the course of work and had enjoyed talking to many times over an extended period suddenly blurted out that he really liked feet, and especially admired mine.

Can you say awkward? Being the master of rapier-like repartee, I said, “Uh….”

Then to be polite, I let him wax poetic (this was over the telephone) about my feet. That was probably not the right thing to do, but I was in my early 20s and hadn’t a clue as to how to change the subject quickly. I was also a complete rube and honestly didn’t know there are peeps who go ga-ga for feet. (For newbies, a key paralegal skill is knowing how to regain control of conversations gone AWOL.)

After he had his say, it never came up again. I still talked to him plenty of times, and liked him just fine. But I think about it sometimes when I’m picking out shoes for work, and usually opt to keep my apparently irresistible phalanges modestly covered.

The super cute Merona Elinor Slingback black patent pumps shown above are on sale for $21.24 at Target, and still available online in many sizes. What say you? Great look for the conservative office, or too much toe for work?

10 Responses to Paralegal Career Dressing: Why I Don’t Wear Peep Toes to Work

  1. Hmm… I have have an odd relationship with footwear that shows my toes (for me, I don't care what others do.) While I have no problem wearing sandals (in a casual office), I have never, ever liked to wear peep toes. I also particularly dislike closed-toe shoes with a short toe box that show "toe cleavage." This is mainly a problem with round-toed flats, but I've seen it in the occasional pump.

    Your story about the foot compliments made me giggle. Even knowing that there are people who fetishize feet doesn't really prepare you for that kind of comment coming out of the blue. I have received over-enthusiastic compliments on my feet when wearing sandals in a casual office, and it is VERY awkward! (The last time was when I was working as a contractor in a jail, and the comment came from an inmate! I just walked away and went to stand near the officer.)

  2. Complex subject and, because of that, I have great sympathy for women struggling with it.

    The original objections to showing toes in the office were (1) breach of decorum and (2) overt display of sexuality. The first objection has disappeared as general standards in dress have eased considerably since the 1950s. The second, however, is still a problem.

    The traditional view is that women exhibiting sexuality are at fault for "provoking" inappropriate responses from men, allegedly excited with lust beyond control. I disagree with this view. As a feminist, I hold men RESPONSIBLE for their actions. It is not a woman's fault if a man behaves like a cad. And commenting, unprompted, upon the sexiness of a woman's feet is wrong. Just wrong.

    Tough subject.

  3. When I worked in a formal setting (for a Judge) I rarely wore peep toes and almost always wore pantyhose. That sure was restricting! But yeah, I was so conscious of showing too much foot back then. Now I wear whatever I want to work and it is awesome, but I am not currently practicing, so…

  4. I would like to have seen your face during the foot conversation. You killed me with, "Being the master of rapier-like repartee, I said, "Uh…."" We must have gone to the same repartee school.

    My office is fairly casual, and nobody seems to mind peep show toes. I am with your first commentor in that I have a weird aversion to toe cleavage, and also will not usually wear peep-toe shoes. Sandles are not a problem unless my feet are not "view worthy." I've gotten my share of uncomfortable comments at work, but never about my feet.

  5. Whoa! I had never thought about this aspect of peep toes, perhaps because I've never had an encounter with a fetishist. BUT, if we are dressing only to avoid such people, why wouldn't we all be wearing the ugliest of shoes–our trainers?

  6. I can wear sandals or closed toe no problem, but when material starts lapping over my toes/putting pressure hurt. Especially in heels where the foot tips forward.

    I have no problems with feet, but it seems like a lot people are of two houses: foot fetishes or foot phobics. I like my shoes awfully well, and I like my own feet for their adaptability.

    I'd keep my feet covered in an office, just because I think it is more professional. However I wouldn't call someone out for wearing peeptoes. I think that goes into personal preferences, the level of casualness in your office, etc.

    I started to hear about the "toe cleavage" issue on blogs, and have honestly been baffled. I never knew it was such a big deal.

  7. I'd love to see a post related to the following from today's post…

    (For newbies, a key paralegal skill is knowing how to regain control of conversations gone AWOL.)

    I have a HUGE issue with this. I am an overly empathetic person and I work in primarily workers' compensation, so I hear lots and lots of clients' personal issues.

    Sharon

  8. @A ~ "Toe cleavage"! made *me* giggle.

    @Shybiker ~ I pro'bly should have added that the description was mostly in kind of architectural terms, but you're right, it was a totally inappropriate topic for a professional conversation.

    @JCJD ~ Our firm is probably more relaxed than most, although the courtroom rules haven't changed at all. Hose. Check. No toes. Check.

    @Ms. A ~ I honestly have to say I'd never ever thought much about my feet before that conversation, so I was totally gobsmacked ๐Ÿ˜›

    @Terri ~ I suspect a genuine toe creeper can see right through trainers…lol.

    @Megan Mae ~ I'd never heard of "toe cleavage" until today, and now I can't stop saying it over and over because it makes me laugh ๐Ÿ˜€

    @Sharon ~ Ah, The Master of Conversations Gone AWOL hears your plea and will share some pointers in the near future ๐Ÿ™‚ But here's one that works every time, "OMG, my boss needs me right now! Gotta go!" "I have to pee" is also pretty effective ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  9. Hi Ms. Lynne,

    Thanks for your kind comment on my newest post! Yep, I've been in that situation also, offered cash for work. I politely accepted the envelope, and let them talked and talked. Then before they left I returned the envelope to them and thanked them politely. I agree with you, it was an akward situation and took me awhile to think of a way to get out of it nicely ^_^
    I always wear open toe, closed or even peep toe hurt my feet. And with stockings, never mind the fashion rule, it's freezing in the office. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Visit me:
    LeeAnne, Style N Season
    http://stylenseason.blogspot.com

  10. If I had to work in an office so conservative that I couldn't wear a peep toe pump, I think I'd go completely bonkers (I'm 3/4 of the way there now.) I adore a really cute peep toe shoe, so long as it's not overly casual, and have no problem wearing open toe shoes in our office. Hell, there's some people around here who practically wear flip flops during the summer, although I do think that's way too casual. On the insurance defense side, I don't have as much client interaction. Open toes in court? No way.

    Maybe it's just me, but I've never really thought of showing toes as overtly sexual. I know some people have a thing for feet, but so long as they keep it to themselves, and it would be unprofessional not to, then I couldn't care less.

    Viva la peep toe! ๐Ÿ™‚

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]gmail.com

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workersโ€™ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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