Women

How shoes give a girl a step up at work  Expert says the right footwear can help your career… but they don’t have to be high heels

Helen Persson has curated a new exhibition about the history of footwear

Helen Persson said smart shoes make women – and men – feel more confident

The right pair of shoes really can help a woman get a step ahead in her career –according to an expert.

But despite what some people might think, they do not need to be high heels.

Helen Persson, the curator of a new exhibition about the history of footwear – Shoes: Pleasure and Pain – at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, said smart shoes make women – and men – feel more confident.

She also revealed that one businessman told her he writes off candidates for a job if they do not wear good shoes to the interview.

She explained that a good pair of shoes can have the psychological effect of making a woman more confident and more willing to put herself forward and get noticed. She added the same is true of men.

She personally has a collection of 40 pairs of shoes, including a ‘special’ trio– made by Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and L K Bennett – which she keeps in her office draw for important meetings.

The impact types of shoes have will vary as they create different postures and psychological impacts. Miss Persson said: ‘When you put shoes on you do feel different because the body reacts to them. It is a physical transformation, a physical experience.

‘The way you act does change depending on what shoes you wear, it’s all in your head but, as a women, wearing flat ballerina pumps makes you naturally want to skip but then if you put on a pair of high heels your posture and how you project yourself does change and you do feel different.

‘We all play different roles and stepping into shoes is like being an actor, it starts from the floor up, they do make you feel different and they are a very important part of how you project yourself.

With this in mind, she explained it is important to think about what shoes to wear in different situations, especially when it comes to getting a job and progressing.

She said: ‘Wearing the right shoes is very important for getting a job but I don’t think people think about it, you dress up and are so attentive to what you are wearing, the suit, the tie but then the shoes are a bit manky or they haven’t been cleaned, it signifies that extra bit of effort to look the part. It’s about the whole look but you can fall flat on your face with the wrong pair of shoes.

Shows such as Sex and the City and fashionable celebrities are the reason why a ‘cult’ has developed around high-end shoes over recent years, according to Miss Persson.

On the American comedy, in which character Carrie Bradshaw had a huge collection of shoes and a particular love for designer Manolo Blahnik, she said: ‘What it did, and what shouldn’t be underestimated, is it brought this life into everyone’s living room. That was a big turning point because then not just the people in the know knew about Manolo Blahnik – who has been on top since the Seventies – but he became part of the vocabulary for everyone because of Sex and the City.