One of the perks of working at a hip ad agency is the laid-back dress code. Depending on the amount you interact with clients, your footwear options can range from professional to downright “depressional” (as in no shoes at all, get it?). But regardless of the fact that I could essentially wear any shoes I want to the office, I prefer to follow the “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” philosophy. But climbing the career ladder can be exhausting in platform shoes. I usually can’t make it past lunch before I slip into some flats. This is mainly because my job as office manager requires a lot of time on my feet, so I have to wear more practical shoes.
This got me thinking: Is there some sort of footwear caste system? Can you tell what department someone works in just by looking at their shoes? It’s hard to tell, especially in a creative field like ours where we have the freedom to express ourselves. But here and there, I’ll pick up on some subtle indicators. For example, catching a glimpse of an account executive in sneakers is about as rare as a flexible deadline. Conversely, you’ll never catch Emily from creative services wearing heels, because she’s usually running around wrangling cats – in flats. Anyhow, here are some more observations I’ve made about agency footwear:
They usually wear really nice dress shoes. The kind of shoes you only have one pair of and wear to every wedding, funeral or court date. The kind of shoes that say, “I’ve been places.” Sometimes spiced up with fun socks or, in some cases, no socks at all – European style.
Most iconic: Philip’s monk-strap shoes worn sans socks
The peacocks of the agency. These artsy types can’t help but show off their creative side by sporting limited-edition sneakers, statement “art” heels and hip military-style boots. Comfort levels are high, and so is their workload.
Most iconic: Sonni’s Nike wedge sneakers
Restraint is the key word here. Much like they need to display this valuable trait when meeting with clients, they need their footwear to step up and do the same. Pointy black heels, preppy oxfords, classic nude pumps and the occasional heeled bootie. Beauty is pain in this career field, and no one knows this better than our babely execs.
Most iconic: Blair’s black slingback pumps
Such highly evolved brainiacs hardly have time to piddle around with things as mundane as footwear. Think Birkenstocks, Converse, those weird toe shoes that make you look like a tree frog or, in some cases, no shoes at all.
Most iconic: Darren’s year-round sandals
The young movers and shakers. It’s these tastemakers’ jobs to stay ahead of trends, so it’s no surprise that their preference in shoes is a step ahead of the rest. Vintage pumps, ’70s-inspired clogs, cool desert boots and sneakers that someone once said, “look like something your grandpappy would have wrestled in during the 1920s.”
Most iconic: Jay’s assortment of platform clogs