Originally created 05/07/00

Explosion of new sandal styles spells confusion



Is wearing open-toe shoes or sandals to the office a fashion faux pas?

Ellen Fruchtman, director of public relations for Rich's, says it's appropriate in some office settings.

"Since the weather is warmer, and there are so many different styles of open-toe shoes that are very stylish, women are wearing them," Ms. Fruchtman says.

So many offices are going to a casual environment with corporate-casual styles and dress-down Friday that open-toe shoes have become more accepted.

"You have to take into consideration the whole look and remember that corporate-casual is a very put-together look, and with open-toe shoes it must look finished and professional. It has to be the right shoe with the right outfit. I'm wearing an open-toe shoe now," Ms. Fruchtman says.

But other fashion gurus hold the line, saying only closed-toe shoes should be worn to the office.

David Wolfe, a retail fashion consultant with Doneger Group in New York, advises large chain department stores. He says wearing open-toe shoes to the office is never appropriate.

"Not if you want to get to the board room," he says. "Women have assumed that just because they can get away with not wearing nylons in the office that somehow open-toe shoes are allowed. If you want to get anywhere in the company, don't wear them."

Ms. Fruchtman agrees that open-toe shoes are never appropriate for board room meetings and presentations. And, she says, open-toe shoes should stay in the closet on those occasional power-pump days.

"It's based on your environment. In some offices that are conservative, open-toe shoes are not going to be appropriate, and you may want to have a less embellished look. But in creative industries, such as the fashion industry, it's a far more relaxed environment."

If you're not sure if open-toe shoes are going to be frowned upon in your office, Ms. Fruchtman suggests watching what the executives wear, knowing your clients and taking your cues from there. Also, if you're going to wear open-toe shoes, make sure your feet look neat.

Nylons aren't necessary with open-toe shoes, but having attractive feet is a must if you are not wearing stockings. Ms. Fruchtman says a nice pedicure and a pretty polish will do.

Michael Earle, owner of Solutions European Day Spa and Salon in Augusta, says the need for regular pedicures depends on what type of work you do.

"If you're on your feet more you will need to get regular pedicures," -- about once or twice a month, Ms. Earle says.

A professional pedicure can cost anywhere from $30 to $60, depending on how much of a treat you give your feet. The most involved treatment can include not only pushing back the cuticles and exfoliation but also a deluxe skin exfoliation from the knees down to the feet, a sea salt scrub, a clay mask, warm wrap, whirlpool soak and an intensive alpha hydrox acid scrub on the feet. The alpha hydrox scrub loosens the dead skin on the heels.

Simple foot care performed at home, including soaking, exfoliating and moisturizing, will help keep feet looking good.

Tips for pretty feet

Michael Earle, owner of Solutions European Day Spa and Salon in Augusta, suggests these tips for easy home foot care to keep feet looking great and well maintained:

Give your feet a good soak. Fifteen to 20 minutes will do.

Remove dead, calloused skin from the balls of your feet by exfoliating with a pumice stone or loofah.

Give yourself a foot massage. Oil will facilitate massage, but be careful not to get it on the toenails to avoid bacteria growth.

Apply a moisturizer on your feet every time you bathe, just as you would the rest of your body.

Elevate your feet above your heart to allow blood to flow and return upward. This is especially helpful if you're on your feet all day. It helps eliminate varicose veins and other problems caused by standing all day.

Stretch and move your feet around to loosen tendons and muscles. To stretch your calf muscles, Ms. Earle recommends putting a towel around your feet and pulling the ends toward you. For achy feet, freeze a bottle of water, rest your feet on it, then put your feet in hot water. Do this to your feet as soon as you get home from work.