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A businesswoman walks into a room buzzing with chatter, the projector for her presentation already glowing, and she sets her notes on her microphone-equipped podium. Now to just get everyone’s attention.
Let’s rewind a bit. Imagine this woman, dressed in a formal suit jacket and matching pencil skirt, walking into the room wearing a pair of casual flats, sneakers, or even worse — sandals with socks. Could she catch the whole audience’s attention?
Now imagine the same woman in the same outfit, strutting into the room in a pair of high heels. She’s taller. Her heels clack loudly, but not obnoxiously, on the tiled floor. People see and hear her. Their babble subsides.
The businesswoman in the second scenario has a hold on the high heel effect. As trivial as it may sound, her high heels help indicate that she literally means business, and that she thought through every part of her presentation, including her outfit.
Most teens do not start out fresh as high-level business people, but there is still a time and place for high school students and college students to use a high-heeled shoe to their professional advantage. Take, for example, occasions and venues like school presentations, speech contests, debate tournaments, job interviews and work atmospheres.
To take command of any room of people, however, calls for a command of the high-heel, which in turn requires a firm grasp on some essential rules of thumb.
• Learn how to walk in heels. This includes holding a lady-like posture. If the businesswoman in the scenario had tottered in and nearly tripped on thin air, her presence would have been noticeable, but just as unprofessional as if she would have come in her Christmas socks and Birkenstocks.
• Not all heel heights go. Even if you can walk in five-inch heels, wearing killer shoes like these can give off an inappropriate impression. No one wants to look like they’re trying too hard, or like they just came back from the club.
• High heels are not a cure-all. If our businesswoman had slumped through the doorway in an oversized sweater and mom-jeans, even the snazziest heels couldn’t have saved her outfit. Cater your shoes to your outfit. If you decide to wear a black pantsuit, add patent leather pumps in burgundy, chocolate brown or black. However, if your occasion is more informal and you settle on something like dark wash jeans, a colored blazer and matching blouse, pick a more informal heel. Try a wedge or heeled boot. Some shoes — for example a navy suede pump — can be used for both formal and informal outfits. You don’t have to stick to a stiletto.
• Go steep, not cheap. Spending more money on a pair of quality, leather heels is much smarter than dropping a few dollars on shoes made of synthetic materials. These shoes don’t last nearly as long as ones of better quality.
Pick up your best heels, follow the rules of thumb, and test the high heel effect yourself. Maybe wearing heels to your next interview will add that much more to the first impression you make — and may help get your foot in the door.
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