A facebook friend commented recently how thrilled he was to NOT HAVE TO WEAR A SUIT! Looking at it from a strictly career point of view, that's entirely logical - there's a definite progression in jobs, from jumpsuits to uniforms to suits and at the apex - wear whatever you please.
However, this simplified list leaves out one little interruption in many women's lives - being a Mum. This is a jeans and t-shirt job, and while it's the most important role I play, and I wouldn't change my part-time status for a full-time career, I still like to feel like a bona fide professional sometimes!
So it was that last week, I approached a week of business English lessons with blouses, skirts, tailored pants and high heel shoes. I could quite easily have got away with jeans and t-shirts, as it was just me and one student in a windowless classroom in the centre of an office block.
Especially the shoes. It's not easy being a shoe fan in a country where there are no ladies' shoes to fit my gaijin feet in a 100 mile radius, and working in elementary schools or at home, wearing inside shoes (ballet flats) or just bare feet. But I do my best!
Day one. 9cm heel. I call them 'the purple ones', even though they are black patent leather peep-toes. The inner sole and lining are purple though, so they are great to wear to an event where you know you are going to have to remove your shoes at the door, because that purple tint looks quite striking in the genkan. It's always a shame to have to leave your pretty shoes at the door, and an absolute tragedy when you have to totally destroy your carefully collated 'look' with a pair of green plastic slippers. So it's nice to have a pair of shoes that you can feel happy leaving there. I wore them because when they are on, they are very plain, and I was aiming for 'conservative/polished' as I was meeting my student for the first time. I teamed them with a black skirt and a short-sleeved purple striped blouse.
Day Two. 9cm heel. Having met my student I felt confident about being a bit more striking. These gorgeous snake skin strappy high-heel sandals have just a little hint of bling. They've held together remarkably well for being 'No. 1 Shoe Warehouse' shoes. They always remind of my sister Rebecca, because I bought her a pair of the same shoes when I bought them. They were on sale for $9. I wore them with black pants and short-sleeved red blouse.
Day Three. 11cm. Getting bolder! By now I had realized that the whole week was actually not about work, or English, or pay checks or professional development - it was about shoes! I wore these with the same black pants from the day before, teamed with a blue wrap-around shirt (that I bought for aforementioned sister's wedding way back in 2000!) and the pretty blue stone necklace and matching earrings Emily gave me before she returned to the US.
Day Four. 7cm. Having spotted these shoes in the closet, I constructed an outfit to match, with a tan suede skirt, olive green shirt and the green stone necklace and earring set given to me by Emily. I don't wear these shoes much. They are too plain, perhaps, while I like to make a statement with my shoes. They are beautiful in a subtle way.
Day Five. 8cm. I just LOVE these shoes. They are SO comfortable (once you get them on). I fell in love with whole idea of high-heel brogues as soon as I saw them in magazines, and HAD to have some. Luckily Hannah's in NZ had a suitable pair when I went back home last. These are the kind of shoes that make you realize that yes, there are still untapped ideas in fashion waiting to be discovered. Why the heck didn't anyone think of this before?? I wore them with a tweed skirt and a black and white blouse with a floral pattern (nicer than it sounds).
Just for posterity's sake, I own six more pairs of heels - 7cm black leather slingbacks, probably my most useful heels for work; 7cm white mules, same; 6cm brown strappy high-heel sandals*; 9cm white strappy wedge heels; 11cm white peep-toe sling-backs and my killer heels - 11cm black strappy sandals. The last two I only ever wear if I know I am going to be sitting down !
*special place in my heart for these, bought for me as a present for my birthday by my sisters, at a time when I was just starting to re-emerge from four years of life in the baby world, and, combined with the denim jacket they also sent, served to remind that babies or no, I'm still a chick who loves her shoes.