Do We Still Care About Shoe Etiquette?

2nd February 2020


Sneakers and casual wear are making their way into office and private members’ clubs, but have we gotten a little too comfortable? 

It’s 2020 and the rules have changed, with a lot of formalities quickly vanishing.

Instagram DM’s are now an acceptable way to reach out to a professional contact, no one will bat an eyelid if you show up for lunch in your active wear and sneakers are making their way into the work place, fancy restaurants and at times, even black tie affairs. 

Remember Serena Williams at last year’s Met Gala, pairing her Versace Couture gown with a pair of neon Nike x Off White sneakers? 

Even private members’ club Annabel’s recently changed its dress code policy, which previously strictly prohibited sneakers and denim and demanded that male members wear a tie. The new policy, reimagined by committee member and Youtube’s head of fashion Derek Blasberg, is loosening up the historic establishment rules and giving members the green light to wear denim and sneakers inside the club – provided that they do “not look like they’ve been used to play sports.”

The shift comes as no surprise, since historic fashion houses have been giving the humble sneaker the luxury treatment the past few years: Gucci’s crystal-embellished ‘Flashtrek’ sneaker, Louis Vuitton’s now-classic ‘Archlight’ and the Givenchy chunky-soled ‘Jaw’ style are just a few examples. 

If luxury clients across the globe are putting their names on waiting lists to acquire them and pairing them with their croc Hermes Birkins and luxe Max Mara teddy coats, even Annabel’s has to make a compromise and put etiquette and tradition to one side. 

It’s a step in a positive direction many would agree: Putting comfort and ease of movement first – previously a rarity in women’s wardrobes – is a much-needed change. 

But have we forgotten basic etiquette and the pure joy of dressing up along the way? We’re all definitely investing more in flat shoes and sneakers – Net-a-Porter for one, doubled its sneaker buy in the last two years. But as comfortable – and cool – your Yeezys might look paired with some high-waisted track pants, it’s also worth considering that we might be starting to get a little too comfortable. There are just some occasions when the casual sneaker look shouldn’t make the cut. 

Etiquette is an archaic concept in many ways and in the modern day world bending the rules and challenging the status quo is a privilege. But there’s also a fine line between being free and respectful of your surroundings. 

Take an average day at the office as an example, it will likely require completing deadlines, pitching ideas, interacting with colleagues and other collaborators and a whole lot of hustle. Dressing up – by tucking your trousers into a pair of power boots, rather than down in a pair of Yeezys might help you send a more professional message.

Same with black tie events: Unless you are Serena Williams and going to an avante-garde affair like the Met Gala, classic choices might serve you better, it boils down to knowing your audience. The good news is that you no longer need to compromise in the heels department either: If you’re not the sky-high Louboutin stiletto type, simply look to Amina Muaddi’s cone-shaped heels designed to provide extra stability; Manolo Blahnik’s classic kitten-heel mules; or to the Attico girls Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini, who design shoes to match their colourful designs, in mostly mid heel heights

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