What to Look For in Interview Flats

What To Look For In Interview Flats | Corporette2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on what to look for in interview flats— links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our roundup of cute flats for the office, or our Guide to Interview Suits!

What should you look for in interview flats? When, if ever, must you wear heels to an interview? Which are the most stylish kinds of flats for interviews? Reader L wonders:

I’m starting law school in August, and I’ve heard that heels (3-4″) are a MUST for interviewing and working at a law firm. However, I am a 6′ tall female. I never wear heels, since when I do, I tend to tower over everyone. Would it be appropriate to wear a nice pair of flats in my case?

Great question! We’ve talked about how to look professional in flats all the time,  how to wear heels (if you’re used to flats), and whether flats are professional enough for court.  As far as shoe questions go, this is important, so even though we’ve talked about it a lot, I want to stress it again: you don’t need to wear heels to look professional.  There are a number of reasons why you wouldn’t want to wear heels — from feeling too tall (although hey, I say rock it out if you have the height!), to having foot injuries or issues, to just I-don’t-wanna-itis. A few things that I would note about wearing flats for big events like interviews:

a) There are many, many, MANY professional options for flats — and there are many that look like bedroom slippers, sneakers, or other casual shoes.  Unless you have ethical objections, look for leather and suede options over faux leather or fabric (and keep your shoes well maintained!), and if you want a sleeker look, consider a slightly pointed toe.

b) Be confident when you wear them. Don’t feel like you have to apologize for your flats or explain them away on an interview.  Any time any of your clothes or accessories distract you (or an interviewer), you lose.

We just rounded up a ton of good looking, professional flats from Sole Society, but here are a few more highly-rated flats that would be my first purchases if I were looking… readers, which are your favorite professional flats?  Do you think any styles of flats look more professional than others?  Do you agree with my advice that you CAN interview in flats, even if you’re 6′ tall?

Can You Interview in Flats? | Corporette

Pictured above:

With the exception of shoe number four ( Salvatore Ferragamo Varina, $525), these flats are sadly no longer available. For more inspiration, check out our Guide to Comfortable Ballet Flats.


Picture below via Stencil.


Putting together your next interview outfit? You may wonder if you can wear flats instead of heels for your job interview, so we rounded up ideas in what to look for in a great interview flat, and readers shared their own favorite interview flats and other tips on shoes for interviews.



  1. Diana Barry :

    I just bought these awesome flats that LOOK LIKE HEELS from the front:

    They don’t come in black, unfortunately, but they do come in navy.

    When I interview I usually wear pantsuits and flats – mostly loafers – and have never had an issue. During OCI, occasionally I would wear a skirt suit with a 2″ heel or so, but that was because we had interviews every single day for a couple of weeks. I prefer pantsuits because they are more comfortable.

    • Those are super chic. Are they comfy?

      • Diana Barry :

        Fairly. No arch support though, but they are wide enough to accommodate my bunion on one side.

    • Those are fantastic! They could even help to elongate the legs of us shorter gals without being heels. Nice find!

    • housecounsel :

      I was prepared to type that flats never look as professional as heels. But wow, those Bodens are just elegant!

  2. A professional woman :

    Personally, I would not interview with flats and I think it generally looks unprofessional unless you are older (e.g. 50+) or heavily pregnant. For better or for worse, suits look better with heels. If I did not like heels, I would at least wear a small heel, like a kitten heel, which looks a little dressier than a flat. This is lovely and won’t make you look taller (not that looking tall is a bad thing!!!) http://www.zappos.com/[email protected]:20140805181020:s.

    • Suits can look just as good with flats if they are properly hemmed. I’m so tired of this ish.

      • anon-oh-no :

        just like you are entitled to your opinion, we are entitled to ours. I agree with the OP that flats, as a general category of shoes, do no look particularly professional. lots of people believe that. wear whatever you like, but some people will think it doesn’t look professional. my preference is high heels. sometimes super high. and sometimes low or flat.

        but I think the real issue is really in the extremes in which many people here often speak. the idea that flats are unprofessional is not inherent — flats can certainly be professional and there are pairs that would work fine for an interview and probably go unnoticed. the problem is that many of the flats I see being worn do not fall into that category. thus, flats as a category generally seem unprofessional.

        and the idea of comparing men’s clothes to women’s clothes is just silly. come on people.

        • Anonattorney :

          What about heels make them look more professional as a category than flats? The material/quality of workmanship? Or the way they make your calves or backside look? I’m seriously extremely confused by this entire concept. If it’s the material of the shoe, then obviously it specifically depends on the shoe. If it’s about how the heel makes your body look, I really don’t understand how that has anything to do with professional/unprofessional.

        • Hey, hey! :

          “Lots of people” believe that…

          Yes, lots of people that are “made” to believe that by the patriarchal values that dictate so many aspects of our lives.

          Bless your heart.

      • A professional woman :

        Whatever, not all heels are professional either. Flats are not particularly professional looking for business formal (i.e., suits). Nor are 4 inch platform pumps. Tasteful pumps are ideal – anywhere between 1.5 inch kitten heels to 4 inches (provided you can walk in them) are ideal shoes for business formal.

        • IMO anything that looks like its hobbling you also looks like a costume, and not a professional one. 4 inch heels are in that category.

    • Men seem to do pretty well wearing suits with flats, right? I wear my flats as a feminist statement! I need to walk, I’m prepared to transport myself, to carry boxes and lift files, and do what needs to be done! I am not hobbled or slowed by my shoes! If a person or firm would not hire me because of my professional, leather, well maintained flats then they probably won’t like me much anyway.

      • Random trivia: Way back in history it was men who wore heels. And yes great point, men do not routinely hobble themselves with uncomfortable footwear…..

    • If this is a personal preference, perhaps you should mention your height, so the rest of the audience here would understand better your perspective.

    • It’s amazing (not to mention ridiculous) that a person choosing to wear flats would be considered “unprofessional”. Sure, the fashion world pushes heels for women for all occasions because it’s considered sexy and trendy. But the fact is wearing heels changes one’s gait which can be uncomfortable or painful for some people–your body is trying to compensate for the unnatural posture your body is in. And that’s before you consider the tradeoff of developing feet problems if one wears heels too much. While I find the options for flats offered here rather uninspiring, there are better options if one takes the time to shop. They also look like they wouldn’t offer much arch support apart from the Clarks pair….Found a few options online in the last couple minutes. If one is going to wear flats for an interview, I think having a bit of detail on the toe area adds interest without being too loud. Examples below. Otherwise if it’s just regular wearing to work, make it as interesting as your workplace culture allows.
      Softspots Posie, the navy color is currently on sale: http://www.zappos.com/softspots-posie
      Clarks Concert Band: http://www.clarksusa.com/eng/product/concert_band/26103520

    • anonymama :

      I think there is a vast differentiation to be made between whether heels may look slightly better (i.e., more flattering or more stylish) than flats and whether they actually look more professional. And then it’s a whole ‘nother limb to go out on to say outright that flats look unprofessional. Just because most flats are unprofessional does not mean that flats as a category are unprofessional, any more than the fact that most pants are unprofessional means that all pants are unprofessional. When the style and quality of the flat shoe is in all essentials the same as a dress pump, but just has a flat heel instead of a high heel, it does not magically become unprofessional. For example:

    • I interview people regularly and I would never judge an interviewee for wearing flats (and would be livid if anyone on my team did).

    • Not sure what age has to do with wearing flats and appearing professional.

  3. When, if ever, must you wear heels?
    – Never, unless you want to. Or, maybe, unless your job involves a pole and very little clothing. So, Know Your “Office”, as always.

    Must you wear heels for interviews — or can you interview in flats?
    – No, and yes. You can definitely interview in flats.

    Must you wear heels for law firm jobs?
    – No

    This post gives me the sads.

    • I feel you bro. Sad rawr.

    • Such sad. Much cry.

    • Anonattorney :

      Yep, this post is sad. I’m 6’0 and only wear flats. I’ve also seen plenty of heels that look very unprofessional. I’ve never understood the argument that flats are unprofessional.

    • +10000000!!! Seriously, if your flats look unprofessional, you’re buying the wrong flats!

      • Yep, this post raises my feminist ire and sadness at the continuing state of the world in 2014. Wear professional shoes. They do not have to be heels. People who judge people based on the height of their shoes are the heels.

        • anon-oh-no :

          it raises my feminist ire that you would take on heels vs flats as a feminist issue.

          • nother anon :

            When the issue is expecting women to wear shoes that are uncomfortable, difficult to walk in, and damaging to the bone structure of their feet as a minimum requirement for being taken seriously in the professional world…yeah, it’s a feminist issue.

            Some women are perfectly comfortable wearing heels for eight to ten hours a day. Myself, I’d rather cut my own feet off.

    • I never understood the argument that flats are unprofessional, and that you have to wear heels to look professional as a woman. And yeah, you can wear flats when you’re short, it’s not only you need to wear flats when you’re tall. And surely, you can wear heels when you’re tall, too.

    • Big law to inhouse :

      Totally agree. This makes me super sad. In what world does heels = professionalism? I own only one pair of heels and I have only worn them once. To a wedding. My own. I interviewed at OCI and throughout process and got multiple big law offers. I also interviewed in flats for inhouse jobs and got offered both jobs I interviewed for. For law firms offices, I think they vary, from pretty casual to more business attire, but in no world would heels be required.

  4. I don’t think the Clarks pair looks interview-ready at all – they look like commuting shoes to me. the JCrew Viv is a good option for professional looking flats, although they don’t have a ton of support.

    I’d probably stick to pantsuits with flats – less obvious (and risk of looking young) than with a skirt suit.

    Also, whoever gave the OP the impression that interview heels must be 3-4″ is misinformed – a 2-3″ heel (or an even shorter kitten heel) will work just as well (I’m thinking of the JCrew Valentinas and Ferragamo Carla styles as good ones in that mid-height range).

    • anonymama :

      Yes, at least on me, a 4″ heel actually seems much less professional than a 2.5″ heel… it is just a bit too high, and seems to make even an otherwise staid skirt a bit too leggy. (Some people can pull off a 4″ heel just fine, but if you’re going for max-ultra-uber-most professional possible, it seems like 2.5″ would be closer to the mark than 4″, and even a flat or .5″ heel could very well be more professional than a wobbly 4″)

    • BigLaw Midlevel :

      This. Flats are fine, but not the Clarks and the Rockports look a little cheap if you are interviewing in BigLaw. No need to go for the Ferragamos, but flats do need to be stylish and more on-trend since they can signal being out-of-touch faster than heals. Fashion is subtle and sadly comfort brands often miss the subtlety–save them for once you have the job.

      A 4″ heel seem extreme to me as well. Overly tall heels always read as a little young to me unless they are designer or statement heels (aka, the kinds of things only partners get away with).

  5. I love this post – I am also a 6’0″ tall woman who does not feel comfortable in heels. My other issue is I wear a size 12 shoe, so many women’s shoes don’t even come in my size. Anyone in a similar situation who has found a great shoe? Luckily my office is pretty casual in the summer so I have worn sandals all summer…

    • Amelia Earhart :

      I commented below, but the Dexflex flats at Payless come up to a size 13 (I think). They don’t read super formal to me, but they are incredibly comfortable.

    • Wildkitten :

      I would also suggest Payless – they sort by size, so you can go in and only look at size 12 shoes. I would also try Nordstrom, and call ahead before you go.

    • Nordstroms is your friend. As is Nordstroms Rack – which puts its shoes out according to size. (from a 5’10” size 11).

      If the lack of comfort in heels is from feeling conspicuous – my philosophy is that I’m already tall, what’s a couple more inches. I have 2 inch wedges I wear and 3-4 inch heels, all of which put me at 6 foot or taller.

      If the lack of comfort is from lack of practice – wear them around the house – you break them in a bit and get used to walking around. I believe you are engaging your muscles in a slightly different way, so it can take some practice. If you don’t want to start with a heel, try a wedge – I’m a big fan of the Cole Haans (which do often come in 12s. And flats).

      Which is not to say that you need to wear heels at all…just not to hold yourself back if is something you want to try.

    • Anon for this :

      I worked with a woman who wore almost entirely male inspired fashions. She wore male style dress shoes w/ her pantsuits. I don’t know if they were male style or actually men’s shoes but the whole look was fantastic on her.

      She is openly lesbian and wears her hair short but despite the male inspired dress she looked stunningly feminine too. Her look was powerful. I only add these tidbits because it is such a hard to pull off look and she rocked it. Someone with a different attitude or different hair cut might not project the same vibe.

      She didn’t wear male fashion in the baggy khakis and polo sense. The look was more male trendy or what one might call “metro” attire. High end, fitted, men’s style pant suits, men’s dress shoes and killer make up. She looked amazing.

      • I wish I could pull off this look, but I think it only works on straight body types. If I try to put my very pear-y body into men’s pants, it looks ridiculous. But more power to the women who can, and do, pull it off.

        • Anon for this :

          She has a very straight body type and is thin. I think you are right!

      • Spirograph :

        This sounds gorgeous! I love the idea of it… but like ALN, I think my body type would be prohibitive.

      • SadatWork :

        I swear, I know her! I had a couple of meetings with someone who dressed exactly like this!

      • This…is actually making me feel a lot better. I’m a tall, broad-shouldered, lanky woman, and most feminine fashions look frankly ridiculous on me. Men’s clothing fits much better and is way more flattering, but I’ve always wondered if it’s something you can actually wear in a professional environment.

        My current job is jeans and t-shirts casual, so it’s never really mattered, but for future reference.

    • Spirograph :

      I am blessed with dainty feet (10-10.5) by my family’s standards, but my mom and sister swear by Zappos for finding size 11 and 12 shoes. Mostly because you can filter by size and not bother getting attached to anything that isn’t available in yours. (I swear by Zappos because I’d rather try on a box of 10 shoes at home wit hthe outfits I intend to wear them with than deal with a shoe store. Either way, Zappos for the win.)

      • And don’t forget its cheaper sibling, 6pm.com. Mostly past season styles, but you can get some good deals.

    • I’m also a size 12, so can sympathize.. In the past few years, I’ve bought a lot of shoes from J Crew and have been fairly happy with them (with the help of my great cobbler – I have to put new heels and rubber soles almost immediately). I do all of my shoe shopping online and Nordstrom is my other site of choice.

    • For larger sizes no matter your heel height preference: Barefoot Tess (BFT). They specialize in sizes 10 and up.

      They recently merged with Long Tall Sally and the website is under construction but you can also buy their brand of shoes at places like Shoebuy. I have been very happy with everything I have purchased from either BFT or Long Tall Sally.

    • A Nonny Moose :

      I’m a size 11-11.5 and love my AGL flats. I got them at n strom. I got them in a 41, they were snug at first but broke in beautifully. They’re sold in up to size 14 online!

    • http://long-tall-sally.msgfocus.com/q/1mAxOIug1oZoRM9qFOtI/wv

  6. I think a little bit of heel is always better, but if I interviewed someone wearing professional flats (like 2, 3, or 4 in the pics) I would probably just think “oh, she’s more comfortable in flats” and move on — if I noticed at all. And if you were 6 feet tall and interviewing, I would think “I totally get why she’s wearing flats, and those are chic.”

  7. Amelia Earhart :

    The Clarks strike me as pretty frumpy for some reason.

    I love, love, love the Dexflex Scrunch Flats (I think they’re called Claire) at Payless. Super comfortable, under $30, come in a variety of colors (and sizes for women whose feet are larger than a 10 or 11), and they last unless your delinquent St. Bernard puppy has anything to do with it. They may be too casual for interviews at some places though.

    Does anyone with bigger feet (11 or 12) have a suggestion for other flats?

  8. MollySolverson :

    I wear mostly flats and almost always wear pants. My preference for flats is obviously informing my decision here, but I completely disagree with any suggestion that they are inherently unprofessional. Of course (as with any shoe), some styles read more formal than others. Personally, I think pointy-toed flats look a bit more formal, but I buy and wear flats with rounded toes too, as do many women in my biglaw office.

    For anyone considering purchasing the Rockports in #2 – I ordered them online and returned them. Just my two cents, but they looked cheap IRL and felt very flimsy on my feet.

  9. I realize that it’s not fair, but a lot of flats tend to look either childish on younger women or dowdy on older ones. Numbers 1 and 4 pictured here particularly look like oversized children’s shoes (albeit very expensive children’s shoes, for #4). Again, certainly not fair, and I really doubt that it’s going to be the difference between getting the job and not, but if you’re trying to create the absolute best visual impression possible, you’re probably better off with low to moderate heels. Obviously, if you can’t wear them, you can’t, and I doubt that anyone’s going to really hold it against you, but it’s unlikely to come across quite as formal and polished looking.

    • I agree that most of the options above are too informal/casual.

      These are my workhorse work flats (in black and nude-for-me) –


      • Love those!

      • Those flats look great! Flats with pants generally look fine as long as your pants are hemmed correctly, but it is a little trickier to pair them with skirts and not look dowdy (mostly because we are used to seeing women with elongated lower legs due to their heels, I think?) Pointed toes definitely help.

      • Tinkerbell :

        How does Ivanka run? Narrow? Wide? Medium? Are they stretchable? What does the footbed feel like?

  10. Woods-comma-Elle :

    The heels/no heels argument baffles me, because it’s one thing to say ‘should you wear heels if you don’t want to’ (obviously you shouldn’t) but there are many people who, for health reasons *can’t* wear heels. I’m a heel-wearer, but I have a friend from law school who had to have serious spine surgery to correct spina bifida and she cannot wear heels because it’s painful and worse for her back than most people. So she should wear heels anyway to look ‘professional’? It’s not all about what it looks like. Rawr.

    • +1. I’m dealing with some foot problems at the moment and heels or any shoes where my weight isn’t evenly distributed when I step are really, really, uncomfortable. I would probably end up limping, if only to take pressure off the affected foot.

  11. LoudyTourky :

    I work in Big Law (counsel) in Chicago and interview summer associate candidates from time to time. You do not need to wear heels. Wear shoes you are comfortable in while walking and sitting down — this advice also applies to your entire outfit.

  12. One of the reasons I hate wearing heels is the sound. We have a carpeted office, but it’s over concrete, and I always feel so self-conscious clacking all the way down the hall, especially when the rest of the office is casually-dressed. Do you just own it, or is there a way to prevent/stave off this sound?? (Obviously some flats have this too, if they have harder heels rather than flexible rubbery soles…which is also why I’ve not bought those flats either…)

    • Woods-comma-Elle :

      You can get rubber caps put on the heels by a shoe guy/gal (specifically rubber, not plastic) – they are silent and also as a bonus they last way longer than plastic or even metallic ones.

    • Just own it! haha :) I don’t think people are going to be like, “ugh there goes the clacker” and even if they do, I don’t think they will think poorly of you for wearing shoes that make sounds that those types of shoes are supposed to make!

  13. Anastasia :

    No, no one needs to wear heels if they don’t want to, but it makes *me* sad that women feel like they need to apologize for their height. I don’t care how much taller I am than everyone else, I wear heels or flats based on how I want my outfit to look. For better or worse, I feel like heels look more professional in an interview situation, so I would wear them, tower, and own it. My flats tend to be more fun, though. ie, today I am wearing grey snakeskin print flats… I don’t think I own a pair of flats I would consider appropriate for an interview, or even a “big day” at work.

    FWIW, I don’t really like any of the flats pictured in this post except the Salvatore Farragamo ones, and they are way out of my budget. Maybe that’s why I don’t own interview-appropriate flats. Agree with the commenter above who said the Clarks look like commuting shoes. I have a pair of Clarks for commuting, and they are fantastic for that purpose, but they do nothing to add polish to an outfit.

  14. DustGlitterVapor :

    I’ve interviewed in flats for every job I’ve ever had. For my first job, I won it wearing cheap flats from Payless. I wear flats-from expensive to cheap–at my job. Relax and focus on your resume and interviewing skills.

    • Same here. I’m 5’4″ I’ve worn flats at every interview I’ve had during/since law school (and got offers) at firms in Chicago (and now in DC). I wear flats for comfort and confidence (rather than health issues)–I’ve never felt confident in heels, ever. I think the key is to wear whatever you feel most confident wearing, so that you’re thinking more about answering/asking questions than about your appearance.

  15. Wildkitten :

    I am also tall and I don’t wear heels to interviews because the Patriarchy is uncomfortable when women tower over him.

    • Thank you for making me laugh out loud, Wildkitten! +1 :)

    • I’m tall and I like to wear heels in power situations so that I do tower over my male opponents. I’m sure it’s all in my head, but I feel like I’m more commanding of attention in them and I feel like it makes people think I’m competent. “Too tall” in my book is like 7’+.

      • Spirograph :

        +1 I’ve always liked being tall -because- I can tower over people. Not that you need to be tall to be powerful, and not that I like to be intimidating all the time, but it makes me happy that it’s an option (or a default, I guess. I’m taller than many men I work with, including my boss, even wearing flats). It might be all in my head, too, but isn’t that half the battle?

      • Amen, sister. I’m 6’0 tall barefoot and I wear my heels proudly. I like towering over people and especially if it bothers them (men). Maybe this is why I’m so happy being a litigator…

      • +1 – same here.

      • Anonymous :

        I’m envious. I’m 5′ 1″ and wearing high heels would only make me normal-sized. I also don’t wear heels because they’re uncomfortable, but I don’t like that I’ll always feel like a little kid next to all the (very tall) men I work with in a very male-dominated line of work.

  16. Related question: suggestion for basic closed toe 3-ish inch pump (black or black patent) for traditional office?

    I thought about the Ann Taylor perfect favian pump, but it has gotten terrible reviews.



  17. I am 5’10” and never had doubts about wearing flats to an interview. Confidence in such situations is key, so please, please ignore all naysayers and focus on all other important stuff.

    I have some great flats from Loeffler Randall from a few years back – some of their styles are a great mix of a little bit fashion forward and office appropriate.

  18. Flats. Flatsflatsflatsflats.

    That is all.

  19. Lily student :

    I’m 5 ft 9, and I don’t own a pair of heels. I have flats varying in formality, and I tend towards a more polished/structured look in the rest of my clothing, so it seems to be working so far.

    I think if I drove to work and back, I might consider it, or if I had a walk long enough to bother with changing shoes, but for a 10 minute walk… Nah.

  20. Pretty Primadonna :

    I would never, unless under some dire circustances, wear flats to an interview. But, I would not say it is necessary to wear heels. Do what you feel.

    • DC Lawyer :

      This is an interesting post, but I’d reverse the assumptions on “professional.” I’ve worked at BigLaw and a large corporation. I’ve never heard anyone participating in the interviewing process or after talk about a woman’s wearing flat shoes as unprofessional. If the shoes are tailored and well-maintained, no one notices at all.

      I have, however, heard a number of comments about women wearing very high heels (over 4 inches). If the shoes are very simple and the woman wears them with confidence, no one pays attention. If they’re an unusual color, or have cut-outs, or the woman is having some trouble keeping her ankle stable, then you might well hear comments about whether the shoes are distracting or inappropriately fashion-obsessed for the office.

      • Also, I have fairly long legs, so wearing heels would make it more difficult for me to find appropriately-long skirts and so on.

      • anon-oh-no :

        this is spot on about everything. its not whether your shoes (or clothes etc) are flat or high, its how you wear them. which is why these arguments over and over again are so silly.

        I’m glad so many people feel so strongly about their “right” to wear flats. I feel strongly about wearing heels of all shapes and sizes. it seems that we should be able to coexist without issue.

        • anonymama :

          But no one who is arguing for wearing flats is saying that heels are in any way unprofessional, or less professional, while some of those arguing for heels are explicitly saying that flats are less professional. If women are going on interviews and being judged for wearing flats, then there will be difficulty in coexisting.

          • anon-oh-no :

            yes, yes they are. including in this very thread. a few times. and often. on this s i t e.

          • Cady Herron :

            “Judge” doesn’t necessarily mean “not hire”. If you wear flats to an interview, I will likely judge you as not particularly well dressed, possibly a little bit frumpy and maybe we’re not going to be friends. But for a qualified candidate, wearing flats would not keep you from getting the actual job.

          • This is the key point. See, if you wear heels over 3 inches to an interview, particularly if they are a) worn or b) visibly branded or expensive, I will perhaps judge you as under-educated and/or shallow. But then I will chide myself for my class prejudices, focus on your skills – both domain and organizational – and hire the sh*t out of you if I think you can add value.

            And maybe, in the end, wind up being your friend.

        • A professional woman :

          If you otherwise look put together, then flats won’t matter to me at all if the resume is good. But when interviewing, yes I do pay attention to what you’ll look like in front of clients. If you’re wearing flats, then the rest of your outfit better be top notch. I know that we have explicitly NOT hired candidates who have come to interviews in ill fitting suits and looking frumpy and disheveled. Frankly, part of a lawyer’s job is to look put together when necessary. Flats are fine for a regular business casual day. But for a business attire event, you should look business formal. And that may mean sacrificing comfort to a degree.

          Most of the example shoes are completely inappropriate for an interview. #1 looks like shoes my mom (who is 65) would wear. #4 looks like dress shoes I’d buy a 9 year old girl. #2 and #3 look better, perhaps with an extremely well fitting skirt suit or a pant suit with a straight leg. Too many times, I see women with suits and flats and the pant legs pooling around the ankles. It’s very unattractive.

          • And here’s where we ask, do you apply the same standards to men? If yes, all is good. And, let’s say you are hiring for patents, or for complicated tax work, where often the guys are a little less corporate/polished and a little more wild-haired/geek, do you allow the women the same latitude? Check all those boxes and feminist credentials are impeccable.

          • A professional woman :

            I can’t reply directly to you Lisa. I don’t see why you’d assume that only women are expected to look professional. I also expect a male interview candidate to look put together. His suit should be made of a nice fabric and well cut/well fitted. His shoes should coordinate and they should be good quality and not overly worn looking. If a man were to show up in an ill-fitting suit and overly casual shoes, I’d also wonder whether he can be introduced to clients. At an interview, I assume that this is the best a candidate looks and candidates, male or female, should look like they’d be a good representative of the firm.

          • Oh I wasn’t assuming that you applied this to women. I was just asking the questions to clarify how the women in heels bias plays out and how it can be feminist or not, at the first level. Now, whether heels in general are or are not a patriarchal conspiracy, at the second level, I don’ t know. Probably a patriarchal artifact, a by-product of the importance of women’s secondary sexual characteristics, but not a battle I think is worth fighting. I wear heels too, when I’m walking from car to table, and when I want to look particularly attractive.

  21. Galo Shoes :

    Any NYC readers know what happened to them? Where are you going now that they are closed?

  22. Yeah this post also gives me the sads. I’m 5’11” and save heels only for going out with my friends while wearing a hot dress. I wish I could say I was more comfortable towering over everyone in heels at work but they’re also murder on my feet which is why I save them for 3-5hr nights out. Plus with the hot dress I’m mega confident so whatever. I have so much respect for tall girls that rock heels on a regular basis and tall girls that tower over their significant other while wearing them. Wear a pointy toed pair to an interview even if you sacrifice a little comfort.

  23. I think it’s completely fine. The same rules apply whether they are heels or flats – shined shoes that are well maintained and that read “business” not ” I just popped over from the farmers market”.

  24. I am 5′ 2″ and will admit that I feel more powerful and polished when I wear heels. But I also have horrible feet (flat, wide, with bunions) so it’s flats or a small wedge for me most of the time, including interviews. I do wear heels on the rare occasions when I appear in court, though. It feels sort of like putting on armor and makes me less nervous.

  25. Wildkitten :

    Also, for the OP – this is a great resource on which flats to wear with suits: http://www.caphillstyle.com/capitol/2012/09/26/solving-the-mystery-of-professional-black-flats-html.html

  26. Flats are perfectly acceptable BUT absolutely not to a round toe flat.

    I say this as someone who finds most professional dress advice overly fussy and ridiculous. In five years of reading this blog, this is the first time I’ve ever found any suggestion too casual for my taste. I’ve never worked in a business formal office. Most of my jobs have been public interest-related, so these offices skew casual. I’ve even been told before not to bother with a suit on multiple occasions, or that casual is fine because we are meeting off site and the interviewer will be in jeans.

    Under no circumstances would I wear #1 to a job interview, and #4 is barely passable. Those are casual shoes. Fine for a casual office, but not fine for an interview for any kind of office. Even when I have professional events where jeans are acceptable, I would not wear round toe flats.

    Option 2 and 3 are fine.

  27. I love a chic flat, and I would happily interview in them. Professional? Yes. Because I am professional, not my shoes.

    That said, I do prefer the pointy toe versions on me, as the rounded ones make me feel like I’m a little kid in party shoes. But that’s just on me–I like roundy toe ones on others, occasionally.

    This is over at CapHillStyle today, too.

  28. Professionalista :

    These comments from women saying flat shoes make woman look “like children” or “unprofessional” are so depressing. We are really our own worst enemy. Why do women have to conform to a “sexy” stereotype instead of clean and comfortable? judging a woman based on heels is just petty. I, for one, do not wear heels because I have a physical disability. There are many other women who just want to focus on work and dress for maximize their comfort during interview/work. If the outfit isn’t distracting then why should we judge each other? Let’s support each other’s choices instead of judging each other for something so stupid as the height of ones heel.

  29. I am a tall (6’0″) lawyer, and I notice that when I wear heels I tower over men, and this is sometimes threatening and nearly always distracting to those men. Fun in a deposition, an advantage in court, but not a good thing for a job interview. However, I also tend to think that at least a little heel is pretty necessary when wearing a nice suit with a pencil skirt. Solution? Two words: Michelle Obama. Mrs. O’s fashion choices are the subject of endless scrutiny and discussion AND she is perpetually trying to avoid towering over her husband. She wears flats whenever she can and delicate, pointy kitten heels otherwise. And now so do I.

  30. 3-4 inch heels?? Way too tall. No one can walk professionally in those; you will look silly. Or worse. And eventually you will ruin your feet.
    You don’t need to go with flats. A 2-2.5 inch heel looks great, and you will be able to walk like a grownup, instead of looking like a kid playing dress up. But if you do want flats, Ivanka makes some really lovely, stylish ones.

    • Actually I dance in 6 and 7 inch heels. I can walk in them perfectly well (and tend to fall over my own feet in flats)

  31. petitecocotte :

    I don’t think wearing flats in and of itself is a feminist statement. I know quite a few women who find heels more comfortable than flats. (Maybe it’s the arch support.) Wearing heels may make some women feel more assured and confident in a professional setting. (I’m short and I like the extra two to three inches) To each her own, right? Isn’t that what feminism is about?

  32. Flats or heels are fine; the point is that they must be as formal as your suit or your interview outfit. Flats can offend more frequently because there is a larger universe of casual flats than casual heels, IMO. But the idea that a flat shoe is inherently unprofessional or that heels are required is ridiculous.
    Wear dress shoes. Many flats are not dress shoes (skip the fold-up kind!!); some heels are not dress shoes. So don’t wear those. Wear the nice ones.

  33. As a physical therapist who has seen a lot of foot issues, as well as other issues arising from foot issues, and a woman who is just plain uncomfortable in heels, I think the answer given is spot on. Heels should never be mandatory to look professional. The focus on clothing in the professional world is honestly infuriating to me – shouldn’t your skills/personality/experience come before what you’re wearing on your feet?

  34. Red Beagle :

    Personally I agree with all posters who say that flats are not inherently less professional than heels provided they are professionally styled well-constructed dress shoes and you own the look.
    That being said, I am 5’4′ and love to wear pencil skirts or sheath dresses, knee length. On my curvy body, I feel these clothes work best with some sort of heel and so most of my work shoes are a 2-3 inch mid-heel. I also own two pairs of platforms with 4 inch heels – and here is my dilemma. My cheap pair of black platforms are soooo comfy. I can wear them all day and walk or run around in them. OTOH, my lone pair of CH patent leather heels (4 inch, 1/2 inch hidden platform) make me totter and I’m afraid to wear them to work. Is there a way to train yourself to a higher shoe if you genuinely love the shoe and would like to rock that look occasionally?Especially since I’ve invested in these shoes. I’ve put heel support insoles in them, heel cups, had the heels updated with rubber tips. Still can’t wear them but I want to! Do I just say uncle, give them away, and find a higher heel I can wear?

  35. I just wanted to say I’m so glad you emphasized how heels aren’t necessary to be professional. I tend to use flats anyway and I’m only 5’4. Recently, we had a fire drill in my office building and the fire marshal implored all the women to keep a pair of flats in their office to switch into in case of emergency so that they can get down the stairs quicker and with less chance of injury. Of course the likelihood of being in an emergency is low, but it is peculiar that women often feel pushed to wear something that has the potential to hinder, if not harm, us just because someone deemed it the more appropriate option.

    • Diamond Lil :

      Nubia – yes yes yes! As my floor’s emergency marshal, I always emphasize the need for women to have a pair of comfy close-toed walking shoes at their desk. I live in an active earthquake zone and keep having to remind people that while they might be able to walk down 8 floors worth of stairs without slowing anyone down (which I actually doubt is true, but whatever), they aren’t likely to be able to walk home in those shoes with streets filled with rubble, etc.

      • Wow, I never even thought about after you exit the building! Never having been in a real emergency, I always picture that I’ll walk out of the building and then just head home via the subway, but you’re right in a real catastrophe you’re likely walking away (maybe even running in dire situations).

  36. MissDisplaced :

    If I were wearing flats for an interview, I would go with a pointy toe flat as in options #2 and #3 because I do think the pointed toe give the shoes a touch dressier look than a ballet style or round toe. Really though, with a pant suit, it’s not like you can see that much of the shoe. Now if you wear a skirt? Oh man, it is tough to find a flat that looks good with a skirt!

  37. I wear heels 3-4 days a week, and usually 2-3.5″ heels. I don’t think flats are unprofessional, but I find my posture when I walk and stand is much better when I am in heels. My heels are not uncomfortable, and I can do everything I need to do in my heels that I could do in my flats. If you find that heels are uncomfortable, find some comfy ones. Payless seriously sells these super cheap, basic pumps (Predictions? Comfort Plus?) that are about 2 inches high – and they are INCREDIBLY comfortable. They run about $20. If you can afford it, Naturalizer pumps are also SUPER comfortable, not too high (mine are about 2 inches I think, maybe 2.5 because of the 0.5 platform), and if you get them on sale, about $50-80. They last longer than the Payless ones.

    Also, I don’t notice the person’s shoes if I’m interviewing them, unless they are hobbling or they are flashy (sandal/strappy/rhinestones..). So if you don’t hobble or have flashy shoes, I won’t notice – you could be wearing flats, you could be wearing heels. And even if I notice it’s not like it’s a deal breaker. I won’t, for instance, think to myself, “wow I really like this candidate, but gosh she has bad taste in shoes so no callback/offer!”

  38. Regional Manager :

    Flats are unprofessional? The descriptions listed above include “frumpy”, “dowdy”, and “oversized children’s shoes”. The comments say flats ARE accetable if you are “old” or “extremely pregnant”.

    What you are unaware of, dear commentators, is that what your mind is really saying is “flats are not sexy”.

    Women are required to be “sexy” in order to be considered “valuable” and “presentable to clients”. Though, instead of just saying “sexy”, we’ve all unknowingly agreed to refer to it as “professional”.

    Don’t believe me? Read your own descriptions again. Children, the elderly, and “extremely” pregnant women are not ever thought of, nor expected to be “sexy”. They get a free pass.

    And if you rock the boat, you”ll be labeled an unreasonable feminist or…. a lesbian.

  39. The Other Butterfly :

    I am glad to see so much support for flats! Flats can look very professional, and stylish if you can find the right pair. I am petite, 5’3”, and wear a size 4.5 shoe. I HATE, HATE, HATE heels though I do love that they make me taller. Personally for me to be in heels is like trying to breath water and takes my confidence away.

  40. FinanceNJ :

    While I totally agree that flats can be professional, I have to chime in with an anecdote that happened at my investment firm last year. A very highly qualified, excellent candidate who was deemed a total rock star by nearly everyone at the firm interviewed for a promotion and wore flats. The senior partner did not give her job and later mentioned to a colleague “and why was she wearing those commuting shoes??” True story. I’d say suffer in heels for the interview if you can and change into flats as soon as you walk out the door.

  41. Josephine :

    I have a huge question regarding this:

    I have had problems with my feet since I was born (club feet, multiple surgeries). Heels, unless less than 1 inch and mega comfortable, are out (and hard to find). Flats often don’t have the ankle support I need. What is another good option.

    Can I just wear professional looking shoes, like Josef Seibel or something? Just black and polished looking, but an actual comfortable shoe? Or does that look unprofessional as well?