Everyone has experienced this: You go to an agency, a consultancy or office – and suddenly notice that your conversation partner is wearing slippers. Then, with some irritation, you ask yourself where you are - is this place the lady’s or gentleman’s extended living room? Comfortable or inappropriate? Here we will address what kind of statement is made by wearing slippers at the office.
What are we talking about when we refer to shoes? Very clearly, we are talking about freedom. This is what shoes have symbolised from time immemorial. It began in 800 BC, when only the Roman masters were allowed to wear shoes (slaves had to walk barefoot) - and it will probably continue for a while, because we know that Ferengi women, for example, are prohibited from wearing shoes and conducting trade even in the distant year 2375... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferengi)
This means that the shoe decides whether one is a master or a servant. Whether one may leave the house for gainful employment to one’s own benefit. But this is actually where the perception of freedom has really changed in our cultural circles. Who still thinks it is an act of freedom, a privilege and a gift to go to work? Very few...
Instead we rush around all day long - with thanks to our shoes - like wound-up Duracell bunnies running from one appointment to the next. The real sense of freedom only sets in once we can take them off, the pinching high heels, the peep-toes (do yours also give you small abrasions on your toes?), and the much too stiff wingtips or oxfords. Every evening it becomes a ritual: get out of the stiff leather and into the snuggly fluff! Or however you prefer your slippers. As long as they feel good. And don’t leave any marks.
So why not bring this feeling to the office? Why not raise the cultural and historical "freedom through shoes" to a new level? Long live the freedom to choose your own shoes!
In offices around the world, there is an increasing attempt to break out of restrictive and outdated structures, but in this case you don’t have to go very far to find a solution. Slippers at the office? Of course.
And one more thing to keep in mind: Shoes are status symbols. They show the wearer’s financial status - and very often they also determine it. But just once, try to negotiate your salary while both you and your boss are wearing teddy-bear slippers. That will certainly reshuffle the cards... I’d bet on it!
Some people like going to the office because the environment is much more attractive than at home. No one is hanging out in front of the TV, there are no lapses in good manners - "Did you forget to say good morning, honey?" No lack of respect in how the clothes are worn, like shirts that hang out, drooping pants, or unstylish kitchen attire for the ladies. And especially: no slippers.
Studies show that someone wearing a proper outfit, i.e. in business clothing, is better and more successful at making phone calls than someone who is in pyjamas at a home office. This must also apply to the shoes. Those who wear slippers send a certain message: I like things cosy, and the way I work is pretty fuzzy too. One actor managed to become famous in slippers, namely in the Austrian TV series "MA 2412" (MA stands for "magistrate’s department"), a satire of bureaucracy and reluctant workers. It may come as no surprise that this guy, with his hairpiece and a passion for chocolate marshmallows and model cars (which he certainly likes to pursue at the office) is not exactly a stud. Even ergonomic arguments for healthy sandals can’t shake that impression...
Let’s switch to another movie, one set in Manhattan. Tough business ladies in straight costumes and trench coats pour out of the subways and into the offices - they wear sneakers on their feet, but carry high heels for the office in their purses. This is called urbanity!
And that’s exactly what this is about: An attitude of professionalism and internationalism that has developed in metropolitan settings and is hard to duplicate in slippers - how would that even be possible? If you’re wearing slippers, you might as well take advice from a hobgoblin. Let’s just take the office for what it is: a stage for the daily performance of talent and skills, sometimes a runway for the vanities and a space for erotic sparks. All of which is inconceivable in slippers.
PS or sidestep: It's the season's hottest trend - so when did pyjamas in public become acceptable?