Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Home Manager: Dressing for the Home

The Shoe: Good footwear is as essential to our effectiveness in the home as the type of clothes we wear. Four things to consider when choosing every day shoes for your work at home are attractiveness, practicality, comfort, and adequate protection for the foot.

Honestly, when I'm inside my home alone, you'll find me barefoot or in ballet-style soft slippers as often as in shoes. There's a case to be made, however, for wearing shoes throughout your day at home. Anyone who's stubbed a toe while making a bed or dropped a can from the pantry on bare toes will understand what I mean. :)

Even if you do wear slippers in the home, there's a need to have shoes handy for going outside. We garden. We walk dogs. We run errands. We meet friends for lunch. If we run a business from home, we may go out for business meetings. We attend luncheons and church functions.

So, it's wise to have a good all-round pair of flats or low heels that you can slip on in an instant. From the moment you get dressed in the morning, think about what foot gear you will need during the day and how it will work with your clothes. Bring out your pair of flats and keep them where you can slip them on as needed. Put them away when you retire for the evening. Don't allow shoes to accumulate by the door, unless you have set up an attractive way of storing them there.

There are several shoe styles for the keeper at home to try: ballet flats, short lace-up boots, loafers, etc. The shoes pictured at the top of the page are an example of a style which you could wear for any number of activities in and out of the house.

It's good to have two pair of everyday shoes to alternate. This will make them last longer. Leather is usually the longest lasting and nicest looking option. (See the Elegant Woman for a discussion of how to build a classic, pretty, minimal shoe wardrobe. Note, she speaks about "court shoes", but most of us in the U.S. would say "pumps".)

This year (2011), as in the late seventies, "nude" colored shoes are all the rage. Actually, actress and models often wear taupe or some type of flesh toned shoe even at times when this is not the style. This is because there are two main advantages to choose shoes in a color near to or blending in with your skin tone:

1) Shoes that blend with your skin tone go with everything!
2) Shoes that blend with your skin tone make your form look sleeker and more graceful. They do not pull attention downward to your feet, away from your clothing and face. They create a long line, rather than visually shortening your leg as some colors do.

So, when evaluating your foot gear for the next year or so, consider a shoe that blends in with your skin tone. Don't try to match your skin exactly, but rather look for something that creates a blended look. Note: Not all nude tones are created equal. Some are pinker; some are more yellow. Some are lighter; some are darker. Choose a flesh-colored shoe that works for you. Also, beware of flesh-toned shoes that look dull on your skin.

Many women will not find their blend-in shoe among the various tints and tones that are actually labeled "nude". Nude is a particular color that's not really the exact color of most skin. It reads as "flesh-tone" for a good many women, and can be very flattering to those with light to medium-light skin. Yet, there are a great number of women (perhaps the majority of women in the world) for whom "nude" is too light to blend in. If you have darker skin, you may find that you can still wear "nude". On you, however, lightest "nude" will read more as a pretty, feminine, and light color than as flesh-toned. You may enjoy it, since it is a color that does match everything. If you have darker skin tones and want to go with a truly "blend-in" look, however, try the darkest beiges, the darkest taupes, camel or deep browns (especially chocolate) instead. Since camel and browns can read as warm, they may not go with a closet full of very cool-toned clothing. In that case, remember that a woman can never go wrong with a basic black shoe. Sometimes, a cooler toned, dark chocolate-brown shoe can work.

Whatever your coloring, if you don't want to go the flesh-tone route, there are any number of color options to choose from. One good hint is to have neutral skirts and neutral shoes in tones that go with your hair. Also consider using one of the usual neutrals: white, ivory, beige, taupe, black, bone, navy, tan, camel, gray, brown, cordovan, etc. Almost any color can work as a neutral if you coordinate your wardrobe around it. You might have to work a little harder to make sure that shoes in a distinct color actually do coordinate with your clothing, but it can be done.

If you are on a tight budget and/or want to keep your closet pared down to your simplest choices, choose one neutral for shoes and purse and choose only colors for your wardrobe that coordinate with that neutral.

Of course, if you would like to, you can add pairs of shoes in fun colors to your one great pair of every day shoes. And, you may also want to keep a pair of neutral, low-heeled pumps handy in case you want to dress up your every day outfit for a special daytime event. A somewhat higher heel can take you into evening or an even dressier occasion.

With all shoes, make sure that they fit well, that they don't hurt and that you can walk correctly in them. No matter how cute shoes may look in the box, they won't be cute if they make you look and walk as if you are in pain. Some shoes do require breaking in to be at their most comfortable. Be sure that you have done so before you wear them outside of the house.

In a world in which many women don't have the means to buy shoes for themselves or their families, it's wise to think about buying fewer items of the best quality you can afford rather than to acquire lots and lots of shoes. I was touched when our church gave shoes to a clinic in a poor area of a large city in a foreign country. It came out that many of the people who work in the clinic had sacrificed high paying careers in the medical field in order to care for the poor. Even the doctors, nurses, and educators working in the clinic struggled to put shoes on their children's feet. That doesn't mean that we need to feel guilty for having and enjoying pretty and workable shoes. However, it's a joy to realize that we are blessed to have shoes and to be able to give to others who need shoes. If you are interested in being able to open your arms to the needy, keeping your wardrobe pared down to only those things that you really need and that you really enjoy is one good way to save funds for that purpose.

Happy Home Keeping!

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