Business Casual Superstar: What Do Kittens Have To Do With The Economy?

by Rachel Yeomans | June 10th, 2010   

By Huma Rashid

Reframe that question in terms of shoe choice, and the answer might be a little more clear. You might be familiar with some of the adages regarding men’s fashion and troubled economic times. For example, during recessions, condom sales typically go up, while sales of men’s underwear typically go down. Thus spake Greenspan.

(Also, yes, I equated condoms with men’s fashion. I make no apologies for it because condoms typically are associated more with men…even though a woman should never be unprepared. This is the twenty-first century, ladies. Let’s join it.)

As for women’s fashions, one similar adage for recession times is that heel height coincides with shaky economic times. During our last financial boom in the US, heel heights were at an all-time high…and now, not so much. That was two years ago, after all. Translation: that’s right, your ceiling-skimming stilettos are, in fact, so two years ago.

Before, Blahnik, Louboutin, and Prada were all about the 5, 6, 7, even 8″ heels. And now, fashion giant and general curmudgeon Karl Lagerfeld (Chanel) is going with kitten heels at his runway shows, as are many other famous designers, like Marc Jacobs, Cavalli, and even Jimmy Choo, who has always been the name in stilettos. These designers are all introducing 1-1.5″ heels to their collections in a bid to return to lady-like chic, after a couple years of vampy or show-girl-esque shoe styles. (Or just super girly styles.)

But, of course, this is to be taken with a grain of salt. Or a huge salt lick. Fashion repeats itself in cycles, and aside from that, it’s possible that the shorter heels are just a reaction to the recession we’ve already been through – or, of course, nothing at all.

As for me, personally, I just take this as a fun little fashion tidbit for, perhaps, the more superstitious or fanciful among us.

But I, too, have my fanciful side, so I put together a modest collection of cute kitten heels that are entirely office-appropriate. They all come in under $50, in keeping with my attempts to give you guys affordable options, and all images are linked, so you need only click to purchase.

There are certain things to remember when wearing small heels to the workplace. Just like you need to be careful when wearing heeled pumps – they shouldn’t be too sexy for the office – you need to be careful that your little heels aren’t too informal.

If you want to wear wedges, go for it. Wedges are comfortable and easier to walk in, while still adding height. But stay away from the obvious no-no: cork, and ‘beachy’ wedges. Stay away from slingback wedges, too, where the front part resembles an actual closed shoe, but then gives way to a strap that fits over your heels. Small heels, wedges, and flats are already seen as less formal (but again, this may not be the case depending on the style of the shoe) as closed toe pumps with heels, and there is no need to make that worse with a sling back.

Also, stay away from mules (also known as slides) where the front part resembles a closed toe show…and there simply isn’t a back part. Meaning they flap against the sole of your foot as you walk. At an office, nothing should flap. Nothing should make that kind of noise. Stay away from kitten heels like that.

When looking at a kitten heel for work, remember that it should be a closed toe shoe. That’s your basic rule of thumb. Closed toe. There’s always an exception, though, and I show you one below.

These shoes follow my general rules, and I tried to include different colors and styles to help you see just how many options you have when opting for these little guys instead of your pumps.

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ModCloth - $42.99

I love ModCloth! Such a great store for vintage, unique, hand-made pieces. These boots are kind of really adorable, and I had to include them just to show you that ankle boots can come with tiny heels, too!

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Target - $18

Here’s a standard work shoe, black, closed toe, with a cute little kitten heel. It won’t be tough to run around the office in a pair of these at all.

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Endless - $39.95

Here’s my exception to the closed toe rule: the minimal peep toe. No one will have to see all your toes, which, come on, gross, but for a more casual office, this will be totally acceptable.

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Jones New York - $29.94

Here’s yet another exception to the closed toe rule: the cut out! Cut outs are a little hipper, a little trendier, but generally acceptable. It’s got the pointed toe to elongate the leg, and a tiny little heel. Plus, I love the bronze.

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Kelly & Katie - $29.94

This one is purely for the color, a gorgeous berry red. And also because I like the design. Very clean.

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Anne Klein - $39.99

Isn’t this one great?! I love the color (navy blue), I love the material (suede), I love the buckle, and I love the toe. It’s not totally pointed but it’s not round, either.

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Lord & Taylor - $38.99

I showed you earlier that ankle boots lend themselves to kitten heels quite well; so do normal boots! I like the reptilian look here. That’s apparently still a trend in footwear, but it’s soon going to be on its way out. For what it’s worth.

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Nine West - $43.97

And finally, here’s a kitten heel with a round toe. Round toes work particularly well with skirts because they emphasize the curves of your calves. Make sure the skirt hangs at your knee or an inch or two above it, though; if it’s any longer (and you’re wearing flats with it) you most definitely will look stumpy.

And there we have a collection of the wide variety of styles you can play with as you explore a new trend in footwear: the kitten heel. Courtesy of the economy (if you believe that sort of thing).

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