Dare to Wear: Women Lawyers and Peep-Toe Pumps

When the weather gets hot, “must-have” fashion tends to get even hotter. While men are thinking about sporting their short sleeve dress shirts, women are getting excited about breaking out their peep-toe pumps. Last year, this phenomenon became known among women lawyers as “Peep-Toe Gate.” Will you grab a ticket to the peep show and dare to wear this controversial piece of couture during court appearances or at the office this summer?


During the summer of 2010, law bloggers ranging from The Careerist’s Viva Chen, to Corporette’s Kat Griffin, to Above the Law’s David Lat, all weighed in on the appropriateness of peep-toe pumps for women lawyers. The general consensus seemed to be that while closed-toe shoes are preferred, peep-toe pumps are proper for the office. Wearing the fashionable footwear for court appearances, on the other hand, may be a bit too provocative, depending on who you ask.

Of course, if you think that wearing peep-toes may be questionable, it’s best to stick with the age-old adage — when in doubt, don’t wear it out. That being said, if you are still considering baring toe cleavage this summer in your peep-toe pumps, please try to follow these important rules.

1. Skip the pantyhose when wearing peep-toe pumps

Wearing peep-toes is a way to express your keen fashion sense. Why ruin the image with a pantyhose seam running across your toes? That just looks tacky. For some lawyers, though, hosiery is simply a must. This is why toeless pantyhose was invented. Toeless pantyhose will allow you to maintain the professional status quo, while still highlighting your inner fashionista.

2. Make sure to plan for a pedicure

If you plan to wear peep-toes, getting a pedicure beforehand is key. Peep-toe pumps are made to show off your toes, and there is nothing worse than showing off toes that are poorly groomed. Wearing peep-toes without taking care of your toes is a surefire way to quickly downgrade your look from fashionable to unprofessional. If you don’t have the time to pamper yourself with a pedicure, you can easily fake a pedicure at home.

At the end of the day, if your overall appearance is tasteful and professional, wearing peep-toe pumps may not be as controversial as our fellow women lawyers have made the look out to be. After all, women tend to be each other’s own worst critics in terms of professional fashion. Maybe if we stop being so judgmental, we’ll have time to focus on more pressing issues that affect women lawyers.

So ladies, will you dare to wear peep-toe pumps this summer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jadaciuk/3713424125/)

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  • http://www.bealllawoffices.com/ Elizabeth

    I am torn between appreciating the conversation and cringing at the conversation. As an oldish female lawyer (43), I remember women attorneys being sent out of the courtroom by old male judges for wearing pants instead of skirts. So I hate that what women wear and how women look is still a topic for conversation in a profession that is more equally-represented by both genders than ever. That said, I commend your public service announcement to please not sport the pantyhose if you’re sporting the peep-toes. They’re “peep-toes,” not “peep-L’eggs.”

  • Susan Gainen

    The Peep-Toe Conundrum is a part of a larger question of Professionalism: What do professionals look like?

    As always, when posing a question to lawyers, the answer is “it depends.” On what, you ask?

    1. What is the norm in the setting in which you are operating? If a court or a particular judge has a “presumption of hosiery,” is annoying the judge worth any risk to your client? Not that they would behave in any way other than as perfect professionals, but have you concern about a long-term consequence to you should the people in the clerks’ offices raise their eyebrows when they look at you?

    2. How prepared are you to carry off Peep Toes in unquestionable impeccable style? If you wear Peeps, are they perfectly polished? Is your manicure from yesterday or from 10 days ago? Do your toes and your Peeps match or contrast in an appropriate way? Are you sure that the pedicure with rhinestones or palm trees are part of your public lawyer image?

    3. Is the effort and energy you expend to perfect your Peeps’ look worth any distraction from the work you are providing for your client? If you have to think about this for more than 10 second, then you already know the answer.

  • Jody Brackman, Esq.

    There is no question that women have a huge advantage in the fashion department when the warm weather comes. While I would advise against flip flips in court, anything else goes, as long as it looks good. I have NEVER worn stockings in the summer since I was admitted to the MA and NY bars in 1984, and I never will! Feel free to be yourself, as long as you look professional and neat and clean.

  • http://miriamjacobsonlaw.com Miriam Jacobson

    Wow! I feel like such a fashion-forward ground-breaker. I wore dresses and open-toe [some of you must remember the f/k/a] shoes as early as my 2nd or 3rd year as an associate, in 1980. At the time, Brooks Brothers manly skirt suits and shirts with little ribbon ties added for femininity were the “professional” norm for women.

    I personally hate bare feet in shoes or on floors. Has no one heard of sandalfoot hose?

  • Kim Deal

    The judge I go in front of regularly is very conservative, closed toed shoes and pants for me I’m afraid. :(

  • jillian

    In my humble opinion, this issue has little to do with professionalism and much more to do with traditionalism. Society can be afraid of change, but once the baid aid has been pulled off, it’s old news. I say, “Pioneer the change ladies! Strength in numbers! Make peep toes the norm and not the exception!” For the record, I work in the fashion industry, but I have many dear lawyer friends (with great style) who I would love to see be happier with their professional wardrobes. A happy lawyer is a good lawyer, right?!