This doesn't have the gravitas of whether Chelsea Clinton should change her last name now that she's gotten herself hitched, or whether Bristol should have taken back Levi after he badmouthed the Palins, but it's a hot subject in the circles I travel in.
What's the topic du jour? The peep-toe shoe. More precisely, whether women professionals risk losing credibility and respect by exposing their toes in the office.
It might not seem worthy of debate, but I can assure you that passions run strong on this one.
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: "In my day, I always wore pumps to court," said in a woman in her fifties. "Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?" Her companion shook her head, then asked: "How did she do?" The first woman replied, "Her work was good, but her shoes weren't right."
On one side are lawyers who say it's always bad form to show your toes. "Toes and feet are either unattractive, or, in the rarer case, maybe sexy," says a lawyer who's worked at several high-powered firms. "I don't want to look at someone's toes in meetings or at work, and I also don't think it's appropriate to flash the sexy red-toe pedicure at work either."
Another friend, who just picked up six pairs of Manolos at the summer sale last week, says that kind of conservative attitude is nonsense. "If it's fashionable and tasteful, why not?" she asks, as she looks down at her new strappy tan sandals.
New York might be an epicenter of style, but don't count on the the city's lawyers to be trend leaders. Former Cahill Gordon associate Kat Griffin, the founder of Corporette, says corporate culture "frowns" on peep toe shoes: "Peep toes are marginally better than flat-out open-toe shoes, but even then a closed- toe shoe is the preference." Her advice: "Don't wear open-toe shoes unless you've seen a much more senior lawyer do it."
But to lawyers in California, the peep toe is totally acceptable. "Here in L.A., everyone seems to wear open- toe shoes all the time. Of course, with a perfect pedicure," says a senior lawyer. "The closed-toe look is more of a nice flat shoe--think Tory Burch. I, myself, wear open-toe shoes year round."
So what's a girl to do? Wear peek toes if your feet are hidden under a conference table, but not in court? Never on the East Coast, but go wild and get out those gladiator sandals in L.A.?
Think peep toes are a hot topic? Just wait until we get to the subject of toe cleavage.
Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com.
Photo:Thomas R. Koll.