Is Toe Cleavage Unprofessional?

Over at Women Lawyers Back On Track, there's an interesting post on something I admit I never even considered: is it unprofessional to wear shoes that show "toe cleavage"? As reported by the Memphis Daily News, a group of 16 judges and attorneys met at the Tennessee Supreme Court to discuss a dress code for attorneys. The meeting "included an impromptu modeling of shoes to determine if either pair represented 'cocktail shoes,' and if they did, whether they were inappropriate or disrespectful to the courts. It also included questions about how much arm is too much for a woman to show." The meeting was "the result of some judges being offended by too-short skirts, too much cleavage or too much arm being shown, and running shoes being worn in the courthouse." Judge Kay Robilio stated that "it's not as if sexism is dead" and that a woman's attire can play into the problem: "it’s important for a woman’s message to get through intellectually. And it’s important from my perspective that no one’s attention be diverted from the power of representation, which has to have its credence in a well-reasoned argument.”

The meeting resulted in this proposed dress code: “All attorneys should wear appropriate attire. Men shall wear coats, ties, slacks and appropriate footwear, which does not include athletic shoes or shoes without socks. Women shall wear professional and conservative attire, such as dresses with jackets, suits or pantsuits (with appropriate tops), and appropriate footwear, which does not include cocktail shoes or sandals or athletic shoes.” Nicole Black pointed out that her "favorite part of the rule is that the attire for women is specifically described as 'conservative.' For some reason, men need not dress 'conservatively'. Presumably 1970's style leisure suits would be perfectly appropriate for men to wear court."

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