Footwear Trumps Working Women's Accessories

Business woman with cool shoes

Forget the hair, focus on the footwear? Working women apparently do, especially younger working women: 64% of women rely on footwear as the keystone in the business ensemble, per Chicago market research firm Mintel.

A just-released survey found that shoes and dress boots trump other accessories women favor to define a look. Jewelry is the working woman's second-most-popular embellishment, with 52% saying they finish their looks with necklaces, earrings and bracelets, per Mintel. After that are things like purses, belts and scarves, which less than one-third use to complete or change their work styles.

The firm says 70% of women between 18 and 34 and 67% of women ages 35-44 say they use footwear to complete or change the look of their work clothes. Also, 44% of the younger cohort wear more functional shoes to the office, and then switch to more stylish shoes once they are there. Less than a third of women 35 or older do so, per Mintel, which conducted the survey in August last year among a sample of 503 female parents age 18 and over. All respondents to the inaugural online survey reported that they work outside the home.



Unfortunately, with unemployment topping 10% in October, the highest rate since the late 1980s -- coupled with record numbers of people working part-time while seeking a full-time position -- the sales picture for business attire doesn't look good, per Mintel. "Part-time workers are less likely to wear traditional work clothing, and are more likely to wear casual attire, including jeans," notes the study.

Mintel's survey also reports that just about 82% of working women dress in a way that makes them happy, not to be fashionable. By contrast, only one in three (34%) of survey respondents reported that they like to keep up with the latest fashions. Forty-six percent of 18- to-34-year-olds surveyed said they like keeping up with the trends. Nearly half of the 18-24 sector (47%) enjoy experimenting with new styles, compared to 33% of working women overall.

With businesses relaxing their dress codes, per Mintel, more than half of all full-time working women wear dress or business casual to work while more than a third wear jeans, per Mintel. And only 4% of women actually wear business attire, per the firm's study. "This is good news for casual/business casual retailers as women can wear the same clothes for work and going out. Providing they have an ample inventory, women can depend on same-store shopping for their wardrobe replacements and expansion," said the study.

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