Okay ladies, let’s talk about shoes.
You love them, I love them, the chairs love them. High-heeled shoes are great. They may you feel more attractive and confident. They make you taller, and therefore more competitive. They make you look professional.
They also make you look like a chicken.
As a current Model UN advisor and a former Model UN delegate, I have seen countless high school girls wearing – or, rather, attempting to wear – some fairly staggering high heeled shoes to Model UN conferences. Inevitably, one of two things happens.
Scenario 1 – Going Barefoot: Girls wear high heeled shoes in the first five minutes of arriving at the conference, realize that they will have to endure shooting pain in their feet and legs for several hours, and resolve to go barefoot whenever out of committee.
Scenario 2 – Awkward Chicken: Girls wear high heeled shoes in the first five minutes of arriving at the conference, realize that they will have to endure shooting pain in their feet and legs for several hours but they would look ridiculous with no shoes, and hobble around like a very awkward bird for the rest of the day.
There are big problems with both of these options. Going barefoot is not only dangerous – it is extremely unprofessional. Chairs and other delegates are not just watching you in committee, but also how you conduct yourself outside and how seriously you take your role as a UN delegate. Competitive delegates may scout out the competition before committee and during breaks. If you are the girl who decided to bring shoes she can’t stand to wear, then it is clear that your main goal at the conference is not to be competitive in committee, but rather to look cute.
Walking like a chicken, while less dangerous than going barefoot, is also not desirable. It is clear to everyone with eyes that you are incredibly uncomfortable. As a fellow MUN enthusiast and a woman, it is painful to watch a girl struggle to walk three feet because her heels are six-inch spikes. This is never more obvious than during closing ceremonies, when a parade of girls hobble across a stage to receive awards, attempting to hide their grimaces of pain with forced smiles.
There is a solution to this problem: wear different shoes.
“But I don’t want to look like an old lady!” you shout, imagining sensible loafers with orthodic insoles. There is a common misconception that comfortable shoes and fashionable shoes are mutually exclusive. The two cannot exist in one shoe. This is a lie. Yes, many comfortable shoes are fairly frumpy, something we used to call “granny” shoes, but knowing what to look for will help you separate the frump from the fabulous.
1. Look for arch support. Arch support and padded insoles, even in the highest of high-heeled shoes, does wonders for comfort. Most professional women’s shoes include some kind of support, but they are a bit pricier than the affordable Target or Payless heels many girls sport. The best advice I can give you is to invest in one really nice pair of black heels. They will last you for several years if you treat them carefully, and your back and legs will thank you when you are older.
2. If you must wear high heels, try wedges. While cork and espadrille wedges are not really MUN chic, a wedge with a solid color heel that matches the shoe, especially in black or grey, is very appropriate. Wedges take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot, where you spent a lot of time balancing in high heels, and disperse your weight more evenly so the whole foot carries it. I find I can wear wedges a lot longer than high heels, and they are a great alternative if your goal is height and shapely calves.
3. Nothing beats cute flats. Flats are adorable with a tailored trouser, and will offer you the most comfort for the longest time period. With flats you can be a little more daring with color and sparkle than you can with high heels. Sparkly high heels make you look like you’re going to Homecoming; sparkly flats are just fabulous. Flats are by far the most sensible choice for multi-day conferences or conferences on large campuses where there is a lot of walking.
While these three options are appropriate, please don’t aim for ultimate comfort and no professionalism. Toms, Chucks, flip flops, sneakers, Uggs, and most boots are not appropriate for an MUN conference and will make you look just as sloppy as the girls going barefoot.
As ladies, we have the delicate task of striking the balance between comfort and style, and it is far too easy to fall off the scale entirely and end up in the land of spiky, painful footwear. Do yourself a favor and lose the scary high heels. Your feet and your fellow delegates will thank you.