Those of us who began working in offices in the mid-70’s, when formal attire was mandatory, often wondered why we needed such impractical dress — almost a costume? The modern office wardrobe is the result of centuries of surprising social, political, and technological revolution.

The sound of shoes is unavoidable in a workplace. Whether they’re stilettos ringing a staccato beat on polished concrete floors, or the slap of flip-flops on an industrial carpet, the footsteps of workers are a constant soundtrack to the workday. But the sheer variety of styles causing those sounds speaks volumes to how office attire has evolved since the early days of dedicated workspaces (which, we know, dates as far back as Ancient Rome).

Changes in working attire in the European world really began back in the 1600s. That’s when lawyers, civil servants, and other professionals in London, Amsterdam, and Paris first started working from offices.

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