Are 4" heels considered too high for OCI?
Soup - are you looking at mainly Chicago firms or NY? I'm not sure about Chicago, but 4" is the standard heel height for most female BigLaw attorneys I worked with/encountered.
I'm not sure I agree that Louboutins are too flashy for OCI. Most BigLaw attorneys (male and female) will recognize them as designer shoes if they pay attention to your soles. However, they're (1) not running a charity and (2) probably won't even notice your soles.
To the first point, they are going to be looking at a number of factors. They can see your grades/rank and school from your resume. If you're an attractive candidate in that regard, they want to make sure you're hard working and will fit the culture of the firm. They only care about you "needing" the job as it relates to your work ethic. As long as they're confident you can handle the late nights, they're not going to care if you have student loans or not.
As for the second point, I have a pair of 3" Louboutin sling-backs. You can see the red soles if you're looking, but even 3" is a little low to make it obvious. I saw quite a few pairs when I was living/working in NY; typically those that were obvious were 4"+ and/or had a platform. A 3.5" Louboutin pump subtly tells those who are looking but isn't in your face. I most recently worked for the corporate office of a major specialty retailer here in the Midwest where people know labels like Louboutin and Goyard. Only one person (my shoe-obsessed cube neighbor) noticed my Louboutins to the point of calling them out. If anything, the attorneys would only notice as you walk away after they already have a [hopefully] favorable impression of you.
That all said, I have a personal aversion to flashy
designer stuff. I don't consider the red Louboutin sole on a classic black pump to be flashy. I do think Louis Vuitton bags with the emblem all over them are flashy. To quote the Suri Cruise burn book
, labels go on the inside.
If you're still hesitant to go with the Louboutins at this time or anything over a 3" heel, I recommend looking into these Kenneth Cole pumps. 3" textured black pumps with 925 technology. I have the 4" Silver Belle from when KC first introduced 925, and I have worn them to death. So comfortable. at $138, they're a nice, good shoe to tide you over before the big splurge.
My standard disclaimer: I'm a 0L who has not been through OCI on the applicant side. However, I spent over 3 years in support staff roles at a V50 in NY, the first of which was spent as the secretary to a female partner on the recruiting committee.