There’s an Easy Way to Make a Lasting Impression — Your Shoes

Photo by Jaclyn Moy on Unsplash

Have you ever tried to look your best because you know you’ll be judged?

Of course, you have, as have I!

But while we all know and realize that our outfits and faces will be judged, our footwear comes as a secondary thought to most of us.

I mean, sure, the world is more style-conscious now, and shoes are a style statement. But even the most avid shoe collectors don’t realize the power that the footwear choice holds.

Shoes are intricately woven into our culture. Footwear is a unique accessory that is required for comfort and yet is chosen for style. In the 1800s, Greek prostitutes engraved the soles of their shoes to lead customers towards them. They read “follow me,” which would be imprinted into the sand. And now, we see shoes being used to make first impressions and sales all in one go.

Footwear worn by Greek prostitutes that reads ‘follow me’

I’m sure you’ve heard the colloquial wisdom that the state of their feet judges people. Do you realize how much you’re being judged based on your shoes?

A 2012 study in the Journal of Research in Personality proved that not only people judge others based on their shoe choices, they often judge correctly. In the said research, i.e., “Shoes as a source of first impressions” (2012), Gillath et al. described how shoes tend to reflect the wearer’s personality more or less accurately. And these judgements weren’t solely on style but ranged across status, personality, and politics.

What happens when you judge others based on these choices, and you turn out to be right? You start relying on your judgements, right? The same applies to others as well. So now we have a population that relies on snap judgements based on shoe choices.

Especially for women, there has always been considerable friction in terms of footwear choices. There’s a raging debate that never ends between fashion and function, and while we have taken sides, none of us can wholly commit to that strappy pair of stilettos or those trusty worn sneakers.

Judgements on footwear are common

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As you see these pictures, what are you thinking?

Do you expect the guy with perfectly polished shoes to be dependable and emotionally unavailable and the woman wearing sneakers to be laid back and approachable? You won’t be wrong.

The study found that people who wear affordable and practical shoes tend to be more agreeable. I must agree because I personally wear a pair of grey coloured loafers.

Personal judgements aside, the study found that personality judgements were surprisingly accurate for most people. It also found that people who tend to their shoes a lot tend to be anxiously attached or be perceived as needy.

So how to make the right impression?

Wear The Right Shoe

Okay, can I just say that there is no right impression?

However, there can be wrong first impressions.

Let me explain — whether you wear suede shoes or crocs, what you wear may reflect your personality, but personalities aren’t supposed to be uniform anyway. On the other hand, if you wear crocs to an interview, you may not get a callback.

So now, one might wonder, if the shoes reflect personalities so accurately, how would making new fashion choices help?

The same study found that people tend to lean on stereotypes more than just impressions in some aspects. For example, the study participants assumed that people with well-kept shoes were more conscientious. In contrast, the owners of the shoes did not claim so.

This means that we can all make some quick adjustments to our footwear choices for using these snap judgements to our benefit.

I’ve compiled a quick guide for this explicit purpose.

Granted that many of these are based on stereotypes, but hey, if you can use those stereotypes to get ahead, then I’m all for it.

The contemporary culture rewards optics over substance. Even though substance will outlast optics any day, it never hurts to be rewarded for optics and then dazzle with substance. Shoes are a quick way to do that.

Now I’m really interested to know what kind of shoes you wear? Do you think your personality matches your shoe choice according to the table?

Also, do impressions work? Should we even care? What do you think?

I could hold a symposium over this. If you have opinions, too, feel free to comment and enlighten us.

Content and Marketing enthusiast. Feminist. Political. Follow for insights and myriad expressions. Posts sporadically.