It is said that you should never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And while I would never tell anyone that this catchy phrase is false, I would argue that the exercise might be unnecessary.
Judgments happen. Within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, you have already formed an opinion about them. You obviously haven’t known the person nearly long enough to get to know them, so the opinion is based largely on outward appearance. Shoes are no exception. They can tell you a lot about the person and actually impact your opinion of them.
Similar to clothing, shoes say something about the wearer. It can give hints about one’s personality or show how someone’s morning went. If the alarm didn’t go off or the snooze was hit too many times, it is very unlikely that high heels will be the footwear choice of the day. On the other hand, the day of a speech or presentation will very likely result in a more classy or sophisticated pair of shoes.
Personality traits are visible in shoe choices. Tennis shoes can show athleticism or the desire for comfort and practicality. A couple things to consider are age and condition. If the shoes are obviously older and well-worn, one might assume that the individual prefers comfort to style. Like a good pair of jeans, shoes are also said to be most comfortable when worn out and well-loved.
When it comes to women’s shoes, flats can be symbolic of a fun, more adventurous lifestyle. Flats are comfortable, but not sloppy. High heels can show high maintenance. The woman who wears high heels might have a stylish business suit to accompany them, and is probably independent and very aggressive when it comes to getting what she wants in life. On the other hand, when matched with a party dress and cute smile, high heels can be fun and flirty.
When it comes to the men’s side of things, I notice that the majority of shoes on campus are either tennis shoes or cowboy boots. The cowboy boots are sometimes thought to be synonymous with ‘hick’ or ‘redneck’ culture. While it is often the case that those wearing cowboy boots come from a farming background, it isn’t always true. Not only that, but boots do not automatically make the individual a “dumb hick.” It is always important to stay away from stereotypes. Shoes are personality indicators, yes, but so far, they have not been proven to give 100 percent accurate results.
You may have noticed that sometimes people wear different shoes on different days. Don’t let that throw you for a loop or stop your analysis. Something to keep in mind is how often a particular pair of shoes is worn. When shoes are worn several times a week in preference to others, it is very probable that that particular pair is the favorite of the wearer. That being said, that pair will be more symbolic of the individual’s personality.
Color and brand preferences can be deciphered from shoe choices too. Brands can be very revealing when it comes to personality. High-end brands show an expensive taste, which can mean that the person really cares about other people’s opinions. The person who wears around Wal-Mart shoes thinks, “Yeah, those shoes are nice, but I got the same thing half price.”
The next time you are drawn to a pair of shoes, think about why you like them so much and what they say about your personality. You can be sure people are judging you for your shoe choices, and that’s just life. It shouldn’t hinder you from buying what you like, but it could also be fun to choose something out of the ordinary and surprise people.
Erin Morris is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.