“Show me your shoes, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
There are a great many similar proverbs that all seem to agree on one thing: there are hundreds of ways to gauge a person’s personality without even talking to them.
While you might think it shallow, you’re guilty of doing it all the time! Our brains are hardwired to form first impressions within the first 100 milliseconds, for which we need visual clues.
Of course, the strongest visual cue is a person’s face. But there might be another cue at the polar opposite end, which might be useful as well: shoes.
Think about it: if shoes can make statements in our fashion culture, what else do they have to say?
From generic, comfortable knit sneakers to expensive, limited edition shoes, here is what your choice of footwear says about your personality.
Do Shoes Really Reveal Your Personality?
When you think about it, it’s not really that surprising. We use shoes as a standard to assess people’s personality traits. Today, shoes have become an integral part of culture.
But beyond their cultural significance, some people suggest that shoes convey ideas about the wearer's national identity, politics, class, race, and social standing. Psychologist Nicola Squicciarino expresses that shoes are “extensions on the corporeal ego.”
Similarly, Social History and Culture Professor Giorgio Riello notes that shoes are a tool to maneuver through the world, whether it’s to catch the bus to work or go backpacking with your friends. Thus, shoes extend (or inhibit) our social, emotional, and physical capacities.
In other words, your choice in footwear is one of the many ways you present yourself to the world and say: this is who I am!
Of course, this isn’t a conscious habit, but it’s one we have all internalized. While you might raise your brow at Buzzfeed’s “what your shoes say about you” quizzes, we have science to back us up.
In a 2012 study, participants were shown close-up images of strangers wearing shoes. By looking at their shoes alone, the participants were able to accurately guess 90% of the strangers’ personality traits, including gender, age, social status, income, and so on.
This confirms what we’ve been saying all along: you can tell a lot about a person from their shoes.
What Do Your Shoes Say About Your Personality?
Whether you want to admit it or not, we all put a lot of thought into the shoes we choose to wear. Considerations like comfort, style, and practicality cross our minds at least once.
For example, if you have a lot of errands to run on a particularly hot day, you will probably put on knit sneakers.
Over time, these considerations become habitual— a personality trait. That is, we can work backward and gauge a person’s personality through their shoes alone.
Here are some examples of how to do just that.
1. Dress Shoes
Dress shoes are a dead giveaway that a person is mostly in a professional and formal environment. When you put on dress shoes, you are dressed for success. Even if this means sacrificing your comfort, you won’t take your eye off the ball.
As a result, you are everyone's go-to person, whether it’s for advice or for a favor. Even if your personality might not be everyone’s cup of tea, they know that you are reliable.
Additionally, dress shoes reveal that you are intelligent, mature, confident, and goal-oriented.
2. Slip Ons
Slip-on shoes are convenient, but they are also much more than that. The same can be said about the people who wear them.
Comfortable, formal-casual, and stylish, these shoes are at the intersection between introversion and extroversion. If you like to wear slip-ons on a regular basis, you probably don’t like to stand out much.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t know how to keep appearances.
3. Knit Sneakers
Historically, there was always a negative connotation attached to sneakers. Apparently, if you wore these “street shoes,” you were a delinquent.
But now, sneakers have become a cultural statement.
If you wear knit sneakers, you’re probably in your teens or early twenties. Additionally, you like to keep up with fashion trends.
At the same time, your preference for sneakers could reveal your conformist nature. If you wear the most trendy sneakers, you like to blend in and be accepted.
Flat shoes don’t necessarily denote a flat personality. Instead, all it means is that you’re easy-going, modest, and focused.
Plus, not only are you comfortable in your shoes, but you are also comfortable with yourself. In other words, you don’t believe that you need to wear heels to be taken seriously.
At the same time, printed flats are your way of adding some spice to your footwear without compromising your comfort.
5. Running Shoes
This one’s a given; a predisposition towards running shoes can suggest that you’re an active person. Now, this might seem a little too obvious, but it’s actually true!
Of course, it doesn’t only have to be for exercise. Instead, people who wear running shoes simply like to keep busy, regardless of how they do so. Additionally, white or black waterproof sneakers, such as Loom Waterproof Sneakers, can also be a sign of a multitasker.
But if you only have a single pair of running shoes as opposed to back-ups, that might mean you’re a little sporadic and often unsuccessful in your efforts. You want to keep busy, but you always fall short.
6. Expensive Shoes
If you like to wear luxurious, designer shoes, you have the world in the palm of your hand. This isn’t only because you have money to spend, but because you know where to spend it.
Additionally, your choice of expensive footwear can also indicate the income strata you belong to!
7. Flashy Shoes
We’re talking Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga levels of flashy here. More extravagant from our current campy shoe fashion trend, these kinds of shoes show that the owner wears their heart on their sleeve.
To say that people who wear flashy shoes are extroverted is an understatement. Naturally, these people don’t mind being the center of attention. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they crave it.
Instead, all it means is that the person is self-assured and secure with themselves.
If you wear heels on a daily basis, you’re a trooper.
But beyond that, your classy heels suggest that you like to keep things professional, and you are up to take on the world.
Additionally, being able to flaunt heels proves that you are poised, confident, and don’t want to resign to the shadows. Instead, you are secure with yourself, and other people should make no mistake about it.
9. Limited Edition Shoes
Everyone wants to own limited edition shoes. But only some people have the resolve to actually go through with it.
Versatility is one of the main character traits of people who flaunt limited edition shoes. They do not want to restrict themself to one fashion trend. Instead, they like to seize opportunities as they come.
Hence, these people are also frequent risk-takers and adventurers.
10. Old And Well-Kept Shoes
People who hold on to old shoes and are somehow able to make them last for years are known to be very conscientious. If they are willing and able to maintain their shoes for so long, imagine what else they are capable of?
Their religious dedication to their favorite shoes’ upkeep also shows that these people will always do their job thoroughly, to completion.
Sure, they might not be a jack of all trades, but they’re pretty good at what they do.
11. Thrifted Shoes
Pre-loved or thrifted shoes can be branded or non-branded, flashy or modest, and comfortable or over-the-top. But the one thing that remains consistent is the statement they make.
If you like to give old shoes a new chance at life, you’re definitely more patient than the average Joe. Additionally, you can also exhibit a lot of self-restraint and often have a strong resolve.
Moreover, you’re bound to be at least a little crafty and handy so that you can breathe some life into your newest thrift find.
12. Flip Flops
Everyone owns at least one pair of flip-flops in which they can lounge around. Additionally, flip-flops are the perfect vacationing shoes.
But if you wear flip-flops out of context, you’re likely to be perceived as someone who doesn’t like to take life too seriously.
13. Off-Brand Sneakers
Many people like to wear off-brand sneakers, and they’re not afraid to admit it. Sure, these shoes may not be as ostentatious, but that’s exactly the point.
Instead of placing any more meaning on their shoes than necessary, these people humbly recognize that shoes are just a tool to move around. Hence, there might also be some hints of financial responsibility as well as modesty among these types of people.
14. Campy Shoes
Campy shoes define today’s fashion trends, including footwear. Thus, a person who sports chunky, graphic, and colorful shoes is definitely a yes-man.
This is especially apparent in the way that most campy shoes aren’t even that comfortable to wear. Despite the discomfort, though, these people soldier on in the name of fashion.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad reflection on their character. Instead, campy shoes indicate that the wearer is spirited and zestful.
What Do Most Popular Shoes Say About You?
Today, some shoes are so deeply integrated into the fashion world that you immediately get to know what they mean.
- Air Force 1s: AF1s are the most popular choice of shoes among teenagers today. While they’ve been around for decades, they have become somewhat of a cultural icon. Therefore, people who flaunt these timeless classics are perceived as voguish, sociable, and cultured.
- Jordan 1 Highs: People who sport Jordans 1s exhibit similar personality traits to those who wear AF1s. The only distinction is that the former ones are most definitely basketball fans.
- Converse: Converse is a staple in the footwear world— some would say it’s archaic. In a similar vein, people who wear these shoes like to stick to the tried and tested classics. Since these shoes are easy to style and hassle-free to maintain, the people who wear them often have fast-paced and chaotic lives.
- New Balance: These thick-soled, clunky, lace-up shoes are infamous for being “dad shoes.” Therefore, people who wear New Balance shoes are often perceived as boomers or old souls.
What Do Your Shoes Say About Your Relationships?
According to the same study published in 2012, your shoes can do more than just reveal your personality. In fact, your choice of footwear can say a lot about your relationships and attachment styles as well.
Generally, wearing neutral-colored shoes suggests that the person is anxious, flurried, and insecure in their relationships. Hence, they tend to channel that same insecurity and reservation into their choice of bold footwear.
On the other hand, people who feel secure in their relationships tend to go for more flashy, campy, and bold shoes. Moreover, they are also open to stepping out of their comfort zones and experimenting with limited-edition, thrifted, and branded shoes.
Lastly, avoidant partners can be identified through their preference of non-statement, off-brand shoes. The reason for this, it seems, is that avoidant partners are aloof in most aspects of their life. Therefore, they must be unbothered by the shoes they wear, too.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. But the same rule doesn’t extend to shoes, according to research, whether it’s age, gender, nationality, personality, or attachment styles.
As it turns out, you can accurately tell a lot about a person from the shoes that they wear.
Of course, these rules aren’t hard-and-fast. After all, people can always surprise you; those who wear knit sneakers could be deceptively chaotic, or those who wear expensive shoes might be financially irresponsible.
For the most part, though, it would appear that shoes— not eyes— are the window to the soul.