At some point in our lives, I’m sure we’ve all been told that ‘first impressions count’. More often than not, this age-old phrase refers to the way we dress, carry ourselves, and speak. While all of these factors are undoubtedly important, research suggests that your shoes may have a greater impact on first impressions than you may think!
One study asked a group of participants to provide pictures of their most worn pair of shoes, they then revealed aspects of their personality and other demographic factors to the researchers. A separate group of participants was then asked to look at the (anonymous) images of shoes and make judgements about the unknown shoe owners. Surprisingly, results revealed that the shoe owners’ age, gender, income, and attachment anxiety could be accurately determined accurately based on the images of their shoes alone!
The power of shoes doesn’t stop there. Shoes can also be an effective way of changing how you feel. For example, during the lockdown, it has been shown that one in eight people would prefer to have a more casual office dress code than earn more money. And in a society largely driven by money, that is a big statement to make.
Comfortable clothing and footwear have been shown to positively impact cognition, providing people with more mental space to focus on their work and spend less time worrying over unnecessary distractions like the restriction of their suit jackets or twisting or tights. And it has perhaps taken lockdown’s implementation of working from home for us all to realise just how liberating it is to take a conference call in the comfort of our slippers.
But this doesn’t mean we should be in a hurry to cancel all high heels in honour of our trainers; rather, it’s about the time and place we choose to wear each. In some instances, heels can in fact, be of benefit. For example, women are rated as looking and feeling more attractive and empowered when wearing heels.
In short, it is evident that our shoes hold much greater power and purpose than merely protecting our feet; they can be used to transform the way others perceive us as well as the way we perceive ourselves. Taking the time to engage in the way we feel, or hope to feel before leaving the door and selecting our footwear accordingly, could make a surprisingly big difference to the success of our days.