Turns Out Those Mean Girls In Middle School Might Have Been Right All Along: Shoe-Judging Edition

According to a new study, you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at what's on their feet.
Publish date:
June 7, 2012
meanies, shoe judgement

According to a new paper published in the Journal of Research in Personality, your shoes were made for talking, specifically they say a lot about you. From the abstract (cause ya'll know I wasn't paying 30 bucks for the full article):

We investigated people’s precision in judging characteristics of an unknown person, based solely on the shoes he or she wears most often. Participants provided photographs of their shoes, and during a separate session completed self-report measures. Coders rated the shoes on various dimensions, and these ratings were found to correlate with the owners’ personal characteristics.

Shoes, say the paper's authors, "can indeed be used to evaluate others, at least in some domains." So all those mini meanies in middle school who cracked on my knock-off sneakers because I was a) sorta kinda poor and b) was also insanely anxious/eager to be part of the cool crowd were exactly right. Those bitches.

Because I spent my early years puberty-wise on an island off the coast of California that had an actual Main Street and only one clothing store where you could buy something that wasn't tie dyed, fashion wasn't a big part of our social hierarchy. Not until I moved back to Los Angeles as a 13-year-old did commercials come to life in the Cross Colours, Fubu and Nikes of the early 90s lunchroom. Suddenly my beat-up Keds didn't quite cut it.

What's most interesting about the recent study to me, is that the shoe-wearers completed self evaluations to go along with the picture they took of their most worn shoes, which means we are what we walk in. Or that we buy shoes that fit our personality, which isn't a super stretch in understanding, but still pretty cool.

Fast forward past my Swap Meet Sneaker Years and I've never been one to skimp on personal style statements. I wear what makes me feel good and what makes me feel good is usually totally in line with my true mental mirror image and not my flights of fancy. For example:

I have two pairs of these.

I wear these shoes EVERYWHERE because they're a little bit comfy and a little rock n' roll. I've washed them and even bought a new pair (which I currently can't find) when I thought I lost the first pair. Despite being totally beat, they are my go-to flats for any skinny jean occasion. I choose them over these.

I bought this pair of traditional leather babouche in Marrakech a few summers ago because I wanted to be the type of woman who wears traditional leather babouche to go pick up the groceries. I wanted strangers to look at my feet and say, "Hey there goes one classy jetsetting rock star." But I've never worn these shoes because I'm not a classy jetsetting rock star, I'm a semi-practical adult who loves a little cheetah print surprise, nothing more.

Also take these bad boys purchased from Macy's for one of those fancy "30 Under 30" parties DC is so proud to throw every other Thursday.

These shoes are super bad ass and in them I feel like a super hero, but alas they're really not me. Whenever I imagine myself wearing them, I get all giddy inside and think, "What 'till they get a load of me!" and yet I always reach for these instead.

Are they as exciting and hot pink peep toes? Nope. Am I? These "nude" patent leather heels have been worn to more weddings, mixers, reunions and dinner and a movie dates than a smile. They are simple, classic yet somehow ey- catching. Words I'd definitely use to describe my take on me.

Anyway I want to know how you'd describe your favorite pair of shoes and if those VERY same adjectives are how you'd describe you. Go.