if the shoe fits
October 15, 2012 3:36 PM Subscribe
You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say.
posted by flex (159 comments total)
86 users marked this as a favorite
"Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes." Virginia Postrel responded
: "The study made a solid contribution to research on first impressions, but it was hardly earthshaking. By getting so much attention, however, it demonstrated a sociological truth: People love to talk about shoes. Even those who dismissed the research as silly often felt compelled to call radio stations or comment on websites, providing details about their own choices. Why this fascination with footwear? "
Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum has online exhibitions
and a Shoe of the Month Podcast
If The Shoe Fits: Footwear, Identity and Transition
is an ongoing project at the University of Sheffield (papers, reviews and work-in-progress)
*If The Shoe Fits: Footwear, Gender and Identity (draft of paper, PDF file)
*Who do you think you are? (on trainers/sneakers) (draft of paper, PDF file)
Russell Belk: Shoes and Self
"ABSTRACT - Based on questionnaires, observations, and interviews in 1990 and 2000, it is clear that to most Americans, their footwear is an extension and expression of themselves. The study finds strong gender differences, with women being more alert to the symbolic implications of shoes than men. Shoes affect our perceptions of others and our perceptions of self, including our passage into adulthood. Among the magical transformations we attribute to shoes is their ability to supercharge our athletic performance. Not only is footwear an extension of self, it also acts as a repository of memory and meaning in our lives."
five excerpts from Women From the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us
by Rachelle Bergstein
*How Ferragamo’s Arch Remade the Shoe Industry
*The Greatest Generation Was Robbed of Sexy Footwear
*Wrapping Stilettos in Foot-Binding Debate
*Smart Girls Wear Flats, Leave Heels Behind
*Feel for Heel Allowed Women to Do Boardroom Deal
*Marketplace Money audio interview
with Bergstein (~5 min.)
*Shoes: A History
, a ~5 min. video with Giorgio Riello (author of Shoes: A History from Sandals to Sneakers
*Footprints from History
: Giorgio Riello and Peter McNeil find shoes a fascinating key to social mores, and discuss what choice and design of footwear can tell us about morality, mobility and sexuality in Europe over the centuries.
Shoes Can Help "Heel" Your Body Image Problems
Linda Grant in the Guardian: Real women wear flat shoes
Sole Mate: Christian Louboutin and the psychology of shoes
To Louboutin, shoes are like books, or workouts: if they don’t demand anything of you, you’re not going to get a lot out of them. Wearing gorgeous shoes is a form of self-enrichment. “The shoe is very much an X-ray of social comportment,” he said.
Selling shoes at his first boutique, Louboutin became a keen student of consumer behavior. He noticed that Japanese women tended toward ankle boots, that most American women had pedicures, and that most French women didn’t (“When I started, sandals were not a possibility for the French”). Whatever their nationality, Louboutin’s customers enacted the same ritual upon trying on a pair of shoes. “When a woman buys a pair of shoes, she never looks at the shoe,” Louboutin said. “She stands up and looks in the mirror, she looks at the breast, the ass, from the front, from the side, blah blah blah. If she likes herself, then she considers the shoe.” Fortunately for Louboutin, women like themselves in designer shoes more than they like themselves in many other pieces of designer clothing. “The foot has this lucky thing,” Louboutin said. “A lot of women don’t like when they’re sort of fat, but a fat foot is as beautiful as a skinny foot. Think of Greek statues. Look how many people love the foot of the baby! There is something super-charming about the baby foot.”
Louboutin considers his shoes as a sort of man-bait: men like high heels, and women like being liked by men. “It’s not like we’re designing an object,” Hugo Marchand told me. “Christian will never do shoes that don’t give an advantage to his customers.” Louboutin recalled, “One man said to me, ‘I have never looked at shoes before,’ and it was a huge compliment.” He went on, “I would hate to be in a position of a person that does things that repulse the guy.” At this, I mentioned a fur boot that Louboutin made, with a cleft for each toe, so that the foot looked like a lion’s paw. I doubted that many men would find it as amusing as I did. Louboutin looked apologetic. “Yes,” he said. “That is for a woman who is alone.”