The men's shoe theory

Last updated 09:58 10/07/2013
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FANCY PAIRS: The front row of Burberry Prorsum menswear, a study in shiny super-polished shoes.

SHOE CRIME CANNON: Seinfeld's sneaks - one of human history's most famous shoe horrors.

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Last month, I interviewed Jeremy Langmead, Editor-in-Chief of luxury e-tailer, Mr Porter. Shoes are the fastest growing segment in the menswear market. When I asked why the sudden penchant for footwear, Mr Langmead quipped: "Men have finally worked out that the first thing a woman notices are his shoes."

Having been out of the dating soup for almost two decades I decided to run the theory past my single sisters. Do they notice shoes? And if so, what do they say about their wearer?

"You'd be surprised just how much they reveal," said my friend, Layla, 36. "I can tell whether a man will call me just by the kind of shoes he's wearing."  A quick office poll concluded that the majority of women concur with Layla and clock the shoes before bothering with anything else. For Grace, a 27-year-old marketing manager, they can be a deal breaker. "I was out on Saturday night and met a really cool guy. We had good banter, he was attractive, interesting and then he stood up... really, really bad sneakers. I knew we'd never work."

It seems that women view shoes in the same way brokers view the market - blue chip, sure thing, low-risk, loser, a gamble. "Shoes are cards in a deck," said Ella, 35. "They represent morals, humour, what kind of dad he might make."

I took the issue over to the jury on Facebook and Twitter where discussion became specific. So here, with no scientific qualification whatsoever, is a guide to the generalisations women make about men's shoes.


These shoes scream image conscious. When we see a pair of these we know it's possible you'll have a better skin-care routine than us. If you're wearing them with cuffed trousers we know you may spend more time in front of the mirror than we do. If you're wearing them with cuffed trousers and no socks then we know you're batting for the other team.


Two words: Jerry Seinfled. Very, very funny man with incredibly bad taste in footwear. The End.


Traditional, dependable, reliable. We see this style as the dependable guy's favourite. Brogues say father, husband, and life-long friend. The flip side is that the wearer could potentially be a little dull but that's a dice roll some are prepared to play.


Men who wear logo shoes are generally trying to prove a point. That point is lost on women.


You're not ready to grow up are you? Converse, tri-stripes, no laces, anything that members of One Direction favour says you're a hipster, stoner, advertising creative, muso or surfer with Peter Pan syndrome. We don't necessarily see forever in your footwear but we reckon you'd be a world of fun.


These guys are part of the concrete cowboy pack. Traditional working boots generally mean a traditional personality, from a traditional family which is traditionally comforting. They can also mean a country property and a horse called Rodeo. Either way, boots belong to a man's man and last time I checked that's what plenty of women still want.

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These are the Switzerland of shoes. Man, woman and child get a fashion hall pass with these summer must-haves. If you live here, you will live some of that time in a pair of jandals.


Off the mountain these suggest the only place you really want to be is on a mountain. Hiker boots say adventurer, wanderer... and watch-out.


The open toe shoe confuses women. Are you a surfer? An alternative? Or are you a corporate type pretending to be a laid-back surfer or alternative? Maybe you're a German tourist? No matter where you blew in from sandals make women feel uncomfortable.


This look isn't confusing. It's just plain wrong.

With all that said, the last word goes to my friend Gary who thinks the shoe theory is ridiculous. "The only thing a guys shoes say about him is whether he's awake or asleep."


- FFX Aus


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