By Ellen Melko Moore for Ross & Snow

Footwear Speaks a Thousand Words.  


In a 2012 study,  researchers at University of Kansas found that when presented with photographs of complete strangers’ footwear, people could accurately determine up to 90% of the time the (female) wearers self-described personality traits and economic demographics.  More than anything else we wear, shoes serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages that others can “accurately” interpret.

This makes me wonder two things:  first, who paid for that footwear study and how can I get in on the action? And second, let’s see how you feel about the degree of accuracy, using some recent examples from new footwear brand Ross & Snow’s winter-focused 2018 line.  Do others assessment of your favorite footwear styles line up with the way you would describe yourself?

Our Boots Are Made for Walking.  In All 3 Seasons.

Those who study footwear psychology claim that laid back women are more likely to wear boots (as compared to pumps).  Those who study fashion point out that good boots have become a three season brand.

Since Ross & Snow is a shearling based brand, I looked but could not find any information on the psychology of those who prefer shearling boots, but the brief history of sheepskin-lined boots and personal observation would seem to put these folks in five major categories, listed chronologically by order of their appearance on the international fashion scene:  

  1. A) aboriginal people in colder climates
  2. B) Australian surfers  
  3. C) fashionistas
  4. D) teenagers
  5. E)  people who value comfort and love keeping their feet warm and dry.

Delving deeper into the psychology of the laid back people who like comfortable feet, I think we can safely assert that the more mellow among us do not want to clammy wet toes.  As much as we might love the coziness of sheepskin, we don’t love hauling a smelly, sweltering foot out of our winter boots. And this can happen if we get tricked into buying an inferior quality of shearling boot because of a seemingly great price. The designers at Ross & Snow want consumers to get  a major distinction about the highest quality shearling: really good sheepskin boots should not make your feet sweat, and socks should absolutely be optional.  Which is good news for those who truly like to chill.

Materials, Colors, and Condition:  Shabby or Chic? Extrovert or Introvert?

Some of the findings from The University of Kansas study about the connection between footwear and personal circumstances were not what you’d call surprising.  For example, most observers guessed that extremely expensive looking shoes indicated a wealthy individual, and they were right. (Whaaaaaa? Kansas citizens, I’d demand back my tax dollar for that one).  Also, that extremely extroverted people tend wear bright colors, ditto.

But guess who also wears bright colored footwear? “Non-linear thinkers.” So,  I’m thinking, what kind of woman thinks to describe herself as a “non-linear thinker”?  Apparently, the non-linear kind, that’s who. So for all those of you drawn to more distinctive colors in your boot choices, you’ll have to consider whether you are highly social, less chronological, or both.

What if your footwear appears too well-loved? Apparently the extroverted and the more emotionally stable are more likely to wear worn out shoes (maybe because they leave the house more often?)  The Kansas study contends that conscientious, detail-oriented people keep their footwear the tidiest, but other researchers argued that overly meticulous attention to shoe condition is typically the behavior of a controlling or anxious person.

Consider the typical condition of your shoes:  are they telling others that you are secure, social, detail-oriented, or just plain strung out on Modern Overwhelm?   

Ross & Snow Winter 2018 Line:  Rugged, Relaxed, and Refined.

Let’s take a closer look at individual style choices and personality indicators by choosing your favorites from the new Ross & Snow footwear line.  First, take a look at the photos below and and choose the style that most appeals to you. Then, in Part Two(link) of this blog,  we’ll see how you feel about the accuracy of your shoe preferences as a reliable indicator of certain psychological traits.  

Ready?  Pick your favorite (or your favorites) and get ready to find out what your preferences indicate about the depths of your psyche.  Remember, according to those Kansas researchers, other people will draw conclusions about your personality from the secret language of your shoes, and according to the study, 90% of the time they will be similar to what you say about yourself.