Telling a Man by His Shoes


There is an old adage that says, "You can tell a man by his shoes." Now, I don't know how old this saying is, but single women have been touting this piece of advice for years. This saying has been interpreted in several different ways over time. There are people who believe that if a man's shoes are scuffed or dirty then he doesn't care about his shoes and therefore won't put care into his relationships.

Another school of thought categorizes men by the type of shoes they wear. A man is presumed to be bohemian if he wears Birkenstocks and athletic if he maintains a wardrobe of sneakers.

Personally, I don't go around categorizing men by their shoes. Walking around with your head only looking down can lead to a lot of accidents. Not only is there a potential of getting hit by a car because you are not paying attention, but there is a high potential of misinterpreting a man's personality by the shoes on his feet. Who knows if the "bohemian" sporting the Birkenstocks is a major player on Wall Street or if the sneakerhead's shoes are so clean because he's never actually worn them on any type of court?


Every year since 1985 people of all ages have bombarded shoe stores worldwide clamoring to get their hands on a pair of Jordans. Not only have these shoes become a fashion statement, but they have become a cultural statement of both individuality and conformity.

The shoe's namesake, basketball star and businessman, Michael Jordan was fined by the National Basketball Association (NBA) when he first stepped onto the court wearing the now iconic sneakers. In fact, he was initially fined $5000 every time he played wearing the shoes. Despite the fines he wore the sneakers in the 1986 playoffs against the Boston Celtics where he scored a playoff high of 63 points.

It is safe to say that this made consumers more keen on trying to, "be like Mike."

The release of Jordans resulted in a cultural shift in which sneakers became a symbol of status. When the Air Jordan I was released in 1985 they became the most expensive sneakers on the market at $65. Since then the price of a pair of Jordans has grown to cost an upwards of $200.

Despite the fact that our country is currently suffering hard economic times people still lined up yesterday to purchase a pair (or two) of Air Jordan 2011 Concords. First released in 1995, the Air Jordan "Concord" marked Michael Jordan's comeback to the NBA after his first retirement. A pair of Air Jordan 2011 Concords runs for $180, which makes them some very expensive grapes in my book.

If the old adage of judging a man by his shoes is true then what can we say about a man who boasts a closet full of Jordans? Can you infer that the man is financially stable? Having met many guys that complain about various financial woes, but have no problem dropping serious cash on a pair of sneakers I'd say no. Is the man athletic? I remember boys in middle school who may have had shoes like Mike, but that's as far as their athletic prowess went. Buying Michael Jordan's shoes is one thing, but having his talent is another. Are clean shoes an indicator of a good man? Not necessarily. I've met guys who spend hours carefully cleaning their Jordan collections with a toothbrush and a bucket of soapy water. Unfortunately, the care they put into maintaining their shoes does not always equate to the care they put into maintaining their relationships.

While I do not subscribe to the belief that a man should be judged solely by his shoes I do agree that a man's choice of shoes says a few things about him.

There are always reasons behind the choices we make when it comes to our outward appearance because fashion is a form of iconography, which we all use to express ourselves as individuals.  A man that lines up to purchase a new pair of Jordans each year is expressing his desire to both stand out and fit in.

Air Jordans are known for their unique designs and vibrant colorways. Wearers of the sneakers want to stand out from the crowd, or at the very least be noticed. It's one of the reasons people waited hours in line to purchase the limited edition Concords. To some men nothing says style like matching your hat with your shirt and your Jordans. It is the shoes that say, "Look at me, I have style and money." However, just as much as the shoes are bought to stand out, they are purchased so that its wearers can fit in. When a man matches his hat with his shirt and his Jordans he's also saying, "Look at me, I'm just like you." If pop culture has taught us anything it is that all it takes to turn someone from "geek to chic" is a new wardrobe because nothing says "I belong" more than wearing the new "It" item.

Humans are complex creatures. We seek to stand out, but also need to feed our desire to fit in. The overwhelming popularity of Air Jordans represent that.

(FEATURED IMAGE: Mike Bindrup)