What is first impression?

In psychology, the first impression is defined as the initial way of perceiving an individual when two or more people meet. Often the first impression plays a significant role in everyday life. Everyone meets someone new every day, and each time when you meet someone new, your first impression will linger in their mind for quite a while.

When you are wearing cowboy boots on the street, it’ll give you a different impression about you compared to when you are wearing running shoes. You don’t decide other people’s first impression towards you; rather, everyone will have a different opinion about your cowboy boots or your running shoes. 

Generally speaking, certain types of shoes will give certain impressions. Meeting a new person in cowboy boots maybe make them think that I was at a ranch, or if I am wearing running shoes with athletic clothes, I will give the impression that I like to gym. 

Can first impression change?

Historically, the perception of specific characteristics has changed. For example, until very recently, tattoos didn’t have a very positive first impression in the Eastern Asian culture. They were typically perceived to be something that gang members have and were frowned upon. However, this has changed. Nowadays, tattoos are becoming more fashionable, and people are starting to accept tattoos more and more in Asia.

That doesn’t mean that the first impression you give someone will change very soon, the first impression tends to stick. A Harvard research has shown that the bad first impression takes around eight positive encounters to improve. So, pick your attire appropriately according to the event.

Can shoes determine my first impression?

In modern-day society, there is a wide variety of shoes according to their function and design. Shoe-makers are spending millions on marketing, and they are advertising aggressively to grab customer’s attention. We can select what to wear and how we want to present it to others.

It is a very well known fact that what you are wearing can decide your first impression on others and I am pretty sure that people reading this article do wear shoes outside to walk your dog, go to work and to stores. You will meet hundreds of people every day, more if you live in a busy city. When I go to work and back I took the tube, probably walked passed around 40~50 people. I went to eat lunch and went to the gym after work. I think I met more than hundreds in total. 

Okay, not everyone looks at you, but the ones they do will silently judge your first impression. Unless you talk to them and you get to know them more, what you are wearing is the best and the only way for them to judge you. If you see someone wearing sneakers with a suit, it will give a different impression compared to someone wearing dress shoes with a suit.

Which shoes to wear for different events?


Formal events include formal dinner events, balls, funerals, weddings. They are events where everyone expects certain ceremonies or traditions from happening. These are the most important events for some people and people attending. 

Those readers who have watched Kingsmen will know this expression “Oxfords not Brogues”. For formal events, just remember that expression. Wear Black or dark brown oxford shoes for formal occasions. Some people may say buy patent leather shoes for these events, but I would recommend buying calf leather shoes and giving the shoes a nice shine. If you don’t have any oxford shoes, whole cut shoes can be acceptable. 

Semi-formal / Business

Semi-formal events include any events that are not formal and some business meetings. These are events where people expect you to dress in certain ways and show a good first impression, but they are less formal compared to formal events. 

During the semi-formal events, you can wear other types of dress shoes and event sometimes boots. Brogues, semi-brogues and monk straps are good examples of dress shoes that you can wear for these occasions. Work boots like Red Wings or Truman Boots are not considered dress shoes. Black Chelsea boots or balmoral boots are examples of dress boots. 


We all know that for casual we can wear whatever you want. But black oxfords with jeans are very weird. Imagine you are on a business trip and bad formal meetings, but you forget to bring another pair of shoes to wear. Inside of your suitcase, you found a pair of jeans, so you just decided to wear your black oxford with jeans. It does look weird. Of course, you can wear whatever you want, and this is better than sliders with suits to be fair. 

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