Back in the day I thought it was really insightful to notice that clothes are how people signal their group affiliations, like wearing a patchwork uniform. “See, I’m part of the great workers’ revolution because I have ripped jeans, but I’m high-class because they’re expensive. Salt mines for thee, not for me.” I was like leetle baby back then. But for all that childish insight I couldn’t figure out the nigh sexual fascination women, blacks, and social competitors have with shoes. I’ve known a couple of smarter black guys who could list all of the shoes their coworkers had, and which days of the week they usually wore them. A very smart, socially competitive man once advised me to spend 80% of my clothes budget on shoes if I want to be taken seriously by other competitors.
A slew of eye-tracking heatmaps reveal some very interesting sex differences in subconscious desire, (as well as revealing optimum product positioning, which come to think of it is related to the former).
Women aren’t blind to other women’s beauty. Or their shoes. (Men, as per cultural stereotype, don’t give a shit about a hot babe’s choice of footwear.)
Eye Gaze Experiments Demonstrate Holistic Female Attraction Triggers
Turns out the answer is in the question. Shoes are the most signally article of clothing there is, on account of esotericism. When you meet a person for the first time, you process their appearance from top to bottom: the first thing you see is the overall profile, then the face and shirt, then maybe the belt and pants, and the shoes last (if at all). The clothing/style choices that come first in this profile (face, shirt) are more obvious (exoteric), and those that come last are more hidden (esoteric). The more people are interested in signalling (e.g. women, blacks, social competitors, etc.), the more they will care about the more hidden, more “genuine” signals. It kinda makes sense too. The way somebody dresses on their first day of work doesn’t tell you as much about them as the way they dress on casual Friday two years later—same logic for shoes.
Richard Spencer gets a ton of flack for being a “Nazi” despite the fact that his views are pretty moderate. Why? It’s the hair. People see the way he styles himself and know immediately that he is unapologetically interested in power. He isn’t just a white man playing identity politics, he is openly advocating for the interests of white people, and thus antifragile to shaming and ostracism. This is a scary thought for people who grew up on imperialist patriarchy fairy tales and want straight huwhite men to go gently into the night, and never saw any real pushback before. All of this can be inferred from the aesthetics of his immediate appearance, and appearances are the only thing that matters in propaganda—therefore Nazi hair is the nail that sticks up and must be hammered down.
It’s a great deal less obvious what it means when a man wears a brand new pair of brown Oxfords with his tweed jacket, but it’s not impossible to interpret. And if you say anything, he has the all-important element of plausible deniability on his side. This is extremely important when you’re dealing with people who like to know secrets, navigate esoteric social systems for profit, and are transactional gossips (i.e. intratribal competitors). These people love love LOVE plausible deniability because they can argue shamelessly in favor of their interests without the risk of formal censure from rules and laws set up to protect the commons by punishing self-interested behavior.
This esoteric signalling interacts with a number of factors related to social status, but these are descriptive of every other item of clothing too:
1. Job identification: You are your job, and your shoes signal how you spend your time.
2. Functionality: The cleaner, less useful, and newer your shoes are, the higher your class must be.
3. Sensualism: People who have nuanced sensual tastes are more observant of social phenomena. (E.g. Natural materials are high-class, synthetics are low-class.) Shoes are more sensual than shirts, probably because feet are right next to the genitals on the somatosensory cortex.
4. Anti-taste: The top and the bottom of society prefer garish, discordant visual displays, although the necessary attitude is difficult to pull off unless you were born into it. (This could be peacocking but I suspect it’s just degeneracy.)
5. Fashion: Keeping up with the latest trends in footwear signals attentiveness, dedication to social competition, leisure time, and money to spend frivolously.
6. Cost: More expensive clothes mean you’re a WINNAR and I should give you things to curry your favor.
7. Race, genetics, and culture: Your tastes tell people a lot about who and what you are. You can predict a person’s political opinions and voting patterns from their music tastes.
But again, what sets shoes apart is that, like accessories, they are one of the last things you notice when you scan a person’s appearance.