I have shoes on my mind these days.  I’m not a fashion conscious kind of guy.  It’s always been pretty simple, one pair of tennis shoes, flip flops and occasionally some dress shoes for the inevitable wedding/funeral.  Well, I need to update my one pair of sneakers and I have been thinking about the implications of wearing tennis shoes for my professional work.  Does it impact my business?

Someone told me that as a professional I need to wear shoes that reflect my profession.  So, being that I’m a professional “Why Guy” naturally I started thinking about what kind of shoe would best represent me and why. I came up with a clean pair of white sneakers.

Let’s take a look at professional shoes. First off, we really need to answer the question, “What are professional shoes?”  A professional life guard doesn’t wear finely polished leather shoes to rescue people in the water. A professional cowboy shouldn’t dawn flip flips when driving cattle.  A Wall Street finance pro wouldn’t be caught dead in lower Manhattan sporting a pair of studded cleats.  At least not on a work day.


So what kinds of shoes does a self-made man wear?  Simple, whatever kind of shoe he wants. I did a little research into what my personal mentors and peers wear and sure enough I found pictures of them wearing sneakers.  Even on the job!

Now, back to the question, “What are professional shoes?”  If the shoes define the profession and not the potential of the person wearing them, then what difference does it make? 

I’m just thinking here.  Does ones clothing determine if you do business with them?  Maybe you could help me out a little. Share your thoughts below. I’d love to know your take on all this.

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  1. I think that shoes do help set expectations. They are part of a “social uniform” if you will. The well knotted tie, custom cut suit, and highly polished shoes are embedded in societal memory as markers of a gentleman, wealth, and success. There’s a subconscious perception that the natty dress means one is better qualified in a variety of fields.

    Now in the world of technology, shoes as part of the uniform take on a different meaning. Tennis shoes are almost a standard part of geek/nerd techwear, combined with the ever present odd-ball t-shirt. It’s expected. That can be good, or not so much. For me the question is, does the “uniform” you wear reflect who you are as a person? Does it give the client an indication of what you bring to the table? How do you blend the markers which say, “technologically savvy” with “success”?

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