This missive was originally published on startupdaemon.net on 2018.05.15, but then I had to take The Nuclear Option.
Lately I’ve been getting aggravated with women hitting on me while I’m out.
This is not a humblebrag.
Few things delight me more than women who take initiative, even if I’m not interested. What’s fundamentally bothersome is that so many young women have zero game, not just in “the game” but socially and as individuals.
And this is not some grumpy-old-man observation. Much of it is generational, not just a matter of age or experience.
A couple of nights ago, I was being invaded by a young girl, very early 20s, who was obviously “on the prowl” that night. She had washed & done her hair, applied some makeup and perfume… and that’s about it.
Physicality aside, everything about her appearance was a firm NO because totally nondescript. There was no sense of style whatsoever, let alone one that commands attention, although she didn’t look clownish like so many other young women. She hadn’t even bothered to put on a pair of heels despite her shorter stature.
Mind you, she wasn’t being obnoxious or out offering herself, as is all too common these days.
Then how petty of a hang-up over her not wearing heels?
Appearance which you can easily control signals a lot more about you than do your genetics alone.
In relation to how we appear in public, the “culture” has been conditioning women to be intentionally ignorant of the most basic power dynamics arising from evolutionary psychology. Shunning heeled shoes, supposedly as a mark of empowerment, is just one of the most blatant examples.
The Heel of Man – and Woman
The heel is a weapon of war.
The first heeled shoes are thought to have emerged in relation to the stirrup. Heeled boots provided horseback riders a more reliable vantage point than the saddle and stirrup alone. A heeled rider could maneuver the horse better, put more force into strikes with handheld weapons and shoot a bow more accurately. Being heeled would have been a mark of a higher social status – because the man has survived in the wars, is a member of the warrior caste and/or can afford to own a horse.
Heeled shoes were virtually unknown in Europe until the Late Middle Ages. High heels as a status symbol first made an appearance there during the Renaissance.
In the 15th century, wealthy Venetian women started wearing chopines – platformed overshoes invented in the Ottoman East to prevent mucking up one’s actual shoes in the dirty streets. Within a century, “designer” high-heeled shoes had become a status symbol for men and women alike across the continent.
Exaggerated shoe heels quickly became a peacock’s tail for the same reasons sexual selection would recognize today. Only the wealthy and powerful could afford to buy and wear shoes that were less practical and increasingly expensive to make. The term “well-heeled” was already in circulation in Shakespeare’s time.
But it wasn’t just about expense.
Public figures were acutely aware that merely adding to their stature made them appear more powerful and larger than life.
Heels in the Game
More than anything, style is about maximizing your opportunities.
You never know whom you’re going to meet. Do you want to look like a slob with your flip-flops and sweatpants?
When I’m out running, to the supermarket or for a cup of coffee, I might wear trainers with appropriately thick soles. In any other public context, it’s Oxfords with about 10 mm heels, preferably higher. This includes long-distance travel: trains, busses, airplanes. And I’m taller than most even without the heeled shoes.
Shopping with women is one of my favorite pastimes, so I know more about women’s apparel than most men.
And much of it is good news. Women have the advantage that they can pick from a much wider variety of heel lengths and constructions. Yes, bad shoes can absolutely destroy your feet and your legs.
Which is why you take care of yourself when you buy them, not when the damage is done. That’s also why I go extra savage when I’m buying shoes for myself.
And I pay attention to what women wear and how they wear it – from the makeup and the perfume to the shoes to the accessories. Because it says so much about a woman’s personality: where she is in life, her understanding of social dynamics and her self-image. And it absolutely reflects experience and intelligence in some measure.
Gentlemen, the same applies to your style, although the signals are much richer with women’s.
The Well-Heeled Life
Even with respect to style, heels may seem like a minor detail that I’m obsessing over, but their effect on your day – and your life – can be much larger than suspected. Style matters, but your appearance isn’t, as the cliché goes, an expression of who you are.
What you wear, and being attentive to it, is an impression on who you are becoming.
It’s one of those things, like sleep, that we are inclined to ignore for many years, with devastating results for performance and life satisfaction. And for our health.
1. Higher heels give you a higher stature, literally and figuratively.
This bit you’re well aware of. None of it is rocket science.
It’s a well-known fact and basic evolutionary psychology, which young people simply choose to disregard even when aware of it. With unobservable but very real consequences. Which is not to say that you need to don 10-inch stilettos when you go for groceries. But why not if it makes you You?
2. Higher-heeled shoes for both men and women tend to be higher-quality. The heel itself signals that you are paying attention to your appearance.
Which, in turn, signals that you are more intelligent and diligent than yourself dressed according to the latest slob fashions.
Even this minimal attention to style shows that, well, you’re paying attention. It’s another indicator that there is direction and intention to your actions, perhaps even to your life. That what you do is deliberate.
Which gives you a certain social heft.
Deliberateness, especially when subtly suggested, creates gravity.
3. Most elevated heels tend to produce a distinctive sound as you walk.
This applies to anything from Oxfords to stilettos.
And sound draws attention.
Whatever commands attention is a source of social power.
As long as you make sure the sound isn’t obnoxious and is controllable as you walk and stand.
4. Heels create a powerful forward dynamic, which literally affects your mindset.
It’s no accident that most well-made trainers are slightly tilted forward from the sole, even though they don’t have a distinct heel.
Nor is it an accident that you’d be required to wear “formal” shoes if you take any even remotely serious Latin-American or ballroom dancing class.
Wearing the right shoes puts you in the proper mental dynamic, doesn’t just prepare you for the “real” dancing outside the classroom.
It’s why they’re called “formal” – they give your being form.
When taking a recreational walk, I prefer wearing trainers because I know I’ll end up walking faster, much faster with my Oxfords. It’s just hard to slow down with the heeled shoes – requires special attention.
This heel dynamic comes in handy when going out at night or for business meetings. Even if I don’t feel much like socializing, I’m undeterred because I know my energy level will be launched into the stratosphere just a few Oxfordsteps out the front door.
If manners maketh man, apparel definitely maketh man’s attitude and affecteth his energy level.
Heels create a forward movement, a forward intention of sorts, which is distinct from the effect of any dressing ritual or preferred clothing.
5. Flats are destroying your feet and your joints because most flats have inferior soles, unadapted to the typical foot-wrecking urban environment.
Wearing flats – even if only between home and work – is the physical equivalent of walking barefoot on concrete.
Because that’s what most will walk on even if they live in a rural area: parking lots, concrete walkways, cement stairs, thinly carpeted steel or concrete indoor surfaces.
I used to wear flat-sole moccasins because they can have their style and comfort. But stopped when I realized they were wrecking my feet.
Remember this missive next time you think of putting on flat thin-soled shoes to feel “empowered” at a business meeting.
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Now go forth and conquer!