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How To Make A Good First Impression

From a first date to a job interview, why the right shoes will help you to get off on the good foot

Research shows that, on average, it takes about seven seconds to create a first impression. New to MR PORTER? You’re probably making a judgement about us right now. Welcome! Nice to meet you. Can we take your coat?

Although important, being polite is not necessarily the most influential factor in deciding a successful introduction. In 2012, researchers at the University of Kansas found that we can glean around 90 per cent of someone’s personality just by looking at their shoes. Character traits, salary, political leaning – all can be revealed after some brief sole-searching.

It’s also worth remembering that an initial evaluation is hard to shake. When we first set eyes on someone, a primal part of the brain is triggered, identifying “friend” or “foe”. And studies show that even after getting to know someone, this snap judgement rarely changes.

So, how can we get off on the right foot? We say: invest in the appropriate shoes, and everything else will follow. Here, we show you five situations where you need to make a fine first impression – and how to get that all-important upper hand.


If you’re familiar with Tinder (not us, the gentlemen that we are) you will be well-versed in how shallow the love game can be. Although your date cannot “swipe left”, banishing you to an internet abyss the moment you meet, they will certainly give you a “tick” or “cross” in their head. It’s a first date, so you’ll be playing things cool. You’ve chosen somewhere low-key. A quiet bar, perhaps. Leave the black Oxfords at home and go for some crisp, white sneakers. These white leather sneakers by Saint Laurent feel refined, but, with that lovely gum sole and retro design, they have a distinctly carefree air. “What, these? Oh, I just threw them on.” (Do keep them clean, mind. For more on that, watch our video.) Stick to the script and continue the understated theme with a classic Lanvin bomber and some rolled-up jeans by Acne.


This is where first impressions count more than most. Sure, they’ve read your shimmering CV, but future employers want to see what you’re made of in person. But, more importantly, what are your shoes made of? Proper leather and British Goodyear welts, of course. Robust Derbies by Church’s represents the foundation of a decent, dependable and thoroughly indispensable man. A man who can coordinate a look with ease, by slipping on a smart, charcoal suit by Acne. A man who knows Bottega Veneta make some of the best leather bags in the business. A man with a new job.


Do your homework. Is the father ex-army? He may wish to see his face reflected in the shine of a pair of patents. Is mum a born-again vegan? The sight of leather might have you ushered towards the door. Ignoring these extremes, the vibe we’re going for here is “bookish”. Since you don’t know exactly what the day might hold, go for the versatility of trusty brown brogues. And why not invest in the best? If the ’rents know their stuff (or you happen to be courting an Italian), you’ll get bonus points for bringing up Brunello Cucinelli. To consolidate the feel-good “nice guy” tone, throw on this thick, textured cardigan from Richard James and some warm, herringbone trousers.


Assuming you’re not dressing for a wedding (where we’d recommend more sober black Oxfords), a formal event such as a ball is the place to let your footwear shine a little. It’s hard not to think of Mr Frank Sinatra when you pair patent loafers with a tuxedo, and these by Tom Ford – who understands nocturnal elegance better than anyone – do not disappoint. Strikingly similar to a pair worn by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, they are the perfect partner to a luxurious velvet tux jacket, and the wool trousers by Dolce & Gabbana – another brand fully in tune with formal sophistication. Admittedly, this look requires a bit of investment, but it’s a worthy one. You’ll be the best dressed at formal events for years to come.


When meeting a potential new collaborator or client, it is hopefully the start of a long and fruitful working relationship. It’s essential to tread with confidence and authority, but also to put them at ease. Chelsea boots, like these from Italian brand Tod’s, have that smart yet disarming feel you’re after. They suggest you’re full of vigour – an exciting person to work with. And should your meeting loosen a little – perhaps an office coffee moves off-site to a local pub – you won’t look out of place sampling the rather more convivial establishments in town. If the shoes fail to impress, the statement Jil Sander coat really ought to. On many a wish list here at MR PORTER HQ – it’s immaculately tailored so will work for more formal ensembles too, which proves you know a good investment when you see one. Now clinch that deal!