Apparently Giving Someone Shoes as a Gift Is a Sure-Fire Way They Will Leave You Forever

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Dec. 19 2023, Published 2:31 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Every time a gift-giving season rolls around, the shoe theory returns.
  • The shoe theory suggests that giving someone you love a pair of shoes will make them walk out of your life.
  • We prefer the wrong shoe theory which is all about clothes and shoes that don't make sense.
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I consider myself to be a pretty good gift giver. The trick is, really paying attention to the people around you. When someone you care about makes an off-handed comment about something they enjoy, take note of that. If you see something in the wild that makes you think about a person you love, snatch it up if you can. It's all about listening.

What I won't listen to is a bonkers trend that has resurfaced on social media. I love superstitions as much as the next child of the 80s who grew up around psychic networks and the Satanic Panic, but I don't allow them to change the trajectory of my life. I wish I could say the same for some folks on TikTok who are taking a shoe theory a bit too seriously. They are letting it walk all over them.

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Whatever you do, don't give your partner shoes as a gift.

The shoe theory has returned with a vengeance and I have to assume it's because as of the time of this writing, we are less than seven days out from Christmas 2023. Anytime a gift-giving event is upon us, the shoe theory comes walking back into everyone's lives. Slate first clocked this phenomenon in December 2022, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been kicking around for a while.

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The sorcery is simple, if you give someone a pair of shoes as a gift this guarantees they will strap those boots on and skip out of your life. If that were true, we could probably apply it to other gifts. For example, I gave my person a vintage smoking jacket for his birthday and our relationship has yet to go up in smoke. He gave me a gorgeous print of a nude woman lounging with a cherubic baby and guess what, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have yet to be with child. No thanks!

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As with all mystical ideas, social media users were quick to retroactively apply this theory to their own experiences. More than one TikToker recalled a time they gifted a partner with a pair of shoes only to watch the relationship crumble soon after. I hate to break it to them but correlation isn't causation. You only gave them one more thing to pack as they were extricating themselves from an already failing partnership.

Here's another shoe theory that won't break your heart but it may break your bank.

Because I refuse to engage in anything that remotely resembles a self-fulfilling prophecy, I've chosen to get on board with a different shoe theory. It's called the wrong shoe theory and it took the fashion world by storm in June 2023. According to Vogue, this simple little styling hack can breathe new life into even your most well-worn ensembles.

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Model Naomi Anwer pairing a little black dress with white sneakers.
Source: Getty Images

Stylist Allison Bornstein coined the phrase "wrong shoe theory" and all it takes is two opposing looks. It's kind of like the George Costanza of outfit choices. Pick out something to wear then land on a pair of shoes that make sense. Now disregard those shoes entirely and go with the opposite. For example, pair a fancy dress with a pair of tennis shoes. Grab a tailored suit and throw on your flip flops. Do you have a nice set of matching satin pajamas? Great, you'll need some high heels for them.

In terms of shoes and theories, it's way more fun to invent a new outfit than spend your time convincing yourself someone is about to leave. And let's say they do leave, here's what you do: Dress up in your favorite outfit then snag a pair of shoes that make absolutely no sense. They say the best way to get over someone, is to put some weird shoes under you. Don't think too hard about that one, just go with it!

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