by Jacob Klein

_

A natural part of human nature is to judge someone when you first see him. Now, it’s not necessarily the kindest or most proper thing to do, but we need to face it, the majority of us (excluding those wonderful individuals who are pure of heart) judge people on first impressions. We all judge on different criteria. Some people judge others based on their clothing choice, their hairstyle, how they present themselves, or a combination of all those things. Granted, I do all of those at times as well, but I have another way to judge people: Converse.

Now before we get all worked up about how judging is bad, I just want to remind you that it really is a part of human nature and we should accept it. Sometimes, it can lead you down bad roads, so make sure to keep yourself open to changing your judgment when you need to. But back to Converse.

I believe that Converse—yes, as in the shoes—say a lot about a person. A pair of Converse can reveal whether someone has a rebellious spirit (high-tops, black), if he or she is an artiste (a bold color, possibly tweaked by wearer) or if that person just does not care (worn and used). As soon as I see someone wearing a pair of Converse, I immediately start forming impressions that will eventually lead to a judgment based on these criteria: type, color, and condition.

A quick refresher for those who may not be up on Converse styles: the two basic kinds are low-tops and high-tops, low-tops cutting off where most other shoes do and high-tops extending above the ankles. Other kinds include knee high Converse or Converse boots, Converse heels—yes, they exist, even though they shouldn’t—and a variety of other types. However, for sake of convenience, I’ll stick to low-tops and high-tops. Low-tops are more mainstream, a little more accessible to the average person. High-tops on the other hand tend to be worn by people who live an edgier life—or at least want to. A low-top can blend in easier if it must, looking like many other shoes, more similar to Vans or Hurley or some other company. High-tops, unless hidden by a pair of pants, stand out. They proclaim, “I am different, even in a slight way, from the rest of you.” And yes, sometimes this comes off in a derogatory way. Some people with high-tops wear them to just show that they enjoy living in certain extremes, but in a pleasant way. Others wear high-tops to proclaim their rebel status in smug superiority. I, for one, don’t appreciate looking down upon people, so I often ignore those who wear their pair of Converse for this reason. Though I don’t like to just blatantly ignore someone, there was one time when I was at a friend’s party that I had to do just that. I saw this guy across the room that I didn’t know, and departing from my usual course, I decided not to introduce myself to him because of his pair of high-tops. He wore them with an arrogance declaring what a maverick he was, so I chose to avoid his cocky maverick status.

Color leaves the most up to interpretation. In the Converse world, there is a near infinite number of possibilities of colors. You can mix and match by custom order, find a pair of your favorite color, or even different textures, or go with classic black. And that doesn’t even take into account how faded the color(s) may have become. The classic black is plain without the negative connotation. It’s simple but evocative, basic but bold. It says, “I enjoy Converse.” For some, it can be that black goes with anything, but for others it can be a declaration that they don’t need choose a color to proclaim their individuality. Which brings me to variation on color. As wonderful as black is, everyone has it, and sometimes people need to be unique, but then, once everyone is “unique,” no one is. The need to express one’s self is understandable, and that expression helps other people judge you. Colors are very open for interpretation, but at the same time, certain colors simply give rise to certain feelings. Bright yellow reveals a sunny disposition, red can be a bold statement of rebellion or the allowance of wearing a favorite color and completing an outfit. For instance, a friend of mine once displayed her recent purchase of red Converse adorning them along with a red shirt and a pair of jeans. I enjoyed her pleasure at getting to devote her entire outfit to red. A forest green says, “I’m deep and strong,” whereas normal green can reveal a happy person who also can be serious, such as a guy I saw who, though at first seemed like a joker, made sure his friends didn’t cross the street as a car came hurtling across the crosswalk. Complex enough when it’s only one color, imagine how tricky it can be when someone decides to mix two, or even three! With colors, it’s really an intuition thing.

The final piece of criteria is the condition of the pair of Converse. Those who keep their pair in prime condition without a single blemish can reveal haughtiness to their character or they could just be one of those people who gets lucky and always manages to stay clean and polished. Signs of wear can reveal a love for their shoes, and perhaps love for life as well, or the worn condition could be a put-on to show how someone’s lack of care and nonchalance.

I am a proud owner of a pair of bright blue (my favorite color) low-top Converse that I consider to be in a “vagabond” condition, worn, tearing, and dirty, but oh so loved. Though now a size too small, due to constant wear they still fit perfectly. They’ve lasted me through the darkest nights when I questioned my very being to the happiest times when I was filled with bubbly glee. And, when I finally get a new pair of Converse shoes, it’s more than likely I’ll choose bright blue low-tops again…but I think I’ll keep the ones I have.

Judge me however you see fit.

Advertisements