Brits dating deal breakers revealed: 1 in 5 say shoe style determines the likelihood of a relationship

Clarks has surveyed over 2,000 nationally representative people across the UK to gauge attitudes towards shoe choice when dating. They’ve also answered the internet’s key dating debates; ‘can you wear trainers on a date’ and ‘should women wear heels on a first date’.

Fickle footwear: 10% of Brits confess to dumping a date because of terrible footwear

We’re a nation of nit-pickers as one in 10 admit they’ve called it a day on a date just because of footwear choice.

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    Many people admit to leaving dates because the footwear choice was off (photo: Adobe Stock)

    Millennials were the harshest generation as 17% admitted shoe style was the sole reason they ended it with someone in the past. Regionally, Belfast revealed itself as the ficklest city in the UK as 16% of Belfastians have dumped their date because of shoe style alone.

    22% of Brits admit a date’s shoe style affects the likelihood of a future relationship

    When asked about the importance of a date’s shoe style, 28% of Brits said it was important, and one in five went as far as to say that it could dictate the potential for a relationship. Women (32%) cared the most, while only 24% of men classed shoe choice as an important factor. Millennials again were the fussiest as 35% said it was an important consideration, but Boomers (21%) cared the least.

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    Birmingham was the most concerned about attractive footwear with 38% admitting it was important in the realms of dating. Plymouth was the least concerned with 52% saying it was unimportant to them.

    31% of the nation gives toes a thumbs up

    While 18% would rather toes were kept under wraps and 34% felt neutral about the subject, 31% of the UK gave toes the green light on a first date. Women (37%) were the most open to an open toe shoe, and men (36%) were nearly as keen.

    Gen Z (30%) were the most offended by the prospect of toes on show on a first date, followed by Millennials (25%). Boomers, however, were the least phased as only 10% said it was no-go territory. Gen X sat in the middle at 15%.

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    Belfast (23%) and Birmingham (23%) were the least keen with the highest number of respondents saying no to toes. But Plymouth couldn’t disagree more as 45% were pro toes on a first date.

    Brits declare plastic clogs the biggest turn off

    Plastic clogs earned the top position as the least impressive shoe for a first date with 20% saying if a date were to turn up in these, there may not be a second date.

    Gen Z, however, were the most accepting of plastic clogs as they ranked sandals (9%) desert boots (8%) and boat shoes (8%) as more off-putting to wear on a first date than plastic clogs (7%). All other generations disagreed naming plastic clogs as the least impressive footwear for romance, followed by flip flops.

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    When split by gender, men (18%) voted flip flops as their worst nightmare on a first date, but women (23%) said that plastic clogs were their biggest turn off. Sheffield had the strongest views of all UK cities towards plastic clogs and flip flops as both styles received the highest number of unfavourable responses (27% each).

    UK votes heels/stilettos as the sexiest date shoes on women

    21% of the respondents declared heels/stilettos as the most attractive shoes for a woman to wear on a first date. Men (20%) agreed, as did women (21%) who shared the same enthusiasm for this style.

    Both men (14%) and women (18%) thought heeled boots were the second-most attractive shoes, followed by knee or thigh-high boots according to men (12%), while women (13%) thought kitten heels were the third best choice.

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    It was a similar outcome when analysing each generation; Gen Z opted for heeled boots (17%), Millennials heels/stilettos (20%), Gen X heeled boots (18%), and Boomers said heels/stilettos took their fancy (23%).

    Leeds was the most passionate of all towns and cities as 25% declared that heels/stilettos were their biggest turn on.

    UK votes brogues as the sexiest date shoes on men

    Brogues won the title of the most attractive shoes for men gaining 15% of the overall votes. Women alone, however, had an appetite for fashion trainers on men (14%), and men alone thought Oxford shoes (17%) – a laced dress shoe – were the most attractive option.

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    Gen Z through to Millennials favoured fashion trainers (13% and 19% respectfully), but Gen X preferred brogues (18%) while Boomers (20%) fancied Oxford shoes.

    Belfast had the strongest affinity to the winner, brogues, awarding the highest proportion of votes (23%) to this style compared to the rest of the UK.

    Brits answer the UK’s most searched dating questions

    The research also investigated two of the most searched questions on the internet according to Answer the Public; ‘Can you wear trainers on a first date?’, and ‘Should women wear heels on a first date?’.

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    While close to half (47%) respondents said yes, you can wear trainers on a first date, 29% still declared it a no-go, and 24% were unsure.

    Millennials were the most accepting as 56% allowed trainers while Boomers were the least receptive with only 34% deeming it acceptable. This could reflect the current attitude towards casual dating amongst younger people while mature generations are more accustomed to formal dates.

    The people of Plymouth (63%) were the keenest when comparing responses by location, and Newcastle the least as 38% snubbed the trainer.

    When exploring whether women should wear heels on a first date, the results were slightly more clearcut; 13% responded yes, women should always wear heels on a first date, but 43% said no, and 44% said sometimes. Men (15%) were the biggest supporters of women always wearing heels, while only 10% of women agreed.

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    The people of Cardiff (18% said yes, always) were the biggest heel champions, and Plymouth the smallest (59% said no).

    The number of respondents saying ‘yes, always’ decreased as age increased: Gen Z (21%) had the highest proportion say yes, always, versus Boomers where only 9% said yes, always.

    For more information on what to wear on a first date see Clarks’ date guide here