Shoes, glorious shoes! We may have been born barefoot, but from our earliest days, even before we used our feet for walking, we have been adorned by all varieties of shoes. It got me to thinking... my shoes have not merely been my companions on life’s journey, but road marks that define the decades.
The earliest shoes I can remember were my black, patent leather Mary Jane’s. All the girls wore them, adorable little things with ankle straps and a glossy sheen. Photos from Easters gone by show me in my Mary Janes with a matching patent leather purse.
As a school-age girl, I wore my first pair of penny loafers. Two things I remember... if you were really “cool,” you placed a dime in each shoe’s insert, and more importantly, you had CLEATS! In case you don’t remember, cleats were small pieces of metal, usually affixed to the heel of your shoe. Practically speaking, the cleat’s purpose was to protect the heel from wearing down too soon. But the magic lived in the sound! Click, click, click... I can still hear myself walking through the halls of my elementary school. Cleats announced you had arrived! How funny now to think about the noise of legions of young girls clicking their way through life.
In the mid-1960’s, the footwear I most coveted was Go-Go boots! These white, calf-high boots were all the rage. Twiggy wore them, as did every other self-respecting modern girl. And it wasn’t just the Go-Go boots that were white. I remember wearing white eye shadow, white lipstick and white fishnet stockings. I don’t know whether to be sad or grateful that I couldn’t find any photos!
Entering the 1970’s, I found myself returning to the Earth... Earth shoes, that is. As part of the lingering flower-child sensibility, many of us wore this back to the land footwear. Earth shoes were unique in their styling... the sole was constructed so that the toes and ball of the foot sat higher off the ground than the heel. Picture having your calves stretched continually as you strolled Mother Earth.
But the pendulum of 1970’s footwear swung wide, because by the late 70’s, not only weren’t my shoes flat, they now elevated my tiny 5’4” frame to new and daring heights! The advent of Disco ushered in the days of platform shoes. I’ll admit, I loved feeling tall and to my mind, willowy, but these shoes were not without perils of their own. One summer, in my highest platform sandals, I twisted my ankle (no surprise here... how were we meant to walk in these things?!). Because my ankle stood inches off the ground, it had a long way to go before it met the sidewalk. Suffice it to say, I limped around in very flat shoes for the next six months!
Skip over the years I worked as an elementary school teacher, as I don’t remember any shoes of distinction. Comfort was queen as I spent long hours on my feet. But eventually I worked in administration, and it was all about Power Suits and high heels. I spent years with my toes squished down into all manner of beautiful, uncomfortable heels. I bowed before the Goddess of fashion, and she extracted her sacrifice in corns, bunions and misaligned hips.
What about today? Here I stand, literally, in bare feet. It’s my favorite way to walk around the house. After so many years, and so many shoes, it’s as if my feet are screaming, “Oh, sweet freedom!” On those occasions when shoes are required, they are flat and exceedingly comfortable. If I go to a wedding, I begin the evening in the tiniest of heels, but I switch to bedazzled flips flops as soon as possible.
I’ve enjoyed my journey through footwear. In fact, I still retain some artifacts of past shoe styles, a shoe museum of sorts tucked away in my closet. It’s a nice place to visit, but I no longer wish to live there...
What about you? What shoe style do you most remember? What do you like to wear now?