Wednesday, June 17, 2015

a mile in my shoes: my life in five pairs.

I’ve owned a lot of badass shoes in my lifetime. Lion King shoes. Dinosaur shoes. Batman shoes. Light-up Barbie shoes.

I love a good pair of shoes.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve formed emotional attachments to certain pieces of clothing. Call me crazy, but I will have a certain shirt or sweater or what have you that brings back great memories of the places I’ve worn it.

Shoes are especially so. Since we tend to wear a certain pair of shoes more often than our shirts and sweaters, I can get a lot more memory mileage out of them. Like the black-and-white gym shoes I had that everyone thought looked like soccer balls. Or the Velcro shoes I bought at Kmart because I thought they would be ironically cool, but my mother thought were (and this is a direct quote) “uglier than sin.” Or the vintage spectators I bought at Goodwill eons ago.
They were amazing.
My shoe life has evolved over the years, but I think it can be broken into five shoe milestones. Allow me to take you on a shoe journey through my past!

jelly shoes
When I was growing up, I lived in jelly shoes: those flimsy plastic slip-on shoes that generally came embedded with glitter and were guaranteed to give you blisters. As a five-year-old, I found them to be terribly classy, and I wore them all day, every day. They were meant to be summertime shoes, but I was known to wear them with socks so that I could stretch out their season a little longer. My favorite jelly shoes were a dusky purple pair with a peep-toe and slight wedge: clearly very sophisticated. 
The last pair of jelly shoes that I owned were pink with an open back and little spikes on the bottom (for all your hiking and soccer needs, I’m assuming). I got those in third grade, so chances are excellent that they would still fit me now. 
Chances are also excellent that they're buried somewhere
in my childhood closet.
Jelly shoes have experienced a resurgence in recent years, but I haven’t jumped back on the wagon. Some things are better left in the early 90s, and jelly shoes are one of them.

navy blue clogs
This outfit sure left a lot to be desired.
When I was in fifth grade, clogs became a big thing. They were not something I would have picked out on my own, but since everyone else seemed to have them, I also had to have them. This was the first time that I wanted something not because I liked it, but because everyone else had it. Thanks a lot for opening THAT door, clogs. After many months of enviously watching my classmates clunk around in their clogs, I finally got my own pair. They were navy blue and came from a consignment store in Brookings called Country Peddler (which is still one of my favorite stores of all time). I bought them with my allowance and a little bit of help from my mom, and I wore those clogs until they fell apart. Which was fine, because it was high time to move onto the next shoe trend anyway. (Could it have been platform flip-flops? Yeesh.)

$5 ShopKo slides
You saw this awkward picture in the last blog post,
but I only have so many pictures of these shoes.
This pair of shoes represents the birth of my appreciation for bargain shopping. It was the last day of fifth grade, and Mom took us shopping in Watertown to celebrate. We went to ShopKo –  an essential stop on any Watertown shopping trip – and browsed the shoes. I wanted a new pair of shoes, and I had something like ten dollars to spend. There were two pairs of black shoes that I was eyeing: one pair was ten dollars, and the other was five dollars. I remember liking the ten dollars shoes a little better, but my inner spendthrift emerged – I decided I would rather have a pair of five dollar shoes that I mostly liked and thus have five dollars left to spend on something else versus the ten dollar shoes that I liked slightly more and with zero dollars left to spend. Up until that point, I had bargain shopped out of necessity (see: consignment clogs). As a ten-year-old relying solely on birthday money and allowance, you don’t have much choice. However, these ShopKo shoes were the first time I had a choice: I bought the less expensive pair not because I had to, but because the logic made sense and I WANTED to. And I’ve been bargain shopping ever since.

black Converse All-Stars
My black Converse All-Stars are so important to me that I’ve already written a whole blog post about them. However, if I’m doing a story on shoe milestones, it would be a travesty not to mention them again. So here’s the condensed version of my long story: I bought them during my last semester in college and wore them until they fell apart. I wore them on all sorts of college adventures, including Denver, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. I wore them through endless part-time jobs, and I wore them when my life started to fall into place. They were the first of many All-Stars, but these will always be my favorite shoes.

bitch boots
Ok, technically, these aren’t boots. But “bitch boots” is too catchy to pass up. I bought these from a Delia’s catalog – no lie. I bought them for my college graduation: I wanted something that made a statement as I strolled across the stage and was awarded my liberal arts degree. They were taller than any shoes I’d ever worn before, but contrary to what you might expect, I did NOT trip or stumble. The spiky heels did sink into the grass, but I could deal with that. These shoes made me feel like I could conquer the world. Don’t mess with me: just look at my shoes. They weren’t dubbed “bitch boots” until many years later: I wore them to an event that I really didn’t want to attend. I was telling my brother about said event and told him that I had this bitchy all-black outfit planned to go with my bad attitude, and I told him about my ass-kicking shoes. He called them my bitch boots, and they’ve been bitch boots ever since.


Well, look at that! Five shoe milestones over a fifteen-year period. I have a lot more ridiculous shoe stories (see: Velcro shoes), so you haven’t heard the last from my shoe closet.

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