Shoes that walked through your life

I was talking with my cousin in-law Jodie tonight, and somehow, we ended up on the topic of shoes we used to wear. Sounds weird, but you know how conversations go in unexpected directions sometimes. These days, my disability relegates me to hideous, black, clunky sneakers when I use footwear. But that wasn’t always the case.

If you think about it, the story of your life can really be told by the shoes you’ve worn. We think of the passage of time in terms of birthdays, places we’ve lived, jobs we’ve had, relationships and friendships over the years. The growth of children, passing on of our pets. It dawned on me that we can also measure time in footwear.

Baby soft shoes

Probably your first shoes, slipped on your little feet by loving hands. Cooed over. So sweet
and so small. These are not shoes to walk in or even stand in. They are pure decoration.

Mary Janes

In black or white patent leather, the shoes feel so fancy and grown up to a little girl. I had them in black, and I remember admiring how light was reflected in the shiny finish.

Shoes with sparkles

A lot of girls love sparkle. Not even just little girls, of course. The Justice clothing store is a mecca for everything sparkly that an elementary or middle school girl could want or wear. But I think it all starts with that first pair of sparkly holiday shoes.

Ballet flats

The shoes are suitable pretty much from the time you’re s toddler until you’re all grown up. You can find them in every color, pattern, material, and embellishment.


Growing up, I remember that my cool aunts had these in the 1970s. I think the character of Sandy even wore them in Grease, when she came out in her skin tight black clothing and wild hair at the end. When I got my first pair in the 1980s, I was thrilled, and even though I didn’t think they were very comfortable, I ended up getting them in several colors. I think that’s when I learned that women are willing to wear shoes that hurt if they look good.


Espadrilles are a spring and summer pleasure. I’ve had them with no ribbons, ankle height ribbons, and gladiator style long ribbons. To me, they always felt lighter than they looked and had a fun, bohemian vibe.


There are so many types of sandals that we wear throughout our lives. Regardless of what type you favor, they almost always signal summertime or vacation.

 Bar shoes

These are shoes best worn when you don’t have to stand or walk much. Perfect for sitting on a bar stool or sitting on the bar itself. As I discovered in college, they are not great for climbing up and down fire escapes behind a bar. For reasons best day for another day I actually did that a couple of times and it was nerve-wracking, to put it mildly. One of those times it was so difficult, I was carried down. Not every shoe is multi-purpose!

Dance shoes

I took dance classes up to 5 and 6 times a week till I was in college. These dance shoes are available in a few colors, and I wore them for at least a decade after I stopped going to dance class. They are extremely comfortable. I would have a shoe repair shop apply street wear bottom over the sole and be good to go. I could wear them to work, to dinner, to a club, sightseeing … just about anywhere.

Dyed bridesmaids’ shoes

I was part of the bridal party in at least 5 weddings, so I had numerous pairs of these shoes in shades of blue, wine, and purple. I ended up donating most of them to those organizations that provide prom clothes to high school students.


Wedding shoes

I remember finding a pair of opulent shoes for my wedding and then my mother sewed gold beading onto them. She was an excellent talent with a needle and anything crafty.


I almost always had these ubiquitous white shoes, in both the lightweight canvas and the more solid leather varieties. You could stuff them in a purse, a glove compartment,  or even the deep pockets of your husband’s long coat, just in case the good-looking shoes you had on started hurting.


I had a couple of pair of these but always hated them. I always found them uncomfortable, and I cannot tell you how many times I painfully stubbed a toe while wearing them. Ironically, one of my daughters is a huge flip flop fan.


Exercise shoes

It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, there’s a shoe for it. Over the years I had ballet shoes, tap shoes, jazz dance shoes, bright aerobics sneakers, pink bowling shoes, knee-high riding boots, golf shoes, water shoes, Timberland hiking boots … you name it. A shoe for everything, and every shoe in its place.

 Low heeled shoes

I think most women in everyday life wear a lot of low-heeled shoes. They are good compromise when you don’t want flats but also don’t want high heels. I wore a lot of these when I worked in offices, and when I worked in a bridal shop. Also, when running around when I didn’t want to wear flats or Keds.

Date Night Shoes

Obviously, these vary based on where your date is happening. My husband didn’t like when I wore backless shoes, and I was happy to eliminate them from my repertoire because I really didn’t like them either. I will confess to being something of a squirrel in that I like things with sparkle or shine. I even used to have sparkly shoe clips so I could dress up a simpler pair of shoes.

Pregnancy shoes

These are not the shoes that are going to help you actually get pregnant – for that you might want to see Date Night Shoes, above. No, these are the shoes you need after a few months into the journey to the blessed event, when your feet seem to hurt way too much of the time and you just want them to feel a little better.

My husband and I went to the wedding of a very close friend when I was about 6 months pregnant with our first child. I had a great electric blue dress and found the perfect fancy heeled shoes to match. I told my husband about them, but he didn’t get to see them until we were getting ready at the hotel near the location of the wedding. He was none too pleased that they had a 4” heel. I admit, with my constantly changing center of gravity, I was tending towards clumsiness at that time. But. Perfect. Match. None of the other shoes I had brought would work. Chris offered to run to a local shoe store and bring me back a few options. Like that would work.

I wore the shoes. Stumbled a few times, I admit, he was there to stabilize me, the shoes looked great, and it was all good. After that, though, pregnancy friendly shoes dominated.

Mom shoes

These are basically slip on shoes that you can jam your feet into while juggling all children and all the accessories you need with small children. You can put these on hands free while you’re running. And they come in so many colors that don’t matter if they match anything you’re wearing.

Cowgirl boots

Why does somebody on Long Island need western boots? For me it was mostly because they were beautiful and so comfortable. Plus, we used to go to a couple of different country western bars where there was line dancing and lots of atmosphere. My boots were very happy there, and I made great memories in them!

Sensible shoes

These are shoes I picture a stern, sour-faced woman wearing. And when I had to wear them, I thought I would throw up because they are not something a ‘shoe person’ ever imagines wearing. Of course I’m being over dramatic, but you get my point. Sometimes when life gets ugly, the shoes do too.

Disability shoes

I was in physical rehab when I got shoes like this for the first time. They were crazy expensive and crazy ugly. Clunky with giant Velcro straps. The ones in this photo are actually a lot nicer than the ones I had. Call me shallow, but I cried. I’m not being dramatic about that, I’m just being truthful.

The shoe rack in your mind’s eye

If you picture lining up the shoe styles you’ve worn, you probably have a chronological image of your life. There are days when you want nothing more than to jump back to the bar shoes or the cowgirl boots, the Keds, or some other category of shoes in your life. But you pretty much stuck at whatever footwear level you happen to be at.

Shoes are not something we hold on to for long. They wear out, they become unfashionable, we outgrow them. We might lend them to somebody, give them away or sell them. With camera phones now commonplace, I think people are more likely to have snapshots of favorite shoes. If you photograph your breakfast, are you more likely to photograph your favorite pumps as well?

But even though I don’t have pictures of them, I remember so many pairs of favorite shoes that it startles me when I think about it. I don’t typically think about it, by the way. The conversation with Jodi prompted my thoughts of footwear gone by,

Don’t be shy to share with me if you have any similar recollections!

Rocking those peep-toe, candy-apple red Candie’s shoes`

1 thought on “Shoes that walked through your life”

  1. I sometimes feel that I am psychic medium… a lot of people that have passed on come into my dreams to give their loved ones a message… sometimes I know the people and sometimes I don’t… I try to always get in touch with the people to give them a message… your husband came into my dreams to give you a message that he misses you and that he is ok… and he wants you to know that all the decisions you have made are the right decisions and that you are doing the right thing…

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