The other day, someone posted on Facebook a photo of Fred Astaire lounging in a chair, relaxing by a humongous pile of shoes. I couldn’t help but smile. I immediately passed the photo along and thought blissfully of my love for shoes.
As a little girl, I had wonderful Baby Jane patent leather shoes for my Sunday best. The white pair I wore from Easter Sunday until September. The black pair came out after Labor Day because you never wear white after Labor Day. I loved these shiny shoes and carefully walked in them to limit the chances of scuff marks along their smooth surfaces. My sister envied these shoes. Her long and very narrow foot made it more expensive for my parents to purchase shoes for her, so she ended up wearing practical loafers or Saddle Oxfords. And like many younger sisters, I found myself longing for her plainer shoes. I loved the black and white practicality of her Oxfords, and when I finally owned a pair of penny loafers of my own, I polished the copper coins to a sheen.
When I hit fourth and fifth grade, many of my friends wore Converse shoes. I longed to lace my foot up into a high top, but my parents’ limited budget meant I donned plain white tennis shoes purchased at the local Winn’s store. Near the end of junior high, my mother surprised me with these fantastic brown leather boots that climbed almost to my knees. The boots fastened up with a hook-n-eye, and I loved them dearly. Their smart two-inch heels gave me the height I needed since I still stood a little less than five feet. Fortunately, my foot size didn’t change once I hit thirteen.
In high school, the demands of our dance team meant my parents shifted shoe money to tap shoes and short, white western boots that looked very smart when performing high kick routines. I schlepped around in white tennies again until I discovered huaraches after a trip to across the border. These wonderful sandals looked fantastic with anything from sundresses to swimsuits. They withstood any amount of abuse and still looked good enough for casual wear. I wore my sandals until they fell apart after I started college!
The long miles I trekked daily while at Texas A&M meant I selected my shoes during college more for comfort than for style. A good pair of running shoes and a pair of soft suede boots the color of caramel carried me through my studies. I didn’t buy any dress shoes until I purchased my wedding sandals—something with thin straps and high heels that cost more than the simple dress I wore.
Over the years, I’ve indulged my fondness for footwear. Soft green suede pumps, kill-me heels with peek-a-boo toes, black leather boots or purple faux snake skin. Shoes with sequins, little satin bows, or bold and clunky buckles lined up in my closet.
Since retirement, I’ve pared my pairs. My closet cubby designated for shoes now has empty slots. I tend to grab my black Skechers or a simple sandal if I leave the house. The other day, while getting ready for a wedding, I pulled out some of my favorites and oohed over their clever bows and sexy heels. I’ve decided that I may have to start dressing up a bit, just to get my shoes out of the house once in a while.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman