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A Shoe Addict’s Trip Down Memory Lane

lisa schmitz dec 2021

Shoe Kuel Category Expert: Lisa Loyet Schmitz

Admittedly, I have loved shoes since I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is going to the movies with my parents to see Disney’s “The Aristocats.”

As excited as I was about the movie, the thrill of getting dressed up was just as important to my five-year-old self! For this monumental event, I wore a plaid skirt, black turtleneck sweater with a red patent vest and black patent, lace-up knee boots. Similar to the ones pictured here, and most likely ordered from the Sears catalog store on the square in my hometown. A place we would visit regularly – to order and then to pick up our purchases.

“And each time I was firmly told that I was not allowed to wear high heels until I was “older.””

Remember, People Look At Your Shoes:

Feeling very 1970’s chic, I stood in line at the movie theater to get my popcorn. And a very lovely lady made my day by telling me how much she loved my outfit – especially my boots! Do I remember much more about that event? Nope, but I certainly remember that people look at your shoes!

As a child, I have many fond memories of going to Linn’s Shoe Store. The store was located on the southwest corner of the square in my hometown of Carrollton, Illinois (population 2,700). Each time we visited, part of the routine was to have our foot measured using a Brannock Device (still the best way to measure feet). Then, one of the employees would bring out stacks of shoes which we would try on. Finally settling on a pair or two.

During grade school, I would beg my mom to let me buy a pair of high heels. And each time I was firmly told that I was not allowed to wear high heels until I was “older.” A big leap forward occurred when mom gave into a pair of Yo-Yo’s by Connie.

This wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was a step in the right direction. So I agreed to settle for this wood-look, rubber-sole, sandal with the donut hole in the heel. Strictly because they were the highest heel that was mom-approved!

Vintage Yo-Yo’s Sandals by Connie – the exact pair I owned!

Constant Battle With My Shoe Selection:

I’m pretty sure it was right after this that my mom threw in the towel on the constant battle regarding my shoe selection! Alton Square Mall had opened a few years prior to this and my shopping excitement became a weekly afternoon event, instead of simply a focused visit to a specific store!

The drive to the mall took about 45-minutes. And once there we would get a sandwich from Olga’s kitchen or cookies from the Cookie Factory (both still open at the mall). For the next few hours my friends and I would hit shops such as Bakers, Wild Pair, Jean Nicole, 5-7-9 and Foxmoor!

“Their marketing in Teen magazine worked wonders..”

Developing Collection:

I had a newfound freedom of thinking I could purchase whatever my fifteen-year-old heart desired. I remember frequently lining up my shoes across the wood floor in my bedroom. This was not only to admire them, but to determine what was still needed in my developing collection!

The original Dr. Scholl’s sandals were my “exercise” shoes. Their marketing in Teen magazine worked wonders. I was convinced that my leg and calf muscles would achieve definition only possible by wearing this specific shoe.

Dr. Sholl’s – touted as the “Exercise Sandals.” Mine were navy blue!

Pair With Rainbow Hearts:

Do you remember your first day of high school? I do. Many people remember being scared, some remember worrying about finding their locker or forgetting their locker combination, others recall the excitement of moving around from class to class.

Me? I remember the shoes I wore! I remember being excited and a little nervous, but my new Nike tennis shoes were definitely going to help my confidence. Mine were the exact pair pictured below. I went the extra mile by swapping out the laces for a pair with rainbow hearts!

These are the Nike’s I wore in 1981 – minus the rainbow heart laces!

Included in my shoe collection were a pair of wooden platform clogs, also purchased through the Sears catalog. These were a daily go-to with Chic, Jordache, or Zena jeans! I found my babysitting money was burning a hole in my pocket to cover the cost of my passion for fashion!

Apparently Roebuck” was a shoe brand – even made in Brazil!

“I remember the delight I felt about wearing these for the first time.”

High-Heeled Slides:

It wasn’t until I came bouncing into the kitchen with my Seventeen magazine in hand, insisting that I just HAD to find a pair of Candie’s high-heeled slides, that I realized my mom had not totally relinquished her veto power over my shoes.

For months we argued about her thoughts regarding these completely impractical, yet highly coveted heels. I pestered her constantly. Not only did I want these shoes – I needed them! I thought I might die of fashion humiliation if I didn’t have them! Finally, she caved in and allowed me to buy a pair.

My pair of Candie’s were 3-inch heels with about a 1-inch platform and lavender-colored straps. I remember the delight I felt about wearing these for the first time. I also remember the blisters caused by those ill-fitting straps, and the feeling that I could fall down at any time because the molded plastic was anything but ergonomic.

But, with my knock-off Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and watercolor pastel stripe tee shirt, the smile I wore was truly a result of achieving a fashion goal!

I couldn’t find a pic of my exact shoes, but I did find an ad from that time period!

Love Relationship With Wild Pair:

Rounding out my trip down memory lane is the beginning of a long love-relationship with Wild Pair. This mall-based shoe store was part of the now-extinct Edison Brothers empire.

But, when it was in its hey-day, Wild Pair was THE shoe store for me! Cutting edge fashion with moderate prices in a boutique-like setting with contemporary music playing plenty loud in the background! Truly a teenage-girl’s dream. It was during this time that I believe my mom decided to give up the high heel battle as I would return from the mall with shoes that took me from 5’2” to 5’5” instantly!

A Wild Pair mall shoe store – before they all closed.

To this day, my fascination and love of shoes runs stronger than ever. My shoe size has remained the same since I was 14 years old, so getting rid of shoes because they don’t fit has never been a reason to part with them!

And while I have my dad to thank for throwing away a box of shoes I was saving because, in his words, “You hadn’t touched that box in 10-years,” I have managed to save plenty of shoes over the years!

Dad’s Dumpster Trip:

In fact, one pair that didn’t end up in my dad’s dumpster trip was my favorite pair of Wild Pair boots that my parents actually gave me (I do remember begging) for Christmas in 1984.

They have been lovingly preserved, and the heel taps have been replaced more often than I can count. Even though I don’t wear them regularly, they definitely gave authenticity to my Pat Benetar- Joan Jett-esque Halloween costume a couple years ago!

Vintage 80’s Wild Pair Boots (and North Beach Leather jacket).

Admittedly, I probably have more shoes than most, and I have offered several pairs to the shoe museum we have created in our office (yes, I do work for a shoe company – how ironic). Whether I keep them or lose them along the way, every trip down memory lane for me includes a vivid recollection of the shoes!

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About the Author:

Lisa Schmitz is the Creative Director for Walking Cradles shoes – a women’s shoe company whose mission is to hit the perfect combo of fit, comfort and style for a wide range of women’s shoe sizes. Working in this women driven company, Lisa is able to combine her years of experience with marketing, advertising, graphic design and shoe modeling. Working closely with the shoe designer, Jamie Wells, Lisa is involved in many aspects of the research, development, fit-testing and marketing of the shoes. Lisa is honored to have been selected as a shoe-expert with Kuel Life and to have Walking Cradles shoes available for purchase in the Kuel Shop.