Top 5 Iconic Bits of Footwear
#1: Mary Janes (1997)
The definitive ‘going-to-school’ shoe. Shiny buckles that made you fumble, stiff rounded caps that pinched your toes slightly. The way they made you step more carefully, like having two tiny headmistresses on your feet. Seeing rows of them forming by the front door when friends came round for play dates. Holding the tender remains in my hands after they were stolen by a fox from under the trampoline and tragically savaged...realising that the fox had also sprayed them with his sexy, pissy ‘eau de fox’ love-scent to attract lady foxes. R.I.P. MJ pair #1.
#2: Polly-Pocket Trainers (1999)
Some mad fashion trailblazer created a pair of trainers with a Polly-Pocket figure suspended in an orb of sparkly glue on the side. To own these as a 7 year old was both ecstacy and agony - to be so close to my beloved Polly whilst being unable to hold her in my sweaty little palm! I spent months obsessing over her, until she was liberated from her strange embryonic prison by our family dog and propelled down the dark recesses of his small intestine. #prayforPolly
#3: Crippling Prostitute Heels (2007)
Flush with my newfound financial independence (£10 a week pocket money), I immediately bought a pair of heels made specifically to hobble optimistic young women. The offending items were black satin with a savage, 7-inch heel that could also be used for smashing large slabs of granite into smaller pieces if the situation ever called for it. My friend and I would stagger to the club, leaning on each other like a pair of old drunks and pausing at bus stops to rest our weary bones before continuing on our messianic journey in search of redemption and WKDs. In the morning we’d wake up to face the mangled remains of what were once a serviceable pair of feet sticking out of the duvet, our toes so bruised they looked like old raisins.
#4: Disco Trainers (2011)
These shoes signalled the start of the comfort democracy in female footwear - nothing beat the feeling of enjoying a dance-floor the way boys did, traversing the room in great, fluid jumps without worrying about snapping an Achilles’ tendon in the process. No more evil foot nail-coffins, no more torture implements masquerading as people-shoes. We tossed our heels in the bin and never looked back, even when the disco trainers started to smell like wet sheepdog.
#5: The Working Woman’s Brogue (2016 - present)
The first pair of shoes that made me feel like I was grown up enough to commute places with other ‘commuters’, to make loud, complicated coffee orders and march out with the scalding cup in my hands. The first pair of shoes that made me feel poised and ready to tackle whatever new thing this terrifying professional world threw at me. The pair of shoes I slip on most days in the thick, exhausted silence of my 8am bedroom and whisper “you got this”.
Written and illustrated by Jess Bird