Tender Tootsies

I found these three pairs of shoes on the curb this weekend. I know I have sworn off sidewalk shoes but this trio evoked such a strong sense of nostalgia in me that I had to bring them home.

There are two pairs of 1970s sensible heels. My grandmother Riche used to wear this style of well ventilated footwear. She gave me a pair when o was 14 noting that we had the same, high arched, widest at the toes duck feet. “Like snowshoes,” she described them. “Perfect for keeping you from falling through the Labrador snow.” Not so great for finding comfortable shoes. She would know having worked as a cook in Labrador as a girl and also for having very wide feet. The shoes she gave me gave her comfort and even though they were definitely not cool, I wore them until they fell apart.

The problem was that I could never find old lady shoes like that again. I tried the German shoe stores but they were punchy and narrow. The brand my grandmother favoured, Tender Tootsies, seemed to have stopped making these styles by the 1980s and any New Old Stock versions that I found had dried up leather that cracked after one or two wearings.

Based on the soles of these shoes they’ve never been worn (although the plastic of the heel cap on the white pair is broken from brittleness — an easy fix). And they seem super comfy based on wearing them around the apartment.

The shoe haul also included these 1990s era Esprit flat form slides. They are more worn but there is still lots of like in them. I had several similar styles of these pieces throughout that decade. The biggest issue with all of these beauties is that I haven’t worn any heels or platforms in over two years (combination bad knee/pandemic). I’ve forgotten how to walk in them and I’m afraid of falling. Is there a physiotherapist who can teach you how to walk in heels again?