Fashion statements change frequently

The style of shoes changes more quickly than you can hope to keep up with. When you are my age you do not care. You wear what feels good and what you think looks good.

We used to wear Mary Janes when I was young and saddle shoes and loafers when I was a teen. There were several types of saddle shoes. Some were very light weight, others were heavier. Some had white soles while others had black soles. We called the ones with black soles “skunks”. They were all the rage for quite a while. Even the cheerleading squad used them.

When you wore saddle shoes you had to polish them. You used black paste wax on the black portions and white polish on the whites. The white polish was like whitewash. It was very thin. It also wore off whenever you rubbed against anything. The black polish was more difficult to apply, but it stayed better. I remember my husband having a shoe polishing kit that he used just for his Army shoes. They had to be spit shined you were supposed to be able to see a reflection in them.

We had several colors of wax or paste polish. Along with black I remember there was brown and something called oxblood. I had shoes that used each color. Grandpa had a work bench in the cellar that he used for all of his tools. Grandma sent me to the cellar when I wanted to polish my shoes. She did not want any of that stuff on her furniture or countertops. I was allowed to use the white stuff in the bathroom as long as I used it by the sink.

Do people really polish their shoes anymore today? I think those men and women in the armed forces probably still polish shoes, but I am not sure any other people do. I doubt that the young people of today even know what polish is. My daughter used to have to polish her shoes when she was a cheerleader. She also had to polish her shoes for band. The band shoes especially took a beating. They were worn on some very wet fields. She also had to polish her drum major boots before each performance. Maybe some of the young people who march still use that white polish.

Today many of the shoes are made of plastic. I guess that is a good way to recycle plastic material. What I like about them is that you can simply wash them off and go. Most of my summer shoes are plastic. I do have some leather sandals, but even the last couple pairs of those I bought are now made of plastic. You do not even have to worry if you get caught out in the rain.

My winter shoes are mostly leather. I think all of my high heels are made of leather. They are much easier on your feet. My sneakers are a mix. My favorite ones are made of leather with man-made trim.

When I travel I take plastic shoes because they are so light. Especially now that you pay for extra baggage it makes it very convenient. I remember a bag being overweight when I returned from Hawaii, but I could not think of anything that I could move to lighten the load so I simply paid what they told me.

When I began to reminisce about the “good old days” I also remembered the socks we wore. For a while it was all white socks that were just a couple inches below your skirt. Then we went to wool socks. Those we coordinated with our sweaters. Of course, there were the woolen knee socks that we wore with Bermuda shorts when they first came in. Yes, folks I remember when they first started to were Bermuda shorts! I also remember that the pants that ended just below the knee were called pedal pushers. I am not sure why they were called pedal pushers though so if anyone can enlighten me I would be pleased to learn about it.

I look at the jeans that the girls are wearing today and I remember. We wore some very tight legged pants back then, but they were called capris. They were not made of jeans material either.

When you are looking for pants you read the labels so you get a type that you are comfortable wearing. The slim legs make you look taller, but oh those l pants that hang down around the hips. I am not sure that anyone looks decent in those.

Of course in my day you did not wear jeans or any type of slacks for that matter to school. Girls were expected to show up each day in a skirt. I had loads of pleated skirts. For each skirt I had a sweater to match. Some of the sweaters were purchased, but some were homemade. My mother made me a beautiful goldenrod colored sweater to go with an avocado, gray, and yellow skirt. I wore that outfit as my going away outfit when Dick and I got married several years later. I made myself a red sweater to wear with my brown and red skirt. That was the first piece of knitting that I ever completed. I bought the kit at the store where I worked.

For our senior pictures we all wore sweaters with jewel necklines and a small single pearl necklace. The yearbook committee set the type of dress that we would be photographed in. We did not consider it an infringement on our rights. It kept the book uniform and that was nice. The boys had to wear sweaters and shirts with button-down collars.

I do not believe there are any standards set today. Look at that school where the girls’ outfits were being touched up. If they had standards of dress there would not have been a problem, but once again if the parents set limits there would not have been a problem either.

I think today’s parents are afraid of offending their offspring. They do not set limits on the clothes they wear, but wonder how on earth their child got in trouble! Parents, man-up or woman-up and let’s get some of the trouble in our schools fixed. I know that our school set limits on the length of shorts and shirts must have sleeves. I am not sure if there are limits on the length of the skirts, but there should be.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at