About jelly shoes

Written by emily m. elders
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About jelly shoes
(photo courtesy of mamirosa.vox.com)

"Jelly" shoes are a style of children's sandal that first became popular in the U.S. in the 1980s. The shoes have become almost an iconic symbol of childhood and carefree living, and have made several comebacks in the following decades. Today, jellies are being offered not only as children's shoes, but also for women.

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History

Jelly shoes were originally made in England after World War II, at a time when resources were low. The shoes are made of plastic, most often PVC plastic. In wartime, leather was one of the scarcest resources, and a replacement material was needed to make durable shoes. The fashion migrated to America in the early 1980s and made its first comeback in the mid-1990s, both times being marketed primarily for children and preteens. As recently as last summer, the shoes were back on American racks in both the children's and women's sections.

Features

Jelly shoes are unique because they are entirely created from plastic--straps, soles and all. Most often, these sandals are made iwith pink or clear plastic, often with glitter or sparkles inside to create a shiny, jellylike effect. The soles of jelly shoes are often made with raised patterns or designs, leaving prints in sand or dirt, and they can be worn with socks or without. The earlier trend was to wear the sandals with socks, especially the "bead socks" popular in the 1980s, so the beads would make noise by clinking against the plastic.

Types

Jelly shoes for both women and children come in varying sizes and types. Some are flip-flop sandals, although these are not modelled after the original jelly-shoe style. You can find sandals that strap on, slip on and have either closed or open toes. Many of the styles available today include a strip of plastic cushioning on the top of the sole to provide more comfort for your feet. The original style was simply a hard, flat sheet of plastic, and these are widely available less expensively than the cushioned sole shoes. Jelly shoes can often be an excellent choice for trips to rivers, lakes or streams because they are waterproof and durable. They're also used widely for trips to the beach or ocean, as they're useful for wearing in sand.

Significance

Jelly shoes are an almost nationally recognised nostalgic symbol for childhood, particularly for people who grew up in the 1980s or 1990s and are now purchasing shoes for their children. Traditionally, jelly shoes are associated with summer holidays, water adventures and activities from one's childhood, particularly for the generation of women who were raised in their more popular era. The shoes became significant for many--not necessarily because of their design or comfort, but because they represented a childhood memory or played a part in the growth of an entire generation. These people are now passing on the trend to their children, and makers of the shoes are gearing some lines towards the adults as well as the children in those families.

Warning

Jelly shoes have been all the rage--more than once--and at times, the discomfort of wearing a purely plastic shoe is outweighed by its popularity. However, jelly shoes are notorious for causing excessive sweating, blisters and even cuts to the feet . Plastic does not conform to the foot as most fabrics do, and it also doesn't allow for the air flow and venting that fabric shoes provide. The sharp edges of the straps and the plastic body can wreak havoc on feet. If you're dead set on wearing them, consider wearing them with socks--and if that's just too uncool, you can take a practice walk around the house to see where the shoes rub against your feet. Applying bandages to those spots will prevent blisters, though your feet will probably still sweat excessively. If wearing closed-toe shoes, it's a good idea to make sure toenails are trimmed short, so they don't rub against the toe casing of the shoe; this is bad news for nail polish and can also cause broken nails. For children, it's best to wear socks with these sandals.

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