The Best Shoes From My '90s Childhood

by Christine Cauthen
Timur Emek/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In case you haven't noticed, fashion comes in cyclical waves — trends from the past tend to surface to the front of magazines years later. I saw the bell-bottoms that lined closets in the '70s become stylish in my youth. Skinny jeans were once seen as nerdy and uncool, while now people fret if they have to wear anything OTHER than the slim, tapered leg. Just like the clothing revival, I think my shoe taste works in a cycle. Maybe I just happened to have timeless, classic style during my playground years. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic over my preteen days.

The first shoes I ever had that made me smile from ear-to-ear (and feel like a Spice Girl) were my glittery jelly sandals. Then I moved on to bigger things, like multicolored and patterned Converse, Vans, and Keds. For me, shoes have always been important in a subtle way. From ultra-feminine sandals to skater shoes that never once touched a skateboard, I had a variety of shoe preferences. I never splurged on expensive heels or craved the most elaborate shoes, but I made sure that my classic kicks were simple, fun, and expressed my personality. Turns out that that method of shoe buying is the way to find shoe styles that can transition you from youth into adulthood. Here are the five pairs I'm ready to bring into my adult wardrobe right now.

1. Jelly Sandals from when I was six years old.

The solid lilac color of these American Apparel jelly sandals is a bit more mature than the hot pink sparkly pair I owned in 1998, but the youthful, mod vibe is still present. At $45 dollars, they're the perfect summer sandal to pair with sundresses.

2. Platform sneakers that I wore at age 10.

Hitting double digits meant feeling incredibly cool, especially because I was able to run in platform shoes. Mine might have been of the Skechers variety (groan), but these leopard-print shoes from ASOS are much more hip for 2014. They're bright and unexpected, reasonably priced at $41.92, and the perfect accent piece. Plus — they're supereasy to run in.

3. Converse All-Stars from when I was the angstiest 12-year-old.

The "boring" neutral colors that I ditched for black and pink contrasting uppers as a child suddenly seem like the perfect shoe for exploring downtown. I was dabbling in starting some Avril Lavigne–esque "punk rock" bands at this age with my best friend. And yes, we both know better now that Avril Lavigne is the farthest thing from punk rock. Regardless, Chucks are so classic, at just $50 they last forever, and even look a little better beat up.

4. The Keds I begged for at age 15.

When I was 15, The O.C. was a big deal. I remember thinking Mischa Barton was so cool and basically embodied what it meant to be fashionable. In retrospect, this was ridiculous, but I still wish Barton the best. Now Kate Spade, my favorite handbag designer, has paired with Keds for some pointed tennis-shoe flats that are to die for. Of course, slapping Kate Spade's name on the shoe raises the price a little, but they're still cheaper than Sperrys or Nikes at $75.

5. Slip-on Vans that I wore at 16.

At 16 years old, I finally attended my first Warped Tour. Besides missing Cobra Starship's set, it was perfect (especially because I got to meet them later). I wore my star-printed Vans slip-ons, and no one could tell me anything. Steve Madden makes printed slip-on sneakers chic with these leopard-print pony hair shoes. These standout shoes ring up to $79.95.

Image: Sun Jellies/Instagram