Remember When … Jelly sandals were the coolest thing ever?

BY ELLEN HARRIS | JUNE 15, 2009 7:26 AM

A place to get nostalgic and reminisce about the popular culture that shaped us into the snarky Arts reporters we are today.

If you give something 20 years, it’s bound to make a comeback. Hopefully, it will then turn around and go right on out again.

I admit that I caved last summer when jelly sandals made their comeback. Target carried these beauties for a mere $4, and they were sparkly. How could I resist? Shaped as delicate ballet flats, the shoes called to me from the shelves, begging me to buy them.

Unfortunately, I seemed to have forgotten the pair of jelly sandals from my youth — the thick soles, the gooey pink hue, the way the cheap PVC straps dug painfully into my arches. In fact looking back, I’m fairly certain that those “Jellies” are the reason I now prefer to go barefoot.

Jelly sandals first made their true commercial appearance in 1988, marketed strictly for women and young girls. Typically they were clear in color (though the children’s versions were oddly reminiscent of runny Pepto-Bismol). As the ’90s progressed, manufacturers produced the strident summer shoe in yellows, blues, purples, glittery pastels, and patriotic designs.

The worst and most memorable thing about jelly sandals was the ridiculous amount of foot-perspiration and the atrociously emanating aroma they caused — not to mention the blisters. Thankfully, the style faded away into relative obscurity, only popping up on “I Love the ’80s” television featurettes.

However, footwear designers, suffering from severe and selective memory loss, needed something, uh, “fresh” for the 2008 summer season and brought back the jelly sandal. Though they now resembled trendy flats and sleek flip-flops, the shoes kept the same stink and sweat of the old. Marc Jacobs and Fendi jumped on that squeaky bandwagon, pricing their products anywhere from $110 to $175.

I paid less than $5 for that privilege (and the blisters that went along with it).

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