the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Celebrating Ten Years of Being Free from Shoe Trends

Today is a special day for me.  I am cleaning out my closet and tossing away these old Doc Martens that I bought in 1997.  Why is this important?  These were the last pair of shoes that I bought solely because they were “trendy” at the time.   Since then, I have bought shoes for no other reason than they appealed to me, whether they were found at Nordstrom or Payless.

Back then, these  Doc Martens were all the rage in Los Angeles.  The shoes were uncomfortable.  They were ugly.   I wore them because they were cool at the time, even though I was probably already too late to be part of the “grunge” scene.

Throughout most of my life, I wore shoes to please others — to fit in — to be one of the crowd.  For ten years now, I have steered away from any shoe trends, building enough nerve to make this final step — throwing away these old Doc Martens!

I know many of you are parents of teenagers.  I feel for you, as I’m sure the importance of what brand of “sneaker” your child wears is still as important to him today as it was in the past.

Here is my life in “be like others” footwear, up until 1997, when I went into footwear rehab and started freeing myself from the tyranny of the shoed majority.  My must-haves begin at an early age — first grade —

PF Flyers “Center”


Converse All-Stars

Hush Puppies “Surround”

Adidas “Country”

Puma Clyde Basket

Bass “Yuppie” Penny Loafers (80s!)

Reebok “Classic” Black

Nike Air Jordan

New Balance 801

Doc Martens

Today, I’m wearing sandals I bought at CVS pharmacy.


  1. wendy

    i’m just sitting here trying to imagine you in Doc’s…I’m giggling.

  2. Lisa

    Noooo!! Not the Doc’s. Say it isn’t so!

  3. Inarticulate Fumblings

    I think Doc Marten’s were trendy everywhere. Uncomfortable and ugly… and offered no insolation for those of us that demanded to wear them year round, straight through the Canadian winter.

  4. Shellie in Boston

    Should have ebay’d the doc martins.

  5. 2littlefishes

    Neil, Neil, Neil, don’t you that there are people out there who can’t afford any shoes and its starting to get cooler out there, and hmmmm, black, so perhaps you should donate them instead of, ah, plenty of sole left, say, what size are those? Do you ship to Vermont?

  6. The Maiden Metallurgist

    I sure do like those Jordan’s

  7. Neil

    I hear you 2LittleFishes — bringing them to Goodwill — if they accept ’em!

  8. churlita

    Shoes! Mostly I wear running shoes and sandals in the Summer and hiking boots in the Winter. I know, I’m weird for a girl.

  9. Catheroo

    You have had some nice kicks in your life, Neil. In high school, I worked at Marshall’s and I had many pairs of trendy shoes, but as I bought them at Marshall’s, they were the colors that wouldn’t sell elsewhere. My Reeboks were powder blue. I had FAKE Doc Martens, which were just as uncomfortable as the real thing.

  10. Jill - GlossyVeneer

    I purchased way too many pairs of Docs from 1994-1997. Boots, sandals, shoes… It’s sad how much money I spent on those damn things. I took the plunge and eliminated the last of them from my closet a few years ago. It was kind of liberating.

    But, being a girl… I still make shoe purchases based on trends. But usually not brand name trends anymore. Just looks-based trends.

  11. kat!

    ha! i totally have those 801s.

  12. plain jane

    I’m with Churlita, although I did have a pair of third-hand doc martins–I loved them and were they ever built to last!

  13. danielle

    ah memories. that must feel freeing. i have a garbage bag full of old shoes in my closet that has got to go.

    those jordans are pretty hot though.

  14. Elisabeth

    I’ve never owned Doc’s. Just couldn’t bring myself to spend so much money on those ugly and uncomfortable shoes because they were trendy…

    But – I owned a pair of Clark’s “Desert Boots” when I was 16 because they were really trendy in France then (you had to wear them with Levi’s cords.) And I own two pairs of low-tops Converse Chucks. I also have a pair of kick-ass cowboy boots, which I really love.

  15. scarlet hip

    The only way they will get my circa 1994 Doc Martins is if they pry them from my cold dead fingers.

  16. scarlet hip

    Sorry, “Martens.”

  17. plain jane

    By the way. How ugly are the Reebok “Classic” Black? Sorry, Neil.

  18. adena

    Awww….I’ve always had a soft spot for Docs. I wore them WAAAY before they were trendy. I was all blackness and skater kid in the 80’s.

  19. brettdl

    My Number 1 consideration in buying shoes: Comfort.

  20. Angella

    So…Is this your month of NoShoeBloMo all at once?

  21. Juliness

    You know what? If anybody could pull off Reebok classics in black AND a pair of Docs, it would be you! Nice job.

    Although I’m not sure what it says about me that I am wearing a pair of laceless Chucks right now. I don’t know if I am late to the trend or early or right on time. Oh, the drama.

  22. OMSH

    My favorite shoes are Crocs … and no one around here thinks they are cute (not even me), but oh…so cozy.

    I also love my $7.00 Walk*mart shoes and they aren’t even all that comfortable.

    I think a good shoe cleanse is in good order.

    And oh my stinkin’ heck! I totally remember hush puppies! hahahaha!

    OH the memories – KEDS! hahahahaha

  23. Neil

    Angella, OMSH — I just remembered that this isn’t my first shoe post. In the past I have written both about Crocs and judging a man on his shoes.

    Plain Jane — the Reeboks were probably the most comfortable of the bunch.

  24. Geeky Tai-Tai

    I’m wearing a pair of flip-flops that I paid $75 Sing for from a podiatrist! I’m really getting old, but they are VERY comfortable.

  25. 180/360

    I was just thinking about my Doc’s the other day! They were only uncomfortable for the first YEAR of wearing them. If you could put up with them long enough, they got comfy in the end!

  26. ImprovGal

    I LOVE your writing! I’ve got this new baby so I’m up in the wee hours surfing blogs and yours is the one I remembered, came back to, read again, STILL loved. Bravo!

  27. Bre

    So… you got rid of the Reeboks too, right?

  28. Jack

    I love my Crocs.

  29. bethany actually

    My absolute all-time favorite shoes were flip-flops I bought for $4 at a Longs Drug.

  30. better safe than sorry

    i never understood the whole doc martens trend, they are sooooooooo ugly. i buy shoes for comfort for myself, but my kids seem to need what’s trendy and expensive.

  31. Lisa

    The black reebok classics were once ACTUALLY cool? Like, not worn ironically, but actually IN? Wow! The things citizen of the month teaches me…

  32. Atomic Bombshell

    I love that first pair… Do they still make them? And can I get them in my size? 😉 Too cute.

  33. MammaLoves

    I appreciate wanting to throw off the yolk of fashion tyranny, yet I leave a cautionary note.

    Women can tell everything they want to know about a guy by their choice of shoes.

    That said, they don’t have to be trendy. Just wanted you to have this information.

  34. blu

    Just because something is popular doesnt mean you should completely avoid it even if deep down you like it

    Not owning something just because everyone else likes it even though you like it just makes you a tool

  35. Adam

    I love Doc Martens!

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