Tuesday 20th February 2018
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Reader request: Whither Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals?


A reader named Leslie got in touch in to say she was having a hard time tracking  them down: “These appear not to be available anymore,” she wrote. “How can it be?” I believed it couldn’t possibly—and felt a generational obligation to investigate.*

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Leslie had no cause for concern. Dr. Scholl’s Exercise Sandals still very much exist, although most of the newer models aren’t going to please purists: the soles are darker and look synthetic, its classic lines have been messed with, and the sole has a rubbery middle layer. All of this combines rather unfortunately to make them look like Dr. Scholl’s knockoffs instead of the real thing. For those, you’ll need to turn to our old friends at the Vermont Country Store where they’ve them in all their jolie laide glory, in blue, beige, and white, just like you remember them.


The ad is from a vintage issue of Seventeen, and I’m trying to figure out precisely how vintage: what do you say, guys?  78? 79? Possibly early, early 80s? That short denim skirt is throwing me off, but the parted-down-the-center-feathered hair of the guy to the left is pure 1978.

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Posted on March 11th, 2013 35 Comments

35 Responses

  1. Rebecca says:

    Oh, the memories of those shoes. I wore them everywhere for years. About once per summer I would make the mistake of running in them, and have them slide partially sideways so that my heel would come down on the very sharp edge of the shoe. That hurt so much that I still remember it decades later.

    I saw the “new ones” in a store last year – they looked way plastic and fake. The old ones were solid wood and, for better or worse, were rock solid. The new ones didn’t look that way at all.

  2. Donna says:

    I had a pair in 1982 or 83. But the ad could still be from the 70’s.

  3. Margaret says:

    I’m thinking at least 1980, post Preppy Handbook. But I had these in HS and I graduated in 1981.

  4. Charlotte K says:

    If you look carefully you will see a copyright date at the bottom of the ad. I *think* it says 1983, but I could be wrong. I wore these sandals in the early 80s. Skirt lengths were all over the place. I vote for early 80s because of the polo shirt that gal is wearing, and the sweater around the neck. So very Preppy Handbook.

    • Violet says:

      Yes, I agree that it’s probably the early 80s. My high school years were ’79 to ’83 and this is exactly how we dressed.

      I LOVED my Dr. Scholl’s!!

  5. Pamela says:

    I loved these shoes. I remember that once the rubber sole wore off, these shoes were like walking on ice. I slid and fell so many times one summer that my knees were perpetually skinned. So why do I find myself wanting it order another pair now!?!
    And I think the above poster is correct, I see a tiny 1983 noted at the bottom of the ad.

  6. Maggie says:

    CLONK CLONK CLONK. Remember that? I wore them with painter’s pants and an unfortunate Dorothy Hamill haircut.

    • e.w. says:

      awwwww painter pants!!! we had the Dickies brand…in loads of colors

      and for hair — I took a picture of Kristy McNichol to the Regis hair salon and asked for that style!!

  7. Susan says:

    I LOVE these shoes.. my mother wore them- and i remember clomping around the house in hers when i was small (and yes! the pain from coming down on the edge!)

    I got my first “grown up pair” when i was 15 and my mom and i bought matching ones in Singapore of all places (circa 1993)… I have had several pairs since.. I still think they are the coolest..

    BTW- keep an eye on Urban Outfitters- they traditionally will sell the old school Dr. Scholls as part of their summer collections- and they will do some fun colors as part of their routine..

  8. blackbird says:

    There’s a shoe repair guy on the west side of 6th between 12th and 13th who has them.
    I remember having to “break in” the strap or the buckle would leave a painful mark on the top of my foot.

  9. mims says:

    Thank you, thank you! I was thinking about these just a few weeks ago when I sadly retired my tevas and was wondering what to replace them with. Part of summer’s arrival was bringing out the Dr. Scholls exercise sandals, and they did help you get an extra lump in your calf muscle by Labor Day. I might just have ot get me a pair again.

  10. Christiana says:

    I was going to guess 1982 because of the web belt with metal slide-n-click buckle that the denim skirted model is wearing, but Charlotte K is right, it does say 1983 in the small print.
    I’m with Maggie, I can conjure up the sound of those shoes instantly!

  11. Lesley says:

    THANK YOU!!! I did find that Vermont Country Store website, but unfortunately, I was looking for them in RED, which seems to be the only color not revived!

  12. B. Jackson says:

    The Seventeen ad is def ca. late ’70’s…
    I graduated in ’79 and this ad looks a bit more my Jr. high time than high school… Love the Scholl’s-I had white ones. And red ones. And the navy-ish ones too… They matched perfectly with my red/white/blue tie-back smock top obsession beautifully! Stars,stripes, the gamut.

  13. Liza Wyles says:

    I say early 80s as well. Between ’81-83. About the time The Preppy Handbook was all the rage, and these coeds clearly were cult followers.

  14. Amy says:

    I had the clogs (in medium blue), which were even uglier than the sandals, if you can believe it. They gave me terrible blisters around my arches where the leather rubbed.

    Inquiring minds want to know: Why is Princess Diana in that ad?

  15. Katie Lynn says:

    I actually own a pair that were my mother’s back in the day. She worked at a drug store where they sold them and used to stock up. I found a brand new pair (box and everything) in her closet when I was a senior in high school. Needless to say I clomped around in them in the spring that year. Still have them, all these years later. Those things wear like iron!

  16. Sherri says:

    I bought a very cute hot pink pair (when they still had wood bases) right after SJP made them cool again on S&TC. But they gave me terrible blisters and were not the comfortable pair of wearable/walkable “exercise sandals” I remember wearing every day at summer camp when not forced to participate in team sports. They’re also slightly dangerous–as evidenced by other readers. #betterintheorythanpractice #imho

  17. Jennie says:

    I had a red knock-off version from Fayva (remember Fayva? “A different kind of shoe store… Faaaayyyva, a different kind of shoe…”). Now can you please find us some Yo-yos and Famolares? There are a couple of pairs of Famolare sandals I had in 1979 or so that I would be so happy to see again today.

    • KimFrance says:

      I have actually tracked down Famolares—a mere shadow of their former selves, sadly. You can find some cute used originals on Etsy and eBay, though.

  18. Bria says:

    Heads up–they do have the original ones vs the 2.0 on amazon at a much better price:

    I do LOVE the Vermont Country Store but they way overcharge on everything so it pays to look around.

  19. Suzanne says:

    The copyright at the bottom of the ad says 1983.

  20. janine says:

    OK, I totally want a pair now. I love anything clog-y, orthopedic-y in footwear.
    I also suggest Worishofer sandals – mine took a few days of wear to break in, but they are AMAZING. I’ve had my pair re-soled rather than buying a new pair when I wore out the bottoms. They are so great.

  21. Jane says:

    I’m wearing them right now – red with cherries painted on the wood! A few years ago a company called Kiss My Feet had them with really cute designs painted on the wood, I bought 2 pair and wear them all the time. They are really helpful if you have planter fasciitis but want to wear sandals.

  22. Lesley says:

    Bria: I checked amazon too. Once I started putting in my info, it was clear that they were selling out of them permanently–they have limited sizes and colors left. The reds disappeared early.

  23. lizzie says:

    god i loved my dr.scholls! buying them at my local pharmacy felt like i was filling a prescription for my bountiful calves! too bad they did not cure me. either did “fitflops”, btw. and i was too proud to try those awful skechers. i had painter pants from “oshkosh”, and i used to embroider them with flowers when it was raining at my summer camp in minnesota. sudden craving for my lipsmackers dr pepper…

  24. RJS says:

    I dig Dr. Scholls, but I prefer my beat-up Birks. When I wear them, I’m instantly transported back to high school. If I pair them with a tie-dyed shirt and hippie pants, I look like an aging, granola groupie.

  25. Joanna aka Alexa (@alexa11221) says:

    I only ever owned the knockoffs, as my mom felt they were not “real shoes” and I had to buy them with my own money. I was always jealous of my cousin!

  26. Maggie says:

    Got mine in red a few years ago at Urban Outfitters. RED!!! And at a pretty good price. Can’ t remember how much but reasonable enough that they were mine instantly. I had mine on tonite w/jeans and a hippie-ish top. It was a mini flashback to the 70’s.

  27. frances says:

    So, I actually own a pair of the new ones that I’ve been wearing for the past two years now. They are black patent, and yes, the bottom is not the traditional wood, but it is black and super cushioned so I don’t care. Because it’s black you can’t tell at a glance that it’s super lightweight, and the weird textured pattern on the shoe bed makes them so comfortable I wear them almost every day in the summer.
    That said, I want a pair of the real wood ones in a nice bright color. My mom wore navy ones forever and ever and they are imprinted on me (and my sister, I know) as the height of casual cool.

  28. Patience says:

    I got my first pair in 6th grade (I’m 45) and I have never NOT had a pair since. Seriously. I wear them every summer, all summer. People stop me and comment and want thier own pair. Love them. By the way, I consider myself quite a fashionista, not someome that never changed her hair since high school and still wears stonewash. I will be buying another pair this summer, I must have a dozen!

  29. SDL says:

    If you like Dr. Scholl’s check out Berkemann Sandals. The biggest difference is you can get extra straps in different colors. And they straps have a softer inside so I don’t get blisters like I did with Dr.Scholl sandals.

    I bought mine at:


  30. Carl says:

    Scholls are still around!

  31. Carl says:

    If you want a pair of Dr Scholls exercise sandals, please visit my siteL