Friday, July 10, 2009

What's That About: Spring-O-Lator Mules

Am spending some time with my lovely in-laws, and unexpectedly learned of a vintage accessory that I had never heard of before.

The story is poignant--a Christmas day come and gone without a hoped-for engagement ring. The sad lady in question was my mother-in-law, who had so hoped that Santa (in the form of her boyfriend) would leave a sparkly diamond under the tree. But it was not to be, even though she had dressed to kill, in a pretty holiday frock and her best "shoes with the spring in the sole."

At this point I said "huh?"

"Oh, you know," she said. "Those mules. The ones with a special spring on the bottom so they wouldn't slip off while when you walked."

I jumped on eBay as soon as discretion allowed to see if I could find a pair of these mysterious mules. And lo, within 30 seconds, there they were. Spring-O-Lators, patented in the mid-50s and, according to this interesting history, and this fabulous photo gallery, the must-have shoe of every glamour gal in the country. Everyone from burlesque strippers to Mary Tyler Moore (above!) to the girl next door.

The mind reels. A mule that stays on the foot, doesn't slip off, or go clack-clack-clack as you walk across a wooden floor. They're only available on secondhand, on eBay and other specialty sellers.

Why have they been jilted by the contemporary shoe world?

(BTW, my mother-in-law finally did get that ring, from that very boyfriend. Nobody knows what happened to the shoes.)


  1. I am toetally sure he presented the ring on his knees and placed a kiss on her feet clad in those fabulous mules afterwards.
    Spring-o-lators did have this effect on sensitive males, sometimes. They were seductive to the highest degree and created creating a kind of feetal attraction hard to resist.

  2. I had a pair of spring 0 lators when I was in high school (graduated in 1958). I thought I was really something with those shoes. My were a pearlized white and I must have been a senior. I have no idea what happened to mine either. My mother was never one to throw anything away and I fully expect to find them at her house someday.

  3. Many thanks, you two anons . . . this shoe does seem to inspire a little something extra from all in the vicinity . . . anon II, if you ever dig up your vintage pair, I would love to feature them in this entry . . . let me know!

  4. I adored Spring-o-lators. They were the "be all and end all" of Mule-type shoes, during the '50's. I had them in several colors, including a clear plastic with gold trim and heel (verrry sexxxxy!) to go with my green velvet New Year's Eve dress. They were so great because they didn't fall off and made walking in them super comfortable. Wish they'd never gone out of style!!!

  5. My mother wore springolators.As a little girl I would walk in her heels that where to big.They looked so good on her(she wore them almost everyday to her office job)and had a pair in most colors to match her outfit.I wear mules and slides alot myself,I just wish they still made springolators they were so sexy.

  6. I learned about these wonderful shoes yesterday, and now I can't wait to get my hands/feet on/in a vintage pair. I absolutely adore the style and can't understand why the don't make them anymore. While I am looking for my spring-o-lator pair I am reading everything I can find on them, so thanks for writing this. It was a fun story.

  7. The brand Pleaser has started to make exotic dancer shoes with Spring-O-Later soles. Not practical for the average person, unfortunately.

  8. I still have the rhinestone-studded clear Lucite Spring-O-Lators that I found so many years ago, before the vintage fashion boom really took off. I have lots of photos, if you would like to post them...