Pimp my shoes
September 2, 2010 9:06 AM   Subscribe

These are my perfectly ordinary shoes. I'm terribly bored with them. How can I hack them to make them more interesting?

I've seen this.

I'm not very interested in adding electronics; I just want them to look different. Carve the rubber soles? Embroidery? Cutwork? Paint? Please suggest both kinds of modifications, and specific looks (eg: both "paint your shoes!" and "use so-and-so materials to replicate a rayogram".)

I'm definitely going to remove or replace the sewn-on label on the tongue.

The material is suedish leather. The colour is dark grey. They are Camper Imars from a couple of years ago.

My style is boring and my colours are neutral. In this case, however, I'm happy to go nuts. (Though glitter, sequins and rhinestones will be a hard sell.) I'm skills-challenged and motivationally challenged, but welcome complicated ideas if the result is great and still wearable.

Finally, I'm in the UK.
posted by tavegyl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Pins, buttons and/or colored tapes are easy to apply and to remove/change. Ditto patches.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:11 AM on September 2, 2010

Duct tape was always my favorite for making my shoes "mine", back when I wore a lot of decoration.
posted by notsnot at 9:23 AM on September 2, 2010

A friend of mine got some awesome color out of using blackberries on her old shoes: http://twitpic.com/2ifuie
posted by MsMolly at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2010

There's the old schooltime standby of shoving things with pushpin backs into the sides of the soles. You could get the flat sort of pushpins, glue things onto them, and make a story that goes around the edge of your shoe! I suggest waves, and a little boat, and some fish. Or maybe a variety of space type things, stars and planets and flying saucers. Or something more narrative, like a dragon and a princess and a knight and a sword and a castle and so-on. You could make your little objects on thin posterboard and lacquer them with the sort of varnish that comes in a spray can. I don't know how well that would hold up to the elements but you could try. You might be able to find little plastic charms and beads in the shapes you want, too.

I've always liked the idea of utilizing the grommets. Get reddish laces, and using white and black paint create teeth on each of the grommets. Use red paint for lips. Or nautical themed with tan (rope color) laces and do each grommet like a little life preserver. Then name each of your shoes some sort of H.M.S. Ballywick sort of name on the heel, and glue rope accents along the seams.
posted by Mizu at 9:29 AM on September 2, 2010

Glow in the dark shoelaces!
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 9:36 AM on September 2, 2010

I imagine that some el-wire run through the grommets with your laces would be pretty striking.

It looks like there are a bunch of places you can get battery powered lengths for a reasonable price.
posted by quin at 9:37 AM on September 2, 2010

Perhaps you could find some ideas in this FPP of mine about crafting with shoes.
posted by orange swan at 9:40 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Whoops, sorry, I read that as "I'm very interested in adding electronics". My bad.

There is some unbelievably complicated knot-work you could incorporate into the laces. It could look extremely cool , but might eventually hinder functionality.

You could also look into adding studs and spikes.

Finally, if you want to go truly gaudy, go to a craft store and get some of those swarovski (or something similar) crystals and some superglue and bling the hell out of the hard surfaces like the rubber around the sole.
posted by quin at 9:44 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Whatever you do, be sure to lace them in some interesting fashion!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:50 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ideas in ordered from best to stupidest:
1. Paint bones on them with black and white gesso or acrylic paint.
2. Get "left" airbrushed on the left shoe and "right" airbrushed on the right.
3. Cut off the soles and wear the shoes as anklets suspended over sandals.
4. Get "right" airbrushed on the left shoe and "left" airbrushed on the right.
posted by abirae at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

(in order)
posted by abirae at 11:28 AM on September 2, 2010

Both grommets and rivets are readily available and very easy to "install." They could be applied in interesting patterns as design details. Think perhaps of a simple vertical line running up the back. Or a circle at your heel similar to the Chuck Taylor logo on hightops. Or a stripe leading down to the sole beginning at every other lace grommet. Or something. They would look integral with the shoe design in that they would not be likely to stand out as something "crafty" or homemade. I guess this could be either good or bad, depending on your intentions.
posted by nickjadlowe at 11:42 AM on September 2, 2010

Definitely shoelaces. You can do amazing things with shoelaces and getting creative with tying them.

If you're feeling particularly impish, you can combine two of Abirae's ideas by having removable patches that say 'left' and 'right', and arbitrarily switch them as the mood strikes you.

While I'm at it, removable patches for just about anything would let you customize the shoes for whatever occasion you're going to. Dress them up or punk out. Velcro might be handy (though make sure to keep the piles clean so it'll stick) for hotswapping on the fly.
posted by Heretical at 12:11 PM on September 2, 2010

I used to bend stainless steel wire into organic shapes, heat them up with a lighter, and then "brand" pieces of leather. You could use one or two simple shapes to make a repeating pattern of sorts.

Warning: you may burn your fingers, wreck your shoes, or light things on fire when you drop a searing hot piece of wire on the floor.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:46 PM on September 2, 2010

Definitely paint them! I don't think Ndeur shoes exists anymore, but they made some of the most amazing handpainted shoes I've ever seen. You could take inspiration from some of their work.
posted by dizziest at 8:38 PM on September 2, 2010

Best answer: If they were mine, I would embroider a robot on the side.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:58 PM on September 3, 2010

Response by poster: Wonky laces and a robot it is. Both in a vicious shade of purple. Photos will go up when I've completed the robots.
posted by tavegyl at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2010

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