Glitter Shoes Decoded
For as long as I remember, whenever my mom has talked about her wedding, she always has one piece of advice:
“Don’t cheap out on the shoes.”
She wore a pair of white sandals that were the right height and the right price- but from the sounds of it, the Red Shoes might have been more comfortable. So this advice has stuck with me, even though it goes against every cheap bone in my body.
Now, I did find a pair of shoes that I THINK will be the ones-and while they’re not Louboutins, they’re also not Payless, so I think I did a good job. Although it might be putting the card before the horse to have shoes before a dress. Which is why I’m also working on some back-ups.
A couple months ago, I found a very good price on some moderately high, covered platform pumps. They were an attractive shape, a good color (nude), and made of satin. Closed toe is a must for me- ever since taking up distance running a couple years ago, my feet have gone from borderline to seriously not ok. So these shoes fit the bill nicely, and I did what any sane person would do. I bought 4 pairs. To do stuff to.
See, I have a long history of modding shoes. It started in middle school, when I would paint my Converse and clogs in crazy psychedelic patterns of fluorescent pink and yellow. I got pretty adept at it- they were ugly as hell but I kinda got my technique down. I knew the paints and finishes to use, and although they weren’t impervious to the elements, they lasted a pretty long time.
There has always been one DIY shoe mod that has stumped me, though, and that’s the glittered shoe. For my senior collection, I attempted to glitter 4 pairs of pumps using spray adhesive and super-fine glitter. I got my cardio in for the day, running between the spray booth and my glitter station. By the time I was done, the studio looked like the site of a stripper convention, but it worked, kind of. The models did leave a trail of glitter behind them as they went down the runway, and the shoes ended up with big patchy spots of worn-away glue, but for a single-use situation, it was more or less sufficient.
But now that all has changed. I’ve discovered the secret.
Angelus is a shoe supply/paint company that specializes in leather paints. Man, where was this stuff when I was 13? I’ve used their regular acrylic leather paints to refresh shoes before, but the last time I was at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply I spotted a little product called Glitterlites. It seemed right up my alley- it’s glitter suspended in a clear glue-ish, water-based medium, and you paint it directly onto the substrate. It’s made for leather, but a satin shoe like this is probably just as good, if not better, of an adhesion surface. It’s $4 for a 1 oz pot and comes in like 15 colors. Done.
So get ready for a super in depth tutorial:
1. Get a brush.
2. Paint it on.
That’s it. Ok, so you COULD mask the bottom and inside of your shoe if you want to be professional, or if your shoe is complicated, or if you are under the age of 10 (in which case you shouldn’t be wearing platforms) but I don’t think my result would have been much different if I had masked.
Also- any time you are applying glitter, you want your base to be a similar color to the glitter you are using. It’s nearly impossible to get perfect coverage using what is essentially, like, dust (although tell that to my windowsills *bass drum-cymbal crash*), so a good base color will hide a lot of imperfections.
I ended up coating the shoes twice fully, then touching up a couple obvious spots with a third coat. Try to do your first layer all horizontal, and the second all vertical (or vice-versa) to avoid streaks. Depending on how big your feet are (mine are size Boat), you’ll be able to fully paint 3-4 shoes (not pairs) with a single 1 oz container of Glitterlites. The glitter is pretty stable as is, but if you expect that you’ll be really giving these shoes a run for their money, you might want to apply the acrylic finisher (pictured above). It will tone down the sparkle a little, but it might be worth it in terms of durability.
So there you have it. Glitter shoes with almost no mess. It’s a goddamn miracle.