How to Make Good, Cheap Shoes for a Character Costume

Last Halloween I went as Asuna from Sword Art Online, and I bought my entire costume for $120 -but it didn’t include the shoes. The cheapest pair was $60 and ugly, and I thought I could do it better. So below is my takeaway recipe for costume shoes – applicable to pretty much any desired close-toe design. And the best part? You can wear the shoes whenever you like, or as rain boots – and the cost was less than $25.

You will need lots of time (to wait for paint coats to dry), and the following ingredients:

– A pair of cheap rain boots, as simple as possible, any color
– Kitchen-grade scissors
– Mod Podge finish or spray fixative for use over acrylics
– White spray paint that adheres to plastic
– Acrylic paint in the colors of your choice (not gesso)
– Fabric or other paint with a pointy tip, if raised detail is desired

Step 1. Cut the rain boots into your desired shape. Remove any doo-dads, such as bows, from the boots. (If you like, you can take the rubber scraps, cut them into shapes, and glue to the base of your shoe. This will create a raised detail.)

Step 2. Spray paint the shoe white for several coats until uniform, following the paint can directions. Avoid spraying the bottom of the shoe. (You can paint a bit of the bottom or inside, but be aware that you will have to paint over all of the spray paint by hand.) To add raised detail, use the pointy-tip paint on the second coat of white, and spray over it.

Step 3. After several coats of spray paint, the paint should still be sticky when dry. (Nothing really adheres well to rubber.) Paint over all of the sticky surface with your desired acrylic paints. I started with a white coat, but you don’t have to. Paint three coats or more, until the color is uniform and it doesn’t feel sticky when dry.

Step 4. Once you have a dry, non-sticky surface that looks like the desired shoe, paint over the whole painted surface with Mod Podge or spray-can fixative for several more coats. This layer will protect the shoe from marring, so the more coats you use, the more hardy the shoe. Test between coats for stickiness; if it dries sticky, you are using the wrong fixative.

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