SHOE MAKEOVERS: Temporary Additions

I have a lot of shoes, but I can't always justify buying a new pair if it's only slightly different than my existing shoes. Also, sometimes I love my exisiting shoes too much to be willing to commit to a permanent painting, cutting, or embellishing them. However, what I can justify is adding some temporary items to my shoes to change their style. We all have boots, heels, sandals, and flats that could use a change. Some of us travel a lot or have limited wardrobes, where we need to conserve room, so these accessories can pack or store easily without taking up much space. I'm going to share many ways to alter the look of your existing shoes, to save you money and commitment. As you will see, these removable items can be used on multiple shoes, which is great when you like a style and want to wear it often. These images are all from tutorials, and link back to the instructions. The skill levels and time commitments vary.


This is my favorite removable look. I love the feel of something delicate like chain dangling on my feet, or the restriction of buckled straps across my boots. I plan on making something similar to these with studs and spikes, to toughen up my faux suede faux Jeffrey Campbell Litas. Since making this sort of strap takes a lot of time commitment, I want it to convert to many different shoes...other boots or heels. This section of tutorials covers the draped straps that can be used on boots, heels, or sandals.

Kaitlin Simonsen of My Vintage Secret shared how to make basic Bootstraps. She uses old matching black belts from a second hand store, and two kinds of studs to create these bootstraps. This a great way to recycle existing belts instead of adding additional labor by making your own. If you are more colorful person, use colorful belts. They can be solid, glittery, or printed. That's up to you. You can adorn them with studs like Kaitlin did, or add something different like jewels, cabochons  and beads. 

Acid Dreams and Sugar Highs showed how to make Leather Studded Boot Chains. She uses leather, but you could use faux leather or PVC for the straps. The pyramid studs she mentions are actually screw back spikes. Pyramid studs are shaped like a pyramid...4 sides and come to a point, but it's normally shallow. The chains can be new, or salvaged from old jewelry. They just have to be large enough to fit over the D ring, though they could be looped over and connected back on themselves if they are a finer chain. I don't recommend fine chain for something like this, as it's not meant for heavy wear on your feet. A medium to thick sturdy chain will do best. Don't make the drapes of the chains too long, or you'll risk getting tangled in them while walking. Falling from your fashion choices isn't pretty. The addition of snaps helps the straps to be removed and used on other boots. These might look great on high heeled pumps too, as the strap would lay around your ankle and the back of the shoes.

Lovelyish shows an even easier way to have Shoes with Chain Anklets. She uses long necklaces and wraps them around her ankles like an anklet. This can work with boots too. It you don't have any long necklaces that you want to wear around your feet, you can make simple chain necklaces by adding a jump ring and lobster clasp to one end of a long chain. Wrap the chain around your ankle a few times to check for length, before cutting the chain with wire or chain cutters. You don't want them to constrict your ankles, but lay comfortably. Otherwise the chain will cause blisters from the friction of walking.

Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This created Beaded Wedge shoes by adding beaded cord on the straps of these shoes. This is a great temporary addition that creates a bit of glamour to casual sandals. This could be done with chains or braided fabric strips too. When you remove them, you'll have a great bracelet.


Perhaps you have a little trouble keeping flats and heels on and need the extra security of straps. I know I have several pairs of shoes that would benefit from this addition.

Rachel of Transient Expression shows 3 different ways to create Ribbon, Chain, or Studded Ankle Strap Flats. She replaced the existing ankle straps with ribbon, chain, and studded leather. You can take this concept farther and use other things as ankle straps...braided cord, beaded ribbon, ruffled trim, or lace trim. The limits are up to you and your imagination. If you don't have shoes with loops on the back to slip the ankle straps through, you can easily sew or strongly glue ribbon loops to the interior of your shoes at the backs. 

I Spy DIY shows how to make Neon Ankle Straps, using neon ribbon and velcro. I'm not big on the neon trend past being a teenager. I look back with strange memories of a favorite shiny neon green floral shirt. I'm glad I didn't take it to fashion college with me... However, though I might not be a fan of wearing bright colors...which actually says a lot...if like bright color pops, you should give it a try. This concept still works for any other color to neutrals too. The addition of the straps seems to instantly dress up these basic flats. As long as the ribbon is sturdy, this structured style of ankle straps will work. Softer ribbons will collapse, and rub against your ankles, which isn't comfortable of pretty.

Vero88stiletto shared a very simple way of How to Make Ankle Straps for Stilettos. She uses elastic to created basic and practical straps that help her stilettos stay on her feet. Strapless heels can easily come off your feet while walking, which will cause blisters from the rubbing friction. Everyone that has worn strapless heels has been through this a few times, but we keep going back to them, She suggested recycling elastic from hair bands. This is a great idea, as you can get a pack of colorful elastic hair bands from Dollar Tree for of course a dollar. They sometimes have a thin strip of rubbery stuff on the back, which is designed to help the hair bands stay put while you're wearing them on your head. This will help keep the straps on your feet too! Genius reuse!

Another great shoe look from Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This. She created a Neutral Wrap Heel using nylon stockings that were a close match to the heel color. This is her take on the neutral trend. That was one trend that I embraced, because I love creamy colors, not because I wanted my clothing and accessories to match my skin tone. Granted, it isn't an inclusive trend on it's own, but I always say it can be. If you want to wear the neutral trend, buy clothing or accessories that closely match your own skin tone. Frankly, I'm pale and the neutral tones that are normally available, aren't close to my skin tone either. I digress...Erica's concept would work with any color of shoes. She means for the stockings to match the shoes, but a contrast would be neat too. Also, you can use other fabrics for this wrapping method. Stretchy ones are probably the most comfortable, but you could use silk scarves, and other woven fabrics too.


When I was a kid, I loved shoe clips. I was born in 1980, (do the math, I don't care) but my fashion sense was normally from a pre-birth era. I've had a long fascination with vintage fashions, and shoe clips are one of those. The nice thing about these is that they are a practical and easy way to change up your shoes without a commitment. The clips can also be clipped to other things when not being used for shoes. Occasionally, the metal underside of the clip can rub against your toes. I suggest backing them in felt or velvet, so they don't cause any discomfort.

Stacie Grissom on The Fashion Spot shows how to created basic Bow Shoe Clips. To me, bows were the essential shoe clips, with flowers being second. You can make them with scrap fabric or ribbon. They don't require a lot of materials or skills. They are a simple way to transform your shoes. See that t-strap shoe to the right? It's perfect for multiple shoe clips. What about a ruffled strip of ribbon or fabric with a clip at the top and bottom? That would look great along the t-strap!

Taking this concept a little further, Green Wedding Shoes created some Pretty Bow and Flower Shoe Clips. They are exactly that, pretty. She uses the classic style of shoes clips. These can be sewn on. We all know there are TONS of ribbons we can choose from, in different sizes, styles, colors, fabrics, and prices. The flowers can be handmade or pre-made. You can wear shoe clips at any part of your shoe, but I don't recommend wearing them at the peep toe part, as you might lose them or they will tickle your toes.

For something that reminds me of an old Hollywood movie scene with lingerie, Ruffled shows how to make Feather Shoe Clips. Of course if marabou is too fluffy for you, try regular feathers and a cabochon on the wood circle. If you don't have wood circles, use old non-shank buttons (the flat kind)! Hot glue is great for quick projects, but if you want the feathers to stay, use an industrial glue. E-6000 is great for these wearable projects, because it's durable and doesn't expand while drying!

If you want to make something totally unexpected, Becky Stern of Craftzine shows you how to create LED Shoe Clips. These are beautiful! I don't recall having light up shoes, but I've wanted a pair since I saw the 1st excited toddler running excitedly in them. Though I'm not familiar with circuit work, this seems like an easy one to start with. To turn off the lights, remove the batteries.


The last concept I want to share is the most time consuming. They require some pattern making and sewing skills. They are spats, which are a form of shoe covering that creates a boot-like appearance.

On Threadbanger, Zoh shows us How-to Make Spats. She shows us how to make basic spat that fits one pair of shoes, from the pattern making to the construction. This takes time, but if you want nicely fitting spats, they are worth the effort. This is great for Steampunk style fashions. Like Zoh mentioned, this project works well for leather, vegan leather, and wool, since they don't have to be lined. If you are a skilled pattern maker, you're going to be able to make lined ones too.

Love Maegan was inspired by a pair from Vouge Korea and made Leather Over-The-Knee Boot Spats. She recycled an old leather skirt to make these. You can use a variety of sturdy fabrics to make these. Of course if you are opposed to leather, vegan leather (faux leather) and PVC are great options. This project takes some sewing adjustments so these over-the-knee or thigh high boot spats fit your shoes and legs nicely.

Urban Threads shows us how to make Sweater Spats by recycling the sleeves of an old sweater. These might also resemble leg warmers, but more fitted. You could use them as fancy leg warmers too...or Winter decide. The skull embroidery is a machine embroidery from Urban Threads. If you don't have an embroidery machine (I don't!), you can sew on an applique. Lace would look nice too.

One last tutorial from Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This. She created a Fur Bootie with a pair of socks, hot glue and fur. I'm not big on furry anything, other than my cats, but it's a very popular and yearly look for cold months. This is a great way of getting the look of fur boots without the costly price. I suggest black faux fur and booties for this look, because it's a classic color that you can wear yearly without looking dated. I like that the socks are meant to start mid foot and go up. This makes for easy wear without the fur moving too much and becoming uneven in height.

I've shared a lot of tutorials that can transform your existing shoes into a wide range of styles. Hopefully, you find these helpful the next time you want to easily change up the look of your shoes without permanent commitment.


  1. Hi, how do you repair a loosened spike stud. I have some canvas CTTC high tops that have studs on toe area. Glue? Thanks!

    1. Your guess is as good as mine. I'm missing a spike on a pair of boots, but can't access the area to replace it. I suggest a little E6000 applied carefully with a toothpick, between the spike and fabric. You can use painter's or masking tape to hold the spike in place while the glue dries.

  2. How do I change the colour temperorarily?

    1. I do not know of any temporary ways to change a shoe color. Shoe color changes are typically permanent.


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