memory (like an elephant): spray painted gold boots

gold boots.png
(image via this ebay listing)


i seem to have this crazy long memory for interesting things i’ve spotted on others. i’ll see someone wearing something in (what i feel is) an inspired way, make a mental note of it, and often find myself thinking about that person and that cool item of theirs, sometimes for years and years, oftentimes almost obsessively.

back in the mid-2000s, pete and i were out in san francisco, and were grabbing a drink at a local coffeehouse. said coffeehouse was in the mission, if the (faded) memory serves. i sat down to take a swig out of my juice, looked up and toward the cashier stand, and spotted a stylin’, gray-haired, middle-age woman in a vintage-flavored, thrifty outfit, most of the details of which are by now quite hazy.

however, i remember one detail of her outfit quite distinctly: she was wearing a pair of nicely beat-up leather cowboy boots, that were spray-painted in a rich metallic gold. the paint job was a bit imperfect and/or a bit worn. i instantly fell in love…with her boots! gold!! old! awesome!

…i haven’t stopped thinking about them since.

i’ve been meaning to replicate said boots (using an old pair of secondhand green leather justin’s i’ve got laying around), but haven’t gotten around to it…yet. maybe soon. maybe this post will provide the impetus i need to get going on that long fallow project…


two things…

have you ever spray painted your shoes/any shoes/an accessory/leather goods? what were the results? any tips on how to successfully “tag” your taps?

two: i wanna know about you! do you ever obsess over the details in others get-ups? do you have a memory of something you peeped on someone else stuck in your head, even still? were you moved to find or replicate that item or that person’s look?

or am i the only elephant?


  1. Annie Butterfly

    1. No, sorry, can’t help you with the painting

    2. Funny you should be the one to ask this question… you inspired me to find gold shoes and an acid wash jacket a couple of years ago! 🙂

    I often remember certain outfits or details about the outfit and either immediately or years later use that memory to inspire my own style. Sometimes with real people and sometimes celebs or photos from magazines. I’m obsessing over Karla’s Closet blog at the moment and incorporating some of her ideas into my wardrobe.

    Annie B xx

  2. Marieke

    I spray painted a floppy straw hat black once and it turned out amazingly! It’s since been destroyed by accident (so no photos), but it was a beautiful hat and once it started to wear, bits of the original straw colour shone through like painted wooden floor that’s been walked on too much.

    As for obsessing over other’s clothes, I have a strange habit too… I enjoy saving the frayed threads of old clothes. For example, if someone has a loose thread on their shirt I’ll take it and save it. Or, if I find a loose thread on the floor somewhere I’ll add it to the collection. I now have an insane collection of threads that I like to keep untangled, just waiting for the day I find a reason why.

    Thanks for sharing your compulsion.

  3. Jackie Dolamore

    I do that obsessing thing sometimes… I once saw a girl at the Oviedo Mall, of all places, wearing yellow and white spectator shoes (the menswear type kind, not pumps or anything). I already happen to own a pretty hot pair of men’s two-tone spectator shoes, so in that case I already COULD kind of replicate the look, but I remain obsessed by the idea that she had a very different color scheme, WHERE DID SHE GET THEM, and I WANT THEM. It’s probably been 10 years and I still think about those dang shoes.

  4. Kelley

    Last year, also in San Francisco, I spotted a woman wearing the best black and white striped dress. I couldn’t stop staring at her. A few days later I bought some similar fabric with plans to make my own but am still too scared to cut into it until my sewing skills have improved.

    Also a few weeks ago a fashion blogger posted about these insane wedge boots she got. I immediately clicked open a new tab, found where they were sold and ordered them. I’ve worn them 3 times and I love them so much.

  5. Sandra

    I tried spray painting a pair of vinyl thrifted boots blue after seeing nemres on w_r rocking some blue boots which left me wanting some bigtime. It didn’t turn out too hot. The paint bubbled and chipped after it had dried and even the parts that were smooth weren’t as opaque as I wanted them to be. I ended up embellishing them (read:covering the yucky parts) with colored duct tape and I’ve yet to actually wear them. I think it was blog full of jelly who posted about painting a pair of shoes that made me realize something she did might have made a difference… she had primed them first with a layer of white spray paint. Now if you are going for a worn-in look and not complete coverage, you might not need to do that? I think the fact that yours are real leather will help too, my boots were fairly worn in vinyl faux-leather and I think the spray paint just didn’t take very good to the surface. It might be cool to see a bit of the original green color peeking through the metallic gold.

  6. Hyena In Petticoats

    I have a feeling you can get actual spray paint for shoes – I dunno if you’d have any luck finding gold, but I seem to remember seeing it somewhere once?

    Oh, and you’re not the only elephant – I remember exactly what my best friend was wearing the first day I met her, and I carry clothes obsessions around with me for years – I think it’s thrift shopping that does it – you have to remember all the things you want just in case you actually find it one day! And only this morning, I put on a mustardy skirt and a coat in that vintage orangey-red colour, and I thought of you. We have weird colour sense in common, and I quite often remember your colour combinations!

  7. poutfits

    Spray painting works. I have some spray painted clothes and (leather) shoes. With shoes, the paint will wear off eventually…then you re-spray 🙂 I would imagine if you were trying to paint faux leather or some other polymer it wouldn’t work as well.
    Also, I get shoe envy. Nothing will do except the shoes in my head…and if I can’t afford or find them, then I’ll keep wearing these ugly, super old comfort shoes until they fall apart mid winter. Working on that.

  8. sunshine

    I spray paint my almost-dead shoes all the time!

    you’ll want to stuff the insides w newspaper so you don’t get paint in there, and tape off the edges of the soles before spraying for a clean finished look. Hold the can at least 18″ from your project and go for a few light coats, vs one thick dribbly one (unless you’re going for a more lo-fi dribbly punk look.) and know that the paint will crack at the natural folds in the shoes as you walk, even if you use primer.
    also if your shoes are pleather/vegan be sure to use spraypaint and/or primer specifically developed for coating plastics, otherwise you’ll end up with a sticky mess that never dries completely.

    good luck! can’t wait to see your results

  9. Sally

    I haven’t spraypainted shoes, but I’d bet if you’re going for a worn/imperfect look, it’ll work perfectly.

    I obsess over details, but have a brain like a sieve … so I tuck my inspirations away in a binder and replicate them later!

  10. Kate Dolamore

    About 10 years ago I had some leather boots and I painted stars on one of them with acrylic paint. So not spray paint, but boy did it work! Years later I tried to get the paint to come off and it would NOT budge. It did have a cool worn down loo though. I still have the boots so perhaps now would be the time to revive them with spray paint! Thank you for the idea!

  11. paisleyapron

    I have had a lot of success painting my shoes with a brush. My inspiration came from When I found a pair of blah leather flats at Target for $5, I painted them multiple shades of teal and blue–now they match my wardrobe. Shoes are an excellent canvas!

  12. Rebecca

    I’ve used the spray paint that you can buy for shoes before but it wasn’t very good to be honest, it just rubbed right off. I’ve never used acrylic paint on leather but I have used a leather dying kit from this company which worked brilliantly to change the colour. Pretty sure you could get something similar in the US.

  13. GlamaRuth

    I re-color my shoes all the time. I’ve just ordered some leather dye to try, but I’ve had great success on both canvas and leather shoes using Lumiere fabric and leather paints. The small size jar is enough to do several pairs, so no need for a big investment (and one jar should easily do a pair of boots). I use masking tape on the bits I don’t want to get paint on, and then use a few different size brushes to lay down larger areas of paint and then go more carefully at the edges.

  14. kristen

    yep! i spraypainted some oxfords gold last year (like you, i remembered seeing kelly wearstler on the cover of domino magazine years ago, and always meant to replicate the look, so i did it last year!). here’s a link to my post about it:

    i sprayed gold spraypaint into the top of the can, then brushed it on with a cheapo brush i could throw away at the end. you can use mineral spirits to dull down the mixture a bit, so that you can play around with the “worn” look. it’s fun! do it!

  15. Meghan

    When I was a little girl in tap class, my mom had to spray paint my tap shoes every year for the recital. Gold and silver were generally the go-to colors. The spray paint my mom used was specifically for shoes, probably specifically for leather shoes, and was purchased at the dance shoe/apparel store.