My DIY Reflective Shoes Experiement

Wednesday, April 6, was National Walking Day, an event promoted by the American Heart Association, and a day that my office promoted to our communities. It was also a good day to wear my new sneakers* – my DIY reflective sneakers!

Reflective Shoes 3I ordered a small (2.3oz net weight) can of Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, after the company liked one of my (many) reflective posts on Instagram. A Swedish product, made in the USA, “designed with nordic conditions in mind” – the possibilities seemed endless with reflective spray paint!!! Oh the things I was planning in my head.

But first I wanted to test it out on something I didn’t really care about, just in case. I hunted around for a pair of fun yet cheap sneakers that I’d want to actually wear – as I’m not a fan of sports shoes, I wasn’t interested in an investment. I found a cute pair at Payless Shoe Source that fit the bill, but of course, not only did they not have my size in the store, they were not available anywhere anymore! Gah! Then I found this really great Addidas pair on clearance in Macy’s – see, the Ballston Mall does have some good finds! (Sidenote: the Ballston Common Mall is generally known around town as a miserable, sad excuse for a mall, and we are all eager for Ballston Quarter, coming in the far future.)

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

I took them outside to spray them. The directions on the can Said to shake vigorously for “at least 1 minute” and to repeat during the application. As it is a clear product, it was hard to see what I’d sprayed, except for the white rubber part on the right shoe where I started. I was surprised when I ran out of spray paint shortly after starting the left shoe! I don’t know if I over-sprayed the left shoe, or if this small can is just not enough for two shoes.

Spraying the shoes - see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

Spraying the shoes – see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

So here are the results:

Can you tell how the first shoe I sprayed, the right shoe, is nicely covered, but the left shoe is not? Bummer! Especially since I prefer the majority of my reflectivity to be on my left side, aka, the car side. I feel a bit lopsided, too, but I guess no one can really tell. Also, since this spray paint is intended for fabrics, it clearly doesn’t work well on the rubber, as it is scratching and peeling off. The product apparently washes away, and I tried to wear them in the rain recently, but I can’t tell that it washed off. I guess if I sprayed a jacket and then washed it, I would notice. However, given how little I purchased and covered one shoe with, I can’t imagine trying to re-reflective something all the time.

I’m not as happy with this experiment as I’d hoped I be, but that’s partially user error, I think. I doubt I’ll try this again, but you never know. Maybe it would be fun on spectator shoes, where I wouldn’t try to cover the entire shoe.

Naturally, I love these shoes because I love anything reflective, and I really love the shoes anyway. I know I’ll wear them regardless! But then I found these gorgeous Nike cherry blossom shoes and now I really, really, really love these more… They could be reflective, right? Like the Capital Bikeshare #BikeinBloom!

Nike Cherry Blossom Shoes

Serious lust…


*Seriously, what is the appropriate current term for these shoes? I grew up calling them tennis shoes, and I refuse to call them “runners,” but what *are* they?!

Stylish Spring Cycling Shoes

It’s Spring and although it is currently chilly, I know it will soon be time for sandals! I’ve dusted off my warm weather shoes in preparation, and feeling a bit… uninspired… by my current collection. I seem to always be searching for THE perfect shoes, shoes that will go with everything, feel comfortable no matter what I’m doing, and look stylish and professional at the same time. Okay, this is probably a fantasy, but I do have high standards for my shoes.

My current collection - serviceable yet mostly uninspiring

My current collection – serviceable yet mostly uninspiring

First of all, any shoe I buy must be comfortable enough to walk to the Metro or a bus stop, to meetings and on outings. To me this translates into a slight heel and good arch support, plus some cushion between me and the pavement. (The mystery remains as to how my red reflective Cole Haan shoes remain my most comfortable shoe, since they fulfill neither of those categories…) Since I started biking, I have some additional requirements, but only a few – I don’t want to wear open-toed shoes on my bike, out of fear of injuring them somehow, and the super-wedge platforms make it hard for me to feel the pedals. So my new Dansko heeled sandals are not going to be bike shoes – open toes and a platform heel.

But this Spring, the trend is for *flat* shoes! What?!  you say – yes, all the magazine articles and ads are full of models in sporty looking flat sandals and loafers and other assorted flat shoes. It’s so refreshing. Additionally, many of the styles are menswear-inspired, oxfords and tuxedo slippers and kilties. These have my stylish bike shoe requirements – closed toes, sturdy heel, I can add insoles if needed, and most of them as professional-looking as well as stylish and casual. Here are some I am currently obsessed with:


I love the Nike X Liberty Air Rift trainers, because I owned four pair at one point; they were my favorite summer shoe. I thought Nike stopped making them, so I was pleased to see them return. Alas, I won’t buy a fifth pair, mostly because I don’t love the color of these, and besides, maybe I should move on.

I had to laugh when I saw that En Brogue had a whole blog post about Salt Water Sandals! I grew up in these, as did my little brother and cousin. I couldn’t wear them now because they are too flat, but even looking at the photos brings back memories of my new ones every summer. (PS – En Brogue is currently my new favorite style crush – she has the coolest flat shoes! #envious)

My cousin, my brother and I all in our Salt Water Sandals, circa no idea but probably 1982-1984

My cousin, my brother and I all in our Salt Water Sandals, circa no idea but probably 1982-1984

You can tell I’m totally in love with blush-colored shoes, can’t you? Those Finery London kiltie oxfords just make me swoon, and the gold Clark’s tasseled loafers, well, yes, lust. The Naturalizer Banner wedges shoes are the type of shoes I feel I should own, because they look so, well, business-y, in a casual sort of way, comfortable and practical. You call tell I like Clark’s, can’t you? I blame it on En Brogue again, especially after her recent report of next season Clark’s shoes. Clark’s is a company that I don’t normally associate with funky shoes, but they are doing a really good job of impressing me lately.

All of these shoes fall into my acceptable stylish cycling shoes category, so you could expect to see me in any of these shoes in the next few months. However, I don’t anticipate buying any of them any time soon. Let’s ignore the prices for a moment – I frankly don’t know what I’d wear any of them with! All could go perfectly well with jeans, but I don’t wear jeans that often, and definitely not to work. I’m in the process of completely redoing my wardrobe, complete with an appointment with a Nordstrom personal stylist for my birthday next month. And I’ve learned over the years that what I buy at the beginning of a season tends to not be the item(s) I wear throughout most of the season.

So I have to force myself to not buy new shoes any time soon, and continue to bike in the shoes I have.

But I really want these Danskos! Danskos have become my go-to comfy shoe, after years of denying that they could be cute and comfortable. Surely these would go with everything?!

But I really want these Danskos! Danskos have become my go-to comfy shoe, after years of denying that they could be cute and comfortable. Surely these would go with everything?!

Do you buy (non-bike-y) shoes based on certain criteria, the way I do? Or do you wear bike shoes, and change into work/dress shoes when you reach your destination? And am I the only one weird about not biking in open-toed shoes?!


Sniffing the Reflective Paint

By now we all know I’m obsessed with all things reflective, right? So now it’s time to kick it up a notch!

Today I stumbled upon these TOMS shoes, with a fully reflective heel. Check out the video, too.

TOMS x Linus shoes

I love this idea, but I don’t love TOMS shoes. Nothing against the brand, I just can’t wear that flat of a shoe with absolutely no support. But it got me thinking. (okay, I did put them on the “biking fashion items I’d love to test” list)

I decided that since I have plenty of experience spray painting shoes during my costume design days, I can spray a pair of shoes! Then I’ll have the shoes I want with the right amount of coverage I want (not being impressed with the silver of reflective material on the Merrell biking heels). Rust-Oleum makes a reflective spray paint, although it got terrible reviews on the Home Depot website. So I kept looking, and found one by Krylon, and one called Night Brite, that seems promising, yet pricey. I’ll have to decide how much I want to invest in this project.So what to test this on then? At first I thought I’d get a pair of basic black pumps, like these from Payless Shoe Source. After all, I don’t want to spend a ton of money on nice shoes, only to destroy them with this experiment.

Payless Kimmie Mary Jane Pump

Then I thought that I could even further combine form with fashion, as it were – I could get a chrome spray paint and make my own silver capped heels, then spray the silver reflective!

Stuart Weiztman Capsize Mary Jane Pump (I love these!!!)

Stuart Weiztman Wiskerlo Flats (ooh so sweet!)

Delman Comet in Silver

Chanel boots

The pumps are undeniably sexy, but I’m not sure about how bike practical they might be – the mint pairs (my favorites!) are pretty pointy. I could try to copy the Chanel boots with this pair from Payless, which already have the cap and heel, ready for painting –

Payless Brash Tanner lace up boot

This it totally do-able! Except I love the pumps…  So I’d have to create the silver metallic cap, then try the reflective spray, and I’m not sure how they will layer. I could just do the heel of the shoe reflective, and the toe cap silver – surely a silver toe would reflect in a car’s light?

While I ponder this, and do more research on reflective paint, I can at last get back to finishing my dress! It’s been sitting, calling to me, ever since I got back from my travels, but naturally I got sick, and haven’t had the brain power to figure out the problems it’s presenting me. But no longer – I am ready again for the challenge!

But I will leave you with some shoe porn, while you are waiting – look at how gorgeous these shoes are – oh so impractical and oh so lovely! And oh I’d love them…

Isabel Toledo for Payless TangoJane Mary Jane Pump