I went looking for summer boots last month, and found this cute fold-down style:
Not bad for $30, right?
Trouble is, like almost all vinyl faux leather, they're super shiny and plastic-looking. Bleh.
So let's make 'em look like real aged leather, shall we?
I won't keep you in suspense: here's how they turn out:
Pretty cute, right? And sooo much more realistic than that shiny vinyl.
Don't worry, this finish is quite durable, and won't come off in water even if you scrub. So splash through as many puddles as you want, and rest assured any extra wear and scuffs will only add to the "leather" look.
You can use this technique on any vinyl, so it's also great for costuming and steampunk applications!
But best of all, this is super easy, and super cheap. All you need is a little 400 grit sandpaper (check any hardware store), some flat brown craft paint, and a wet rag.
So let's go.
First, remove the laces and use your 400 grit sandpaper (which is super fine; barely rough at all) to remove that plasticy shine on your boots:
Here the left shoe is sanded.
Be careful to NOT sand all the way through the vinyl; you're just getting that shine off. The difference may seem subtle in the pic, but trust me, just this alone will make your boots seem infinitely more leather-like.
Try to sand all the nooks and crannies of your boots as best you can. Be warned this can take a good 10-20 minutes, during which your hubby may start posting on Fans of Epbot:
(Now you FoE folk will no longer have to wrestle with the mystery of Why Jen Was Sanding Her Boots. But good luck with Why Was John Sitting Around In A Giant Ni Helmet.)
Once you're satisfied the shine is gone, start aging your boots by applying a little brown craft paint, and then rubbing it around with either your finger or a rag (or both).
The paint will dry fast, so do this in sections, and work quickly. Have a wet rag on hand to wipe off any parts that get too dark or splotchy. You can make this super grungy or quite subtle, so experiment a little to see what you like.
Sorry I don't have many more process photos; like I said, you have to work fast!
My first boot turned out splotchier than I like; its the left one here:
I learned to spread the paint in larger sections for the second boot, to make it more even. Use your wet rag to keep the paint spreadable, since once it dries there's no getting it off with water, no matter HOW hard you scrub.
Don't worry, though; any household cleaner (like a Clorox wipe) will remove the paint if you need to start over, or you can use that 400 grit sandpaper again on darker areas.
I was too lazy to go back and lighten up the left boot; I figure I'll chalk it up to imperfections in the "leather." :D
You could of course clear-coat your newly aged boots, but it's really not necessary. If you ever manage to rub off too much paint, it's easy to add more.
Oh, and I swapped out the laces, since I hate those stiff waxed cord ones. But of course that's optional!
Hope this gives you guys some more options for your wardrobe! I know I have at least two more pairs of boots to age now.
And for you Pinners:
(Stay tuned for my final cosplay post from Tampa Comic-Con - just taking a break from all that photo editing!)