May 7, 2012

and green shoes to match

I'm not really much of a fashionista. I like clothes, don't get me wrong. And I try to look as if I put at least a smidgen of effort into getting dressed in the morning, but I'm not especially good at that all pulled together look. For one thing I've never been able, or had a strong desire, to spend a lot of money on clothes and for another, I don't have a really strong sense of my own personal style. It depends a lot on my mood. Sometimes I like girly, sometimes I like sleek, sometimes I like jeans and t-shirts (actually my default is jeans and a t-shirt. What can I say, I've been at home with my kids for ten years)

But living in New York has given me the opportunity to observe a lot of fashionable, and not so fashionable people on a daily basis. Who can forget the tights are not pants phase which, now that the weather is warming up, I have to tell you, is back. And while black is definitely the color of choice here - just check out the racks in the thrift stores with their acres of black pants, tops, sweaters and shoes and you'll see it's true - I've noticed a trend in the outfits I like as they pass on the street. The name of the game is coordination. Specifically shoes that match your jacket or sweater.

This is perfect for me because I love a good cardigan. I hate weather that makes layering uncomfortable because I feel strange in just a shirt. I want a cardigan or a sweater or a something over it. It's so ingrained that I regularly step out with a sweater on when it's way too hot to wear one and end up spending the day overheated. So this has become my new thing. Cardigans and matching flats. Because heels bother my ankles after a while and flip flops are disgusting in the city. Unless you like black grimy toes.

Being on a wife-of-a-grad-student budget means that I can't go crazy with this. I started with one set. In red. From Target. Which was cheap, but not cheap enough to add in multiples. But since then I've done some thrifting and TJ Maxxing and have gathered myself a few more cardigans and shoes. It's become a sort of a uniform, but I'm ok with that. Less thinking in the morning is always a good thing.

My favorite color is green and I've been on the hunt for a green duo for a while. I scored a sweater a few weeks ago but green must be out of style because there were no green flats to be found. At least not of the as cheap as possible while still being comfortable variety. So I decided to make some.

I found these canvas espadrille type flats on the clearance rack at Marshall's. Actually I found a blue stripy pair first and then when they turned out to be ridiculously comfy I went back and found the plain white ones.

Using masking tape, I blocked off the rubber sole, wrapping the edge around to cover where canvas meets rubber and smoothing it down with my fingernail.

I mixed up equal parts acrylic paint that matched my sweater and fabric medium. I'm really liking the new Martha Stewart mediums, they seem to do a good job and are easier to find than some of the other brands.

While I could have gone with just plain green, I wanted something a little more fun so I tried my hand at an ombre effect. Starting at the bottom edge, I brushed the green on, letting it fade out as I went up.
Once I'd painted around both shoes, I added a little more medium and some white paint to the mix to lighten up the color. This I painted on from the top edge down.

Before the lighter paint dried, I rubbed the shoes down with a damp paper towel to blend the colors where the paint meets. This way there is no "line" and the colors simply fade into one another. Once they were dry, I set the paint with some puffs of steam from the iron.

I'm hoping the paint holds up in the wash, we'll see in a few weeks when, inevitably, they will get grungy from walking all over the city. If not I suppose I can repaint them. Although so far my experience with using the fabric medium has been great, so I'm pretty sure they'll be in it for the long haul. Which is good, because I love them.

So now I'm set. With green shoes to match.