Invisible Shoes

Jack Frost invisible shoes

unretouched photo of invisible Jack Frost shoes at a convention

I’ve had a surprising number of questions about the invisible shoes that I made for my Jack Frost costume.  So, by request, here’s a step-by-step tutorial!

Many popular costumes call for bare feet (Jack Frost, L, Toph, Medusa, Radical Edward and Inuyasha, to name a few) — but running around barefoot can be unsafe and is forbidden by many venue policies. These “invisible” shoes will keep your feet safely off the floor without spoiling the barefooted look of your costume. Best of all, they’re easy to make and cost only a few dollars!


  • transparent PVC insoles
  • mesh fabric
  • needle & thread
  • markers, paint, fabric dye or makeup in your skin tone

The soles of your shoes will be flexible clear PVC insoles. These thin, flat shoe inserts are commonly found at discount or dollar stores (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Family Dollar, et al.) for one or two dollars. If you want something fancier like gel-filled, shaped, or padded supports, you can pick up name-brand insoles at a big box store like Target or Walmart, but those usually cost between $10 and $20. (If you don’t have a discount store in your area, you can usually find the lower-end insoles for around $4 on eBay.)

Here are a few of the $1 options at my local Dollar Tree:

PVC insoles

I opted for the “massaging insoles,” which have little nubs on the bottom, because I wanted my shoes to have good traction. Note that you will need to buy a size larger than you normally wear in shoes, as you want the sole of your invisible shoe to be big enough to cover your whole footprint. (Since I have fairly large feet for a woman, this means I had to buy the men’s insoles. If you have smaller feet, you can trim them to fit if necessary.)

I recommend a mesh fabric for the straps because the open weave breaks up the light hitting it, making it less visible, and the uneven edges are less obvious than a smooth strap across your foot. This is the fabric I used (primarily because I already had a scrap lying around), but any kind of mesh should work:

mesh fabric

Sizing the Straps

To begin, cut strips of mesh for the straps. Each shoe has two straps – one that loops over a toe, and one that wraps over the top of the foot. The toe strap will be between 1/2″ and 1″ wide, depending on what is comfortable for you, and about 3″ to 4″ long (you will trim it to fit). The foot strap will be 1 1/2″ to 2″ wide, and about 10″ to 12″ long, depending on the size of your feet. For reference, this is roughly where the straps will be placed on the insole when you’re finished:

clear shoes

To figure the length of each strap, you’ll need to size it on your foot. (Do this separately for each foot, since your dominant foot is most likely larger than your other foot.) Place your foot on the insole, positioning it so it’s comfortable to stand on and your toes aren’t hanging off the edge. Tuck the strap on either side of the toe you want to support the shoe (I put the strap around the second toe, where it’s less visible than the big toe). Make sure it isn’t pinching the toe, and leave room to wiggle your toe in and out of the strap. When you’re happy with the placement, mark the strap where it hits the insole, and also mark that spot on the insole so you know where to attach the strap. Add about a half inch to each end of that measurement (for seam allowance) and trim the strap.

toe strap

toe strap

Next, size the foot strap. This strap should start at the outside ball of your foot, wrap over the top of the foot at an angle, and curve back under the arch to the middle of the insole, just in front of the heel. It should fit snugly so the shoe won’t flop around when you walk, but have just enough room to slide on and off the foot. Mark this strap and trim it as before, leaving at least a half inch on either end for sewing.

foot strap

foot strap

Coloring the Mesh

In order to be invisible, the strap needs to match your skin as closely as possible. You can buy flesh-tone fabric if you can find one that matches your skin, but if the skin of your feet is lighter or darker than standard dancewear beige, you’re probably better off coloring the fabric to match.

It can be tricky to get fabric dye to exactly match skin tones, so I used alcohol-based markers to color my fabric (Copic and Prismacolor are available in a variety of flesh tones, and are available at most arts and crafts stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby). You can also use any kind of flexible fabric paint, or acrylic paint mixed with a fabric painting medium. On some types of fabric, you could also use makeup such as a liquid foundation, but keep in mind that if your feet get wet or you want to wash the shoes, you may need to reapply it.

coloring strap

coloring the strap

Building the Shoe

Now that the fabric is colored, attach the straps to the insoles where you’ve marked them. Fold each end of the strap over so you have about 1/4” doubled. (If your fabric is very fragile, you may want to fold the end over again to make it 1/8” quadrupled, to reinforce the stitching.) Using neutral or flesh-colored thread, carefully sew the doubled ends of the strap to the insole where you marked it.

sewing strap

sewing the strap

Some insoles are already perforated for ventilation, so you can stitch through the existing holes; if yours is not, or if you need to add another hole, use a large needle, push pin or awl to poke a hole through the plastic. Try to use as few holes as possible and leave at least 1/8″ of space between them, to avoid weakening the plastic.

poking hole

poking hole

…And that’s it!

Once your straps are attached, try on the shoe to double-check fit and comfort. Make sure there are no lumps of fabric that will cause blisters if you wear it all day, particularly under the heel.

completed shoe

Pro tip:  Some insoles are more flexible than others. If your shoe is too floppy, you can use a couple of strips of double-stick fashion tape or other skin-safe adhesive to stick it directly to your foot. This is especially useful if you plan to be very active or doing a lot of action posing that might put undue stress on the straps.

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  1. Thank you so much! This is so helpful!!!!

  2. Do you have any recommendations for a similar technique if you want the SOLES to be visible, but not the straps. I have a cosplay I’m considering putting together that requires that.

  3. Wow! Such a creative idea! I never would have thought of something like this. Kudos 🙂

  4. This is pure genius! or witchcraft…. Either way I can’t wait to use this for my Princess Aurora cosplay!

  5. I can never find liquid based makeup or anything that’s flesh tone colored that matches my skin when used on the mesh. I figured out an alternative that worked for me so far by using some tulle that’s in ivory. It holds on nicely and needs less coloring than mesh.

    Also, you saved me BIG TIME on five costumes that I have and I was seriously in need of this for a new cosplay that I’m making as well as my future Bellena cosplay from the game “Skies of Arcadia”. ^_^ Thank you SO~ much! <3

  6. My mom told me she used to do something like this in the 70’s

  7. This is a great tip! Thank you! I’m so gonna make these for my L cosplay ^^

  8. Hi, your tutorial is great, could I have permission to publish it in our newsletter for the Australian Costume Guild, I am editor.

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I don’t know what I would have done without it. I just finished making a pair for my Radical Edward cosplay and they turned out perfect. I used tulle and it turned out completely invisible. I just want to add one thing though: do not buy the insoles made for high heels. They’re made to be smaller to fit into the shoes, and have a shorter instep because of the heel. I wear a size 5.5 and I bought a size 9 (only ones they had) and my toes hung off a solid inch. I also accidentally bought peel and stick ones, so that was a problem too…

  10. add some wig hair to the top of the mesh and you’re a hobbit.

  11. I’ve got a costume I’m working on that I was hoping to make something like this but my toe would be covered. How could I go about making the straps work if my feet are covered?

    • As long as you have two points of contact with your foot, the soles should be stable. If your toes are covered, you can add a second strap over the ball of your foot or even around the back of your heel. Experiment by taping the straps in place and test-walking to find the best placement.

  12. Hey ok so I must be really stupid but I can’t find the insoles anywhere I checked dollar tree but I can’t seem to find anything….. Any ideas?

    • Try other discount stores and pharmacies. I have seen the cheapest ones for sale at Dollar Tree and Dollar General, and Target, Walmart and CVS have slightly more expensive versions. They are also available on eBay and, though you’ll have to pay shipping for those.

  13. I found a link to this on tumblr a long time ago and now I’m super excited to actually try it this year with my Persephone Halloween costume! Thanks so much 🙂

  14. This is great! I searched how to make invisible shoes without actually expecting to find something. Now my daughter’s Wilma Flintstone costume will be even more perfect! Thank you!

  15. Would these be recommended for use outdoors? Walking on gravel or other pathways of that sort.

    • I’ve used mine on many surfaces, indoors and out, but obviously if you’re on a rough or unstable substrate like gravel you’ll want to exercise reasonable caution (as you would with any loose footwear, such as flip-flops). The PVC soles hold up well, but it’s easy to stub your toes or catch a rock between your foot and the sole if you’re not careful.
      Alena recently posted…nullMy Profile

  16. Wow! Thank you I want to dress up as Tarzan and he doesn’t ware shoes.

  17. I was considering using this for my Jack cosplay, and I was wondering if you are able to wear the shoes more than once. Since they’re made out of unaoles I’m just worried about how quickly they break/wear out

    • I’ve worn mine to several conventions with no trouble. I did have to repair a strap once (the stitching came loose while I was running in them, which I wouldn’t recommend), but the soles are still in great condition. I’d guess they’ll take about as much wear as the average pair of cheap flip-flops.
      Alena recently posted…Quick and Easy Superhero/Sailor Senshi BootsMy Profile

  18. Hey, cool tutorial! I was just curious as to why you chose to sew the straps over the foot on an angle instead of straight across? Would it still work if you had them straight across the top of the foot? 🙂

  19. i keep looking online for these everywhere and i simply cannot find them. nor can i find them at any walmart or CVS or walgreens, its like they went out of production or something! can you ploease tell me the specific brand it was made from? if you still have the wrapping that is. the brand the queue, any numbers on the back associated with the product, the specific type and title and name of the product and who made it, if you could give me any of that information that would be wonderful and id appreciate it very much!

  20. This is a great article. I read it a few months ago and still wasn’t able to find the right mesh. Do you know of a online store which sells this kind of mesh? I’d really appreciate that…

  21. Where do you find those insoles?! I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find any. they’re all too small, or they don’t have clear.

    • I think Dollar Tree might have discontinued them because I can’t find those particular ones anywhere. Also hard to find anything like this in larger men’s sizes. Men’s shoes are typically not too picky about clear insoles…

  22. Wouldn’t your feet hurt after a while? When I go to a con I usually stay for around 12 hours. That’s a lot of walking and I don’t want my feet to hurt too bad! I’m cosplaying a character who doesn’t wear shoes and I want to do this but would you still recommend it if I was walking around for that long?

    • I regularly wear my invisible shoes for 12+ hours, and while I’m usually tired and footsore at the end of the day, I’m not in any more pain than I would be if I were wearing normal shoes and standing for that long. They’re actually far easier on my feet than something loose like flip-flops. I’m careful about what substrates I walk on (if I have the option to walk on carpet instead of concrete, for example, I’ll detour to do so). It helps that the insoles I’m using have the shaped nubs on the bottom, which absorbs some impact and provides good traction.
      Alena recently posted…Quick and Easy Superhero/Sailor Senshi BootsMy Profile

  23. Thank you a bunch! I really wanna cosplay L from Death Note, and this should help me a bunch!

  24. I’ve been looking size 13 clear transparent PVC insoles but all I can find is blue ones

  25. Where could I find the mesh fabric?

  26. I’m using these for a Kaneki cosplay and an L cosplay, thanks so much for the great tutorial :3

  27. This will be perfect for my rapunzel cosplay ???

  28. Would these be okay to dance in I want to cosplay Esmeralda from the hunchback of notre dame but I want to be able to dance and run etc in them

    • For dancing, I’d suggest using some fashion tape or skin-safe adhesive to keep them from flopping or twisting off your feet.
      Alena recently posted…Kung FuryMy Profile

  29. Fabulous. I’ll be using this for my Kida from Atlantis costume

  30. this going to help me so much with my jack frost cosplay. I was so bummed thinking id have to wear shoes and take away from the look of jack. I bet I’m gonna get questions on it haha

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