Our Glass Slipper Story: Cinderella

Cinderella = Glass Slippers.  There isn’t a whole lot you can do to avoid them.  The question is . . what exactly does a glass slipper LOOK like?  And where do you get one?  And how important are they?

The easiest answer is to google glass slippers, and you come up with a couple of options for vinyl pumps.  The most common kind has a cute vinyl butterfly on the front.

commercial glass slippers

These run in the $35ish range, plus shipping.  I ordered a pair about 3 months before show date.  I was going to be PREPARED.  No last minute shoe deal for THIS Costume Coordinator.

From here, our Glass Slipper Story is a comedy of errors .  . . but in the end, hopefully I can give some insight that will help in your shoe decision-making.

The pair of vinyl shoes we ordered ran small.  I had seen these used in a production and thought they were unimpressive, especially as the cast member wasn’t wearing tights or hose, and so was trying to squish her sweaty feet into these shoes.  Squished toes just aren’t very magical looking.  But I ordered them anyway because . . . they are glass slippers, and Cinderella needs them, right?

And now our Comedy begins:  in the process of trying to stretch the shoes out during a rehearsal (and two weeks before our first show) the back seam ripped out.


This was one of those communication breakdowns.  I had ordered the shoes three months before the show, and the cast member said they were tight, but she thought they could be stretched out, since we would have to go up a whole shoe size if we reordered.  I thought that with the vinyl material, using a heat gun or blow dryer to soften them, and then stretching them with thick socks seemed like a reasonable plan . . besides which . . . we had plenty of time.  Unfortunately, in the hubub of the Christmas Holidays, they got buried under some ball gowns.  Out of sight . . . out of mind, until I found them about three weeks before the show.  Not the timeline for messing with glass slippers I had been planning on . . .  . but . . . . it was what it was.

So, vinyl shoes out . . . now what?

I really had it in my head that glass shoes should glitter and sparkle.  I was actually sort of obsessed by that, and that obsession shaped my shoe adventures.

Back in December  (when I still had glass slippers in my brain) and was considering  possible back-up options for the vinyl shoes, I came across these sparkle dance shoes on eBay.

glitter shoes on ebay

I was looking for an excuse to order some for sizing purposes, and my daughter and I decided they would be fun for Charlotte and her shoe throwing scene.  We ordered a pair in hot pink.

The shoes are pretty cheap, but, what do you expect for $20?  They held up just fine for the show, and she thought they were comfortable.  They have a mock buckle that hooks.  They also showed up fairly well onstage, but that could be as much the color as anything else.  While pretty, I would not say they “sparkled”.

glitter character shoes

Unfortunately, by the time we had our Cinderella shoe problem, it was too late to order any similar ones as they take up to 3 weeks for delivery.

I had a pair of silver glitter pumps which were a little too big for the cast member playing Cinderella but she thought they would work for the scenes other than the Ball:

commercial glitter pump


We decided to try to cover a pair of character shoes that we had in silver glitter HTV (heat transfer vinyl) to supplement the pumps . . . thinking she could wear the pumps for the Transformation, when she was running away, and the shoe-trying-on scene and the shoes with straps for the Ball.

character shoes and silver glitter heat transfer vinyl sheet

The HTV idea actually worked reasonably well, and the vinyl lasted through dress rehearsals and the shows (although it needs a little reheating in a few places now).  The vinyl was cut in strips and ironed on to the shoes with a small craft iron.

It took about two hours per shoe, but they turned out pretty good.  The glitter HTV will stick to itself which helped with the process.  My daughter used strips to mold around the curved shape of the shoe.

finished shoe

Unfortunately, under Cinderella’s skirts . . . the light never hits the shoes, so they don’t glitter.

So . . .  those silver pumps that were a little too large?  While we originally thought these would work, as time went on it became apparent Cinderella was going to break an ankle wearing them–which is decidedly un-magical.  I tried adding straps to the shoes using KamSnaps–but the shoes were too thick and I didn’t have any of the extended length snaps.  I tried slitting the sides and threading straps/velcro through, but it didn’t help and looked decidedly un-Princesslike.

We were now in dress rehearsal week . . .and no glass slippers.

At this point,  I figured we could cover a different pair of shoes in modge podge and glitter.  My kids have done this, and it works reasonably well, although it is time consuming, and take several days to do it as you have to put on several layers and then seal the glitter.

shoe covered in modge podge and glitter

We could also HTV another pair of pumps if we could find someone with four hours of free time to get it done and a pair of pumps that fit.

I have since seen these shoes at a thrift store which might be something to try–even in clear iridescent sequins?  If a person had time this would be an interesting technique, and not very expensive.

shoes I saw at a thrift store, blined with sequins

I also considered using modge-podge to glue silver sequin fabric to a pair of shoes.  I had done this for some of the girls in “Grease” for the Beauty School Drop-out scene.  It is time-consuming, but works.  It would work best on a light colored pair of shoes as the base color shows through the fabric a bit.

As luck would have it, on my second thrift store stop I found a pair of silver metallic pumps in the right size!  Finally!  Something worked right!

I embellished thesewith some crystals:

I used a combination of Swarovski 30SS crystals and some from the Rhinestone Guy.  For the money, I like these crystals a lot.  I glued them on the shoes with E6000 glue.

I wanted the shoes to glitter, and I knew they would be seen from the top and sides.  So, I put quite a few crystals on.  I put the best quality ones on the top, and the others around edges and along the sides.

Remember my comedy of errors comment . . it got worse:  You may note one shoe is missing quite a few gems.  So . . .on the 2nd day of the show, there was a “party” for kids.  The kids came to the stage area and could sit in the carriage, etc.  Cinderellas shoe had been left in an access hallway off the stage, as she left it behind as she ran to do a fast change.  We believe some small child found it, and went and sat in the auditorium seats and played with it/picked gems off.  Why do we think that?  Because 45ish” before the show, as she went to preset the shoes in the carriage, the shoe was nowhere to be found.  We TORE backstage apart, and eventually she just used the character shoes.  After the show was over, while cleaning seats, the shoe was found stuck down in one of the auditorium seats toward the back of the main floor seating.  Moral of the story:  if small children will be around the set–hide the shoes!

Back to the glitter . . . despite lots of gems, and good quality gems (the same gems used in the feather hairpieces  Gabrielle and Charlotte wore which glittered quite nicely), the shoes didn’t glitter.  Why?  The light never hit them.  Here they are under the spot light on an otherwise somewhat darkly lit stage.

no light, no glitter

Then, when trying the shoe on the eligible young women, the  Prince holds his hands over most of the shoe and under this lighting, it didn’t glitter.

Prince covers up most of the shoe

Cinderella wore the blinged shoes two other time:  running from the Ball & the Banquet., and during the pink/gold dress transformation.

When she runs away from the Ball and the Banquet the spotlights are on the characters, and the shoes are incidental.

Her shoes were visible more in the pink/gold dress scene (here the HTV shoes), but they didn’t sparkle, even when she had the gemmed ones on.


In Conclusion:

So . . . after this, what did I learn?  Well, despite that fact that Glass Slippers seem really important for Cinderella . . they are not.  If you can coordinate with your cast members and with the lighting person to “display” them at some point, it might be worth going to the effort of trying to make something really pretty.

We had the shoes preset in the carriage, and the footman brought them out and put them on her feet.  He could possibly have held them up to show her, and in the light of her spotlight, they might have glittered and given that all-important first impression.

Otherwise, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time and money on the shoes.  They spend most of their time in the dark, under her dress, and are really incidental to the whole show.  The oohs! and aahs! come from the transformations, not the shoes.

Cinderella also ends the show in a wedding dress.  At this point, for us, between running away from the Banquet out for a fast costume change, and the Prince keeping one shoe, the shoes were on the opposite sides of the stage.

Regardless of what you try, I think it is almost impossible to know what they will do onstage until you have your lighting plot set and wear them with costumes . . at which point, time is such that you don’t have much wiggle room for options (at least in my world of high school theater).

If I had known then what I know now, I would have stressed much less over these crazy shoes, and spent a whole lot less time and money trying to create something special.

Hope this helps!


2 thoughts on “Our Glass Slipper Story: Cinderella

  1. I agree! We did use the clear shoes with the butterfly for our production and they survived long enough to get through a week of tech rehearsals and a week of shows, but I know they started ripping at some point and we taped them back together with clear packing tape. Our actress also said they were not comfortable. In retrospect, there was nothing that ever drew attention to those shoes and they were never really important. I think we all have an image in our head of glass slippers and we accept that is what is on Cinderella’s feet. As long as your Cinderella is wearing something in the clear/silver range I think it will be just fine.


  2. Pingback: “Cinderella” (Broadway Version): Dressing Ella, Part 4 (Ball Gown) | costumecrazed

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