I’ve been on the fence regarding these boots for awhile because to me, they fall into what I call the “split personality” category: where something looks totally different from the front as it does from the back or the side.  These shoes look so chic from the front – but from the side I always felt the heel was a bit too low and clunky-chunky.  I just wasn’t into the shape of it – but still wanted a pair of open-front booties for the warmer months of summer.

I was planning on doing a DIY of this style by just buying a pair of boots which had the pieces anchoring the laces separated a bit, with a single piece of material as the toe-box and tongue.  (All you would need to do is cut out the tongue and toe box, leaving the sides and laces intact.)  But even I’m a sucker for a cheat – if there’s an easier way to do something, I’m all for it!

Enter Forever 21‘s Lace-Up Sandal Heels.  As soon as I saw them, I knew they would be perfect – as the only DIY’ing that needs to be done is eyelet punching.  Yay for simplicity!  I bought them and then set them on my “DIY’s to Do” desk and left them there for a bit while I was too sick to really bother about making things.  In the meantime, The Look 4 Less answered a reader question who was searching for an alternative to those Ann D’s with a recommend for the exact same Forever 21’s I had snagged.  (Cripes, I’ve searched for over an hour on their site to find the post, but can’t.  Sorry!) Well, I’ve been beat to the punch but it finally provided the kick in the pants I needed to do the DIY for these iconic shoes.  Very simple (but your hands will hurt afterwards!)

You Need:

*Forever 21 Lace-Up Sandal Heels
*rotary leather punch
*a pack of small silver-tone 1/4″ eyelets (if you can get 2-part grommets, so much the better!  I couldn’t find them at my local Jo-Ann’s…Jo-Ann’s = argggggh!)
*eyelet/grommet setter (I used setting pliers)
*small scissors


1. Remove laces from the shoes.

Using the rotary leather punch, punch holes in the shoe leather about 1/4″ from the edge, where each ribbon lacing anchor is located.  I used the second-largest punch on the rotary.

As you can see, the punch doesn’t go all the way through the leather in most cases.  (I also then applied the punch from the inside of the shoe for each hole.)

2.  Use the small scissors to cut out all the extraneous material that wasn’t punched out of the holes by your pliers – there’s a couple layers to go through, including the outer vinyl, inner lining vinyl, ribbon ends, glue, and in some cases, the inner buckram stiffener, and usually, the pliers can’t handle it.

3. Use the scissors like an awl, and twist them back and forth in the holes to stretch the holes a little larger.

4. Use the scissors to cut off the protruding ribbon ends – what the Forever 21 boots used as lacing anchors for their laces.

5. Set the eyelets (or grommets!) in each hole.  Since the eyelet plier setter is a sucky piece of equipment, and the eyelets are equally sucky, I had to go back in with pliers and press down the backs where the eyelets split, leaving jagged metal edges.  If you’re using better-quality tools and eyelets (i.e., not Dritz brand) you probably won’t have this problem.

6. Thread the laces through the eyelets in a zig-zag pattern.

Wear proudly!  They’re pretty darn good doppelgangers, and the heel is now a little more tapered and chic.


Not feeling very photogenic today.
Boots worn with Norma Kamali All in One Jersey dress and DIY’d sheer tights.
DIY gray pedicure from this post.

And Lil Tot was so enamored with them that he wanted to pose wearing them as well.

Not sure why his pants are undone.  He doesn’t seem to like pants much, considering that the few times I’ve shared his photo on this blog he’s pantless.

Appeals to all ages!

P.S. And if I never have to spell “Demeulemeester” again, I will be one happy lady.;-)  That, and if I could just get Lil Tot to wear pants done-up for a photo op.



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