• Image about Ann Roth

Last week, UPS delivered a pair of shoes that I had ordered online. But these were no ordinary shoes. These were shoes I had designed myself.


Lately, there's been a constant buzz about all the cool websites where you can design your own [fill in the blank here]. Naturally, I decided to join the masses and test the waters.

The first thing I discovered: The options are endless, from customizing a pair of jeans (www.tailormade-jeanswear.com) to creating the ultimate party dress (www.dressbydesign.com). I, though, needed a new pair of shoes for the summer, so I opted to create a kicky pair of espadrilles through Ann Roth (www.annroth.net/). Being that the site belongs to an independent, Atlanta-based designer, it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles that a lot of custom-order websites like Nike (www.nikeid.com) and Lands' End (www.landsend.com) do, but after filling out a quick questionnaire - there's even a shoe personality quiz, in case you're having trouble deciding - I was able to convey my desired style of shoe, type and color of fabric, and even the material that would tie around the ankle. Roth processed the information, and a few days later, I received an e-mail with several sample designs. I chose a dapper pair with a mod paisley fabric at the toe and two different coordinating ribbons for the tie. My one-of-a-kind Chocolate Mint (so dubbed by Roth) shoes won several fans on a recent outing, and at $140, they didn't cost any more than what a similar pair of designer sandals would. And they fit like a dream - which is, in fact, one of the major advantages of these create-your-own sites.

Take MakeYourOwnJeans.com, for example, where the first step is to input a series of measurements - a move that ensures you will end up with a perfect fit, whether you've got a long waist, big hips, or short legs. Runners and other athletes especially appreciate being able to custom-fit their footwear, a service offered through not only Nike but Adidas (www.miadidas.com) and Converse (www.converse.com). Imagine: no more blisters!

But the real fun is in creating your own custom apparel, clicking away between choices like short sleeves or long, stripes or solids, cotton or silk, and buttons or zippers. And there are sites out there for just about anything - whether you're wanting pieces for a weekend hiking trip (www.beyondclothing.com) or a Monday-morning business meeting (www.makeyourownsuits.com). There's even a site where you can design your own prom dress (www.promgirl.com) and your own underwear (www.dtclothes.com). Personally, I think I'll stick with shoes for now.