Dye it Yourself – How I Dyed a Pair of Shoes

Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes you own and fancied dyeing them? Well dear readers, that is precisely what I did! In this blog post, I explore and share with you my experiences of dyeing a pair of shoes, using Tarrago Self Shine Colour Dye in Metallic High Silver.

One of the advantages of having a craft as a hobby (or in my case, a passion), is that it gives you the freedom to look at things and think ‘hey, I could have a go at that’. Sometimes, this mentality doesn’t always work out as planned. And of course, there are limits.

However, this mentality can open up many doors to new possibilities – to create items that are truly what you want and need. For the past few months, I have been trying to find the perfect pair of silver shoes to wear on my upcoming wedding day. My first port of call was of course Hotter, but the shade of silver in current & upcoming collections sadly wasn’t quite right for me. I then took a trip up to London to pop in to Revival Retro to try on the Remix Balboa in Silver. Whilst I absolutely loved the colour and the style, they just didn’t fit correctly. I was assured that they would stretch to fit my feet, but I just kept thinking what a prize idiot I would feel getting home and telling Kieren I had spent the best part of £200 on a pair of shoes that didn’t fit!

Juliette by Hotter Shoes.

The shoes I had stashed to one side as my intended wedding shoes, were the Juliette shoes by Hotter from a few seasons ago (see my original post here). I love the style, the heel height is comfortable – but I just couldn’t get past the tone of gold in them. So, I took matters into my own hands – and decided to dye them.

An online search on brands of shoe dye turned up Tarrago – who seem to be experts in the shoe dyeing field. They stock a mind boggling amount of colours, for both leather and suede shoes – including a nice selection of metallics.

Tarrago shoe dye.

*Before I begin – I just want to state this is how I dyed my shoes – but always READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND LABELS FOR YOURSELF and follow them very carefully!! This blog post is just my vague account of my own experience*

Step One – Remove the Existing Colour

Before picture. This was the shoes prior to any treatment or dye.

The first step (which I found was actually the worst) was to remove the original finish/dye on my chosen shoes. This felt horrible, as I had to literally use a green scouring pad to scrub at the leather. Even though it feels like you may be destroying your shoes, rest assured this is an important part of the process.

This is after applying the Preparer, and removing the original dye from the shoes.

The kit I bought comes with a Preparer; which is basically a chemical liquid to apply to a sponge sourer to then lift off the original finish. I say this was the worst part, for two reasons – 1). Scrubbing my shoes felt so wrong. 2). The Preparer chemical is nasty stuff, it has a strong odour and you must wear gloves (also, I just get a bit jumpy around chemicals in general – I actually had 2 pairs of gloves on throughout this stage!)

I was worried about how patchy the leather looked, but it didn’t seem to affect the finish.

Step Two – Painting around the Sole of the Shoes

After leaving the shoes for a little while so that the Preparer solution could dry/evaporate, I then used the actual dye to carefully paint around any fiddly parts. For example, the edge of the leather at the sole, the edges of the heel, and any parts that required delicacy.

Here you can see I painted around the edges of the shoes, at the sole.

Step Three – The Fun Part: Dyeing the Shoes

Dyeing the shoes.

After all the prep work and fiddly parts were done, I could then move on to actually dyeing my shoes! For this, I frequently stirred the dye bottle with a handy little brush (which comes with the pack), then used the brush to apply drops of dye to a mini sponge (also included with the pack).

After three coats of dye.

Next I gently rubbed the sponge with the dye over the shoes, until an even finish was achieved. I applied 3 coats, then left the shoes to dry out for around 4 hours. I then looked at them to assess whether I wanted to apply additional coats of dye, which I did. In total I applied 5 coats, achieving a finish I was pleased with.

The shade I used.

Step Four – Clean Up

After leaving the shoes to dry again overnight, I then returned to my handiwork the next morning. So, at this point I was really thrilled with the colour – but they definitely needed a bit of a tidy up.

Here you can see the dye on the rubber sole – not good.

This is the sole after I had used a cotton wool bud to remove the unwanted dye.

To remove the unwanted parts of dye from the heel, sole and other rubber parts, I used a cotton wool bud dipped in water. Simple as that. I gently rubbed at the dye, and it eventually came away from the rubber sections.

Step Five – Finished!

From gold to silver!

And ta-da, a pair of silver shoes! I am so pleased with the colour, and also really happy that I can wear these shoes on my wedding day. The fact that I have dyed them make them even more special and unique, and I know I will look back on the dyeing process and it will be another memory connected to my wedding.

The finished result, pictured on their original Hotter Shoes box.


Am I happy with the outcome? Absolutely!

Would I buy a pair of shoes purely with the intention to dye them? Probably not. As you may have gathered, the whole process took maybe a day and a half. Even though the bulk of that time is drying time, it is a lengthy process.

Would I dye a pair of shoes again if they needed to be a particular shade? Yes, I think I would. As I mentioned, I definitely wouldn’t go out buying natural/beige shoes just with the intention to dye them. But, if I needed to dye a pair of shoes for a special occasion, then I would go through the process again.

Also, this wasn’t a drastic colour change – I was going from one metallic to another, so I’m not sure how stronger shades (for example) blue to red would work out.

Have you dyed a pair of shoes? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments! This was my very first time using shoe dye, so I am curious to hear additional experiences.

Until next time dears!



Reproduction Vintage Hats with The Heritage Milliner

I really believe that accessories can go a long way to making an outfit complete. Hats have the power to elevate an outfit, providing that all important final flourish. Original vintage hats in good condition can sometimes be difficult to obtain, which is why reproduction hats are so appealing.

The Heritage Milliner is a UK based label, specialising in authentically styled women’s hats. Owner of the label Karen, produces hats based on vintage styles, with particular focus on the 1930s and 1940s.

As the owner of a few original vintage hats, I know how difficult it can be to find particular styles. Original pieces can sometimes be distorted out of shape, trims may be missing or damaged, and (usually the case with earlier styles of the 1920s); the fit may be extremely small. However, choosing a style of hat from the Heritage Milliner was a completely different experience for me. Firstly, Karen worked with me in order to decide on the style, main colour, trims, and any additional design details.

If you have an outfit or colour in mind that you would like to match – the Heritage Milliner can make that possible! I actually met Karen in ‘real life’, at the Festival of Vintage up in York. Whilst at the festival, I purchased a 1940s suit jacket in a lovely duck egg blue. I showed Karen the jacket, and decided that it would be so lovely to have a hat to match – so we designed a hat together! The end result is absolutely beautiful – but that is perhaps for another blog post a bit later on.

For this hat, I thought it would be a good idea to keep the trims minimal, and to stick to harmonising tones. The russet shade works beautifully with many colours – navy, as pictured, browns, yellows, greens, etc etc. I was tempted to go for a yellow hat (OF COURSE I WAS. I am obsessed with yellow after all), but I then thought it would be a better idea to go for a tone that I knew would work across the board.

This particular hat is called the Winnie style, fashioned from russet felt with brandy petersham trimming. As this style of hat is intended to perch on the head, there is elastic on the inside in order to secure it in place. I must admit, I was dubious about the elastic, as I have never really found it to be useful in my other hats. BUT – somehow Karen has figured out the perfect placement and length of the elastic to make it an excellent fit! I placed a hair grip either side of the elastic just to ensure it didn’t slip, and finished with a hat pin (which I purchased from Karen).

I highly recommend having a look at the Heritage Milliner’s website & store (details below). The quality of this hat and indeed the other hat I ordered are incredible. Currently, there are some styles ready-made available from the Heritage Milliner’s eBay store. For custom orders, allow 2-3 weeks. As I was unsure on what design or type of trimming I wanted for this hat & my other one, I let Karen decide to go ahead with whatever she thought would look best. Both hats look incredible, and – Karen encourages each customer to be unique and individual. This warms my heart, as part of the allure of true vintage is the level of uniqueness it affords. The Heritage Milliner allows customers to express their individual style & tastes – using high quality materials and techniques. I for one, shall definitely be placing more orders in the future!

The Heritage Milliner Details

  • Find the Heritage Milliner’s website here
  • eBay store here
  • Interview with Karen at 12mins.24secs in here (For mobile devices, view here instead)

Outfit Details

And lastly, I couldn’t resist including this picture of Kieren and I (the advantages of having a self-timer on the camera!) Kieren is wearing a beautifully tailored suit from Chester Cordite. Earlier in the year, we visited Chester Cordite’s HQ to sort out Kieren’s wedding suit. We were so impressed with the quality, cut and workmanship of the suits & shirts, that Kieren ordered this additional suit (the wedding suit has been squirreled away until the wedding!)

Disclaimer – the hat pictured and featured in this blog post I received in exchange for review purposes. The additional hat mentioned I purchased myself, and as mentioned, I’m sure I will be purchasing more in the future!

Until next time dears!