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!


Hotter Shoes Style Series – Wiltshire Shoes for a 1940s Style

In my final Hotter shoes style series piece for this season, I style the Wiltshire shoes to suit a 1940s casual look.

Whilst I do thoroughly enjoy putting in extra effort in my attire for specific events, my daily attire tends to lean towards the casual end of the vintage spectrum. As mentioned in my previous post, I like to be able to actually wear, enjoy and move freely in my vintage (or vintage inspired) clothing, as such it is important for me to feel comfortable.

As soon as I saw these fabulous Wiltshire shoes by Hotter, I knew they would be perfectly suited to a 1940s casual summertime inspired look. The colour, T-bar style and low heel all immediately evoke summertime picnics, bicycle rides along sun dappled lanes, and countryside strolls in the long summer evenings.

I decided to style the Wiltshire shoes with a casual yet nicely fitted cardigan jacket which I actually found in the sale section from Collectif. The cut of the cardigan appealed to me, and I was even more impressed upon consulting the care label to see it was 100% cotton. I teamed the cardigan jacket with a late 1940s style skirt by the Seamstress of Bloomsbury. I just adore the print and colours in this skirt, so bright and joyful!

To finish the look, I added a vintage straw hat which I have had for a few years. The original trimming and ribbon on the hat was very damaged and worn, so I replaced both the flowers and ribbon for those that you can see here in the pictures.

As with all the shoes I own from Hotter, the Wiltshire are very comfortable to wear. I am really looking forward to wearing these in the summer, perhaps for those bicycle rides/countryside strolls and picnics I mentioned!

As this is my final Style Series piece for this season of Hotter Shoes, I would like to say a big thank you to the team at Hotter Shoes for this opportunity. And of course, thank you to you for reading!

To read more about the Wiltshire shoes, and to see some of my historical references when putting together this outfit, see my full article over on the Hotter Shoes Blog; It’s a Shoe Thing here.

Outfit Details

To view my previous Style Series posts for Hotter Shoes, check out this category here.

Until next time dears!