I Recolor (Dye) My Second-Hand Suede Shoes

When thrift shopping for shoes, it is quite common to find shoes you like in a color you don’t. The chocolate brown suede shoes shown above did not start out that way. They were originally in a pale grey color seen below that reminds me of something a game show host in the 70s would wear. Loved the shoes, hated the color. To fix that little dilemma, I decided to recolor (dye) my second-hand suede shoes.

suede Thrift Shop Shoes
Suede Thrift Shop Shoes

This second-hand pair of Robert Wayne suede shoes cost me only $9.00 on Poshmark.com in like new condition. Perhaps the original owner realized how hard it is to get shoes this color to work well in a modern wardrobe. I know I did. I wore them once and retired them to the back of my closet. If only they were in a nicer color …

Recolor Dye Suede Shoes
My recolored (dyed) second-hand suede shoes. From light grey to chocolate brown.

Let’s make it happen! I purchased a bottle of Fiebing’s Leather Dye in Chocolate Brown. After a good brushing with a suede brush to remove all dust from the suede, I applied two coats of dye and let it dry overnight. The transformation is very much to my liking. Because the stitching is either polyester or nylon, it resisted the dye, adding a nice contrast to the dark chocolate color. One 4 oz. bottle of Fiebing’s dye was enough for the application of two coats with a tiny bit left for any touchups. Easy-peasy!

Fiebing's Leather Dye
Fiebing’s Leather Dye

My Tips for Dyeing Shoes

First of all, wear waterproof gloves that you don’t mind staining. This dye will stain your hands. Also, cover the area where you are dyeing your shoes with both paper and plastic sheets to prevent any spills from staining the surface below. Finally, make sure that the bottle is secured so that it will not tip over. When dipping the applicator into the bottle it is very easy to knock it over. You really don’t want that! Applying the dye to the shoes is really the easiest part of the process. Stuff the shoes with newspaper or shoe trees to keep their shape during the dyeing process. Two coats should give you even, solid coverage on most suede shoes (going from a lighter to darker color).

Try it!

This is a great way to customize high-quality second-hand shoes that may not be the perfect color. I will be dyeing a pair of calfskin leather shoes in an upcoming post. Because I thrift shop for high-quality clothing, learning how to maintain, alter, and repair my apparel and shoes keeps costs to the absolute minimun while extending usability and wear. Besides, experimenting a bit with thrifted items will not break the bank. I hope you find this post useful! -SplurgeFrugal!