Dyeing your own shoes sounds scary and medieval, but it's easier than you think. And once you've done it, you'll add the glow of personal achievement to your new-bride sparkle.
Buy at least one pair of sacrificial practice shoes. These should be cheap enough that you don’t mind messing up on them, but with fabric that’s the same or very close to the fabric on your real pair. Every different kind of cloth takes dye differently, so you won’t get a clear idea of your results unless you have a dummy pair that’s close to the real thing.
Match your dye to your fabric. Many dyes are designed to be compatible with certain kinds of fabrics, so check the labels carefully. It’s not a bad idea to bring your shoes to the store to make sure you have the right kind. While you’re there, the salesman may suggest using the services of their master dyer. Give it some thought, but don’t be intimidated into letting someone else dye your shoes if you want to give it a shot.
Check your lighting. Color is a reflection of light, which is why the same garment may look different in sunlight, incandescent light, and fluorescent light. If you’re most concerned about what your shoes look like as you’re dancing at your reception, find out what kind of lighting will be used at your venue and try to dye your shoes in similar lighting.
Read the instructions on the dye bottle. I know: It’s fun to just dive right in and see how it goes and instructions are boring. Read the instructions. They’ll tell you if you should just apply the dye as-is or if you should dilute it, and by how much, and whether your shoes should be dry or dunked in hot water first.
Prepare your shoes. Make sure they’re clean (and dry), and stuff some cloth or tissue paper into the toes to keep them form losing their shape.
Protect yourself. Unless you want to explain why your hands are that color to every last one of your wedding guests, wear gloves. You may want to put paper on your work surface, just in case.
Find your Zen. Dyeing is all about taking long, sure, smooth strokes. Lifting up and restarting can leave a darker line where two strokes meet. Relax, visualize yourself doing the job calmly and well, and then imagine your wedding guests complimenting you on your beautiful shoes. Remember: You and the dye and the shoes are one. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and begin. I am only sort of kidding about this step.
Apply the dye. Work from the back seam of the shoe to the front using fluid, gentle strokes. Use light coats – you can always make your shoes darker if they’re too light, but you can’t make them lighter again.
Dry with patience. Let your shoes dry naturally. Keep them away from heat and direct sunlight. You may visit them to give gentle words of encouragement, but that’s it.
Accept compliments with good grace. When your wedding guests find out that you dyed your gorgeous shoes yourself, they may think you’re magic or from outer space. You may let them, so long as you accept their accolades with sweet modesty.
Speaking of grace, get out there and do some dancing.