Oh, What A Difference A Few Shades Makes…

Oh, What A Difference A Few Shades Makes…

blue suede tassel loafers

I have had this pair of navy suede tassel loafers from Suitsupply for over a year and I love them dearly.  However, I have not worn them in almost half a year because the sole was way too light of a brown and created too much contrast with the upper (see to the left).  This made the shoes often difficult to wear and particularly hard to pair with a suit.  I knew this when I bought the shoes and had planned on darkening the sole since I acquired them.  Luckily Andrew Wrigley was nice enough to offer his services.  So after a year of procrastination and delay the shoes have reached their full glory!

The procedure is quite simple.  I guess the process is something along the lines of some type of shoe repair and how to dye your shoe soles.  First, the outside edge of the sole is lightly sanded (1st photo), this allows the leather of the welt and sole to better absorb the dye.  Next, the leather dye is applied only to the outside edge and top of the welt and sole (2nd photo).  That is followed by rubbing the dye in with a wood block (3rd photo).  The final step (not pictured) is to apply a thin coat of wax polish to the dyed areas, this will help restore some of the shine to the sole and welt.  Although Andrew is experienced in making shoes I think this is a simple enough operation that it could be carried out by someone with little to no experience in shoe repair.  Just make sure you have the right tools on hand and that you practice on something with the brush and dye to familiarize yourself with those things (the dye will stain anything it touches so keep that in mind!).  Or you could just take the shoes to your local cobbler or perhaps even the shoe shine stand.

The resulting shoe, in my opinion, is a much more wearable and elegant shoe.  A shoe that has now been added to the regular rotation.  Victory.

Wear liberally,


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  1. Actually, you can just use the cheap liquid quick polish sold at most mall shoe shops nowadays. I always scuff up the outer edge of the sole and welt and you the underlying natural leather color. I just apply the cheap stuff along the edge with the built-in sponge applicator, applying 2-3 coats (allow 5mins between coats to dry) and it works like a charm. My method works on both the leather sole edge, welt and the wooden heel as well.

  2. Hey FYG–

    I want to dye a pair of tan Cole Haan Lenox Hills, which have a roughened, low-gloss finish that I think will readily absorb the dye. I’ll use Fiebing’s, of course, but what’s the difference between cordovan, maroon, and burgundy, which are all from the same part of the spectrum? I’ve seen some color charts on the web, but they were mostly low resolution. Plus, the original tan will affect the application somewhat. What do you advise?

    • Tim,
      To be honest, I do not have experience with all of those colors. Nor am I an expert on this topic. But I will share a few things from my experience which will hopefully help.
      -always start with lighter shades and then move to darker.
      -the tan will have an effect on the final color, the color will appear darker than if used on something that was white.
      -let things dry before applying a second or third coat, the color may darken or lighten upon drying.
      -once you start your cant remove the dye, that stuff is STRONG. So only do it if you are sure.
      -it is a fun and rewarding thing if done right.
      I hope this helps, let me know how it goes.