Thursday, March 6, 2014

DIY Ombre/Gradient Shoes

Spring is right around the corner and it's time to start thinking about flowers blooming, birds chirping, and the sun shining!... as soon as you finish shoveling your driveways, that is. Here in L.A., I'm ready to start thinking pastels, florals, and of course anything with an ombre effect. So when I saw this post on Frankie, I knew I could do it myself and save a lot of money in the process (go to Etsy and type in "ombre shoes" and I guarantee you'll find some for $80 and up!)

All you need is:

1. A clear pair of shoes
2. Fabric dye
3. A washcloth you're not afraid to dye in the process
4. Baking powder
5. An old toothbrush
6. Vaseline
7. A container to hold the water/dye mixture
8. Rubber gloves (optional)

To get started, first coat Vaseline around the bottom of your shoes. It doesn't need to be thick, just enough to act as a barrier between the shoe and the dye.

Next, combine your dye, water, and salt. I didn't have enough table salt so I tried using kosher salt... which resulted in a bunch of salt at the bottom of the container. I recommend following the instructions on your dye packet and you should be set. Don't worry if the color isn't what you're going for, it'll turn out a different color once it's on the shoes.

After you've created your dye, wet your shoes entirely so the dye can be evenly applied.

Dip the tips of the shoes into the dye and slowly take them out. Keep dipping more and more of the shoes until you've covered what you like.

With your washcloth or rag, start to rub the color down the sides of the shoes to create the ombre effect.

If you're still seeing lines, dip your washcloth into the dye and use that to smooth out the color.

Let the shoes dry for 5 minutes before running them under water. Once the water is running clear, the post recommends you let them dry overnight before doing anything else. However, I'm impatient. So I took a blow dryer to them and 10 minutes later, they were good enough.

Place the baking powder on the bottom of the shoes where the Vaseline was and using your old toothbrush, scrub away the Vaseline. Use a paper towel to wipe away the excess.

Lace up your shoes and you're all set!

I think I might re-dye them because after they dried, the ombre effect wasn't as vibrant as I had hoped but I'm still happy with the results!

TOTAL COSTS: About $20
$17.99 for shoes at Payless (but they were buy one, get one half off)
$2.50 for dye from Michael's
Vaseline, toothbrush, rag, and baking powder all on hand

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: About 1 hour, 30 minutes
However, they do recommend you wait overnight before taking off the Vaseline!

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 3 out of 5
It's not easy to get the ombre effect without getting blotches or streaks but if you rub them out long enough, you should get the look you're going for! Happy (almost) Spring!


  1. Ooh, Easter Egg shoes!!
    I'm on board with that!

    1. I recommend letting them dry overnight vs. using the blow dryer. The color lightens up a lot so if you want to redye, it's better to do it while the Vaseline is still on so you don't have to reapply! :)