Monday, July 23, 2018

Mission accomplished: purple sandals

Last summer's end, I retired two pairs of purple sandals. Both were glitter-coated and in pretty sorry shape (one of them was 4 years old or more, and you know how glitter holds up over the years), so I wasn't too sad to see them go. The only problem was, they were my only purple sandals, and now I had none! By this point in my fashion-collecting career, I usually have at least one pair of each type (sandal, dress shoe, boot) in each color of the rainbow, for maximum accessorizing power. So having no purple sandals was a huge blow to my outfit-planning ability!

I wasn't too worried; I had all fall, winter, and spring to find a pair while the sandal-shopping is cheap. But I didn't. I kept my eyes peeled, but apparently purple sandals are a scarcer commodity than I imagined, because by the time of my summer wardrobe switch, I was still suffering a purple shortage.

I decided I would have to get crafty.

At the 50%-off Memorial Day thrift store sale, I bought a pair of white sandals for $2.75 (at that price, I could toss them straight into the garbage and not suffer much loss, so I didn't worry about ruining them in my attempt to change their color), figuring I would dye them purple. I specifically selected this pair for their textured straps, guessing that the striations would hide any inconsistencies in the dye application.

To protect the parts of the shoes I didn't want to dye, I masked the soles with some bits of plastic I had lying around.
The parts that touched the straps got covered with clear packaging tape.

I squeezed a dollop of semi-permanent hair dye into a cup. [Aside: why am I always using hair dye to color my shoes? It's mainly because I am always dyeing my hair, so I always have hair dye on hand. Why pay for a specialized shoe dye (is there even such a thing?) when you can use the stuff you already have?]

Then I used a paint brush to coat the straps with the dye. I tried to brush it on as thickly and smoothly as possible, and then I did a second coat, in order to decrease the likelihood of bare patches.

I then let the shoes sit overnight.

The next afternoon, I rinsed the shoes in the sink and removed my protective patches of tape.

I had been expecting the worst, but I actually got a pretty uniform color! It was a little paler than I'd hoped, but no worse than I'd expected, considering that I had started with a fairly non-porous glossy white surface.

Unfortunately, the hue ended up being a little too bluish to work with most of my purple clothes. I decided to dye them a second time, this time with a more magenta shade (and blue masking tape because I remembered I had some of that!)

After that second dye job, and numerous failed attempts at pairing the newly colored sandals with an outfit, I decided the color was still too bluish and too intense to go with most of my clothes. I gave them a third dye bath, in the "pretty flamingo" dye that I was using (heavily watered down) on my hair last fall. The hue runs strongly to the orange, which I hoped would cancel out the blue tones in the shoes, making them more pastel and less Day-Glo. I left the dye on for a couple hours, until it looked like it had mostly dried out.

I'm still not certain how much of an effect this last dye application had, since I dyed both sandals at the same time so couldn't do a side-by-side comparison. They still weren't quite the hue I'd been hoping for, but I decided they were as good as they were going to get. 
I found a skirt that looked decent with them, made an outfit, and wore them all together last Thursday! Even if I never wear these shoes again, they got one day of solid use—and for a $2.75 experiment that solves an almost-year-old problem, I'm willing to call that a success.

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