I lust after Louboutins as much any other shoe lover. That bright red sole makes an instantly recognizable statement. Some styles are little too much for my taste, but others are absolutely timeless. Most people say Louboutins are incredibly uncomfortable, and that’s not an exaggeration—super high heels and narrow pointed toes are not for everyone. But there are actually some comfortable styles out there, you just need to find what fits well on your foot. You’ll know as soon as you slip on the perfect pair because they’ll put a spring in your step!
Most of us can’t drop a few hundred on a new pair of shoes just for the red sole, especially since it wears out anyway. Doesn’t really seem worth it, does it? But for those who want that iconic look and can’t pay full price, don’t give up—I have spotted many gems on eBay, Poshmark, Tradesy, and Mercari. And now I’m going to show you how I restored a pair of Louboutins that I snagged on eBay.
Luckily, the pair of Suzanna flats I found online was just slightly used—the uppers were hardly wrinkled and the wear on the soles was minor. They were totally fine to wear when they finally arrived in my hands, but I felt that they’d be a perfect DIY project to write about.
WHAT TO GET
Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, available at any pharmacy or supermarket.
Sandpaper, a variety pack with assorted levels of grit is best.
Paintbrushes. You can use what you’re comfortable with, but I recommend picking up a couple at the art store that are specific for acrylic paint. I’m a painter, so I have a lot of brushes laying around and I went with a size 0 round brush and a 10/0 fan brush for this project.
Painter’s tape. Make sure it’s labeled as “clean release” or “safe release” because you don’t want to damage the leather on your shoes. Be careful using this on suede—I’m not sure how strongly it sticks because I’ve only used it on leather so test out a small pieces first.
Walk on Red bottom coat paint, which you can find on Amazon. Not all Louboutin soles are the same shade of red, but this particular paint has a lot of great reviews. Another way to get a perfect match is to create your own acrylic blend, but only do this if you’re comfortable and knowledgable with paint.
High gloss top coat, also available on Amazon. This will give you that lacquered look.
Black acrylic leather paint, optional for touching up black trim (if your soles have it).
WHAT TO DO
Before you start anything, make sure you’re absolutely sure you want to do this to your Louboutin shoes. If you have any doubts about the condition of your shoes or your skill with a brush, please go your local cobbler or leather expert instead! (If you’re in the DC area, I recommend Bedo’s Leatherworks.)
Step 1: Carefully tape off the upper part of your shoes around the area of the sole that you’ll be painting—you don’t want to get any of the paint on the rest of your shoe. I just did the edges, but if you think you might get messy, tape up the entire shoe!
Step 2: Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and vigorously clean the soles of your shoes. You’ll want to get as much of the dirty and residue off as possible. Don’t worry if the cotton ball turns red, you’ll be adding paint back onto the soles anyway.
Step 3: Use your sandpaper (or nail file if you don’t have sandpaper) to buff the worn areas of the sole using small circular motions. Doing this will peel off any of the original lacquer that’s not well-attached to the leather. It will also give you a smoother surface to paint on. A nail file works fine for smaller areas, but if you’re redoing the entire sole, a larger sheet of sandpaper is better.
Step 4: Paint! Using the small round brush, fill in all the areas that are missing color. Or, if you like, go over the entire sole. Immediately after you’ve gotten the first coat on, use the fan brush to softly blend everything together for a smooth surface. Don’t worry if the red color looks a bit different than the original, it actually matches nicely when dry. Also, the Walk on Red paint is quite thin, so you will need a couple coats to completely cover the soles. I did three, and I waited 10 minutes between each coat before applying the next. Once I painted the third layer, I waited another 30 minutes for the paint to be nice and dry. If you applied more than 3 layers, you might want to wait longer.
Step 5: After the red paint dries, you’ll notice it looks a little matte and not glossy like original Louboutin soles. Good thing we got that high gloss finish! Be careful with this; the consistency of this stuff is like milk, and a little goes a long way. Make sure you don’t drip all over the rest of your shoe! Using your fan brush (a sponge would work well too), put a few drops of the gloss on the shoe and brush it out in a thin and even coat over the entire sole. It dries fairly quickly, so spread it as as smoothly as you can. I painted two coats of the gloss on my pair of shoes.
Step 6: After the gloss feels dry to the touch (which took about 15 minutes with 2 coats), you can take your fine tip brush and carefully paint the black trim around the sole. If your hand isn’t very steady, you can skip this because it’s hardly noticeable. I’m a perfectionist though, so I went ahead and retouched the black trim around the entire shoe.
And you’re done! Now you’ve got yourself a beautiful pair of restored red soles. It’ll be tempting to put them on right away, but be patient and let them fully dry for at least 12 hours before you step out of the house wearing them. Questions, or maybe have your own tips? Share them in the comment area below!