I Would Dye for You – Dyeable Formal Shoes

By Lori Ferraro

Remember the thrill of being asked to a school dance or formal? Whether it was homecoming, a winter formal or the grand pappy of them all – senior prom – the preparation and planning that went into the big night was almost as exciting as the event itself.

There was one hugely important detail to consider – THE DRESS. Gunne Sax? Jessica McClintock? An original handmade number ala Andie in Pretty in Pink?

Then there were the other important details – hair, nails, make up, hosiery, jewelry and . . .

80s dyed prom shoes      80s dyed formal shoes


The majority of the girls at any 80s school dance wore shoes that were dyed to specifically match their special dress.

Why go with plain old black when you could have your shoes be all matchy-matchy, like, the exact same color as your dress?

Alli of Like Totally 80s dyed her shoes to match her dress

You would buy a pair of satin, plain cream/white colored heels (or “pumps” as we always called them) at the mall in the formal dress section or at a bridal shop. Then you’d take them somewhere and wait patiently for the magic to happen. The company that had this market cornered was Dyeables, and they appear to still be in the business of dyeing shoes. What’s more, they still offer the exact same model I wore several time, apparently called the Abbey.

Of course I took advantage of this service more than once through an alterations shop that my mom used to go to. We’d bring the boring, plain shoes in along with a piece of fabric from my dress and a week later the shoes were reborn, in a new bright color like peacock green or hot pink! So much better!!!

Once I remember I couldn’t get my shoes in on time, so I had little clip on bows dyed the same green as my dress to adorn my opera length gloves and shoes. Because I was all classy like that:

Lori had little bows to accentuate her gloves and shoes dyed green to match her dress

My friend Jocelyn had the bows on her shoes dyed blue too:

Jocelyn dyed bows for her shoes too

And although the photo is a bit blurry, you can see my friend Sara went full on blue:

Sara dyed her shoes blue to match her dress

Even the shoes that went with my epic senior prom dress were that classic “prom pump” that we had dyed black. Because I’m not just going to buy a pair of black shoes you guys. The shoes were of course accented with rhinestone clip on thingies.

Lori wearing her black dyed prom shoes

I’m guessing this tradition only lives on due to 80s themed prom parties or for the occasional unfortunate bridesmaid. Looking back through old photos I gotta say I think it was great. I adore those loud, jewel-toned, primary-colored pumps.

Because black shoes were boring; unless they are cream colored shoes that were dyed black, then they were totally awesome.

80s dyed formal shoes (photo credit: Heidi Schulz)
Photo Credit: Heidi Schulz

Author: Lori Ferraro

Lori is a writer and actor living in Portland, OR. Her website, Drawn to the 80s, is where her 5 year old draws the greatest music hits of the 1980s. She is a blogger for The Huffington Post and her own blog, Once Upon a Product, is where she writes about important things like beauty products, music, her obsession with Mick Jagger and of course...the 80s.

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  1. Hello,
    I love this website and your information on the 80’s prom. We are having a dinner auction fundraiser for our Happy Valley Elementary School (Portland Oregon) this April. It will be our 9th year! Our theme this year is 80’s prom…. We don’t want to decorate with “80’s neon things for centerpieces, but want it to feel like a real 8o’s prom. majority of parents are in their 40’s, so we all know the 80’s and love it!

    Do you have any ideas for centerpieces? We want to make a wrist corsage for people to buy when they get there. We will have a picture area also to make money for the school too. We have a silent and live auction. Any ideas would help???

    Or if you know of any business or people that would like to get their name out in the portland area and would like to get involved I would love to talk to them.

    Thank you,
    Katy Drinkwater

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  1. The 80s Prom Dress | Like Totally 80s - […] Surprisingly it wasn’t big and brassy; it had little silver polka-dots on the top and bottom. My shoes were …

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