How to Colour a Belt

If you read my earlier post Care for Your Shoes Like a Pro (part 1) you’ll be pleased to hear that I found some olive green shoe polish. My local shoemakers weren’t able to help but I went online and found some olive Kiwi shoe cream on eBay. It was the seller’s last one.

There followed a nervous couple of days as I waited to see whether the polish matched the colour of my green brogues.

I needn’t have worried; the polish was a perfect match, a similar but just lighter shade of olive. It is important to use polish just lighter than the shade of your shoe. Otherwise you will darken the colour of the shoe over time as you polish them.

The price was slightly inflated at £4.89 for a 50ml pot.  If I were buying it from a shoemaker I would expect it to be about £3 so I suppose with postage included £4.89 is not bad.  My concern is how to get a second pot, after this one is finished.  So I’m already beginning to look for another, even though this one should last for months.  So job done on the olive shoe front.

However, finding a leather belt to go with these olive shoes was proving more challenging.  And then an idea started to form in my mind:  What if I bought a leather belt in a light colour and stained it using my new polish?  The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea.

I have no particular experience in this area but how difficult could it be? If I could find an inexpensive belt on which to try my little experiment even if it were an epic fail then I would not have lost very much.

Sainsbury’s had some leather belts on sale for £6.  However, I had a £4 voucher so it cost me only £2. You can’t argue with that, can you? The only downside was that the belt was a far lighter colour than I would have liked; it was white. So here’s how the belt was transformed from white to olive green.

  1. Working in a well ventilated area put down some old newspaper on the desk or counter top on which you will be working
  2. Borrow some nail polish remover from your wife/girlfriend/ significant other/daughter. If for some reason you have your own supply I really don’t wish to know why that is.
  3. Apply the nail polish remover to cotton wool or cleaning wipe and rub vigorously on the belt to lift the outer sealed layer of the leather. This will allow the stain to be better absorbed into the leather. In my case the nail polish remover happily also removed some of the white stain to the leather returning it to a slightly more neutral colour.
  4. Once you are happy that you have removed as much of the original stain and seal as desired, clean the leather ideally with some kind of leather cleaner or feeder. The acetone in the nail polish remover won’t do great things for the longevity of leather so wiping away any excess and replenishing the leather’s moisture is important. Allow to dry.
  5. Using a soft lint free cloth (an old sock would do) apply small amounts of shoe polish to the belt in a circular motion, allowing the colour to soak into the leather.  In my case it required several coats.
  6. To darken the colour a little and to counteract the underlying white stain I used tiny amounts of black scuff protector. This is effectively black liquid polish, which I advise you not to use on your shoes because it paints rather than polishes them. Here it is precisely that painting effect that I am after as I am hoping that it will seal the colour into the leather.  Using your cloth make sure you get an even coverage.  Leave to dry.
  7. Finally, buff to a shine with a horsehair shoe brush.  I then left the belt hanging in an open space for a few days before my first wearing so that the polish could dry fully. I didn’t want to discover that the first time I wore the belt the polish transferred to the waistband of my trousers.  Before the first wearing rub the belt using a light coloured cloth to make sure it is reasonably colour fast.
  8. Tah dah! One olive green belt that cost me the princely sum of £2 and around 20 minutes of my time.
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