How to Give Boots a Vintage Old Look

by Tabitha Harwell ; Updated September 28, 2017

Transform a pair of new leather boots to look vintage. Images

Finding a pair of vintage, worn leather boots is a rare treasure. It typically takes several years for leather to fade and become vintage naturally. Thankfully, creating a faux vintage look is uncomplicated with the right tools. Look around your home for items to use that will add a worn, faded appearance to leather. After distressing the boots, the result is a vintage style that looks like it took years of wear to achieve. Remember to spray the boots with a protective sealant, if they look vintage or not.

Items you will need

  • Newspapers
  • Baseball
  • Tube sock
  • Hammer
  • Cotton rag
  • Spray bottle
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 tbsp. rubbing alcohol
  • Fine-grain sandpaper
  • Shoe polish
  • Leather protectant spray
Step 1

Stuff your boots with several crumpled newspapers. Push the newspapers into the toes of the boots and up the leg of the boot until it's filled. This protects the interior of the boot as you create a vintage exterior.

Step 2

Slide an old baseball inside of a tube sock. Lay the boots on a hard, flat surface and beat the boots with the sock and baseball combination. Hit each side of the boot 10 times with the sock baseball. Feel the leather to determine if it's soft enough. If not, hit the sides in increments of 10 until you reach the desired look. This won't work on pleather boots, only real leather.

Step 3

Soften up the boots more by wrapping the end of a hammer in a cotton rag. Beat it against the boot. Gentle hammer swings to the boot are the best way to soften the leather. Four or five hits against each side are sufficient.

Step 4

Fill a spray bottle with 2 cups water and 5 tbsp. rubbing alcohol. Agitate the mixture and spray directly onto the leather. Work the alcohol mixture into the leather with your hands.

Step 5

Apply a fine-grain sandpaper to the leather. Press down gently while crossing the surface of the leather. The sandpaper combined with the wet leather will cause the leather to distress. Work the sandpaper along the leg of the boot, the crease where the ankle meets the foot and the toe of the boot.

Avoid pressing hard because it could cut the leather. Work the sandpaper over the leather to gain the desired look.

Step 6

Rub a small amount of shoe polish in tan or black over the leather. Tan polish works well on black or dark brown boots because it creates a faded appearance. Black polish looks best on tan or lighter colored boots to give the illusion of a worn look. Rub the polish in circles as you apply. Wipe the polish off immediately with a wet rag. The rag works the polish into any scratches or crevices created by the sandpaper.

Step 7

Wait for the boots to dry thoroughly. Spray a leather protectant over the boots to seal the faded look into the boots and protect against water.


  • Use a heavier sandpaper grit on the boots to gain a more distressed, rugged appearance.


  • Avoid soaking boots in water to soften them.

Photo Credits

  • Images

About the Author

Tabitha Harwell has been writing since 2008, with articles appearing in local publications and various websites. Her background includes a career in the fashion and beauty industry. Harwell holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations.