How to Make 50s DIY Rah Rahs

This is such an easy project…how to make 50s DIY rah rahs, so called because cheerleaders wore them when I was in school. Also called saddle oxfords, which were popular shoe-wear in the 40s and 50’s, with another run in the late 60’s. Sixth grade along came penny loafers and I was dying to have a pair.


Unfortunately, I had to wear corrective shoes all through school. “I don’t care how much my feet hurt, Mama,” I begged, but she was heartless adamant. No penny loafers. Actually, the dreaded corrective shoes looked exactly like rah rahs, which I wore EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of my life. Teased unmercifully about them for years, but back in style, girls wistfully asked where I got them! I couldn’t care less whether they were in style. I loathed them.


make 50s DIY rah rahs
Gettin’ the 50’s Look


Fast forward about 50 years, and now I wanted rah-rahs, to wear to a 50’s Square Dance, and disliking shopping, I hoped to forego the hunt for special shoes. Cheapskate me didn’t want to buy new shoes, or take the time to look for them. Surely there was a better way!


Remember how we all had to look the same in high school? I probably wouldn’t have been caught dead in these then…GASP! But with a little age and maturity, it doesn’t matter. (wink wink) Now you will be lauded for your cleverness! I always get compliments when I wear them. They could be used to complete a Halloween costume on a budget. Now these do look a little different on close inspection, but for me comfort won over style. As Mama used to say, “you can’t tell the difference on a galloping horse.”


make 50s diy rah rahs



Make 50’s DIY Rah Rahs


Materials: black felt, hole punch, scissors or pinking shears, hot glue.


*Find a cheap pair of white tennis shoes. Generic cheapies at Wal-Mart will do just fine.


*Sheets of black felt, which usually come in 8″ x 11″ sizes. 2-3 ought to do it.


*Hold up the felt to the side of your shoes, deciding how much of a black covering YOU want, cut to fit. I used pinking shears for cutting, which helped simulate the oxford look. Then a hole puncher to line up holes with your shoe laces. I also cut a strip for the back of heel area.


*Hot glue the felt onto your shoes.



But how do you dance in these???


Good question because when dancing, it’s important to glide. Tennis shoes grip the floor, but I had a brilliant idea for that. Cut another piece of felt for the ball area of the bottom of your shoe. Glue that on & glide away!


TIP: The first time I tried the felt, I glued it to the entire bottom of the shoe…MISTAKE! When I stood up, I was like Bambi on ice!! Not a good idea.


make 50s diy rah rahs
You will glide on the floor


The felt on bottom of shoe lasts longer if you change into your shoes when you get inside rather than walking across a parking lot. I found the felt lasts through about 2-3 dances, then I have to glue more down. It’s a temporary fix, but it works!


I hate it, but my square dancing days are over. I encourage you to try it though! For us, it was one of the most fun activities around, …great for mind and body!


make 50s diy rah rahs
Mickey and Minnie Mouse Square Dancers





I can’t find my photo of us in 50’s attire, but here we are at a special square dance honoring Disney characters.


How about a Halloween costume? It looks close enough to how you see Mickey and Minnie Mouse dress!











make 50s diy rah rahs




32 comments on How to Make 50s DIY Rah Rahs

  1. How clever! 😀 Really, I would never have thought of that. Or I don’t think I would have. Last Halloween I covered a pair of shoes in yellow felt for my Mickey Mouse feet, so I might have been able to think it up. Maybe.

    So sorry the dancing days are over. 🙁 Things change whether we give them permission or not.

    (Hey, you should go back and mention Halloween costume in that post a few times.)

    1. What a great idea Wanda! About doing some Halloween keywords. I’ll do that. I think I’ve seen that pic of you as Mickey Mouse. It looked so similar to the get-up I made for Gary. I covered his shoes with yellow felt too!!

  2. I had to wear corrective shoes, too, back in the early 60s. I wonder if I really needed to, or what that a “thing”. Anyway, I remember wearing Saddle Shoes (black and white), but we also wore Smokey Joes (brown and tan). Since we seemed to wear them only in elementary school, I don’t think we were teased. I have never been a dancer, so I won’t need the hints you posted, but you did a wonderful job in coming up with something you could use!

  3. You guys are so cute. And how clever to make the shoes look like saddle shoes. That is what I called them. That would have been great to do when I had to dress up for Halloween when I was working. Sorry you aren’t dancing now but you can still dress up in your Rah Rah shoes when handing out candy.

  4. How fun! I love these shoes. Bring lots of memories. We wore them as cheerleaders in high school. Wish I had my originals! Thanks for sharing your clever idea with SYC.

  5. I had very narrow feet and had to wear old lady shoes from Old Maine Trotters. I did have one pair of loafers with fringed flaps – very popular in junior high. I never had a pair of saddle oxfords. I was so happy in the late 1960’s when granny shoes became all the rage. My lace up high top black oxfords (like my Granny’s!) were in style.

  6. Florence, I jumped over to meet you and thanks for your lovely comments. I loved this story. I had my precious pair of rah-rahs hen I was in junior high school, so thanks for the memories. I admit this was a very creative solution to have your saddle oxfords without having to buy them! Have a wonderful weekend, Pam @ Everyday Living

  7. Florence this is such a clever idea. I love what you have done here, but even more I love that picture of you and the mister in your costumes. Are those not also called saddle shoes? I remember having a pair wen I was a kid and had to use them for cheerleading. I hope you are well and on the road to recovery! Hugs!!

    1. Yes they are called saddle shoes, or saddle oxfords, as I’ve always heard. Did you enjoy wearing them for cheerleading? Aww, thanks for the comment on us as Minnie & Mickey! We loved doing that! I made my skirt and bow, and converted his shorts, shoes, and our gloves. And then our noses are done with special grease paint. One’s nose never itches so much until you can’t scratch it…LOL!

  8. This is such a cute idea! I went through several pair of these shoes as I was growing up! The vintage photo reminded me of old photos of me and my sister. Thanks for this fun post!

  9. Florence, what a great idea! I would have been stumped. But until you really look closely these look like the real deal. I hate to say, but I had these in grade school, I loved them! But I feel for you. Having to wear them is not nearly so fun as choosing them. I’m glad you got to have a bit of fun with these now that you’re older! The Mickey and Minnie costumes are so cool! I bet you had a great time dancing the night away!

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