Black KSO Vibram Five Fingers in “Dress Mode” [modification]

Mod your black Vibram Five Fingers KSO model to be dressy with black slacks by using a marker to darken and cover up the yellow stitching and logo. Even more ninja now!

Tim Butterfield, who recently joined the Birthday Shoes Forums, has created a “dress mode” by modding his black KSO Vibram Five Fingers. Tim explains:

For the dress mode, I made a simple modification. I took a fine black Sharpie marker to the yellow logo on the top, the side, and to the top of the yellow padding in the back. The shiny logo thread of the top logo doesn’t blend entirely, but it is much less noticeable than before. The side logo has a slight gloss, but almost disappears. The black on the top of the yellow padding fades over time, but is still an improvement and is partially hidden by the back strap anyway. …

In the one picture, I am wearing some black Injinji performance crew socks. Though wearable, they are a tight fit. For a few hours it is fine. But, after a full day, they get uncomfortable. I’m going to check out some Feelmax toe socks to see if they are a thinner. Still, they do seem to be dress mode capable. And, in the rare case than anyone does notice and mention them, I wear them for health reasons. 😉

Tim’s “dressy” KSOs are one of two pairs he owns. His other pair, which I can only assume he considers casual, are blue camo classics (as he noted in the forums).

Are “dress mode” modded fivefingers enough to meet business casual standards? Maybe so. And like Tim, you can always say you’re wearing them for health reasons!

The Black KSO fivefingers modded to dress mode by Tim Butterfield
Tim originally posted these photos to his flickr page here.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

13 replies on “Black KSO Vibram Five Fingers in “Dress Mode” [modification]”

I just wanted to post an update. When I inquired of Feelmax about socks for this application, they forwarded my inquiry to Kris of, a US retailer. For their thinnest sock, he recommended the basic black and the charcoal models. I ordered both and have now received them. They are made with a thinner, stretchier material than the Injinji and, so far, seem more comfortable to wear with my KSOs.

I suppose you could get a pair of thin dress socks and just cut off the toe section.

I just got my KSOs 2 days ago. I already find it a little odd to have something between my toes. I can’t imagine trying to wear a toe sock, too!

I wear vibrams all of the time in a similar way. I size my vibrams with socks on, and I never wear them w/o Injinji’s. I will occasionally wear a cowboy boot or a work boot if I’m building something, but the rest of the time, its KSOs.

So, in working at several large companies, the usual dress code statement is “Thou Shalt Wear Closed Toed Footwear.” Vibrams fit the bill. Each toe is enclosed. They are not a sandal. They are a performance running shoe.

Currently, I am working at a fair-sized Northeastern-based printing device manufacturing company (very well established in the Fortune 500, they are a verb for photocopying). I wear VFFs to work everyday. Meetings, lab work, whatever. No hassles, nothing.

I’ve noticed the trend that people who wear their VFFs to work daily feel the need to compulsively include that they work in a very liberal work environment. With the three pieces of information at the end of the first paragraph, arm yourself and wear them to stodgy old Corporate America.

It’s interesting to hear that I wasn’t the only person that took a black marker to the yellow Vibram logo on the top of my KSOs to make them a little stealthier.

However, since I wear VFFs for everything I’ve just picked up a pair of KSO Treks in black to complement my KSOs and Classics. The Treks come with “dress mode” built in; no external logos and 100% black with beautiful kangaroo suede uppers. Perfect for wearing to work or anywhere else.

Vibram now has the MOC (for men) and Performa (for women) that are intended for mostly-indoor use. They have an open top like the Classic and Sprint, vs the closed KSO. Anyone have a pair or seen them in action? They might be better suited for wearing to work!

I just purchased my first pair of grey KSO and love them, of course. But I do want to do a classier look and I’m debating between getting another pair of KSOs in black and do the “black marker” mod on the Vibram embroidery or I’m looking at the Mocs. Any suggestions?


I’d actually go with Black KSO Treks for dressy. This is because the extra structure on the Treks mixed with the svelte suede makes them pass off as a nice, if not eccentric, shoe — comparatively, the mocs look a nice, but eccentric, sock. A subtle distinction, for sure, but it does make an aesthetic difference.

Plus for an extra $15 you get a much more useful VFF — just my .02!


The logo on the left toe is just some thread stitched on there with some reinforcing material on the back. No glue. You can cut it off completely using a razor blade with no damage to the shoe, eliminating the need for the sharpie mod. Cutting from the front or back works, but working from the back went much faster than the front for me.

The logos on the side are also glued on and can be removed with a razor blade. You need to be pretty careful how you cut but if you get a good start you can peal most of it off with your fingers. You can get the logos on the side of the Flows off, too.

Here are one of my pairs of KSOs with the top logo removed.

@ Andrews – I have the mods and they are very thin. I don’t see how they could be worn for walking any distance on concrete. I use them around the house.

If your company lets you wear these to work then you really need to reevaluate the company you work for and career path. Seriously. I understand wearing these shoes for athletic purposes but to WORK? Come on! I’m sorry but you look stupid.


If fully blacked-out toe shoes would put your continued employment or future advancement at risk … then I hate to say it, but you are probably as replaceable as your shoes.

I’ve worried about getting “toe shoes” awhile now, because all most all of them are “brightly colored” and just look odd. Suddenly I found myself in horrible pain switching from sandals to boots and gave up on the OMG factor and got the dark gray/green Men’s Classic. LOVE THEM, although I do wish they didn’t have the green toes, but so far no issues at work. I do plan on a soild black Classic or KSO, just so no one should be able to complain – the points of 1) not a flip flop, 2) my toes are covered, 3) they don’t fall off and 4) if I go on ship check, I can wear boots if I have too. The company let me have my Balance Ball chair, these are also “health” based.

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