I became a convert to tie-dye in my later years.
The thought of becoming one with an exploding sun never appealed to me as a style option. Tie-dye is not one for subtlety, and the pairing of primary colors and a vertigo inducing concentric pattern was a little extra - even for someone like me.
The truth is anytime a pattern is made from rubber bands and the use of shirt crumpling, pleating and twisting, you’ve got tie-dye on your hands. Tie-dye doesn’t necessarily mean all of ROYGBIV are invited to the party; it can actually be done much more simply.
This new iteration of tie-dye focuses on blending two subtle colors instead and leaving plenty of untouched space in the fabric, resulting in fun that can be had be all while still looking like a self-possessed adult.
I understand, though, that the tie-dye conversion process can be slow – it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of personal styling. If the words tie and dye make your eyebrows arch and send your eyes rolling back into your head, fret not and let’s start in the shallow end.
Easing In: Ombre, Tie-dye’s Distant Cousin
There is nothing that will ease you into the world of tie-dye like an ombre. Ombre, also known as dip dyeing, color bleeding or gradated dyeing, is an effect achieved by hand dipping fabric in dye so that it gradually goes from light to dark. It can transition from one color to another with class and sophistication.
As you are ruminating on the potential of tie-dye in your wardrobe, let’s not make it any more difficult by introducing Avant Garde silhouettes. Instead, I have chosen a classic sheath dress as the perfect silhouette gateway for some dye exploration.
Its classic hem signals to the world that you are a self-possessed adult while the ombre suggests that there is still a bit of kick and spirit left in you. The classic silhouette ensures that the ombre will take center stage. While technically this dress goes from pastel green to emerald, you are in fact wearing four different colors in one piece. The gradual transition causes a blending affect that’s easy on the eyes.
The Midway Point: Mottled Tie-Dye Dress
Let’s take a step into deeper waters with this sheath dress. The transition from black to grey is more obvious than our prior ombre ensemble, yet the mottled effect of the tie dye is not jarring on the eyes. Mottled tie-dye is somewhat in between normal color blocking and the full-on tie-dye technique.
The key to playing with tie dye in your adult years is to keep the color gradients simplistic. The more contrasting the pattern of dye, the more you will want to call upon neutral colors like navy, black and olive. The mottled and marbling of the colors on this dress feels more like ethereal abstract art than a psychedelic rainbow. Finish this look with a pair of booties and prepare for an afternoon of adventures!
The Deep End: Tie-Dye Crop Top + Black Skirt
Our last look will use a heavy contrast black and white tie-dye crop as the diva of your stage. The contrast of this top is playful and not for the faint of heart, but it’s time to embrace your tie-dye destiny. And while you may be tempted to think of crop tops as a birthright for tweens, they can actually be integrated into your closet with a few classics. If you are curious about a crop but dread the idea of showcasing your midsection on a weekday afternoon, a high-waisted skirt can be pulled up to accommodate your needs.
To neutralize some of the flit and flare of this fun top, I finish the look with a high -aisted black skirt with black heels. I have intentionally kept the color palette turned way down to keep the tie-dye sophisticated and stylish without seeming too kid-like. Less is more in the world of stylish tie-dye.
Dying For Tempered Tie-Dye
When you tire of all that your closet offers and you are looking for a bit of tempered fun in your life, there is nothing that will fit the bill like tie-dye. Neutrals and mottled tie-dye blends will be your winning tickets, helping you reinvigorate the ho-hum wardrobe without disappearing into a psychedelic rainbow.
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