In my youth, I remember the homemade process of wearable art: tie-dye. After filling basins with dye, I would dip my rubber-banded, twisted, looped-up T-shirts, socks, purses, headbands — you name it — into the colorful solutions, then wait impatiently for them to dry, then be washed, then dry again. Still, my creations never looked as professional as I hoped (but they never looked manufactured either, which I did not want).
Now, somehow wearing tie-dye feels unprofessional and far too casual. And I suppose the bold combination of colors is a tad overwhelming for my taste. When I began to see tie-dye popping up on the runways — and in turn, on the shelves — I was skeptical; however, after seeing the cool color combinations of the Michael Kors Resort 2009 Collection, I was convinced: Tie-dye can be chic.
Just shop this trend with caution. Follow these guidelines to pick out your perfect tie-dye fashion item:
• Embrace more feminine shapes that incorporate tie-dye. Flowing, ethereal fabrics provide easy movement and draw attention gradually down the length of your body, elongating your frame.
• Look for simply dyed pieces, not every color in the rainbow. Dip-dyed items in variations of one color look classy (for example, a beige, pink or coral dress that is brightest at the hemline and fades into more subtle colors).
• Silk pieces dyed in simple, clean colors provide sharp lines, and the sheen of the fabric beautifully highlights each color variant.
• Don't buy tie-dyed clothing with patches or graphics if you are going for a dressed-up look.
• Look for an edgier tie-dye that is not so much ’60s love-and-peace but more boho chic.
• Pair your tie-dyed pieces with simple clothing. Too many patterns thrown together will give you a busy, hectic look. Wear a dyed top with trousers or jeans and gladiator sandals. Also, don't wear more than one tie-dyed piece at once (unless they are very subtle and spread apart). Wear simple jewelry and accessories that don't distract from the fun, tie-dye pattern in your outfit.
• Do try the new tie-dyed jeans look, but again, keep the other pieces plain. A monochrome gray or white tank top, bangles and heels would be perfect for a night out.
Check out American Apparel's tie-dye collection. Leggings and T-shirt dresses all have been dyed for a super-hip look.
Roberto Cavalli has a brilliant Key West silk tie-dye caftan. Kimichi Blue makes a tie-dye clutch with natural colors — the perfect envelope clutch. Brian Atwood's Ontario tie-dyed boots are fabulous. (Their slouched look physically blends matching the aesthetic of blended colors in the fabric.)
The tie-dye trend is flattering and young in subtle colors. For more ideas, check out Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Christian Lacroix and Moshino.