My very picky guide to tie-dye for spring

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There are fewer aesthetic crimes worse than bad tie-dye, and there is so damn much of it out there too.  But there is also such a thing as good tie dye, and you can find it if you stick to a couple of rules, and locate pieces with no more than two colors on the same garment, and with mostly symmetrical patterns. This Claire V sweatshirt is such a good mood in an article of clothing.

This quilted jacket from Emerson Fry could be a pretty clutch transitional piece this spring.

 

I’d think this sleeveless tee from Raquel Allegra would be aces peeking out from under under a blazer.

Three stripes at the hem on this easy dress endow it with just the slightest hippie girl vibe.

I’d wear this cocoon dress with leggings and a shrunken leather jacket.

A cute tote with a winning sentiment.


Good American is a clothing brand that’s owned by a Kardashian so I want to dislike it, but the truth is, they consistently deliver wearable pieces at good prices and in a wide range of sizes. Like these leggings, in the most awesome mustard yellow.

 

I like how symmetrical the pattern is here.

This modal sweatshirt would be perfect for a workout-then-brunch situation, when that type of situation again exists.

This easy cotton dress is both a steal and seriously cute.

I dig the marigold yellow of this hoodie; there are also matching sweatpants.

I’d wear this sports bra for non-sporting activities, and let just a bit of it peek out from under my top.

There are more than two colors on this long-sleeved tee, which goes against my tie dye rules, but the colors are so faded out that they don’t overwhelm.

I’d wear this chic body-con dress with an oversized cardigan to camouflage all my chunkier bits.

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41 Thoughts on My very picky guide to tie-dye for spring
    themis
    11 Mar 2021
    12:25pm

    That first Eden dress is just the cutest. I picture it with a low belt, for a beachy vacation. Love shibori!

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    EssEff
    11 Mar 2021
    12:32pm

    If you’re looking for exceptional kid’s tie dye Ponytail Jackson on Etsy makes gorgeous creations. She also takes custom orders, is a pleasure to work with, and has a solid 5 star rating.
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/ponytailjackson/

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    Viajera
    11 Mar 2021
    1:09pm

    What a lovely post to look at! I like soooo many, esp the Raquel Allegra ones. Having said that, on occasion, I can still go for the multi-colored look, but just not if it is swirl pattern. I enjoy having bad taste! … … … … I have been meaning to try home dyeing. There is an online shop called dharmatrading I’ve been snooping for months. The customer service is good though – that, I already tried – and I bet they know what to do for stiffness. I don’t know the difference between shibori and -not, but I look forward to learning it.

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      Elaine Ess
      12 Mar 2021
      11:38am

      Dharma Trading is the absolute best! And agree, their customer service is amazing- when I couldn’t get a grey dye to work, an employee had a lengthy back-and-forth troubleshooting email chain with me. Go for it re: home dyeing! It is almost instant gratification- super satisfying! As for tie-dyeing vs. shibori… I’d say that tie-dye is a form of shibori, but not all shibori is tie-dye, as shibori can involve other methods of creating a resist (the place where the dye won’t penetrate), including stitched resists, pole-wrapping and folding/clamping to create geometric shapes, like in the Emerson Fry jacket above.

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        Viajera
        12 Mar 2021
        2:51pm

        Oh, thank you, I appreciate the pep talk!! I am eventually going to try it. I am just not sure how yet.

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    Candy
    11 Mar 2021
    1:21pm

    What a nice selection, color and price-wise. That comfy-looking gray-and-white Z Supply dress also comes in a pretty pale blue on the Z Supply site. (I look washed out in gray so I went hunting for another color choice, but appreciate the find, Kim.)
    Here’s the link:
    https://zsupplyclothing.com/collections/spring/products/reverie-spiral-tie-dye-dress?variant=33025999437924

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    Laura
    11 Mar 2021
    1:33pm

    I loathe tie-dye. It *always* seems cheap and childish to me. I strongly suspect that this is because of my age. I know that it’s very popular and has been for some time – to the point of it being a classic – but I hated it in college and have continued to do so into middle age. For what it’s worth, I was in college in the late 80’s/early 90’s. There was a Grateful Dead revival that was a huge deal at the time. I had friends that LOVED it, and I respect that. It just has never been my thing.

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      Annie
      11 Mar 2021
      1:44pm

      I feel exactly the same way, for the same reasons!

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      MaryAlice
      11 Mar 2021
      6:32pm

      I personally love tie-dye, but I get your drift. I feel the same way about camo – I have a very negative visceral reaction to it, for no good reason! For some reason to me camo looks cheap. Oh well, to each their own! 🙂

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        themis
        12 Mar 2021
        12:41pm

        I don’t hate camo, I find a lot of the prints pretty cute. I’ll never wear it, though, having been a military wife. I just know the instant ‘LOL, OK, poser-!’ reaction most who’ve served have when they see civilians wearing it. I’m sure for people who don’t know anyone who’s served, it just looks like a fashion print. Even outside of anything close to a stolen valor context – like hunting camo, I guess, or a very altered camo print – it still reads to me like someone is trying real hard to look tactical and I’m low-key embarrassed for them.

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          Viajera
          12 Mar 2021
          2:54pm

          themis – yes! Unless it is a bunny pattern. Somehow for me there is a bunny exception. And I really, really like those prints that are so abstract you can’t tell which if it’s camo or animal. Those are awesome.

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:34am

        I feel exactly the same way! Unless I was getting fully kitted out for a duck hunt or something (pretty darn unlikely…), just can’t get into as a pattern to wear in a non-military or hunting context!

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    Kelly Ann
    11 Mar 2021
    2:23pm

    Please, if you like the clothes just say so without additional shade; i.e., “Good American is a clothing brand that’s owned by a Kardashian so I want to dislike it.” Isn’t there enough pettiness out there?

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      Viajera
      11 Mar 2021
      6:40pm

      in answer to your question, it depends. ; ) … … … … I don’t have an issue with the Kardashians, and I admire their business sense, but otoh, I can see how it might bother someone that they are so much in the media. I kind of get sick of anything that feels pushed at me, even if at first it was welcome. And I doubt if they mind. No such thing as bad publicity. Plus, if someone can make jeans that don’t sag, all is forgiven. I looked and didn’t see my preferred wash in flare, so, booooo. … … … Good for you though for sticking up for civility. I have a bad habit of throwing popcorn at the screen.

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      Heather
      11 Mar 2021
      3:53pm

      In contrast, I laughed out loud at that line. I didn’t find it at all petty.

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        kimbersam
        14 Mar 2021
        6:04pm

        Me too! There’s also enough “we can’t ever, ever snark again because (over wokeness whatever)…..” out there as well. Regardless my favorite pair of cargo/joggers are Good American. They make nice stuff and they are size inclusive.

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    EW
    11 Mar 2021
    2:59pm

    I still have my tie dyes I bought at dead shows back in the daze…..

    But I also am eyeing some ‘tie dye’ crocs…I’m not going back to the office, so this is what passes for ‘work wear’ for me now 😉

    By the way, has anyone noticed that crocs come platforms? Why am I just now knowing this…

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    Sheilabird
    11 Mar 2021
    9:52am

    Many of these appear to be shibori, which is always so good!

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    cw
    11 Mar 2021
    10:49am

    Having been a teenager in the sixties I usually run in the other direction from tie-dye. As Sheilabird mentioned above, many of these have that shibori vibe which I do love. Excellent selection. I’d wear that body con dress in an instant if I dared wear anything body con again. Also those Phillip Lim platform sandals with the easy dress are adorable.

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    Mimi A.
    11 Mar 2021
    10:56am

    I like your rules!

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    Caroline
    11 Mar 2021
    10:57am

    I was bored the other day and had RIT dye and way too many Hanes t shirts lying around ,so I tie-dyed for the first time since high school. Easy and strangely satisfying.
    Only single colors though.. I’m not that advanced.

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      Liz
      11 Mar 2021
      12:05pm

      Same here. Last summer I went a little nuts and tie dyed half of my t-shirt collection. I only used single color, and only denim, black, and a natural tea dye. I realized RIT is not that great in terms of softness, though, and it made my soft, worn out shirts a bit stiff.

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    Elaine Ess
    11 Mar 2021
    12:16pm

    Hopefully this doesn’t run afoul of commenting rules, but if I may make a very shameless plug: I have just opened a shibori Etsy store from things I made over the past year of quarantine, I think most of what I’ve made falls within Ms. France’s criteria for good tie dye. Hard to go wrong with classic indigo and white color scheme associated with traditional Japanese shibori, it is my absolute favorite.
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/PetrichorTextileArts

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      Mamavalveeta03
      11 Mar 2021
      12:23pm

      Beautiful pieces, Elaine! It doesn’t bother me!

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:42am

        Thank you so Mamavalveeta03!

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      Viajera
      11 Mar 2021
      1:12pm

      I don’t know what the rule is, but bummer that I can’t fit into that gorgeous cardi!!! Wowsers. I was just needing a new rabbit hole…

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:43am

        Aww thank you so much Viajera! Right now I’m limited size-wise to natural fiber white or pale garments I can source from my local thrifts, but I definitely want to have a broader range of sizes going forward!

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      susanm
      11 Mar 2021
      9:47pm

      Elaine, I love these! And I bought the cardigan (https://www.etsy.com/listing/957431114/cashmere-indigo-dyed-shibori-cardigan?).. If it’s too small, I will gift it to my still tiny but pregnant daughter in law–who I will be able to see soon, since we are all getting vaccinated (except her, she doesn’t go out right now.)

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:46am

        Susan, thank you so much!! That absolutely made my night- I suspected you might be a GOACA’er 😉 I’d say it runs more on the M-L spectrum, fingers crossed it fits you, but lucky DIL if not.

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      susanm
      16 Mar 2021
      3:34pm

      I wanted to share that I ordered the cardigan from Elaine that many of you liked as a core piece for spring for me (white t, jeans), it came today, and I LOVE IT!!!!!!! elaine, here’s to your success, I am thrilled.

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      Kim France
      11 Mar 2021
      5:55pm

      Beautiful shop, Elaine!

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:47am

        Thank you so much Kim! That means a lot coming from you! <3

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      Rita
      11 Mar 2021
      5:58pm

      Wow, some gorgeous items Elaine!

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        Elaine Ess
        12 Mar 2021
        11:47am

        Thank you Rita! <3

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      Heather
      11 Mar 2021
      3:52pm

      Beautiful pieces!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    11 Mar 2021
    12:20pm

    I, for one, think that we’ll always associate the pandemic with tie-dye. I love that cute little bra top to inject a dose of sexy to my sweats, but does anyone else have problems with pullover bras? I have a bum shoulder and it’s damned near impossible to put one on without pain!

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      Mae
      11 Mar 2021
      2:05pm

      Mamavalveeta, try stepping into your “pullover” bras and pulling them up over your hips. Doing this changed my life for the better. No more strained shoulders.

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        c.w.
        11 Mar 2021
        2:37pm

        Great minds, Mae! I was just going to suggest the stepping-in-pulling-up method!

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    HickfromStyx
    11 Mar 2021
    11:45am

    I do like the indigo blue and white ones, and favor rectangular patterns over circular shapes. I never thought I’d wear tie-dye, but I have reordered one item after an initial fit fail. That’s it — one item for summer. It feels right and appropriate after all we’ve been through. The new “gingham” for the Covid years?

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      Jenny
      11 Mar 2021
      4:05pm

      Oh are we done with gingham? I still love it, but am also willing to invest in shibori.

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        HickfromStyx
        11 Mar 2021
        4:55pm

        Oh, no. I still have gingham, but now there’s this.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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