How to wear...tie dye
The hippie favourite gets a sophisticated update for spring, with muted tones and elegant styling appearing on the front row, the red carpet and the high street, writes Meadhbh McGrath
What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘tie dye’? Bell bottoms, peace signs and the Grateful Dead, most likely, but the psychedelic print has had an overhaul for 2019.
No longer just a 60s throwback, tie dye has gone upmarket, with designers keen on giving the pattern a luxe makeover. In the age of fast fashion, brands prize individuality, and more and more of them are embracing a technique that guarantees no two pieces are ever the same.
Haute splotches ruled the spring/summer collections, where no less than Dior and Prada championed the look. The French house offered up flowing couture gowns in subdued shades of blush pink and deep blue, which have since been spotted on the red carpet on Cara Delevingne and Jaime King, while Prada presented crystal-embellished dresses and A-line skirts in duchesse satin, topped off with padded headbands and chunky leather brogues. The effect was remarkably polished, wiping all traces of groovy nostalgia.
Proenza Schouler proposed an urban take on the trend: a series of contrasting tie dye shirts were a standout, worn with acid-wash denim skirts and super-sized tote bags. The brand’s long-sleeved velvet gowns with tie dye bodices have been a huge hit, appearing on the likes of Sienna Miller, Kate Bosworth and Chloe Grace-Moretz.
The colour palette was decidedly more energetic at Prabal Gurung, where tie dye came in the form of light cashmere jumpers and hoodies in vivid blue, yellow, orange and purple, layered over elegant midi skirts and sharp white boots.
Stella McCartney’s interpretation was typically cool and laid-back, featuring mini dresses, T-shirts and boiler suits in faded hues that wouldn’t look out of place in the city or on the beach.
Karlie Kloss put a fresh spin on a bold-shouldered trouser suit by adding one of McCartney’s tie dye T-shirts. Her understated styling illustrates how tie dye can be elevated — if the polarising print seems too overwhelming for you, try easing into the trend with a T-shirt in a low-key pastel, worn with a suit or a pair of tailored trousers. Follow Karlie’s lead and stick to neutrals for a playful, yet subtle, look.
If you prefer something a little more vibrant, look to Rachel Brosnahan in Prada at a film festival last week. The design of her dress is simple enough to give the bold print room to shine, and the black accents help to ground it, lifting the outfit beyond mere retro chic into a modern style statement.
If you’re eager to try a tie dye gown, keep the length to a midi or shorter: a maxi veers too Woodstock, and can especially swamp petite figures. Try a lighter shoe — Topshop’s sell-out sandals come in a range of colours — which will provide a sleek complement to a pale tie dye dress.
It can be tricky to figure out how to style tie dye separates, but the easiest way is let the print do the talking and keep things simple elsewhere.
With a skirt, you can’t beat a simple white T-shirt or crisp button-down shirt. Jumpers and sweatshirts make effortless partners for pleated midi skirts, or you can rely on blue denim as an agreeable palette cleanser. For a 2019 finish, top off with optic white boots or box-fresh trainers.