17 June 2012

Upcycled Looks to Dye For

There is nothing I enjoy more than taking an old piece of clothing and upcycling it into something new, fun, and fashionable to wear.  One of the easiest ways to change a piece of clothing is to dye it a new color, and an interesting twist on that is tie dying.

The great thing about the tie dye trend is that it is extremely versatile and can be worn in anything from a full-length tie dye dress to purses and crop tops that are smaller but still pack a powerful punch. There are options to create color from fruit and vegetable dyes and also tie dye products that are more environmentally friendly than traditional tie dye kits, which make this kind of diy project a fun, no-brainer.

I like tie dying because it offers a lot of options for change; you can do any number of designs, from the traditional spiral to more open designs like scrunching and free hand painting. You can take clothes that no longer work for a number of reasons like size, style and color, and use a few colors of dye and a few snips of the scissors to create something totally new.  You can even use the dye to cover stains or colors that simply no longer meet your taste preferences. 

At first, dying clothes may seem intimidating, but since if you're only using clothes that are no longer worn, it's not a huge problem if the first few tries are less than perfect.  I had quite a few random white tanks in different shapes and styles that made the perfect template for figuring out how I wanted to create the new pieces.  I saved the better quality items for later when I was sure how I wanted things to look. 

I found that dying a basic white tank is really fun, because it can be made into a colorful top that is fits well in many different types of outfits.  I really like the combination of a tie dye top with a solid colored, classically shaped bottom, because it helps to work the tie dyed accessory into the outfit, without overdoing it or creating a look that is unflattering. 

One of my favorite things to do is to make crop tops.  Crop tops are right on par for trendiness and very easy to make.  I dyed an existing crop top that I had because I didn't love the color, but a crop top can also be made very easily from a pre-existing top that is no longer wearable as a full shirt but makes a nice piece with slight alterations.

I made several other colorful shirts, and I really like how well they work with solid bottoms. I liked to pair the tops with pencil skirts and jeans and a color that matched the shirt, but I also think it would be interesting to see what could be done with some more mixing and matching. 


My most anticipated project of the group was this piece, the purple tie dyed pants.  I've been loving the tie dyed skinny jean look and other runway pieces and I wanted to try for a similar look.  I decided to dye a pair of flared leg white jeans, because I didn't have a white straight legged pair to spare, and I wanted to use only clothes I already had in my closet, and I really like how the jeans turned out. 

Another outfit that I really like involved a simple tank top coloring. A basic white tank makes quite the statement  paired with classic white pants and colorful accesories. The bright colors and sunny accessories make the perfect daytime look for any summer occasion.

You can even use your tie dye creations to create an outfit for a night on the town. Throw a newly dyed top over a body con dress with a single color and add a neon waist-cinching belt for a look that is both funky and fun. I used another one of the many tanks I dyed to create this nighttime look.


For a more office appropriate outfit featuring tie dye, here is another one of the basic tanks I dyed.  It turned out a lot simpler and less aesthetically pleasing in my opinion than some of the other pieces, but I found that you can pretty much make an of your tie dyed pieces work as part of a fashionable ensemble, as long as you create the right mix.  For pieces like this, I find it most important to match them with structured, well tailored pieces to get the right look.

I found my favorite outfit in this last piece. An unused, oversized or slightly long white t-shirt was the perfect piece for upcycling.  Not only can you color it however you like, you can also use cutting and sewing to utilize the excess fabric for creation of something totally different.  My shirt was on the shorter side, so I chose to create a cut-out mini dress.  The cut-outs on the sides and on the back of the dress make it the perfect way to play with the cut out trend, without investing in a major piece. 

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