Some things are made solely for the heady, halcyon days of summer. Mister Whippy ice creams, aloe vera lotions fresh from the fridge, gin and tonics, moaning about the cold and/or heat (the last one only applies if you’re a Brit).
When it comes to the clothes that are made just for summer it’s short shorts and jute-bottomed espadrilles that often sit at the top of the agenda, but this warm-weather season tie-dye T-shirts, sweaters, swim shorts and track pants are also worthy of your attention.
T-shirt by Louis Vuitton
$558 at louisvuitton.com
Ever so slightly parochial, totally and utterly folksy, and more than a little dyed in the wool hippy-dippy, tie-dye takes its diminutive name from the process by which the brightly coloured, cosmological effect is achieved. Spun, squidged or folded into a specific shape and then held together with string or elastic bands, garments are covered with different coloured dyes, which later, once washed, reveal kaleidoscopic patterns.
Though there is evidence of tie-dye techniques first being used in ancient Peru, the technique really came to prominence in the Sixties and Seventies when the free love movement adopted the resulting psychedelic garments as their own.
T-shirt by Aries
Perhaps it’s to do with the gloomy socio-political outlook right now or perhaps it’s simply because it’s been a while since tie-dye’s been on the style agenda, but for Spring/Summer 2019 the world’s designers have put superbright, ultra-uplifting tie-dye garments at the core of their collections. From mesmerising tie-dye T-shirts and shirts at Dries Van Noten to tie-dye calfskin trousers and T-shirts at Louis Vuitton and tie-dye tracksuits at Marcelo Burlon and Aries, the options are as endless as the summer days the patterns bring to mind.
Shirt by Dries Van Noten
$704 At mrporter.com
It’s not just the fashion brands who are getting in on the action, either. The world’s celebrity contingent has been on board the tie-dye train for a while now too. First, Jonah Hill was spotted out and about in Los Angeles sporting several tie-dye tees, then Harry Styles wore a jazzy tie-dye vest, before Justin Bieber took the whole thing up a gear, sporting a head-to-toe tie-dye look to get coffee or to pop to the shops. In short, all the cool kids are doing it and you should be too.
When it comes to wearing your own tie-dye pieces, my advice would be to opt for one item and work it into your wardrobe – the all over tie-dye look à la Bieber is not for everyone. One of the aforementioned Dries Van Noten tees would look excellent worn with an oversized navy shacket and a pair of white jeans, while a dark tie-dye shirt would add an elegant twist to a more formal outfit, with a single-breasted black suit, say.
If none of the options embedded above take your fancy, here’s how to tie-dye your very own tee (don’t say we don’t look after you)
- Source a plain white T-shirt made from thick, high quality cotton. Avoid synthetic fabrics as these will not take the dye nearly as well.
- Buy yourself some high quality Procion dyes, as these come out particularly brilliantly and won’t fade with washing. Dharma Trading is a good place to start. (dharmatrading.com)
- Soak your T-shirt in a bath of warm water with some washing detergent and a couple of tablespoons of salt for at least ten minutes before dying, as this will help the fabric take the dye.
- After soaking, ring out your T-shirt thoroughly, as too much excess water will prevent the fabric from taking the dye.
- To make a classic swirl pattern place a stake at the centre of the tee and then twist the fabric of the shirt around it. Once it resembles a kind of Danish pastry shape, remove the stake carefully and keep the shape as tight and close as possible to avoid a sloppy dye job.
- Once spun, keep your shirt in its wagon wheel shape with a series of strong elastic bands around the middle, keeping it as flat as you can. Around eight should do the trick.
- Place your T-shirt wheel on a piece of plastic and then squeeze a series of coloured dyes (each quarter being a different colour will achieve a swirled rainbow effect) until the fabric on both sides of the wheel is completely saturated.
- Once the wheel is completely saturated with dye, place it in a zip-lock plastic bag and leave for a minimum of 24 hours.
- Remove the T-shirt from the bag using rubber gloves and put it on a hot wash in the washing machine (on its own) before wearing.