Tie dye is all grown up

Date: June 21, 2024

Trust us — tie dye isn’t just for kids’ summer camp craft projects and Grateful Dead festivals anymore. While the words “tie dye” often conjure visions of brightly colored swirls on a graphic tee, tie dye has gotten a major glow-up in recent years.

A woman wearing a tie dye skirt and a white tank top, showing how to wear tie dye in a grown-up way.

Tie dye often resurfaces during the summer months because it instantly makes you feel like kicking back on the beach, grabbing happy hour margaritas on a sunny patio or watching live music on a warm evening at sunset. What’s better than that? Wearing clothing that can convey a feeling and change your mood in such a significant way is part of what makes getting dressed fun, and tie dye is just as exciting to experiment with as it was when you were a kid. (Or a college student. Let’s be honest here.)

Incorporating tie dye into your wardrobe today means balancing bright colors with sophisticated shapes and silhouettes, or swapping the traditional tie dye color palette for slightly more elevated and subtle version — one you’d be comfortable wearing to the office or on date night.

How to wear tie dye in 2024

Instead of the aforementioned hot pink and yellow swirls and blobs of Technicolor green and purple, the 2024 version of tie dye is much softer in both print and palette. For a more grown-up way to wear tie dye, consider sticking to a more refined color palette that incorporates earth tones like brown and rust or darker colors like black, gray and navy to balance and ground your look. It’s still tie dye, but more subtle than the bright, colorful tees and tanks you probably whipped up in your backyard back in the day.

A woman wearing a tie dye dress, showcasing the latest trends in how to wear tie dye.

Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t embrace color when you’re incorporating tie dye patterns into your wardrobe — you absolutely should! Color is central to tie dye; it’s about using it strategically and thoughtfully in your outfit. Think gradient ombré sweatshirts in ice cream pastels or button-downs in sleek, elegant shades of navy and black, casual tanks in contrasting colors, or a dress in pretty watercolor tones.

If you’re wearing a tie dye top, balance it with a simple bottom like white pants, jean shorts or a midi skirt. Lean into the boho chic feeling of a tie dye dress and style it with woven or pretty, delicate metallic sandals, or even cork heels or wedges! Add a grounding element like a simple leather belt or bag to keep it from looking too artsy.

While printed pants can feel intimidating, treat them like you would your favorite jeans or leggings and enjoy the comfy, chill vibe. Keep your top layer simple, like a classic black or white tank, and style with an armful of beaded or bangle bracelets, plus flat sandals and a cross-body bag.

A fitted tie dye dress or skirt feels more modern and elevated than a loose-fitting option, which can often read a little hippie-dippie. If you are wearing a more flowy dress, stick to sleeker, streamlined accessories for balance.

More ways to incorporate tie dye and similar patterns

The shibori dye technique, which originated in Japan, has become more popular in both home design and clothing. The word shibori roughly translates to “to squeeze,” which refers to how the fabric is bundled, folded or twisted before dyeing; shibori dye often results in vertical prints or small starbursts, depending on how you manipulate the fabric. Typically, this is done with a dark blue indigo dye, which looks gorgeous when paired with bright white jeans or shorts, but can also pop up in a variety of colors.

A woman wearing a tie dye tank top and denim skirt, showcasing the latest trends in how to wear tie dye.

If wearing full tie dye outfits still feels too Woodstock for you, try incorporating touches of the dye technique via ombré scarves or cardigans, or maybe a hand-dyed tote bag. Who knows — you may just start tie dyeing your own pieces in the backyard again or incorporating touches of tie dye into all your summer outfits.