A Theory I’m Happy to Prove: Tie-Dye Is Better in the Off-Season

It doesn’t take an expert to point out the powerful connection between tie-dye and summertime in our collective consciousness. As the stereotypically wholesome activity of choice for occupying brace-faced tweens in between nature walks and talent shows at summer camp, tie-dye is pigeonholed firmly inside the sartorial trappings of summer (which is probably why short-sleeved T-shirts are tie-dye’s most ubiquitous host). But beyond its wearable manifestations, even just the concept of tie-dye connotes sun-baked elbows, lemonade stands, sidewalk chalk, barbecues, beaches and other warm-weathered delights.

These associations make it very easy to both mentally and tangibly indulge in a tie-dye fascination from late April through early September. After that you’re kind of going against the grain — a sore tie-dyed thumb sticking out amidst a sea of navys, blacks, grays, tweeds, plaids and maybe a polka-dot or two if you happen to keep wild company. I’ve learned this firsthand as I’ve attempted to maintain what was initially a tie-dye fling and subsequently blossomed into a full-blown love affair regardless of the fact that it is now fully autumn and bordering on winter. What can I say? When I commit, I commit.

It’s a little harder to find fall and winter-apropos tie-dye garments than it is in spring and summer, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. If you have hyper-specific fantasies in mind for what you want your off-season tie-dye uniform to look like, DIY is the way to go — although I’ll warn you it’s far more labor-intensive than I thought it would be and if you’re doing it in a group make sure you factor in plenty of time for multiple loads of washing and drying. I recently self-tie-dyed a white sweat suit, linen button down and ribbed socks (all purchased from Amazon) and highly recommend this website for tutelage on a whole host of techniques.

If you’re not into DIY, don’t fret — I’ve done tons of fall/winter tie-dye market research for personal purposes and am more than happy to share. I recently invested these jeans because they FINALLY went on sale for 50% off on My Theresa. They’re sold out now there but are still on sale at Farfetch for a slightly higher price which I predict will go down even further as soon as big-time sale season hits. If you thought one pair of tie-dye jeans was enough to quench my thoughts I did too but apparently we were both wrong because now I’m hardcore eyeing these from Eckhaus Latta. Beyond the denim frontier, Ganni is doing some nice cozy tie-dye stuff this season, including a friendly-looking yellow sweatshirt and this subtle long-sleeved T-shirt. If you’re scouting in the sock department, you can’t go wrong with these dark greenish ones from Stance. Finally, if you are a fan of really great deals and steals, type “tie-dye” into the search box on TheRealReal and go nuts.  I wish my feet were a size 5.5 so I could justify purchasing these tie-dye Manolo pumps for $155 SO BADLY.

I’m sure you have lots of perusing to do, but I’ll leave you with a theory: I’m starting to think you get more bang for your tie-dye buck when the weather is acting bleak because it has a very consistent capacity to cheer you right the H-E double hockey sticks up like a SAD lamp that never runs out of batteries. It’s about time we put it to work year-round.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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