In Why, Though?, digital editor Jennifer Berry test-drives the trendiest of fashion trends that would make any reasonable person ask, “Is it possible to wear this if one is not a Hadid?” So far, she’s been shocked to discover she enjoyed wearing bike shorts and a fashion puffer, but was considerably less enthused about athletic sunglasses. Most recently, she unlocked the key to wearing the slime green trend and how to wear a bucket hat without feeling *too* much like Blossom. For her final fashion test drive in this journey of self-exploration via personal style, she tried the tie dye trend.
I have a vivid (technicolour, even) memory of the last time I wore tie dye. The year was 1993. Monday evenings belonged to Fresh Prince. The radio air waves were dominated by bangers like Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” and “What Is Love” by Haddaway. And my gangly tween body was draped in an electric blue and neon pink tie dye romper. It had legs that could only be described as MC Hammer-inspired pantaloons, all jodhpur-roomy in the hips, ballooning wildly before being cinched in tightly below the knee. Its straps were closer to those of a wrestling singlet than a pair of overalls. It was purchased on the boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey (where all the chicest fashion is purchased, obviously!) and at the time, it made me feel damn near invincible.
When the psychedelic pattern once a hallmark of Deadheads and surfer dudes became trendy after trippy tie dye turned up on everything from Proenza Schouler’s cool girl hoodies to Prada’s pretty pleated skirts, I was intrigued instead of repelled, unlike the return of, say, flip-flops. I knew I had to give it a whirl.
But while Janet’s (Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty) track still slaps after all these years, my day-glo tie dye onesie does not. I snagged a groovy oversized pastel tie dye T-shirt from Zara and took a walk, nay strut, on the wild side.
Outfit #1: A beachy vibe with puka shell earrings and pastel denim
This outfit is a two-for because it contains not only tie dye, but another rabidly popular fashion trend that I was infinitely less welcoming of at first—shell jewellery. The first time I saw a puka shell necklace last year, I had to be resuscitated. Oh, how I longed for a puka shell accessory when I was a kid! I saved my grade-four allowance until I could buy the ugliest chunky black leather cuff covered in shells that money could buy and wore it with wacky outfits until it turned to vapour and swore I’d never wear one again. Fast forward to last month when I declared that if I didn’t have shells dangling off my earlobes immediately, I would drop dead. (No, you’re dramatic!) I liked this combination very much but would prefer to swap the blue jeans for cropped white denim or cut-offs when the weather warms up.
Outfit #2: A black-suit-and-white-runners homage to Ellen DeGeneres
Far be it from me to think I could ever hold a candle to the queen of daytime television (and the queen of the daytime suit), but I was pretty pleased with my attempt at Ellen’s iconic OOTD. I paired the lavender and peach tie dye top with black tuxedo trousers and a boyfriend blazer, keeping the accessories simple with clean white tennis shoes and a simple hoop earrings. What I loved about this combination was the tension between the laid-back vibe of the tie dye and the classic cut of a suit. But ultimately, I felt a bit like I was in an Ellen DeGeneres costume—and I longed for more accessories. What can I say, I need at least a little dose of sparkle in my outfits!
Outfit #3: Layered to the gods with a hair tuck to boot
Did you know that when it comes to hairstyles, there’s a direct correlation between how much your dad will think you’ve forgotten a step in your beauty routine and how cute you feel? Case in point: the street style photographer-bait hair tuck. This outfit—the wildcard of the bunch—ticked all the boxes. I got the shine I craved with a black lacquered skirt. I felt cooler than I actually am with the hair tuck. And layering the tie dye tee over a simple white turtleneck felt like an unexpected way to wear the trend instead of a more literal interpretation of the surfer pattern.
And there you have it, another trend I was unsure of is now part of my regular rotation. Turns out the answer to the question I ask so often about fashion trends is no longer “why, though?” but “why the hell not?” I should never say never but just know that if you catch me voluntarily wearing wraparound reflective shades or Steve Madden elastic platform sandals, you should call my emergency contact.
Photography by Mariah Hamilton. Hair and makeup in main image by Kim Creton for Charlotte Tilbury/R & Co/Plutino Group.