Tie Dye: A Timeless Symbol of Peace and Love

by Tamu McPherson

Tie Dye

Proenza Schouler tie dye dress, Miu Miu blazer, Balenciaga pumps, Mateo NY earrings, Charles and Keith shopping bag.

Tamu’s Style: Tie Dye

When I saw our dear friend and womancrush Sherri McMullen in this tie dye Proenza Schouler Dress at her boutique reopening, I knew I had to have it. She looked amazing. As you remember from Anja’s profile on the retail goddess, she is a statuesque beauty, and in this instance, she was very much in full queen mode with her hair crowned in long cornrows. I immediately WhatsApp’d her to ask if the stunner was still in stock and could she bring it to Paris for me during Fashion Week. Yes, she had my size. And boy was I fortunate, because shortly thereafter the dress sold out globally!


Tie Dye


Like many of you, I fell in love with tie dye as a little girl. Maybe even as far back as in Jamaica, where the style was wildly popular among reggae artists and, subsequently, their fans. My aunt Audrey, affectionately known as “Carol” because she was born right before Christmas, even started a tie dye fashion line with my uncle. They were young, hip, irie and in love. Lucky for me she brought her talents to NY, and when I moved there we spent many a Saturday afternoon creating fun t-shirts and tank dresses.


The moment that truly solidified tie dye as a wardrobe staple for me (because at this point I was coming into my own personal style) was during high school, when many of my friends became Grateful Dead diehards. There wasn’t a classroom without at least one student wearing a rainbow tie dye t-shirt. And that style trickled over to the fashion of the skaters – De La Soul l-listening kids. Our style was genre fluid at that time as we all sought out our identity. It makes sense that tie dye would cross over so smoothly: It is natural that impressionable teenagers would look to a symbol associated euphoric vibrations as a means of finding their place in the world. Usually, the natural highs of our teenage years are truly limitless. There is the promise of a long life, romance, the freedom of adulthood and all of it’s adventure. I promise that this isn’t a jaunt down nostalgia boulevard, I’m just a sappy kind of woman.

Thankfully, Sign of the Times on Main Street in Nyack kept us mint in all sorts of multicolored iterations. The shop is still there, still has a great selection of tie dye on its shelves. In fact on a recent trip, I spoke to the store owner, who confided that she works with a tie dye artisan located on the Hudson. Sign of the Times has been around at least since the 80s, and her commitment to maintaining this wardrobe staple as part of her offering is indicative of its importance in American popular culture.


Tie Dye

Another reason that I love the arts and crafts technique so much is probably due to my affinity for the mid 60s and 70s. I can’t be certain of how many hours I have passed looking at images from the The Summer of Love (1967) and Woodstock (1969) festivals, but they’ve been many. The peace and love message from those cultural moments is so infectious. Who wouldn’t be happy to wear colors and prints that made you feel so happy after looking through a slide show or two? I am aware of the stimulants at play during those festivals, but that’s besides the point.

And come to think of it, how relevant is this style today, considering the hate-filled, dark, violent and desperate times we are being subjected to by the Trump administration and the GOP. Designers like Phoebe Philo for Old Celine and Proenza Schouler set the tone for positivity and some urgently-needed levity when they sent tie dye looks down the catwalks these last few seasons. Citizens of the world are desperate for a reprieve from the stress and exhaustion that right-leaning governments are creating with their anti-progressive policies and legislative measures, with their criminalization of asylum seekers, their devastating marginalization of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, attacks on our religious families and continued racism against people of color. Fashion designers have always tapped into key cultural events for inspiration in their critique of government activity. This season’s tie dye trend is a message for the people. It says that peace and love are the way. Stay true to that, wear it on your sleeve and on your breast. And REMEMBER it when you vote next week.


Tie Dye

Let’s make this trend a symbol of our current times, want to join me?

  • Tie Dye
    Proenza Schouler Tie Dye Turtleneck Dress

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