To DIY For: The Bleached Mini Dress

09/25/2009 1:44 PM |

Finished bleached dress

To DIY For is back! I figured you had enough fashion tips and advice to digest during Fashion Week without my forcing more clothes down your throats! It’s officially fall now, so I will be cutting you no more slack and will expect nothing less than full completion of weekly assignments.

So, I hope everyone had a fabulous and enlightening Fashion Week. Almost as fun as watching the fashion shows themselves is looking at what the fashionable attendees of said fashion shows are wearing. It’s a great barometer of what the trends will look like this fall from fashion insiders. As the folks over at Fashionista quite observantly pointed out, the long-sleeved mini dress was everywhere. Here, I created my own version of this versatile fall staple that can be worn for almost any occasion, and it will look great with tights when the temperature begins to dip. I also incorporated another fall trend, strong shoulders which, as Laurel already told you in our Fall Fashion issue, are, well, BIG.

—long-sleeved mini dress
—shoulder pads
—plastic bucket
—rubber bands (about 40)

Step 1

Start with a long-sleeve American Apparel dress—I know you have one. I bought this little double u-neck number; I went for the black because it’s pretty classic and simple, but I think this would also work really well in other colors. I’d love to see how a purple one would turn out!

Original dress

Step 2

Gather the dress into a vertical strip with the sleeves aligned with the body of the dress. The overall effect we’re trying to achieve with this is horizontal bleached stripes. You’ll need a lot of rubber bands to ensure the bleached and unbleached portions are even. Those really thick rubber bands; the ones that crush paper and posters, as it turns out, are perfect for this project. The finished product should look something like a sandworm.

Rubber bands

Step 3
Dilute bleach in two parts water and pour to cover the dress. Let soak until the desired color is achieved. I wanted to bleach out as much of the color as possible so I let mine sit for about an hour, but it bleached all it was going to bleach in the first 20 minutes or so.

Dress in a bucket

Step 4

I had a pair of shoulder pads lying around from a shirt I bought at a thrift store, but you can probably purchase a pair from any trimming store. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. These are on the conservative side. To attach, simply sew along the edge of the neck. This should keep it in place, but I would recommend you make a small stitch at the tip of the shoulder pad to prevent moving .

shoulder pads

There you have it! A great fall party dress. You know what would go really well with this? A chunky, shiny statement necklace! Stay tuned next week when I attempt my first accessory!


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