Quarantine fashion has been somethin’ else. If you weren’t wearing five-day-old pajamas or dressing only the top half of your body before answering a Zoom call, you were probably rocking a tie-dye sweatsuit. The look was, after all, one of the defining trends of the pandemic, right up there with banana bread and puzzles.
Not only was it cozy AF, but the tie-dye set was also something of a badge of honor. Dyeing your own sweatsuit proved you were fashionable and that you had Quarantine Hobbies, something Shanna, 34, was all about. “It felt like we were all doing one big group activity and then showing off,” she tells Bustle. (Be honest. Were you one of the 4.2 million folks who looked for how-tos under the #tiedyesweatsuit hashtag on TikTok? Because... same.)
Though everyone had the time to DIY whatever they wanted in 2020, you could also simply buy a tie-dye sweatsuit from one of the many (many) retailers who jumped on the trend. GAP, Old Navy, Good American, and thousands of others — including over 2,500 listings on Etsy — all rushed to offer sweats featuring the iconic swirly design. We even saw the likes of Jill Zarin, of Real Housewives of New York City fame, create a collection along with her daughter, Allyson Shapiro.
They scream, “I’ve been stuck at home for nine months and only interact socially with the mailperson and Trader Joe’s employees.”
But it didn’t stop there. Fashion expert Carolyn Rubido says everyone from Camila Cabello to Lady Gaga and the entirety of the Kardashian/Jenner family were regularly spotted in tie-dye sweats at one point or another. “It really was all the rave,” she tells Bustle. But that’s the key word: was.
The Future Of Tie-Dye Sweatsuits
Even though they’re still readily available in stores and online, many tie-dye sets are also on sale right now. “Massive sale,” Nick Drewe, a retail expert and CEO of the consumer savings site Wethrift, tells Bustle. “I don't think they’re long for this world based on what I'm seeing.”
A cursory scroll through the fast-fashion site Nasty Gal shows their tie-dye sweat set is 65% off. (Slowly adds to cart.) Athleisure retailer Bandier currently has a handful of swirly-colored sweats on sale, including a mint-green set by WSLY and a pullover and matching sweatpant by Sweat & Rose.
Trends come and go, of course. But the drop in popularity might be due to the fact tie-dye sweats have become the official emblem of the pandemic — quarantine’s uniform, so to speak. They scream, “I’ve been stuck at home for nine months and only interact socially with the mailperson and Trader Joe’s employees.” (Shout out to them, BTW.) Sure, they’re appealing and comfortable, but they’re now inherently representative of what was a pretty dark year.
Dyeing your own sweatsuit proved you were fashionable and that you had Quarantine Hobbies.
Maggie, 23, says she never got in on the trend for this very reason. “At the time tie-dye sweats became popular, I remember thinking that the trend was such a statement that it would be difficult not to associate tie-dye with the pandemic, especially matching pieces of tie-dye,” she tells Bustle, adding that she believes the look will go the way of sequin shoulder bags, popcorn shirts, and Bumpits. “You’ll be able to pinpoint a time in your life when you see those fast-trend statement pieces.”
What To Do With Your Tie-Dye Sweats
This all isn’t to say, however, that you have to toss your tie-dye into the donation bin or ceremoniously burn it in the backyard. Mackinley, 25, says she’ll be wearing her comfy tie-dye outfits today, tomorrow, and beyond. “I am all for a trend that normalizes wearing sweatpants on the regular, especially if it involves bright colors to boost your overall mood.”
Juliana, 24, isn’t letting go anytime soon, either. “I wore tie-dye sweatsuits so much during the pandemic that my friends told me that it’d be my uniform if I were a cartoon character who wears the same outfit every episode,” she tells Bustle. “It is the only thing I wore in 2020 and I am continuing to rock it during 2021.”
The destiny of your tie-dye sweat collection is entirely up to you. As for the heaps that have amassed on the virtual shelves? Only time will tell.