How To Own It: Ombré

Hello beautiful, and welcome to How To Own It, where store-bought fashion meets DIY crafts. Each week I’ll be exploring an aesthetic theme, showing you some of the best ways to wear it and how to make it for yourself.


A few months ago, I noticed that all of a sudden clothes were starting to look like summer sunsets, with colors fading dreamily into other colors, from dark to light. It was a welcome change from the rigidity of the color-blocking craze, with all its hard lines and right angles. I soon learned that this is a trend with a fancy name: ombré.  Ombré hair is also a thing, and makes me really which I had enough hair to dye. Currently, in general the ombré trend is still going strong, and now is the perfect time to get into it, because you can find still-relevant ombré clothes at recycled fashion hot spots or you can buy some new from your favorite store. Or, obviously, you can give something you already own an ombré update, and you can do it with supplies you probably already have around your home.

via lookbook


You don’t have to update your usual silhouette to get on the ombré train. Since ombré is popping up everywhere, it’s pretty easy to find one’s go-to clothing shapes that have been dip-dyed in this style. Maybe some of these cute things will strike your fancy:

DIY Ombré

Can’t find something you truly like/can afford? Same here. I scoured the internet for a how-to, but was dismayed to discover that in order to DIY my own ombré, I’d have to buy fabric dye, and it was this whole long complicated process that made me feel overwhelmed. Then I remembered how well bleach worked when I made galaxy print, and a whole world of ombré possibilities opened up! The only thing I bought to make this was a new tub scrubber (a tool suggested on Gina’s Style Spot, where bleach was also used), because using the one I already own sounded kind of gross.

You will need:

An item of clothing
A bucket
Gloves (Wear whenever handling bleach please. Also maybe open a window.)
Tub Scrubber

1. Select your item. I recommend something denim because it tends to be more forgiving of errors. I cut the sleeves off of this denim shirt because a) that’s the kind of lesbian I am and b) I wanted to test this out on the sleeves first, because I was worried.

photo 3

2. Fill your bucket with bleach about two inches lower then you want the ombré fade to start (because it will end up seeping upwards). Let it soak until the fabric is a few shades lighter than the original, but not yet white. For me this took about fifteen minutes.

photo 1

3.  Using the inside wall of the bucket for support, gently use the tub scrubber to blend the line between the original fabric and the first bleached section. Take it out and rinse it.

photo 4-6

trying to do this while taking a picture made me really want an assistant

4. Now put it back in the bucket, placed so that only half of the bleached section is now soaking. Then let it soak until the bottom section turns white, or as light as you want it to be.

photo 1

5. Wring it out and rinse thoroughly in cold water, and then throw it in the wash. (If you don’t have immediate access to a washing machine, let it soak in cold water over night.)

fuck i forgot my gloves but  can't turn back now must continue rinsing

fuck i forgot my gloves but can’t turn back now must continue rinsing

6. I was talking to my dog when this picture was taken. That’s not a required final step though.

ombre final

 Want to know how to own a look? Email [email protected] or tweet to @Gabrielle_Korn.

Header by Rosa Middleton

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Gabrielle Korn

Gabrielle Korn is a writer living in Los Angeles with her wife and dog.

Gabrielle has written 95 articles for us.


  1. i bought an ombré denim dress shirt at a street market in China in 1999 but felt like the world wasn’t really ready for it then (to be fair it might’ve been because it also had Bambi embroidered on the front pocket). This post is all the motivation i need to get my ombré on again.

  2. This is fantastic. I might completely copy you, as I have a denim shirt that is a little tight across my shoulders, but would probably go great if I cut them off.

    I love this column more than my future firstborn child.

  3. The shirt turned out super cute! Did anything become of the tested sleeves? Denim ombré legwarmers, perhaps? Haha.

  4. I don’t know, I feel like this may be a gateway look to tie-dye, and I’m just not ready to revisit that part of the 90s yet.

  5. I’ve got a pair of purple jeans I haven’t worn in forever since I got paint on them. I might do this and claim it’s a fashion statement.

    • I likewise have a pair of cranberry corduroys with a bleach stain on the knee that happened when I first got my dog and she was peeing on everything. So I will probably do this to pants also.

  6. I’m growing out my hair atm but a huge chunk of it is blue, so I’m going to stop bleaching/dying at some point and just call it ombre even if it’s just me being lazy.

    Though the weird thing with the dark roots/light ends in hair is that used to be considered super trashy when you didn’t touch up your roots.

  7. This is great, and I think I’m going to push the boundaries of good taste (read: probably fly past them and look ridiculous) by doing it to a denim pencil skirt I never wear anymore! And maybe possibly if that turns out okay/I don’t ruin everything including my eyes because I’m clumsy and bleach scares me, I’ll do it with colored dye to a pair of jeans I have whose wash I hate. I have tons of denim things and the only stuff that gets wear out of all of it is 2 pairs of jeans. Everything else has just been sitting in my closet, prompting me to have a mental debate every time I open my closet about whether or not I should donate it. This seems like a fantastic way to get more use out of that stuff. Thanks!

    Also, if it’s worth anything, I think a three-hued ombré could work fabulously with your hair at its current length(s), and frankly I’m jealous because I’ve been admiring ombré hair since May but lacked both the length and the necessary courage to bleach the shit out of my hair sufficiently for bright color to show up and stay in it. Compared to people who do this to >1 foot of hair, you’re in an excellent position–when you get tired of it, you won’t lose any significant length of previously healthy hair. Plus, everyone’s done the long, flowing mermaid mane of ombré hair, and not that it doesn’t still look super cool and pretty, but your neato asymmetrical queercut dyed ombré would definitely be an interesting change from the rest.

  8. I did this with a blue/black/white flannel shirt, and it looks amazing! For some reason the partially bleached parts turn funky and surprising colors (i think the blue turned yellow and the black turned pink) so it looks pretty freaking cool, and I can’t take very much credit for that.

  9. I feel like we would be awesome DIY friends.
    I’m feeling like this is going to be applied to cut off summer shorts.

  10. I may or may not have accidentally dissolved my shirt. Don’t forget to use bleach properly and water it down, kids.

  11. For anyone with short hair who wants it ombré – you can totally do it. I did a friends’ ombré, and her hair is a chin length bob.

    Quick sum up of how I did it, for anyone interested:

    We wanted to get a fade effect, rather than a line between blonde and brown.
    Due to the way her hair is cut, bleaching all the way to the back of her head would have looked really odd, so we had to work out a way to section her hair so the fade would go both vertically and horizontally, so the ombré was less obvious towards the back so that when it stopped it wasn’t a big contrast.
    I did the math to fit this into the 90 min maximum time on the bleach, and worked out if I sectioned her hair four times from back to front, and applied bleach 5 times vertically on each section, we could get both a horizontal and vertical fade.
    So, the pattern went that I would apply the bleach for a few cm on the first section, wait 10 mins, and then apply it another few cm vertically AND for the first few cm on the next horizontal section back. This pattern continued all the way back to the last section and up to the last point we wanted to hit vertically (with some of the vertical applications having to be shortened to 5 minutes to ensure we hit all of them without exposing the front of the hair to the bleach for too long).
    Obviously, the differing exposure times each section had to the bleach meant we got a nice fade both vertically and horizontally :0)
    So, doing your own version of this is definitely an option if you have a cut which means ombréing all over would look odd.

    Another idea for people with very messy and/or layered hair is bleaching the bottom one or two layers of hair and leaving all your shorter top layers darker. Not strictly an ombré, but it still gives that kind of look due to the bleached parts peeping through at different heights under the top layers and showing fully at the bottom. For example, I have a side-fringe-and-shave type ordeal, and did this on the bottom layer my fringe. Big plus is root regrowth doesn’t show for this one either, like the ombré.

    Anyway, just some ideas for anyone put off by the short hair thing. With enough patience, planning, sectioning and/or layers, you can absolutely do ombré and it looks awesome and is really low maintenance (and if you don’t like it, the easiest to cut out) :)

  12. Fecking hilarious post! Plus – great technique, although I’ve probably completely missed the trend for clothing and hair now – ho hum! My over dyed hair ends totally count as a backwards ombre – right?!

  13. I used this to ombré my girlfriend black tie that she’s been meaning to repurpose and now thanks to you I’m apperantly the best girlfriend ever. All her co-workers love it and I’ve got a line up of new work. Think this’ll work the same on my bow tie fabric?

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