How To Own It: The Queer Grrl’s Guide to the Galaxy

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.

Want to know how to own a look?
Email gabrielle@autostraddle.com or tweet to @Gabrielle_Korn.

Header by Rory Midhani

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Sometimes, it can be tricky to be a human with disparate passions. It’s like having friends that aren’t friends with each other. For example, clearly I’m kind of a fashion junky; meanwhile, secretly, I’m also a huge dork. Okay, maybe it’s not so secret. The friends and family I share a Netflix account with can definitely see my taste preference row of “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Featuring a Strong Female Lead” (all the best things, obviously).

Basically I’m used to having things that cater to my interests be somewhat fractured. Like, Starbuck looks really good in her uniform and all, but I tend to look elsewhere for my style inspiration. However, this week, I’ve decided to explore how to combine those two seemingly incompatible interests — which is why I’m so excited to tell you about clothes that let you wear the cosmos, and also how to turn your own things into one of a kind intergalactic dreamscapes.

This is what it looks like under my shirt, too. via Peachines on weheartit

This is a trend that I first noticed over the summer, but personally, I find black and purple clothes with starry cosmic swirls much more suitable for winter. It’s a great way to add some sparkle to the generally boring winter palette of dark colors, and pretty much all of it looks good with a (p)leather jacket. Since galactic print came out a few months ago, right now is a prime time to find it at consignment shops. I saw at least three different pairs of galaxy leggings at Beacon’s Closet a couple of weekends ago, which doesn’t mean they aren’t in style anymore! It just means if you didn’t want to pay a lot of money for the first wave of this trend, you no longer have to. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be very good news.

Let’s talk about some of the different ways you can wear this look.

Galactic Leggings

via love it so much on weheartit

Honestly, I really haven’t worn leggings in place of pants since my freshman year of college, but looking at these pictures, I feel compelled to do so right now. Cosmic leggings look super cute with shoes you might already have, like combat boots or oxford flats. I’d go with simple solid colors on top, like black, white, gray, or denim, either in the form of a basic cotton t-shirt or a button up, buttoned all the way up and worn with collar tips and/or a statement necklace. But mostly I’m excited about (p)leather outerwear + galactic leggings.

via piby b on lookbook

It’s pretty easy to find these leggings online. Look at all the options!

Galaxies from the Femme-of-Center Universe

via megha pawani on weheartit

Most of the ready-made galactic attire I found is pretty feminine (which is why later on, we’re going to figure out how to galactic-ize your own clothes, so keep reading): dresses, skirts, even bandeaux tops! Personally I find this to be the best news my closet has heard since Peter Pan collars became a thing. Also, as a femme who loves things that sparkle but isn’t really inclined to be super sparkly myself, I love how galaxy prints allude to sparkle with all that lovely cosmic matter.

via diane a on lookbook

I would probably only wear one of these things at a time to avoid planetarium camouflage, but if that’s what you’re going for, I think that’s amazing. Speaking of amazing, the bandeaux tops below would look really fantastic peeking out of one of those tank tops with extended armholes.

Accessories Made of Comet Trails

via shadowplaynyc on etsy

Do you love the way galactic prints look but feel ambivalent about wearing so damn much of it? I hear you, and luckily you don’t have to. How about a scarf or a cute slouchy hat or a pocket square? Or some galaxy-inspired jewelry? I even found you a pair of underwear incase you only want it to be seen by your sweetheart (or your cat/dog/rat).

DIY Galaxies

someone else made this via SNARL APPAREL on Etsy

There are as many tutorials online about how to do this as there are stars in the universe, and because I am obsessive and wanted you to love the first edition of my column, I watched/read all of them. Creating a galaxy pattern didn’t seem all that hard to do, so I decided to go for it! This is what I did, and what you can do as well.

You will need:

+ a dark colored item of clothing (I used a black tank top but you should use whatever your heart tells you to)
+ bleach
+ an empty spray bottle
+ fabric paint or acrylic paint in purple, blue, red, white and yellow
+ sponges
+ an old toothbrush

1. Lay the shirt on some paper on the floor. In the spray bottle, make a mixture of half bleach and half water. Spray the shirt unevenly, creating areas of highly concentrated bleach where you want your cosmos to be. It will turn an orangey color pretty immediately, but will take some time to lighten, so don’t go to crazy with the bleach. When I stopped spraying it looked like this:

I left it to dry for an hour, then rinsed it in cold water and left it to dry again. Then I went to a Taking Back Sunday show with my girlfriend because we’re from Long Island, and when I got back it looked like this:

2. Water down some purple paint, and with a sponge, go around the bleach spots and fill in most of the black spots.

3. Using an additional sponge of watered down blue paint, go around the purple that’s around the bleach spots. Then apply some blue to the center of the large purple/black areas.

4. Use the red paint to blend the orange of the bleach spots into the blue and purple, which will give it some dimension. Then add some white paint to the center of the bleach spots so they stand out.

5. Now we are going to make the stars, which was super messy and involved some trial and error! Do as I did not, and practice this on something else first. Using an old toothbrush dipped in white paint, you’re going to bend the bristles back so that it scatters white flecks. By holding the toothbrush at different angles, you’ll be able to create different size stars, which is important for creating depth. Concentrate the flecks more in the darker areas. Then, using a sharp pencil dipped in white paint, create larger stars by making X shapes. I also added some dot-shaped stars using the tip of the pencil.

6. Take a step back and evaluate your feelings. I felt like the light parts didn’t pop enough, so I added some yellow around the white, which turned out to be a good idea. Now go away and let it dry!

7. Have your girlfriend take a picture of you wearing it, and post it on the internet.

mission accomplished!


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Profile gravatar of Gabrielle

Gabrielle used to be a contributing editor at Autostraddle. These days, she's the editorial director at NYLON, an international media company for millennial women, which obviously she tries to make as gay as possible. She lives in Brooklyn and her two favorite colors are black and blonde.

Gabrielle has written 96 articles for us.

121 Comments

    • 0

      when you bleach the shirt, just soak it in 50/50 of vinegar and water. the vinegar stops the bleach from destroying the fabric. let it soak for about 2-3 hours. then wash it and dry it. the bleach wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

      • 0

        From doing bleach shirts I also learned that Hydrogen Peroxide will stop the bleaching process. I always keep a bottle of it handy along with my bleach bottle (I mix the bleach 50/50 water/bleach, slower reaction but easier to control). This way as soon as the shirt looks somewhat how I want it I just spritz it with the hydrogen peroxide and it stops the chemical reaction.

        also, best to use a shirt that is 50/50 cotton/polyester blend. The shirt (or whatever) will hold together better. The bleach will eat the cotton fibers, so a 100% cotton can end up falling apart.

  1. 0

    But but but you forgot to answer the most important question : which ones of these products/motifs are actual cosmic pictures??? ’cause I love some of the stuff here, but I’m way too much of a nerd to wear anything that isn’t the real deal.

    • 0

      If you’re going DIY, use Astronomy Picture of the Day as your inspiration! While you’re at it, subscribe because it’s awesome!

    • 0

      Thank you both! 🙂 The Blackmilk leggings are way too expensive for me but they do look cool.
      I used to check APOD every day a few years ago but totally forgot about it, that’s an awesome idea! I’ll try the DIY method, and if I fail at it too much I could always get the pic printed on something.

    • 0

      Don´t forget that we just know 0.0000000000000000000001% or less of our universe….The chances of a picture just like that existes is big….just saiyng. 😉

  2. 0

    gabrielle, my birthday is in december and that tank top is perfection. just sayin’.

    no but seriously, this is perfect and you are perfect and i kind of want to dress up as the universe for halloween next year just so i can wear ALL THE GALAXY THINGS all at once.

  3. 0

    Love the idea of the underwear, but it’s not quite the style I’d want. But thanks to your great how-to, I’m going to make my own galactic underwear!

  4. 0

    I kind of want to take every dark clothing article I own and galacticize it. That’s a word right? Galacticize. I’m gonna galacticize the heck out of some holiday presents.

  5. 0

    weird! the 5th pic and 1st under the headline “Galaxies from the Femme-of-Center Universe” is my friend from college. too bad I don’t keep in contact with her. Would love to tell her she was featured on AS…but that might be awkward considering we haven’t talked since graduation……

  6. 0

    I like the galaxy underpants. I’ve always suspected the contents of my pants were the centre of the galaxy.

    In other news, the pics of the leggings you posted are from Aussie brand Black Milk – http://blackmilkclothing.com/ – and come in dresses and skirts as well. Seems that at the moment they’re offering free international shipping and Cyber Monday discounts for anyone who wants a pair. I own the aurora sky ones and love them.

  7. 0

    I haven’t fallen for galactic designs yet but I may! I may! and this is a most excellent guide and I am looking forward to more in this series. You are entirely fabulous.

  8. 0

    I hate it when they call it galaxy print when CLEARLY THOSE ARE NEBULAS I mean um hi I’ll just be over here nerdraging in the corner.

  9. 0

    1. “I love how galaxy prints allude to sparkle with all that lovely cosmic matter.” This is really well-written and makes me want to dig out my telescope from somewhere dark (in the store room).

    2. Will look forward to more of this series, especially if you always include a step 7. ^_^

  10. 0

    One of my friends painted her shoes this way, but she used glitter as well. It looked amazing. She is now officially my coolest friend.

  11. 0

    do we think this would work on my black keds or toms?
    /how much trouble do we think i will get in for wearing this with my school uniform?

  12. 0

    I think I need to get my craft on, this is awesome!

    Also, don’t forget a piece of card inside yr shirt to stop the bleach reaching the back layer. Unless, that’s what you want.

    Also also, how does diluted fabric paint hold up after washing?

  13. 0

    I’m making mine on a classic v-neck tee. It looks SO good! Thank you for this post!!!!
    FYI: I’ve found that having it hanging up lets it all soak in and dry easier, and you can do front AND back.

  14. 0

    Wow this is so great! I had my doubts that even a master DIYer could create the galaxy with her mere human hands but I am so excited that if you can do it (and make it look relatively easy) I too must be able to do it!!

  15. 0

    So what happens to the paint after it gets washed? I would hate to do all that to have it washed away.

  16. 0

    Does anyone know how they make these clothes with real Hubble images??? I would love to do that but I don’t know if it’s possible.

  17. 0

    Just got a black tanktop from my daughter I can not wait to surprise her with this!!! Soooo excited to make!!!

  18. 0

    Might I say, this is one of the best things I’ve ever seen.
    I just finished mine and I’m very proud of it. 🙂
    It was simple to do (okay…simple enough) and it looks great.

  19. 0

    when you bleach the shirt, just soak it in 50/50 of vinegar and water. the vinegar stops the bleach from destroying the fabric. let it soak for about 2-3 hours. then wash it and dry it. the bleach wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

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  21. 0

    I bleached a shirt and old pair of vans, but the bleach on the black shirt still looks orange. So what do you do if the bleach stains stay orange instead of turning white?

  22. 0

    Love this! Definitely going to give it a try one of these weekends. I’m not artistic at all… so hopefully mine turns out as good as yours!

  23. 0

    Do the stars I would have used a straw and dipped the paint in the end and blew on the other end it works just ad well and doesn’t get all over your hands !

  24. 0

    I did this in the bathtub so the mess was easy clean up. I made leggings but I don’t know how to post a picture of them

  25. Pingback: » Galaxy Accessories! VT Meets NYC

  26. 0

    Have you ever tried this on a dress or leggings? Or would that take too long? Also, could I use dark brown clothing?
    Really cute and impressive by the way!

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  28. 0

    I have been watching/reading tuts on this all week. I want to do some leggings… but now I kind of want to do a dress… I like your method. But I saw one where a girl used a round (plate I think) to mark off a place for a planet… I loved that part of hers but not the rest… I think these two will have a baby and I might have what i want 🙂

  29. 0

    what kind of paint did you use? acrylic? oil? house paint? tell meeeee i need to know! lol

  30. 0

    So I Fucking Love Science posted this awesome picture of a galaxy tank top on facebook that said you could make one yourself. I clicked on the link and ended up at Autostraddle. My entire life has been made.

  31. 0

    Gay men can do this too, right? lol!

    Praise be to I Fucking Love Science. This is BEAUTIFUL. Thanks for the tut!

  32. 0

    Soo trying this with my 5-year-old today. Separate shirts of course, but it should be epic. I’m going to buy fabric paint though.. I’ve used acrylic on clothes before and its always kind of stiff. Thanks for posting!!

  33. 0

    WOuld be fun with glow-in-the dark paint over the white, as well.
    As a science teacher, all my work clothes will now be galaxies. And my students’ too.

    • 0

      Put cardboard between the layers of fabric. You can put more than one piece of cardboard if you are using a lot of bleach.

  34. 0

    Woo-hoo! I’m a tour guide at an astronomical observatory, and I wrote a book about the observatory which I need to promote. I need something like this for both.

    I’m probably pushing my luck here, but can you suggest how to do a T shirt something like this awesome photo of Saturn? http://starisland.co.uk/770/a-stunning-photo-of-saturn It would look even better than a nebula.

  35. 0

    so i tried it… my bleach spots are not turning white! they are only orange!!! how do i make this white??

    • 0

      It takes a little bit of time to turn white. You can also just add more bleach or use white paint over the spots. But definitely give it time to let it do its thing!

    • 0

      Also different colored fabric will bleach to slightly different colors, so try it with purple or dark blue and see what you get. You might like it.

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  37. 0

    Does the clothing item become stiff after it is painted. I’m a scenic artist, and all my paint shirts are stiff where the latex paint has gotten on them. Does acrylic paint do the same thing to clothes?

    Thanks
    Vic

  38. 0

    This is AWESOME! I haven’t messed with fabric painting in what seems a million years. And (honest-to-pete!) just recently bought some paints to give it another go. Funny how the Cosmos works, huh? I bought the paints and have been staring at them for 2 weeks. Then….HERE YOU ARE! I’m so delighted. Thanks for this post and consider yourself one fan richer! Brava, Bella! Mille grazie!

  39. 0

    How would you come about doing the back of the shirt?? Would you have to do it separately or does the bleach just go through to the other side??

  40. 0

    I had “galactic wash” jeans back in the 80’s/highschool. Just dark blue with white flecks. Looked even better under black light! But, I was utterly ridiculed every time I wore them, but I wore them just the same.

    This shirt would have looked great with them. Very cool!

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  42. 0

    This is awesome. It is sparking some creative ideas. I am also a big fan of trying to stay away from things like bleach, so I may take it a step further and make a bleach substitute with lemon juice, water, and hydrogren peroxide. Thanks for sharing.

  43. 0

    I like Via’s skirt, very vibrant. I know how to make this but I never got to it(like most things im not required to do)

  44. 0

    I just wanted to say that I’m doing this with the kids I work with on Wednesday and they are super excited. I brought the shirts home to do the bleaching part here and we will be doing the painting at work. Only thing I’ve done different is we’re using silver instead of white paint. Thanks for posting the how to!

  45. 0

    I’m no longer sure the place you are getting your info, however great
    topic. I needs to spend some time finding out more or understanding more.
    Thank you for excellent info I was on the
    lookout for this info for my mission.

  46. 0

    Love love love this. I am a toddler teacher and had each kid bring in a black shirt to do this as a project. I handled the bleach part but the kids sponge painted on the colors. This was such a awesome project for SPACE WEEK!!!!! Thank you for the amazingly fantastic idea!!!!

  47. 0

    After having an upset daughter because she didn’t want to dress as a planet, I had the fabulous idea of making a galaxy shirt for her. Having never done one before, I was a little apprehensive as I’m not artistically inclined in the slightest! However, I’m happy to report that I have done the shirt, am extremely happy with the outcome, and cannot wait to present it to my little girl when she gets home from school. Thank you!!

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  49. 0

    SO DARN GOOD! Going to make some cushions for hubby using your tute! Thanks so much for sharing and keep up the awesome work xo

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