What are the Different Types of Indie Dresses?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff
Thrift stores commonly offer indie dresses.
Thrift stores commonly offer indie dresses.

The term “indie dresses” could be used to describe just about any type of dresses, as long as they make an independent fashion statement. Indie fashion is all about wearing clothing that is one of a kind. Designers who specialize in making indie dresses often called themselves “independent” designers. These dress designs are usually not associated with a particular clothing label. Some of the common types of indie dresses are deconstructed pieces, vintage pieces, and dresses that incorporate fabric sculpture or painting.

Vintage indie dresses can make a one-of-a-kind fashion statement.
Vintage indie dresses can make a one-of-a-kind fashion statement.

Some popular styles of indie dresses involve embellishing and sculpting on the surface of blended knit dresses. The dresses are usually shaped like a T-shirt, but have scraps of contrasting fabric overlaid on each other to form intricate three-dimensional geometric designs. For those who are able to sew, making one of these indie dresses could be a fun do-it-yourself project, but they are also available through shops that sell one-of-a-kind garments.

Stencils may be used to create one-of-a-kind indie dresses.
Stencils may be used to create one-of-a-kind indie dresses.

Fabric deconstruction is one good way to turn ordinary off-the-rack dresses into unusual, eye-catching indie designs. In fashion terms, deconstruction is literal, and usually involves the ripping or shredding of a garment. In most cases, the more intricate the deconstruction, the more valuable the piece. Dresses made of cotton and polyester blended knit work best for shredding, but most any type of fabric will work for the ripped look. Shredding involves the individual separation off fabric fibers until the fabric begins to resemble webbing.

Vintage indie dresses are probably the most common, because the unique look of a vintage piece will present an indie style statement without needing style adjustments. Indie fashion is all about achieving a one-of-a-kind fashion statement, and because vintage pieces are so rare, they already have a distinctive look. Vintage dresses can sometimes be found at yard sales, thrift shops, and estate sales. Another great place to find vintage indie dresses is to check the attics of older relatives. People often keep their old clothes for many years, and sometimes it is possible to come across a treasure trove of these pieces without looking any further than your grandmother’s attic.

Many of those who would love to have indie dresses but are unable to sew, or cannot afford boutique prices, might want to consider fabric painting. Simply choose a dress with a style and design that you like, and make it indie by applying paint. Even those who are not particularly artistic can probably create a unique indie piece with the use of stencils. The designs can be traced onto the fabric using a fabric pen, and then filled in with paint. For people who have some artistic ability, creating a painted indie dress of their own design could be a fun and rewarding project.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@browncoat - It seems like, in my town, there are constantly little indie designers setting up shop and then going out of business a few months later. It's a shame in some ways, because they often look like they have some wonderful designs and I suspect that they simply didn't have good business sense, rather than there being a fault with their goods.


@pastanaga - It's extremely difficult to source clothes that have been made ethically from materials to manufacturing if that's your goal. I think the closest most people get is getting clothes from a second hand store, just because at least they are re-using them. But it can be tough to find exactly what you need in a second hand store, and almost impossible if you are really hoping to run a viable business selling modified indie clothes.

On the other hand, it can definitely be done. I know several designers on Etsy who make a living scouring second hand stores and modifying the clothes, then reselling their designs.

That takes real skill, however and isn't something that I'd encourage anyone to do without a lot of training and a financial safety net.


If you really want to get into fabric painting or some other kind of clothing modification I would have a look and see if there are any local wholesale clothing companies that are willing to sell small amounts of their product.

There is a t-shirt company that I often buy from that will let you buy a single item, although it's a bit more expensive than buying in bulk. It's still much cheaper than getting a single shirt from a store and you'll easily be able to find basics as well.

It might not be quite what people are hoping for when they ask for indie clothing though, as the wholesalers are usually a big business or sourcing their products from one.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Thrift stores commonly offer indie dresses.
      By: gabe9000c
      Thrift stores commonly offer indie dresses.
    • Vintage indie dresses can make a one-of-a-kind fashion statement.
      By: JackF
      Vintage indie dresses can make a one-of-a-kind fashion statement.
    • Stencils may be used to create one-of-a-kind indie dresses.
      By: Hugh O'Neill
      Stencils may be used to create one-of-a-kind indie dresses.