Media & Techniques

5 Ways to Take Wearable Art to the Next Level in Your Art Room

For art teachers, the term “wearable art” probably evokes a vision of one of two things: an accidental collision of a new white shirt and a kindergartener’s art project or a tie-dye t-shirt. However, a closer look at the subject reveals a whole new world of art projects with roots in fashion and contemporary art. While some teachers have managed to create art projects that merge art and fashion, today we’ll explore some wearable art that could really amp up the secondary art room. Today we’re going way beyond tie-dye.

Duct Tape at Prom

duct tape prom

One of the most recognizable wearable art projects is the “Stuck At The Prom” contest. Students can win a $10,000 scholarship as well as $5,000 for their school for creating and wearing prom attire fabricated entirely out of Duck® Brand Duct Tape.

Toilet Paper is the New White

toilet paper wedding dress

The combination of toilet paper and wedding might summon embarrassing images of long strands of TP stuck to your heel. However, the good people at Charmin have other ideas. In collaboration with Cheap Chic Weddings, they are offering cash prizes for the most eloquent wedding dress fashioned solely out of toilet paper. The entries received are astonishing. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain!

Careful with the Corsage!

balloon dress

Usually only considered as decorations at birthday parties or inspiration for Jeff Koons, balloons have been fashioned into truly elegant outfits. Perhaps ironically, Pinterest is the place to sift through pin after pin of these pop-able garments. You’ll find everything from party dresses to ballroom gowns.

Inspiration in History of Art

picasso dress

The first three examples were all inspired by materials, but art history can also spark many wearable art projects. Challenge students with going beyond simply adding a print to a shirt. Ask them to imagine what a dress designed by Picasso would look like. How would Dali design a jacket? What would a jumpsuit created by Duchamp entail?

Step into the Light!

light dress

Leaving materials aside entirely, what apparel could your students construct using only photons? Atton Conrad, a London-based photographer has designed a number of campaign ads featuring models wearing costumes painted in light.

Through these examples, it’s obvious the inspiration for wearable art projects can be endless. Candy wrappers, dinner plates, flowers, pasta and soda cans are all objects that have found their way into fashion showrooms. Wearable art projects might range from designs on paper to full out fashion shows. Imagine what your students might create!

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Do you have any great lessons to share that merge art and fashion? 

Has anyone out there actually participated in either of the contests mentioned here?!


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Ian Sands

Ian Sands, a high school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. He is a co-author of The Open Art Room and believes art teachers shouldn’t make art—they should make artists.

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