NYFW DIY: Lindsey Thornburg’s Body Art

While most of my blogger friends (and, it seems, anyone with half an interest in fashion) have migrated to New York over the past few days to be at the center of the fashion week action, I have been stuck in Boston, following vicariously through their pictures, tweets and blog posts. Talk about inspiration overload! I can barely make a mental note of a designer to watch or item to covet before being bombarded by a half dozen more. Still, there have been a few stand-outs among the sea of feathered frocks and 90s goth revivalists.

[Lindsey Thornburg AW11: Looks like “Stevie Nicks buying a dreamcatcher on a bender.” – boyfriend after two beers]
image source

Take, for example, Lindsey Thornburg. In the designer’s first ever fashion week presentation, she showed off her signature blanket cloaks and stunning dresses. Thornburg had a little help in the accessories department from two of my favorites: Anna Sheffield of Bing Bang, who collaborated on jewelry strung with sterling amulets; and Chase Cohl of Littledoe, who topped the looks with custom felt fedoras. The detail that really caught my attention, however, was the body art – a bold “LT” emblazoned on models’ necks, backs and clavicles.

As a girl with a crippling fear of needles, I’m obviously a fan of the rising runway prevalence of mock tattoos and faux piercings. In fact, after last September’s shows, I was inspired to experiment with my own techniques. There were a few failed attempts (do not waste your money on henna pens), but I finally came up with a method that is simple, inexpensive and requires zero artistic ability. Check it out:



It’s an easy look to create at home. You will need:

images printed on a LaserJet printer or copier
non-acetone nail polish remover
tissues, toilet paper, or papertowels
optional: paint pens (for prolonged results)


A Note on Choosing Artwork: This method works best with smaller images, no more than a couple of inches in size. If you need inspirations, check out Tattoologist – it will make you want to collect tattoos like tiny charms. I took a cue from model Freja Beha, sticking to simple shapes and text.

Whatever you choose will need to be printed mirror image. You can use free online photo editing sites like Picnik to get the effect. It also only works with LaserJet print outs. If you don’t have access to a LaserJet printer at home or work you can bring your pictures to any copy center.

Now, let’s begin.

Cut out the image you will be using, leaving just a little space around the outside edges. You’ll want to have a good idea of placement before you go any further. Consider how your skin moves, bends and twists. Try to hold the area in the most neutral skin position while placing the tattoo so it does not come out looking crooked or distorted.


Start with clean, dry skin. Moisten the area just slightly with nail polish remover to help the paper stick. Place your image face down on skin and use a cloth or tissue to wet it with polish remover. It should not be dripping, but be sure it soaks through the paper thoroughly.

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Press firmly and evenly along all lines and areas of the image, being careful not to move the paper. This should only take 20-30 seconds to transfer. When you feel the paper is soaked through entirely and all areas have been evenly pressed to your skin, peel back the transfer.

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Voila! Instant body art!

The transfer should be clean and solid to start, but as you move it will begin looking less like a true tattoo and more like a stamp. It won’t bleed or smudge, but it will gradually fade after several hours.

If at any point you make a mistake or want to remove your body art, it washes off easily with warm water and gentle scrubbing.

These are fun for a night out, but they will last less than a day. If you’re looking for something with slightly more staying power, I recommend a paint pen. For those of us with less confidence in our artistic ability, the transfers serve as a helpful guide. Wash until only a faded image remains and allow skin to dry completely before carefully using a paint pen to trace and fill in.

It takes a steady hand, but the effort pays off. Unlike ink markers, paint pens won’t bleed or mark up clothing. And unlike the transfers, the results will stick around for up to a week.

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2 Responses to NYFW DIY: Lindsey Thornburg’s Body Art

  1. noelani says:

    I have been obsessed with Lindsey Thornburg for months. Her cloaks are HEAVEN but the pricing sent me running to the hills. I have to check out her new collection ASAP. You were missed in NYC!


  2. Hey there! I’ve been reading your web site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!


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