Are you suffering from a syndrome called ‘owning too many clothes’? And even though you try your best to Marie Kondo your wardrobe, you just can’t seem to accept that some clothes no longer spark joy for you.
Whether you’re an inveterate collector, an aspiring environmentalist (fast fashion is destroying the planet) or a student with a limited budget, there are plenty of ways you can reuse your clothes by upcycling them to look more fashionable and chic.
You don’t have to be a masterful tailor to get these looks. Just a dollop of creativity can breathe life into your old clothes! Here’s how you can revamp your wardrobe without paying an arm and a leg.
#1. Turn your jeans into shorts
Purchasing a new pair of shorts is not as easy as it seems. And just like any pair of pants, finding the right ones that fit perfectly is almost impossible. Instead of buying a new pair of denim shorts or cut-offs — aka the quintessential tropic staple — transform your old pair into one!
Your choices aren’t limited to just jeans. In fact, you can opt for an old pair that you find more fitting such as khakis, chinos or whatever you can salvage.
What You Need:
- A pair of jeans that you want to transform
- A sharp pair of scissors/Fabric scissors
- Needle and thread
- First, put on your jeans and mark your desired length with the chalk. Then take them off and lay them flat on a surface. Make the second mark on the other side of the leg. Connect them together by marking the sides.
- Repeat the same method for the other leg. To ensure that the lines are symmetrical, measure the length of the inseam (the stitches that start from your crotch to the bottom of the leg).
- Cut along the chalked angled line with a pair of scissors. Then, pull out the loose threads to create a cleaner look.
- If you don’t like the frayed jeans look, you can consider cuffing the shorts. To do this, fold the hem outward twice to create a cuff. Then stitch up the sides of the cuffs to hold them in place.
- For a fringe look, brush sandpaper along the edge to create a frayed hem. Alternatively, you can use tweezers to tease the denim fibres but this will take longer.
- And you’re done! Now you’ve got a great pair of shorts without spending a dime.
#2. Splash some colour on your favourite pieces
You love your old T-shirts and oversize jackets but the monotonous and dull colours are putting you off. Thus, you’ve decided that they’ll never see daylight again. Instead of shoving them deep into your closet or giving them away, unleash your creativity and go crazy with some paint!
From designing an art-inspired decoration on the back of your denim jacket and back pockets to plastering a bold and personal statement on the front of your shirt, you cannot go wrong with this trick! Here’s how you can swap your dull denim into an eye-catching statement piece.
What You Need (for a quirky back pocket):
- Pair of jeans that you want
- White tape
- Acrylic paint
- Paint brushes
- Thin black pens
- Once you’ve gathered all your materials, choose a back pocket you want and start by taping underneath the edges of your back pocket to avoid smudges.
- Start by painting a base to your back pocket. Ideally go for 1-2 layers of white acrylic paint. You should not see the colour of your jeans coming through. This is optional, but you can also start to layer with other colours based on your creativity.
- Wait for the paint to dry before you proceed to design your pocket! Grab the thin black pens and draw whatever image you prefer onto the white background.
- Once you have all your lines drawn in, begin painting your details!
- Once completed, let your paint dry and slowly peel off the tape. To set the painting, turn the jeans inside out and iron the back of the painting (avoid ironing on the paint as it will erode) for 5 – 7 minutes on high. Voilà!
#3. Get rid of the waist gap
Found a perfect-fitting pair of pants that elongates your body and accentuates your figure? It’s all great until it comes to that annoying big gap on the waist.
While a belt might come in handy for this wardrobe malfunction, you don’t want to risk having a big bulk that threatens to ruin the whole look, do you? Well, fortunately, there’s a quick and incredible solution for this problem!
What You Need:
- A string of shoelace
- Take the shoelace and pass it through the belt loops at the back of your jeans.
- Then, pull the lace towards the back of your jeans and tie it in a bow. This will pull the pants together and tighten around the waist.
- Tuck the shoelace down the back of your waist to hide it.
You can also check out this viral TikTok video that will show you exactly how to do that. While this trick can make your jeans fit to perfection, bear in mind that this trick does not work on jeans that are 2 sizes bigger. Otherwise you’ll look like you’re wearing a potato sack.
#4. Revamp your wardrobe with funky add ons
A simple patchwork like pockets and buttons can truly elevate your outfit effortlessly. This is one trick you can do even on your regular everyday shirts! Go for a wacky patterned design or embroidery for that bold look. Not only will this pump new life into an old plain tee, but pockets and buttons can also serve as a functioning feature to your look.
Alternatively, you can also consider adding elbow patches to your boring sweaters for an upcycled preppy look. While most elbow patches are made of suede or leather, you can also opt for any scrap fabric to replicate this style.
What You Need (for pockets):
- A piece of fun fabric
- Straight pins
- Needle and thread
- An iron
- First, you’ll need to cut a pocket-sized square of the fun fabric. Then, fold the fabric in half and trim the bottom corners with a curved snip. Open it and you’ll get a pocket.
- You will need to fold the sides of the fabric to create a small hem and then pin them down (this is to give space for when you sow the pocket on the shirt without affecting the front part of the pocket).
- You could either sew the hem together to keep them down or iron down the folded hems. The point is to keep the hem folded.
- Place your pocket square on your shirt and pin them at the location you’d want them to be. Then, stitch the pocket to your top, keeping your stitches nice and close to the pocket edge.
- Iron the pocket on your top once more to set the stitches and you’re done!
#5. Take a risk and go for stripes
If you haven’t noticed, the side-stripe pants are currently in style right now and many celebrities are donning a variety of this look. From the formal straight cut trousers to joggers, you just can’t miss this simple yet bold design that is enough to elevate an entire outfit.
Inspired by athleisure-wear like the vintage tracksuits, this trend started to hit the market when brands infused a casual and modern touch to it. While this style can be found straight off the runway, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get one without breaking a bank.
What You Need:
- A pair of jeans/trousers/chinos (anything to your liking)
- Velvet ribbon
- Straight pins
- Iron-on adhesive tape (or you can opt for needle and thread)
- A pair of scissors
- Thin scrap piece of cloth
- An iron
- Before you proceed on adding the stripes on to your pants, iron your pants first to avoid any wrinkles.
- Then, prepare the stripes by attaching the velvet ribbon together with the iron-on-tape to act as a strip for the side-stripe. Make sure the length of the attachment matches the length of the pants.
- Next, lay your pants out flat. Start by facing one side of the pants upward so you have access to its seam line in the middle. Starting from the top of the waistband, pin the strip on to the leg. Follow the seam line to make sure the strip will remain perfectly straight.
- Once they are pinned all the way down, apply the thin piece of cloth over the velvet ribbon strip (this is so the velvet is not damaged by the heat) and press down the iron for 5 – 10 seconds. Check between pressing to make sure the strip sticks.
- Leave an extra inch of the ribbon when you reach the bottom of the pants and cut off excess. Then wrap the strip into the inside of the pants and secure it with heat.
- Repeat step 3 – 5 for the other pant leg.
#6. Have a variety of different looks
If arts and craft is not your cup of tea, the easiest way you can revamp your wardrobe is by styling the same outfits differently. That staple tee and your favourite skinny jeans are begging to be reconfigured — you just have to think creatively of ways you can spice your wardrobe up.
Whether it’s sporty, casual or smart casual, experts suggest that you should focus on amplifying your style by adding different dimensions to your looks. It’s all about details with accessories and you can switch things up by pairing different bags or shoes, put on pieces of jewellery, tossing on a statement jacket or doing your hair differently. Accessorising is a perfect way for you to add personality into your outfits and overall style.
Reorganise your wardrobe or get crafty — it’s up to you! Not only will this help you lay away money, but you will also find out your sense of individuality and comfort from experimenting with a variety of styles. Dressing well will also give you an added boost towards your confidence and self-perception. So, go ahead and experiment away!