Making the Most of Your Wardrobe: Trends in Repurposed Fashion

There are many reasons why you might weed out items from your wardrobe. Perhaps you have gained or lost weight so that much of your clothing no longer fits. Or maybe several items are starting to show their age with staining, holes, or general wear and tear. It could be that there are several items you simply never wear that are taking up space. Whatever your reasons for wanting to remove garments from your wardrobe, you are likely aware that the eco-friendly option when it comes to disposing of them is to donate rather than tossing them in the trash.

This is a great idea for items that are still in usable condition since there are plenty of people that can benefit from the affordable attire you decide to send to the local thrift store (plus, you get a tax write-off for donations). However, there may be items that you’re hesitant to part with, either for sentimental reasons or because you haven’t gotten your use value out of them (even though they no longer fit). In this case you may want to think about the trends in repurposing that could help you to continue using items that would otherwise become cast-offs and space-wasters in your closet.

The easiest way to keep perfectly good clothing usable when you’ve gained or lost weight (a common reason for ditching duds) is to get busy with the seam ripper and sewing machine. Many high-end garments come with extra fabric at the seams to allow for letting out, thus extending their usable life for consumers. And of course, taking them in is no great hassle. However, if you’re not at all confident in your abilities to make your clothes fit right, you might give your local tailor or seamstress some business by letting the pros handle your alterations. By the way, this will cost you a lot less than replacing these items with the next size, all the while diminishing the call for new manufacturing.

On the other hand, you might have items that aren’t worth tailoring or that are more or less beyond repair. T-shirts and old jeans are good examples. Luckily, there are a number of fashionable ways to repurpose these items. Old tees can easily be turned into skirts, scarves, and even accessories like headbands and bracelets (just search online to find a slew of tee-related tutorials). And shredded tees and jeans may be turned into haute household items like woven or raggy rugs and throw blankets, or even patchwork quilts. Even old sweaters can be truncated below the arms and easily turned into cute covers for throw pillows.

Shoes will be a little harder to repurpose, but since your pumps, sneakers, and wellies always fit you can pretty much wear them out. And if you want to keep your faves for years to come, simply condition them appropriately and re-sole as needed. Or when they begin to unravel, add some studs, patches, or blingy accessories to give them new style and extend their usable life. Clothing is often viewed as disposable in our consumer society, but if you want to do your part for the environment and save a little cash in the process, finding ways to repurpose your garments will meet your many needs. So get creative and don’t hesitate to spend a little in order to preserve the wardrobe you’ve got. You’ll enjoy savings in the long run.

About the Author

Leon Harris is a freelance writer based in Camarillo, California. A lover of both words and coffee, he can regularly be found either reading or writing at his local coffee shop. If not at the coffee shop, he is usually at UC Santa Barbara, where he attends college part-time.