Welcome to SIGNATURE STYLE, the monthly blog I write with Cindy and Kim. Both ladies have super blogger status in my eyes 🤩, so be sure to catch their spin on “closet clear out” by clicking on the links at the end. And if you think you’d like to comment on this one, simply press the title of it now and that option will appear at the bottom of the post. Let’s get started…
Long time followers will know that over the last 12 months I have done a huge closet overhaul, feel free to scroll back on all the posts I’ve written during this time as they all refer in some way to it. But in my last SAVVY STYLE blog I went through in detail how I CURATED MY CLOSET, you may want to read that here. But what I’d like to revisit in more detail is the 2nd Step, that I call ALTER or PURGE, because I am very much into making the most of what I already have before I think about saying goodbye to it. We all know what a disaster our consuming has caused with regards to landfill. You only have to look at your weekly garbage collection to see this. And if you think clearing out your closet is much different, think again. We have to be very mindful of how we dispose of what we no longer wear as i’d hate to be responsible for contributing to one of the mass piles of unwanted garments we see on the news. Especially if it’s shipped offshore for someone else to deal with! So what I’d like to talk about is what I’ve (and others) have done to inspire you to extend the life of items you may think have past their use by date. And all it requires is a bit of your time and some imagination to ALTER or what I’m beginning to call UPCYCLE !!
UPCYCLING is a form of recycling where instead of turning waste into new materials, you can take a product that you would otherwise throw or give away and give it a new use in life (or as I like to think, a new lease of life). Rather than recycle using a recycling bin, you can use your creativity to update and renew old items. Time and Imagination ✅ and here are a few examples to inspire you to UPCYCLE items from your wardrobe:
DYE YOUR CLOTHES
You all know I’m a huge fan of this. So I’m going to mention it again (and again and again 😂) ! I’ve tried to remember the first garment I ever dyed. And it was actually in my teens. Albeit, the dye came in the form of bleach, and back then I acid washed an old pair of jeans instead of purchasing new ones with the same effect ! And then of course, I got on the the tie-dye wagon. This was in a trough or bucket. I even dyed old sheets and then cut and sewed garments out of them (with Mum’s help). And then in my 20s I had professional laundries dye items for me. These days I’m back to DIY and am an avid user of the DYLON front loader pods after seeing Ciara AKA @the_style_counsellor do it (more from her later 😉). So far I’ve dyed Eight cotton or linen garments and it’s been relatively easy, and I like to think these UPCYCLED results speak for themselves:
ALTER YOUR CLOTHES
This is a no brainer! We have all had items taken in, let out, taken up or let down. I’ve even known people to have had extra fabric inserted under the arm of blouses and jackets to give them extra room. What I’m a fan of though, is taking garments and adapting them to make them look more current or make you wear them. I mean, how many garments do you own that simply don’t get enough wear time? For me, it’s like that with Jeans… so I recently had a few pairs cropped (instead of tossing and buying new) to follow this trend. And in AW, they have the added bonus of showing off your boot. You can see this from the pics below. I have also had long cardigan coats (coatigans) made into gilets, and I’m thinking about doing it to the checked one in the first picture below for next AW here, as t believe they are currently trending in the Northern Hemisphere 😉 I also have a shorter utility jacket I’d like to upcycle into a vest. And a faux fur coat! Oh the possibilities! And you can also have necklines changed, in the second pic from the left, this dress once had a pussy bow, which I removed to convert to the belt you see. And don’t forget about changing buttons. That can make a huge difference. So many ideas, all you need is a bit of time and some imagination. And perhaps finding the perfect seamstress to help you out. I’ve been using the same one for over 10 years, and now Oksana always gives me a nice little discount on every alteration 🙏🏻.
VEST out of a JUMPER
I’ve never done this, but KB aka the_notorious_thrifter on Instagram posted this idea. And the best thing is that there is little skill and no dressmaker fees involved.
BLOUSE out of a DRESS
And if you caught my most recent SECONDHAND STYLE a blog, you will see I did just that.
PAINT YOUR SHOES
This is something I haven’t done since my 40s 😳… perhaps it’s time for it again. I recently saw Ciara aka the_style-counsellor dyeing a pair. She used this shoe dye and they came up so well! I am so tempted to experiment with a black leather/rope heel pair I have and never wear. I mean… what have I got to lose?
The product used was this:
And you can also cut off straps to make your shoes into slides, and yes, these are mine!
ADD FUR TO A MULE
I did this! And while a true GUCCI aficionado would be able to tell the difference, they are a bit of fun…when it doesn’t rain 😉
MAKE JEWELLERY out of JEWELLERY
Perfect for the costume kind! Although I did actually have a solid gold necklace (gift from an ex boyfriend) melted and made into a solid bangle when we broke up 😂. I do have quite good jewellery tools, so it’s easier for me to convert pieces. But there is nothing stopping you buying some if it interests you, it’s so fun 😉. And the beads/chains you have that you don’t wear will be the perfect pace to start experimenting with. My daughter was throwing out some old cheap necklaces she didn’t wear, so I simply joined a few, added some charms from others, et voila. And sometimes removing a few baubles is the way to wearing a necklace! I did that to get on board with the chunky chain trend.
I’m currently awaiting on some Irish linen ribbon to arrive, so I can make another necklace out of an existing one…follow me on Insta to see that happen 😉 I found the ribbon on Etsy.
ADD A BAG STRAP
I once used a belt to convert a pouch into a crossbody:
And added a vintage crochet to a clutch:
So many ideas! And if you have any additional, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. And of course, alterations don’t all have to be done at once. So let’s talk timing.. you can take as long or as short a time in doing this. It’s up to you! I started at the beginning of the year in January, as it’s when the mood took me. But from now on, I’m going to retake a look at my wardrobe at the beginning of Spring, which is now for me, and at the beginning of Autumn. That way, I can look back at the previous season (AW for me) to see what didn’t get worn, ask myself why and perhaps put it in my UPCYCLING basket (or at least make a note), so that when that season (AW) comes around again, I can visit the garment and change it up so it gets worn or dispose of it mindfully. For example, I am currently putting 3 AW coat/cardigan/jacket in it and am about to take out a lovely long white cotton cardigan I placed there last March, that I will now dye for SS 😉
And if UPCYCLING doesn’t appeal to you and you do want to PURGE instead, why not look to companies like UPPAREL who guarantee your donations don’t go to landfill here or overseas. And if you don’t have the funds to purchase this recycling option, they always have sponsored businesses who can help you by taking your unwanted items. Simply give them a follow on Instagram and they always share who they are. Alternatively, you can of course just sell what you decide you no longer have a need for, or even better, give them to someone who you know will wear them. I just happen to find joy in having the “purge” pile sit in a basket until inspiration comes, because I genuinely believe you really can create some great new items from what you have with a little time and imagination.
Sarah, SO many great ideas. I’d forgotten how many alterations/changes you’ve made in the last few months. I don’t have your imagination, or skills, but I’m certainly feeling inspired to look through my wardrobe to get more wear from items that I’m not wearing much. Thank you! Liz x
Sometimes it’s easier to see them all grouped together like this! 🙏🏻
Brilliant Sarah. I have always said, having a great seamstress us as important as a great hairdresser. I have upcycled and tailored my clothes for over 30 years. I also chop up shoes and regig jewellry. We are definatly cut from the same cloth you and I. Xx
So rewarding isn’t it? Love knowing other women in my life who do the same 🙏🏻
Sarah I love your ideas..Dying new colors is such a good idea.. I also like the idea of altering a sweater or a jacket or a dress.. I remember cutting the necks in my sweaters and t shirts when I was younger and don’t know why I don’t try it now.. Also remember wearing sweaters backwards? I kind of love that look too. So many good ideas here with the jewelry and the bags too. Always I get inspiration and motivation from you to do better!! Adore you. xo Kim
That really is so very kind 🙏🏻 Thank you so much for the lovely words 😘