As a young recent grad on a budget, I can’t waste any of my already thin paycheck on unnecessary clothing purchases, especially while I have items sitting in my drawers that are going unused!
When recently watching a special episode of The Rachael Ray Show on getting the most out of every dollar, I was inspired to kill two birds with one stone: I could get rid of those unused garments while simultaneously getting a brand new outfit for free! One of her guests on the show was the ReFashionista, who challenged herself to save money on clothes by remaking an old dress into a wearable frugal fashion every day for a year!
I did more research and found a similar blogger at New Dress A Day and was hooked on this creative way to save money. I dug out an old linen dress that I never wore and stained t-shirt to see what I could come up with.
Step 1: Figure out what you love about the garment and want to preserve in your new design.
What I loved about this dress:
1. It was free. I got it in a bag of clothes and barely ever wore it. I had nothing to lose by making it new!
2. It is made from a super-light linen which is my favorite thing to wear in the summer!
3. The construction is great. The ReFashionista pointed out that not every dress is made well enough to make something new out of, but I knew this could handle it.
4. I loved the neckline and the fit around the hips and thighs.
Step 2: Determine what you want to improve. Remember - there are many ways to fix something ugly! Don’t be afraid to dream. (Like Kristina J, who gets inspired by Anthropologie and remakes her clothes into their high-end designs for cheap!)
What I wanted from this dress:
1. A light, very wearable outfit for any summer day.
2. A waist. This dress was very loose around my waist - the smallest part of my body!
3. Color. The dress was a plain off-white color that washes me out and was not interesting at all.
Step 3: The frugal and fun part! It’s time to start pinning, cutting, dyeing, and stitching to make your masterpiece. Here are some ideas I picked up from different blogs.
1. Start with a great piece to begin with. Well-constructed, great pattern (patterns also help hide any messy sewing mistakes), and good fabric. Look for brands you already know and trust. An outdated dress by Calvin Klein is still a Calvin Klein dress!
2. Take it apart. Remove shoulder pads and other accessories or details you know you don’t want. Also, deconstruct the dress in your head - what pieces do you have to work with? Can you make the top into a nice shirt? What can you do with fabric from the sleeves?
3. Consider adding details. Take scraps of fabric, new enclosures, buttons or beads to add some flair to your new outfit. Add a cut-out to the back or sides. Be careful not to overdo it, though; sometimes less is more. You can even dye the fabric if you are feeling extra brave!
4. Length. This is probably the easiest thing you can do to a dress to make it new: just shorten it! So many dresses from back in the day are really not that bad except that you get lost in floor-length florals!
5. Wear it in a creative way. Did you know you can turn a robe into a jacket? A shirt into a dress? A dress into a skirt? A sleeve into a headscarf? Try wearing your garment in a zillion creative ways to find its true calling - even try it on backwards! Don’t forget, you’re having fun while saving money.
6. Find your waist. Sometimes all it takes is a belt to find your waist in the midst of a free-flowing mu-mu mess. Other times it takes some more advanced sewing techniques. Either way, showing your waist in any old garment will instantly flatter anyone!
Check out these links for more helpful tips and ideas:
College Fashion: How to Remake a Thrift Store Dress (Part I and Part II)
Your Kloset: Turn Old Clothing Into New Summer Clothes
Wikihow: Make Old Clothes New
Step 4: Enjoy your new outfit! My sister, the wonderfully talented Susannah, helped me out with this creative way to save money. She cut off the sleeves, took in the waist, added a cut-out in the back, stitched on colorful details and added a belt made from my old t-shirt. I was able to ImpulseSave $20.00, which is probably a low estimate for what this dress would have cost in the store! I love it!
Have you ever remade old clothes into something new as a fun way to save money? What are some things you have made?