I started a challenge to not buy new fashion this year. The journey is inspiring me to begin upcycling my clothes as an alternative to buying new when I feel the urge to shop.
4 Steps to Revolutionize your closet (and style) with remade clothes
A fun way to shift your attention and money away from new purchases is by upcycling clothes, something I've always wanted to do. I have started 4 projects. Once they're complete I will share a blow-by-blow account of how it went and what I learned and loved about it.
In the meantime, I want to share some practical tips to help you get started! No sewing or design skills required!
Before we delve in, let's define what upcycling is: Upcycling is creating new clothes from old clothes. Alterations can be simple or complex. It's possible to create a style that is virtually indistinguishable from its original state. It's all about imagination and creative self-expression. In many cases, it is also a political point of view.
My approach for a style reincarnation and closet revolution
- Choose wisely. How do you choose clothes to upcycle in the first place? I recommend starting with garments that you don't wear often: pieces you bought for a special occasion and wore once, garments that you've fallen out of love with, or any item that isn't quite perfect. Another option is to choose clothes that are well-worn - upcycling will give them a second life.
- Unleash your creativity. It's time to get creative with the design. Do you have something in your closet that you love and fits perfectly? Aim to replicate it! You can also search through fashion magazines or look to a style icon for inspiration. Take a photo or tear pages out of magazines and bring them to your trusted tailor (unless you know to sew). If you have a vision for a new design, create a mood board, sketch it, and bring it to your tailor or seamstress to whip that baby up!
- Clear vision. A clear and concise vision is a must to get the garment that you envision. Raissa, who works at LaliSimone, is also a fashion design and fine art graduate. Her tip is to approach the upcycling process in phases to ensure that everything is coming out to plan. And sketches (even rough ones) will help your seamstress understand your vision if you take the time to annotate sketches with shapes and measurements.
- Mind your budget. A professionally upcycled garment will look brand new. That takes a ton of art, skill, and time. And of course, a good tailor will charge accordingly. If you're one of those lucky ones who knows how to sew and create patterns - props! If your upcycling projects are on the higher end, consider this an investment in a design that no one else will have.
Moving forward, I plan to upcycle regularly because it is a great way to refresh my look and resist buying new fashion. Do you upcycle? Comment below with your thoughts about upcycling and any tips to get started.
* Photo credit: Upcycled double breasted trench by Greg Lauren
I hear you! There’s no better way to give an older favorite outfit a brand new life. I have so many upcycling ideas. I can barely keep up.
If you are in the Bay Area (or more specifically Oakland), I have used Doan’s Tailors on 12 St near Swan’s Market. I recommend them.
All the best!