In a world where fast fashion has become synonymous with ‘bad’ and not eco-friendly, dressing stylish may sound like a mountain to climb. Well-made ‘slow fashion’ brands are often very expensive, and many of us simply can’t afford to shell out half of our monthly income on new clothing, no matter how nice.
Enter recycled fashion: Whether you’re up-cycling something you already own, buying second-hand or vintage items to add to your wardrobe, making something new for yourself, or even sharing pre-loved items with your friends – here are some of our top tips for recycled but stylish fashion ideas that emulate the most popular styles today.
1. Upcycling clothes you already have
You may already own a few high-quality items in your wardrobe that you simply do not love anymore. Instead of taking them to your nearest charity shop, why not consider up-cycling? A long dress or skirt might be shortened, denim jeans can become shorts, and an old rock t-shirt might become a cool vest to layer over other items. Even items such as luxury patterned baby muslin blankets can be re-purposed into stylish scarves, and men’s shirts (as Shania once said) can easily become short skirts.
If you’re savvy at sewing, you may even try your hand at the art of ‘visible mending’ by patching up frayed but good-quality clothing with beautiful stitch patterns or fabric patches. A great book to check out on the subject is fashion designer Alabama Chanin’s The Geometry of Hand-Sewing.
2. Buying second-hand or vintage clothing
If you enjoy a more retro style, you’re in luck: Plenty of branded, beautiful second-hand clothing can be bought from charity shops or online. eBay, for one example, is a wonderful place to find vintage items from across different eras. Look out for reputable sellers with high (and ideally many) ratings and aim to shop local as shipping delays internationally can be an issue these days. Look for items that are ‘brand new with tags’ or ‘brand new without tags’ for unworn, undamaged items. Either way, check the images on a large screen as many online sellers do not accept returns.
Also keep in mind that vintage sizing can be a little different so, depending on the fit of an item, ask for measurements or upsize by one size. Take a close look at fabric types, as some are more yielding if you get the size slightly wrong (jerseys are great for stretch).
Check also some fashion ideas you want to avoid :))
3. Making fashionable clothes from recycled materials
As mentioned above, if you’re clever with a sewing machine, you can even make your clothes from recycled materials. Fabric shops frequently sell fabric off-cuts that are too small to be cut into multiple orders or have defective printing. These kinds of cuts often make fantastic one-of-a-kind fashion items. A simple skirt can easily be made using a free pattern (try an online resource such as The Spruce Crafts [link: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/patterns-to-sew-skirts-4027815] for this.
As one example, a simple retro skirt for ladies can easily be crafted by cutting a circle from a piece of spare fabric (even an old blanket scarf will work so long as the material doesn’t fray easily). Cut the opening to size by measuring your waist circumference and transferring this to the fabric, sew on a simple elastic band, and done! Jerseys are great for simple skirts as they don’t require a lot of ironing, but almost any fabric will do. If you’d like to try something unusual, you can even turn an old drawing or print into fabric by using an online fabric-printing service.
4. Try a style swap with friends
For a more free-flowing choice, why not organise a clothing swap with some friends. You can easily switch and share items you no longer require and gain some lovely new statement pieces. This is a particularly economical way to get your hands on some new-to-you fashion pieces, as you can organise a swap for free! Why not have a party to mark the occasion, and share drinks and advice on current beauty trends?
One tip: Make sure you organise a swap with friends who wear similar sizes and have everyone bring their items pre-washed and organised into colours, fabrics, or season for easier sharing.
Have we given you some ideas to upgrade your wardrobe with some new statement, recycled fashion pieces? We hope you’ll find that our recycled fashion tips can be a wonderful, fun way to get your hands on ‘new’ clothes.
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