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With the weather warming up, your wardrobe could probably use an update; but if you’re ready to empty out your closet and light a match, take a look at these tips first. If you know how to use it, your old wardrobe can help you save money and personalize your new look.
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Dip-dye your jeans
If you’ve got a pair of jeans that fit really well, but the fade looks a little dated, it’s a fairly easy fix to dip-dye them to a more fashionable color. RIT dye is the most commonly-used brand for restoring denim, and it goes for less than $5 a bottle. For summer wear, a pair of cutoffs is easy to make—the only question is whether to include a hem or leave the edges frayed. Before you dye any clothing, be sure that your dye is compatible with the fabric—synthetics and wool, for example, can be destroyed by many common dyes.
Cheap, ugly buttons can really date a blouse, blazer, or cardigan—you’ll be surprised how much difference it can make to swap them out for more stylish ones. All you’ll need are scissors, a needle and thread, and a good eye for colors to create a piece of clothing that feels new. This works especially well on plain, single-color items, because the buttons can transform the personality of the item, giving it a touch of retro, making it dressier, or toning it down.
Stitch accents on monochromes
If you like bold, solid colors, one way to update them is to stitch on your own accents—for instance, a little black dress can become more casual and breezy with a white or pastel band stitched around the waist. You can also stitch stenciled flowers or other patterns to a plain white dress to give it a little more personality. Accents require a little bit of sewing know-how, and confidence in your sense of style, but once you’re ready to take the plunge, you can get it done surprisingly quickly.
Have a sale with friends
If you like to keep your wardrobe cutting edge, then your last season’s throwaways are likely still worth a fair amount of money—you don’t wear your items long enough for them to feel heavily-used, and they’re usually pretty expensive. You can recoup some of your investment by organizing a “flash boutique” with some friends. Gather everyone’s old clothes together to create a larger inventory, download a virtual credit card terminal for your smartphone, and put together a sort of high-end garage sale for your old items. It’s a good way to clear out your closets, and the proceeds can take the edge of your next shopping spree.
Dismantle and repurpose
If you’ve got an item that is beyond help, don’t throw it away before you’ve thought about making use of the fabric. Even fabrics that look like they belong on Grandma’s upholstery can be appealing in small doses—in ribbons, quilts, collages, and other decorative accents. Soft, cottony items make good throw pillows (they tend not to survive as long as tougher fabrics, but they sure are comfortable while they last). Old scraps of silk and satin are good for ribbons, and coarse synthetic fabrics make excellent gift bags.