Easy ways to alter your wardrobe

how to alter your wardrobe

Guest post by Leah Morrison

Are you tired of your clothes, but don’t have the cash to buy a whole new wardrobe? As a recent graduate entering the workforce, I have to be careful with my budget, and new clothes just aren’t in the cards. (I’ve never found the tree that grows money my mom talked about when I was a kid.) So, I’ve decided to update my existing wardrobe to get a whole new look for a whole lot less. Toronto professional and expert wardrobe renovator Thalia Bock offered some tips to help me get started:

SHIRTS
If you’re altering your wardrobe for the first time, shirts are the easiest garment to tackle. “Shirts are so versatile and fun!” Thalia says. Try a colourful pin to add character to shirts and brighten them up. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, grab scissors and a needle and thread, and rework two different shirts into one new one. “In high school I had two shirts I liked, but was bored with them,” Thalia says. “So I cut them apart, swapped them and put them back together—instant new shirt!”

Or how about creating the look of suspenders? “Take sequined fabric and glue two strips onto a T-shirt,” suggests Thalia. This embellishment adds a great punch of colour to an otherwise plain top. For the truly wild, combine two different shirt styles in one garment. Thalia suggests cutting the buttons and collar from a button-up blouse and sewing them onto a plain T-shirt. (Make sure the T-shirt’s cut up the middle first.) You’ll create a one-of-a-kind shirt that’s a real original.

Bleaching on a picture is also an easy way to upgrade your style. Place a cutout of a design or picture onto a dark-coloured shirt and spray a bleach/water solution over the stencil using a spray bottle. Wait until the fabric changes colour then remove the cutout and rinse the garment. A bleach pen will offer an even more precise design.

PANTS
Step it up a notch with alterations for your lower half. “With all the pockets and zippers, altering pants can get complicated,” Thalia says. Start with something simple by using a scrap of lace to repair a hole, or cut straight up the seam and sew in a piece of fabric to widen the leg. Stitch on patches of brightly patterned fabrics to make a beautiful design. “At one point, I had a zipper and a knitted swatch of recycled silk that I used as patches on a pair of jeans,” says Thalia. “They were the most colourful pair of pants ever.”

For something a little less wild but still creative, grab a marker and draw small pictures on different parts of your pants, or show off your favourite song by writing the lyrics down one leg. Thalia remembers a pair of jeans she owned that she’d covered in Beatles lyrics. Your pants are a veritable blank canvas across which you can splash your personality.

DON’T STOP NOW
Once you become comfortable with your sense of style, simple alterations to your wardrobe offer endless possibilities. Tip: Pin on your embellishments first to get a sense of the look, before sewing on permanently. Don’t worry if you’re not into fabric scraps and sparkly do-dads—rejuvenating your wardrobe with new jewellery and accessories works just as well. “Use a bright pair of earrings or a fun necklace to make things look new again,” suggests Thalia. An upgrade can be as easy as creating a belt from a piece of fabric. Or skilled sewers can try fashioning an old T-shirt into a pair of yoga pants. Thalia’s advice? “Just do it! It’s a fun way to express your creativity. And remember—fabric glue is your friend!”

Interested in making your own clothes? Visit the Canadian Living story on how to make your own t-shirt.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Firmin