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:

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.

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.

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