New Wardrobe staples Without Spending a Dime

So let’s face it: the economy is awful and being a “broke college kid” is cramping your style. At the same time, you are embracing the green movement and trying to be eco-savvy. Two birds, meet one stone. It’s a newer trend called upcycling.

Upcycling is taking something that you would normally throw away and repurposing it. Martha Stewart does a lot of upcycling when she takes old bottles and makes vases or making stamps out of apples, pretty homemaker stuff, but nonetheless adorable. It is actually pretty simple to take items that aren’t being worn and transform them into great new articles of clothing.

If you have a wool sweater that has shrunk, it is really easy to convert it in to a laptop sleeve or a great new pair of mittens. It is not very difficult to take an old dress shirt and turn it into a skirt or even take an old skirt and turn it into a pillowcase. has over 100 ways to upcycle tee shirts that are beyond just chopping them up into squares and using them to clean your floors or polish furniture.

Most of these tasks require sewing of some kind. In the case that you don’t have a sweatshop full of mice grueling over your wardrobe (Cinderella was luckier than she admitted to be) most projects can be made using a little hand sewing, pinning, or even hot glue. If a sewing machine is needed and you don’t have one at your disposal, Vogue Fabrics Inc, located at 623 W. Roosevelt Road in University Village, has a space that you can rent out starting at $7.50 per day. Call 312-829-2505 for more information if you are interested.

If you don’t have a crafty bone in your body, I would recommend having a clothing swap. About every 6 months or so, declutter and clean out your closet (this is also good for your psyche too) and have some friends do the same. Next host a clothing swap where some friends come over and bring their unwanted fab items in decent condition to mull through, then take home your favorites and look amazing. It’s like a potluck, but for clothes.

Upcycling or clothing swaps are just two simple and free ways or having a clothing swap are simple and free ways to take old clothes and make them new to you. If something is absolutely ugly and could cause you severe embarrassment, I strongly recommend throwing it out, turning a new page and never looking back at that pair of shimmering gold MC Hammer pants and turn a new leaf. Immediately.


Published in the Chicago Flame October 3, 2010


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