Experts reveal how to boost your style with your current wardrobe

How to get a whole new wardrobe without going shopping! Experts reveal tricks to revamp clothes you already own, from adding gold buttons to a Japanese ‘visible mending’ technique

  • Many people will have been living in lounge wear or uniforms for the past year
  • Some won’t have purchased new due to having nowhere to wear them
  • You can repair your clothes with patches of fabric with ‘visible mending’
  • FEMAIL reveals how you can elevate wardrobe on a budget with clothes you own 

As socialising ramps up again, you might be tempted to splash out on a whole new wardrobe if your glad rags are looking a bit sad after months hanging in the wardrobe.   

However, it’s much kinder to your wallet – not to mention more environmentally friendly –  to make the most of what you’ve got.

You can elevate your style and make more unique pieces of clothing using techniques such as visible mending if your jeans have a tear, or you can simply add some gold buttons.  

Experts have revealed to FEMAIL how you can create a fresh wardrobe with the clothes you already own. 

After a year of lockdown and living in loungewear, experts have revealed how you can elevate your wardrobe with the garments you already own with techniques from simply adding buttons to visibly mending clothes with patches of different fabric (stock image) 

VISIBLE MENDING

If you find it difficult to sew with an invisible stitch to mend your clothes, or want a more unique item, you can try visible mending for your clothes which are looking a little worse for wear. 

Client stylist Artemis Crowley from online fashion marketplace Thread said you can look to Japanese techniques such as boro, derived from the word ‘boroboro’ which means ‘something repaired or tattered’. 

She added: ‘It refers to a practice of mending which involves patching and stitching pieces of cloth together. 

‘The stitch is called sashiko and can be a running stitch, attaching pieces of fabric, or an area of running stitches to secure layers of fabric together.’   

The sustainability enthusiast added: ‘Conceptually, valuing visible mending is quite a shift for those of us who are conditioned by Euro-American culture to view “new” as “better”. 

‘Visible mending is wonderful for so many reasons. It’s more accessible than “invisible” mending because you don’t need to be an expert.

‘The mending is beautiful because it’s unique so you don’t need to be precious about getting it “right”. There is no “right”. 

One thing you can try is visibly mending your clothes, using different fabrics or colours to patch up any holes with embroidery thread and stitching to decorate (stock image)

‘It makes your clothes literally unique – you can’t replicate the exact mending interventions you’ve made on your garment so it’s highly specific to you. It helps us to re-evaluate what we perceive as beautiful or worthy of repair.’ 

If you would like to visible mend a hole in a pair of jeans, Artemis said you could take a piece of fabric that’s denim or something else which is strong, such as canvas or corduroy if you want a different texture. 

You can decide whether you want the patch to be the same shade as your jeans or different, but if you’re keen for it to be the same you could crop your jeans by taking a pair of scissors to the hems and using that fabric to make the patches. 

GIVE YOUR CLOTHES SOME TLC

Melanie said it is important to look after the clothes you have to improve their longevity so you can wear your pieces for longer. 

One thing she recommends is using a wool comb for wool sweaters and coats, especially cashmere which is prone to getting bobbles. 

She said: ‘Removing these [bobbles] carefully with the right tools can extend the lifespan of your best jumpers and cardigans by a few years.’  

Artemis said: ‘Then you can pin it in place and use an embroidery thread or a special sashiko thread to stitch the pieces together. 

‘This technique can also be decorative so you can make lines of stitches across the patch as well to make it even more robust. You could also add whatever shapes etc you wanted.’ 

Personal stylist and founder of Stories With Clothes Abbey Booth said that denim is particularly challenging to sew at home due to the thick material. 

She suggests that if you want them repaired without you being able to see the stitches, you take them to a local dressmaker, tailors or your local dry cleaners who can do the simple adjustment very affordably.  

GIVE THEM THE CHOP 

Artemis said that you can take a pair of scissors to an item, as long as you’re careful to take things slowly and don’t chop off more than you meant to. 

A classic way to do this is by turning your trousers into shorts, whether they’re chinos, linen trousers, jeans or even sweatpants. You don’t have to go as far as shorts – you can just crop full-length trousers to make them feel a bit more breezy and give them a completely different vibe. 

She added that you can even crop a shirt or a jumper, or make a jumper into a stylish sweater vest, which has been seen across high streets and catwalks this season. 

If you are altering knitwear with a pair of scissors, Artemis says to go in and stitch a line just inside the cut edge to stop it from unravelling before you take your scissors to the wool.  

You can shorten the sleeves on a t-shirt or turn a long-sleeved shirt or overshirt into a short-sleeved top by just cutting the arms shorter. You can hem them or leave them raw depending on your taste. 

Artemis said: ‘If you’re fairly confident with your sewing, you can even alter the shapes of existing garments – for example, you could make an a-line jumper straight, make an a-line skirt narrower or put a taper on some trousers that were previously loose and straight.’ 

You could also crop the length of a t-shirt or insert slits up the sides if that’s your preference, Artemis said, adding: ‘Just doing simple things like this can change the fit so it feels like a new item.’ 

You can also give your clothes the chop by taking a pair of scissors to an old pair of jeans to revamp them into a pair of shorts ready for this summer 

REPURPOSE OLD ITEMS 

You can make an entirely new outfit by simply wearing old garments in a way you wouldn’t normally wear them. 

Abbey said that you can wear a shirt or a shirt dress unbuttoned, layering it over shorts and a top combination for a layered chic look.  

TRICKS TO GET YOUR WHITES WHITE AGAIN

After you wear your whites a lot, they tend to lose a bit of their sparkle and turn a bit dull and grey. 

There are a few tricks you can use to keep them white which Artemis has shared, including soaking it in lemon juice, baking soda or white vinegar. 

Artemis said: ‘Instead of detergent put two heaped tablespoons of baking soda in the detergent drawer and wash it away with 1/2 a cup of white vinegar – and water if you need to. 

‘You can also add essential oils to the baking soda before you wash it away with the vinegar. Lemon is nice.’ 

She added: ‘Leave it out to dry in the sun – the sun has a brightening effect on white fabrics. 

‘If you don’t have a clothes line then try laying it out on the ground on top of a clean towel – remember to turn it over though if you want a brightening effect.’  

If you have a summery maxi skirt, you can often wear it as a strapless dress simply by wearing the waistband sitting over the bust for a loose fitting, flowing beach dress, Abbey said. 

If you want to accessorise, you can always wear a necklace to add visual interest to your neckline or a belt to accentuate your waist.   

ADD SOME GOLD BUTTONS

Melanie said that a simple way to upcycle your wardrobe is by simply adding some buttons. 

She said that if you have ever admired a Chanel or Gucci jacket, it was likely the buttons caught your eye. 

Melanie added: ‘Good quality buttons can really totally transform any outfit. Try gold or brass buttons for your tired trench or wool coat or glass buttons for a tweed skirt or cardigan.’   

RE-DYE IT

You can re-dye your clothes with natural dye, which Artemis said ‘is fun’, and you can get natural dyes from things like vegetables, plants, berries and spices – although this only works with natural fabrics such as wool, linen and cotton. 

Melanie said that you can give your clothes a new lease of life by dying them and make your clothes look fresh again. 

She recommended getting ‘washing machine dye’, which is available in a lot of colours and dyeing takes as long as a ‘wash’. 

ADD SOME SPARKLE

Melanie advised elevating your wardrobe with sew-on gemstones or a gold or silver chain, converting the boring black or navy jumper to a completely new garment with a few sparkling stones around the neckline. 

You can find these items in haberdashery stores on online, on eBay or Etsy, and Melanie says that sewing these items onto your clothes is just as easy as buttons.  

Or you can also had some motifs to add character and fun into your wardrobe, which you can also get on Etsy or in a haberdashery section in your local department store, Melanie said.  

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