Up-cycle your style: how to lengthen the life of your clothes

By Liv Barry
Elm Staff Writer

With how quickly trends cycle in and out of fashion, it can be difficult to resist the urge to throw away clothing pieces that were formerly trendy.

“From holding on to old clothes that never get worn to panic-buying pieces that won’t have more than one outing, we are all guilty of making less than sensible decisions when it comes to our wardrobes,” Harper’s Bazaar said.

 By now, the general public is well aware of the environmental and humanitarian impact that throwing away clothing has, but what are you supposed to do with clothes that have fallen out of style?

Finding your personal style is the best way to nip buying trendy clothes in the bud.

Trends can be adorable, but if you’re only buying an item because it’s trendy and not because you think it will be a piece that you can wear in the long-term, the item probably isn’t worth it.

To save yourself money and lessen your fast fashion footprint, try to keep an eye out for pieces that you think you’ll be wearing for five or more years.

“The trick to having variety in your style without having to change your outfit every single day is to invest in a handful of key, good-quality pieces that can be easily mixed and matched,” TV and fashion journalist, Louise Roe said in an interview with Insider.

To find inspiration for your personal style, try looking at archived fashion magazines, older films and television shows to see what styles you enjoy. While Pinterest and current fashion magazines are also great resources, they can both lean toward displaying trends rather than independent styles, so the best way to find inspiration for your personal style is to go off the beaten path.

Once you’ve found the base elements of your personal style, you’re ready to begin re-integrating your formerly-trendy pieces back into your wardrobe. You might even find that some of the pieces fit your personal style, no changes necessary. For the clothes that no longer fit your personal style, examine their patterns, silhouettes, and colors to see what can be changed to make the garment the truest to your personal style.

If the item is a solid color, try styling it as a basic underneath pieces that you love. A formerly-trendy shirt layered over top of a long-sleeve or turtleneck and underneath a jacket you love is a great way to make your outfit more compatible with winter weather.

If the formerly-trendy piece is too bold to wear as a basic, styling the piece in a unique way can refresh your entire outfit. Unexpected combinations, like mix-and-match patterns and pants under skirts, have been gaining popularity lately, and are a great way to stay on trend without buying a clothing piece that you’ll inevitably get tired of.

Depending on the other clothes in your closet, you can also put together a monochromatic outfit with your off-trend piece. By styling the piece in a monochromatic outfit, you can give it a completely new look, as well as see what items in your closet match to piece for future outfits.

If you find yourself unable to re-style your off-trend clothes, revitalizing these pieces through up-cycling is another great, environmentally-conscious option.

“Up-cycling creatively transforms the products you already own in order to cut down on waste. It’s nothing new, but with global warming threatening the future, there’s no better time to start doing it yourself. Creating a more sustainable closet requires little more than a few pieces of clothing you already own. A cozy old sweater can quickly be updated with a little imagination,” Well + Good writer Tehrene Firman said.

Whether you’re an expert tailor or can barely hold a pair of scissors, there’s a wide array of up-cycling projects available to turn your clothes into brand new pieces.

While indulging in all of the latest trends may be fun, it is more economical and environmentally friendly to get the most use possible out of your clothes, you just have to get a little creative.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Featured Photo Caption: In recent years, up-cycling has become more popular as people pushed to find ways to be more environmentally friendly in the face of ever-quickening trends and fast fashion.

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