How to Make Old Clothes Look New and Stylish

Make Old Clothes Look New

When you open your closet and stare at your clothes, does boredom sweep over you? Are you tired of looking at the same old pants, skirts, and tops? Before you go out and blow a paycheck on a new wardrobe, why not consider recycling what you already have? With a few clever changes you can give your old tired clothes a new life. Here are some ideas:

Make old clothes look new: Put new buttons on old blouses

Old Clothes Look New

There’s no quicker way to revamp the look of a blouse than to change its buttons. Pick a blouse from your closet and take it with you to your local fabric store. Go to the button section, and hold different buttons over the current ones. See what a difference a button can make? Pick out some interesting ones and have your tailor sew them on or sew them on yourself. Don’t forget about vintage buttons which you can find at estate sales and antique shops. They really add character to an ordinary blouse.

Make old clothes look new: Transform long pants into shorts

Old Clothes Look New

If you have pants in your closet that you no longer wear, consider cutting them off into shorts. Jeans are the simplest since you don’t have to do a lot of finishing after cutting the material. Dress pants might best be taken to a tailor if you don’t have basic sewing skills since they’ll need to be hemmed and finished. This also works well for pants that are too short. Dress pants make wonderful shorts that can be worn all summer long with strappy, low heeled sandals and a silky tank top.

Make old clothes new: Add a chunky necklace

Old Clothes Look New

If you have plain tops in your closet that you’ve become bored with, transform them with a bold, chunky necklace. If you can’t find exactly what you want, head down to your local bead store and find out how to make your own. You can design custom necklaces for all the tops in your closet. Caution! This can be addictive.

Make old clothes new: Dye it a different color

Old Clothes Look New

If you have light colored tops or pants that no longer inspire you, head to your local craft store and pick out some fabric dyes. Use them to dye your old, tired tops and give them new life. If solid colors are too boring, try tie dying some of your clothing for a bold and interesting effect.

Make old clothes new: Wear it in a new way

Do you have dresses you no longer wear? Before donating them, consider how to wear them in a whole new way. A dress takes on a whole new look when you wear it with pants or slim leggings. Knit dresses can be worn belted over slim pants and sandals for comfortable summertime style. Ever tried wearing a skirt as a dress? If you have a long knit skirt, try pulling the waist band under your arms and belting it at the waist. You have an instant strapless dress for a warm summer evening. Think about how you can wear the clothes you have in an entirely different manner to help offset wardrobe boredom.

There’s no need to buy a new wardrobe when there are so many ways to recycle the clothing you have. Why not reinvent your closet?

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17 Responses to How to Make Old Clothes Look New and Stylish

  1. Patricia b says:

    I have taken a few old dresses with and used them to make skirts. I am now using the fabric from those skirts to make tops – these are the muslins for patterns I am trying out.

  2. Gloria Morales says:

    Thank you for the great ideas! I had already fixed all of my long skirts with matching buttons to close the pleats that exposed too much of my legs. I’ve received many compliments on the creative new look the buttons gave each skirt..?

  3. Pamela Sturtevant says:

    After reading some articles about how much clothing goes into landfills, I have become very interested in redesigning my own things and shopping in thrift stores. I have also bought a couple dresses that were far too big but were made of wonderful cloth in great colors. I cut them apart and made new things for myself.

  4. Dell Culver says:

    Wiley Woman should have written this column. A lot of Myra’s ideas were old and not creative, like cutting off pants.


  5. Sarah says:

    I have a long lace sheath type dress I want to do something with. Would love ideas for it.

  6. Janneke Anderson says:

    Idea for the black velvet shirt is to add silver or gold trim if you want to “amp” it up. Embelish with lace appliques. I converted a too short dress to a tunic. As it was a nice soft knit fabric, I used the leftover bottom piece to make an infinity scarf.

    • Sarah McDonnell says:

      ooo! You could also do a burnout technique on velvet to change things up! Get a good firm stamp, put it under the fabric, iron carefully and low to avoid melting the stamp, just enough to make the nap lay down permanently in that area. Sorry I’m late to this conversation!

  7. Diane says:

    I love the idea of changing the buttons to give a garment a totally new look. I suppose you could also add buttons or even trim to a simple garment to give it a new look.

  8. Carol Brunet Mongeau says:

    I have a velvet black shirt how can I transform it for a different top to wear?

  9. Deborah Ann Cooper says:

    Dresses make great tunics to wear over leggings or jeggings, especially if you are “figure challenged” and don’t want your bum or tummy to show. For one thing the dress already fits. Cut off and hem the dress. There are a lot of variations of hemlines like shark bite, high in front, lower in back with slide slits (dresses are especially great for this), straight across, shirt tail etc. You can also use the left over fabric for patch pockets. (Don’t you HATE schlepping around the house in leggings and a top with nowhere to put your phone?) If you aren’t a sewist, a local seamstress can help.
    You can also change it with iron on transfers or applique. A friend with a new embroidery machine might be interested in doing a design for jeans. These items often cover stains too! On a plain dress using small transfers around the neckline or traveling from shoulder to opposite hip-line gives it a whole new look. An owl transfer, moon and stars etc. on a knit dress or shirt transforms it into sleepwear.
    Skinny stretchy belts,scarves worn as belts or around the neck with the tails hanging down give the figure a slimmer look too.
    Short elastic waist skirts pulled up under the arms make great tops. If you’ve got a few fancy ones wear them with dressy slacks or palazzo pants and a jacket or shrug. (Great idea if you need a quick outfit for a party!)

    To get even more ideas look at fashion magazines or catalogs and take pictures with your phone. (great for passing time in waiting rooms), or look at fashion or entertainment websites. Check out Youtube. Borrow the ideas.
    Hope these ideas help.

    Wiley Woman

    Poverty is the mother of invention.

  10. Kaaren Lynch says:

    Very interesting! I am an avid seamstress, and always looking for new ideas for my clothes.

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