Are you in need of a closet clean out? Perhaps you have a chunk of your closet you never wear because you don’t like how it fits or there’s just something about it you don’t love? Have you ever thought about trying to repurpose your clothes? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a complete makeover requiring design and sewing skills.
You would be surprised how much you can change the look of an item simply by the way you wear it. There are also plenty of easy, quick changes you can make to a piece of clothing that requires little to no sewing, or just very basic sewing skills.
I came up with 11 ways to repurpose your clothes that meet those very requirements. You can take that old clothing which is just taking up space in your closet and make it into something you’ll want to wear all the time.
I feel like in today’s world, it’s hard to escape the consuming behaviors we have been taught by fast fashion. Wear it for a while and then throw it away. But that kind of mentality is hurting our planet. Making small changes to our consuming habits will make a difference. One of the ways you can do that is by giving new life to your old clothing.
You can also do this with clothing you find second hand that might have one thing or another about it that you don’t love but which can be changed to make it something you do love. I love doing that personally. If I find something that has something super unique about it or I love the pattern or wash, but maybe it doesn’t fit quite right or has something about it I don’t love. I love making changes to those pieces to make it something I can’t stop wearing.
Take a peek at your closet and find some pieces you are holding onto but never wear and check out these ways to repurpose your clothes and see if you can make it into something totally new.
1. Turn Jeans Into Shorts
Let’s start off with jeans. A wardrobe staple for many. These can be tricky because a lot of times they don’t fit quite right or maybe are too long, a weird cut, etc. There are a couple changes you can make without having to do any major sewing or altering.
This first way to repurpose your clothes is to turn them into shorts. This is great if you love the wash and how they fit in your waist and hips but not the style of leg or maybe they’re too short.
You can just cut them to the length you like and have a frayed hem (see my tutorial on that here) or if you want a finished hem and have some basic sewing skills (preferably a sewing machine) you can go that route too. A third option is to roll them after you cut them.
2. Alter The Waist With An Elastic Band
The second way is great for those jeans you love but are too big in the waist. It requires some minimal sewing and a few extra supplies but it is very easy to do. You just add some elastic into the waistband of your jeans to get a perfect fit in your waist. Here is a great tutorial for that.
3. Shorten Your Jeans By Cutting Them
The third way to repurpose your jeans is the easiest and fastest way. I actually do this on many of my own jeans when I can’t get them in a short inseam or if I thrifted them and they’re too long for me. I’m 5’5” so not super short but also definitely not tall so many jeans are longer than I like on me.
So I just cut off the length I don’t want and leave the hem raw. Check out this [pretty old, woah] post to see an example and more details on how I do this. If you don’t want to commit to cutting, then you could try rolling them too!
This is also a great way to try a new trend. Cropped jeans, especially cropped flare jeans, are a big trend currently so why not use a pair of old jeans you never wear to give these trendy jeans a try?
I have some other ideas in mind for different kinds of raw hems I would like to try such as a super distressed hem and an uneven or step hem, both of which you can see examples of above. You could also add some distressing and holes to your otherwise plain jeans to give them a whole new look.
4. Wear A Shirt Or Sweater Over A Dress
Moving on to some other types of clothing items, which are great examples of wearing something in a new way to get a different look. This fourth way to repurpose your clothes is, as I have mentioned in other posts and on my Instagram, something I absolutely love to do!
Try wearing a sweater or a t-shirt over a dress. It is a great way to get more wear out of your dresses, especially on colder days. Or maybe you love the color or print of a dress but don’t love how it fits you. Wear a t-shirt over it and tie a knot so it cinches in your waist giving you a great silhouette.
If you want to wear a sweater try putting a belt on at your waist and you can either tuck the sweater into the belt and then pull the sweater over the belt (the belt will be totally covered, it’s just to hold the sweater in place.) Or if your sweater is more of a cropped style, you can tuck the front of the sweater into the belt. It is such a cute look!
5. Wear Your Button Down Top In A New Way
The fifth way is super simple but can totally change the way something looks on you. Try wearing your button down shirt in a new way. Try wearing it open as a layering piece. Try tying it up in front. Or even a combination of these, wear it unbuttoned and tied. You can wear it over a top or a dress. There are lots of options! I actually have an entire post dedicated to this very topic which you can check out here.
6. Tie Up Your Shirt
Playing off the last way, the next way to repurpose your tops is equally as easy and I’ve mentioned it a couple times already. Try tying your shirt. You can tie up most any kind of top. A t-shirt, a button down, even a sweater if it is lightweight! It can turn a baggy, ill fitting top into a form fitting, figure flattering top in an instant. There are several different types of knots and methods you can use for different kinds of tops. Here is a great tutorial on several different ways you can tie up your t-shirt.
7. Wear A Cardigan As A Top
A big trend currently is wearing cardigans as tops. What a great way to repurpose your clothes! By buttoning it up, it will be more flattering and give you a whole different look. This works best for shorter cardigans and while it is often thinner material cardigans you see, it can totally work for thicker ones as well.
8. Add An Appliqué Or Patches.
The next few ways I’m going to talk about are all simple modifications you can make to your clothing items to give them a new look. First up is adding some patches or appliqués. These can be ironed on or sewn on, whichever you prefer and depending on the type of patch or appliqué. You can check out this post to see how I added a pretty floral appliqué to a pair of thrifted jeans here.
9. Crop Your Top
The ninth way is another fairly simple and quick change. Try cropping it. This works best for t-shirts and sweatshirts so you won’t have to worry about them unraveling, but if you can sew, you can crop any top and hem it.
One of my favorite thrift flips I’ve ever done is a top (you can see it here) that I made from a dress. Talk about an extreme crop. I chopped off the whole bottom part of the dress which was full length and hemmed the lining of the top where I cut and I had this amazing top.
This is a great way to alter your clothing and give it a whole new feel. I love pairing cropped tops with high waisted bottoms. If you don’t love high waisted bottoms and don’t want your midsection to show, you can certainly crop it lower to cover you a little more.
10. Add Some Embroidery
Next up we have embroidery. Kind of similar to adding an appliqué but it’s more of a project. You don’t have to do anything big if this is new to you. I’m talking simple embroidery here. Some small flowers, a few words, stars, any other small design.
You can do it the easy and quick way, by drawing an outline in pencil on your piece of clothing and then use some embroidery thread and a needle to stitch in your design.
A little more advanced is to print your design on some water-soluble stabilizer (this will dissolve in the wash when you’re finished with your piece) and then do your stitching. You can see how to do that here. For a more simple guide, like basic stitches, check out this one.
11. Turn Your T-Shirt Into A Tank
The eleventh and final way to repurpose your clothes is to turn a t-shirt into a tank. Cut off the sleeves and neck, make your tank straps as thick or as thin as you would like. There’s a lot of different ways really that you can do this. Cut large arm holes so it’s more like a muscle tee. A deeper neckline. Keep the existing neck line. Crop it. Make an open back. Make a racer back. There are seriously tons of ways. You can just google DIY tank top and see for yourself, the pictures below are some good examples.
I actually have an idea in mind to turn a couple of my old shirts into new tanks by adding some really delicate lace to a deep v neckline I would cut into it. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect lace while thrifting but no luck just yet.
And now you have 11 ways you can make your unworn clothes into something you won’t be able to stop wearing. Let me know if you end up trying any of these and if you have any other ways to repurpose your clothes, be sure to leave them in the comments below. See you next time. ☺