Get Dressed
Kristin Booker • September 21, 2011

Fashion Advice: 6 Ideas For A Whole New Wardrobe For Less Than $20 Each (and One That Makes Money!)

Ok, so we all know that times are rough. The economy is pretty scary right now and we’re all a little tense. Rather than showing you another pair of $2000 leather pants or talking to you about lipstick, I thought it might be a good opportunity to curl up with you and give you some serious tips and tricks you can use to make your wardrobe look amazing without having to spend more than $10. In fact, one of these tips might actually MAKE you money.

Here we go:


Me in a DIY army jacket. Photo: Dario Calmese

Use vintage jewelry – I have the lovely benefit of having a mother who never, NEVER throws anything away so I have a TON of vintage brooches and jewelry to play with. One of the best uses for old jewelry is to use it to adorn very basic things. I took an old Army jacket and just applied a bunch of my mother’s old jewelry. I’ve been stopped multiple times for street style photos because of it. You can use old bracelets to jazz up a boring work look, pin old earrings to a handbag, tie an old scarf on a handbag for a chic Parisian feel.
Cost: Free

Carve up old clothes – One of the coolest DIY items I’ve ever made was cutting the sleeves off of a denim jacket, which turns it into  – ta da! – a denim vest! Throw that over a cozy sweater or a cute dress and now you have a fabulous new article of clothing. If you’re good with a sewing machine and a seam ripper, take the sleeves off a trench coat and now you have a fabulous new dress.  Two pairs of old jeans that don’t exactly fit can be ripped apart and reattached at the inseams to make a maxi skirt.
Cost: Free if you can sew, about $10-$20 per item if you have to take it to a tailor or seamstress

Dye and bleach – I LOVE to dye and bleach things! My inner hippie loves to get a box of Rit dye and change old things into entirely new items. A bag of Dollar Store white t-shirts can become an entirely new set of clothing with a box of dye. One of my favorite at-home craft projects was to tie dye just the hem of a long t-shirt, which came out SO WELL I can’t explain it. The other option is to bleach your jeans. An old pair of jeans dipped in bleach and then hung to try can become an entirely rocker cool look.
Cost: $2 – $10

Embellish!– Nothing makes something look new and fresh like a new touch of embellishment. Now, before you pick up the Bedazzler, please understand that using restraint is the best key here; a little bit goes a long way. Adding black jewel studding along the neckline of a simple black sheath can create a whole new dress. My friend, blogger and stylist Jenni Radosevich from I Spy DIY , is fond of splitting the back of a jersey dress and installing a zipper with just a little fabric glue. I’m in the process of taking feathers from a feather duster and making a whole new skirt from one of those cheap fitted jersey pieces. Let your creativity fly and you could wind up winning your own personal Project Runway!
Cost: less than $20 unless you have VERY expensive taste in craft items

Host a Bitch and Swap – You know how they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well, ladies, this is the best way to catch up on all the gossip and possibly score some new clothing options. Host a Bitch and Swap! Each of your friends comes with one generous bag of clothes and one bottle of wine. Serve light snacks, throw all the bags into the middle of the floor and proceed to get a whole new appreciation for your friends’ taste when you snag that handbag you’ve been coveting.
Cost: one -two bottles of wine and two hours on a Saturday. A little more if you turn it into a fabulous brunch.

Trade up or consign – If you clean out your closet with complete honesty, there are most likely a multitude of things in there that you really will never wear, don’t really suit your taste or are simply taking up space. Why not head to one of your local consignment shops and sell the items! You can use the loot to fund all new wardrobe items or use the store credit to get something amazing that you never thought you needed.
Cost: Nothing, but you can MAKE MONEY!

In these lean times, let’s all think of ways that we can look our best without having to spend too much extra money. With these tips, you can get a tightly-edited closet filled with things you love that look amazing and unique. When everyone asks where you got it, you can just smile and say, “Oh, this old thing?” It’s genius, ladies…genius.



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