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Fashion on a budget

There's a lot you can do with your clothes without spending money

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky November 21 2009

woman wearing scarf around her waist

Fashion should be fun while making a statement about who you are as an individual. In this day and age however, times are tough and people everywhere are conserving their resources - and when money is tight, luxury flies out the window and women look for ways to get the most out of the fashion using what they already have to hand. Here are some of my favorite ways to accomplish just that.

Tip #1 - Repurpose

Just because a particular style becomes passé, that doesn't necessarily mean one should throw away a perfectly good clothing item. Instead, look for ways to repurpose them. For example, if you no longer enjoy wearing that long tunic top, shorten it instead of throwing it away - almost anyone can do a hem slipstitch and it only takes minutes. Best of all, you can tailor it to the specific length you want rather than settling for the designer's original plan. You can even shorten the sleeves, remove the collar, or change out the closing mechanism if you want to create a totally new look. Add some embellishment like a touch of lace, a few well placed beads or sequins or embroidery. Get creative and have fun creating your own unique look.

If you are dying for a pair of skinny jeans but can't afford the $100 plus price tag, you may still be able to have your cake and eat it too. Take a pair of jeans from your closet to a tailor for a refit. Any seamstress worth her salt can make those jeans as tight as you want them. It will still cost you some money but it will be a fraction of the cost of a brand new pair. If you desire, you can even have them embellished, dyed, or carefully ripped to meet the standards of current style. Your imagination is your only limitation and who knows, you just might start a new trend.

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Tip #2 - Accessorize

If you aren't particularly creative and you can't afford a tailor, you can still change up the look of your old clothing by adding the right accessories. Put on a vest and create a whole new look. Belt in a voluminous top to show off your small waist. Tie a scarf around your neck or waist to add drama to a humdrum fashion piece. Layer on the necklaces using different textures, colors, and materials. Add a brooch or two in an unexpected place like a sleeve or at the shoulder or waist. Add a silk flower corsage at the neck. The possibilities are almost endless.

Tip #3 - Rethink

When clothing gets stained or damaged, often the first instinct is to throw it away. Why? It's because we don't think about different ways of utilizing it. If a stain won't come out, then hide it. Dye the item a new color or hand paint your own design using craft fabric paint. Add some cute iron-on patches or make your own from fabric and hand stitch them on. Glue on a few well-placed jewels or sew on some decorative braid or lace. Many of these same techniques can also be used to cover up a hole or cut in the fabric.

Tip #4 - Redo

Mix and match fabric designs, colors, and textures to create something totally different. Use the left front side of one blouse and marry it with the right front of another. You can do the same with sleeves. Sew just the front part of a vest onto an existing blouse. Make patches out of one pair of jeans and add them to another for the popular multi-shades of denim look. Scale down clothing to fit someone smaller than you or use it to make clothes for dolls. Cut the fabric into creative designs that can be added to scrapbooks, quilts, throw pillows and more.

My grandmother taught me at an early age that you never throw away perfectly good fabric. Many of the dresses she made me as a child came from articles of clothing that she no longer wanted to wear. Consequently, I had beautiful lace petticoats, luxurious satin gowns, and adorable hand quilted skirts. I still have a handkerchief my grandmother made for me out of her own wedding gown. I carried it on my wedding day and my daughter did the same. Who knows, maybe my granddaughter will carry on the tradition.

Tip #5 - Give it away

Just because you won't wear the clothing item anymore, that doesn't mean someone else wouldn't. We are all guilty of throwing away perfectly good fashion pieces simply because we no longer want them, they are slightly out of style or the color is passé. However, there are people everywhere who would consider our castoffs a small blessing, and this is especially true of warmer clothing items like sweaters and coats. Many dry-cleaners will clean the items for free if you agree to donate them to their favorite charity. All it takes is a moment of time to bring some happiness to someone else.

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