We’ve all got clothes that just don’t enthuse us: you know, the scoop-necked top you pull on with jeans, the black trousers that come out when you can’t think what else to wear. Essential but unexciting, it’s dull clothes like these that drive us to the high street in search of a thrill. But stop! Imagine if you could add a little pizzazz to your dreary duds without spending more than a couple of pounds (or dollars) per item. Imagine if you could make your high street jersey look ten times more interesting than it did on the rail. That, my friends, is where customisation comes into its own.
Customise Your Clothes
Customising your clothes is all about having fun and expressing your creativity, and it ranges from the ridiculously simple and effective, like changing the buttons on a cardigan, to the slightly more ambitious, such as transforming a pair of jeans into denim shorts. Advanced sewing skills aren’t necessary; when it comes to customising, imagination is your best resource! Here are a few of the easiest ways to make your clothes truly your own:
- Buttons: It’s often the buttons that give away a cheap shirt or blouse – you know, those little clear plastic numbers that populate every school shirt in the land. Sewing gorgeous new buttons onto old clothes zazzes them up in an instant. Many markets have button stalls where you fill a plastic cup to the brim with buttons for $5, and charity shops often sell assorted bag of buttons for about $2.
- Flowers: Pin fabric flowers to coats, dresses, jackets and cardigans. Very Carrie Bradshaw, very chic – go as big as you dare.
- Brooches: Brooches are sociable little things: they always look happiest when clustered together, four or five at a time, on a plain cashmere jumper. They like to get around too – pinned on hats, scarves, belt loops, the knot of your favourite wrap dress. Cheap as chips in charity shops: it’s as if they were sent from heaven.
- Double Up: A simple way to add interest to your wardrobe – and give you twice as many outfits – is to make your clothes multitask. Try using scarves as belts – they look great threaded through the loops of your jeans – or wear jeweled, elasticated bracelets in your hair instead of hairbands. Clip-on earrings jazz up the neckline of a jersey and also look good clipped through the buttonholes of a cardigan.
- Ribbon: Add bright ribbon to strapless dresses (for real interest, make the straps on each shoulder different colours), or tie some round the brim of a boring hat. Ribbon is also great for trimming the necklines, cuffs and pockets of cardigans and spring coats. You won’t believe the difference that a band of silky ribbon sewn around the cuffs and belt of a standard-issue beige trench coat can make. And fixing a broad strip of velvet ribbon down the outside seam of your jeans legs is so simple but it will have people thinking that you’ve just discovered some hot new designer brand.
- The long and short of it: Adjusting the length of garments is a great way to ring the changes. Sew a panel of contrasting fabric onto the bottom of a miniskirt, or chop a bit off a skirt that feels too long. Don’t discard the bit you chop though: use it as contrasting material on another garment, such as tied round the handle of your bag or fashioned into a corsage for a sweater. It makes for an interesting, pulled-together outfit when you wear the new item together with its parent.
- Accessories: The lifeblood of the skint girl’s wardrobe. From scarves to necklaces to a new pair of sparkly socks worn with an old pair of heels, skint girls know that accessories let you lead the style pack without breaking the bank. Think creatively about accessories: could those broken pieces of jewellery be threaded onto a pin to make an eye-catching brooch? Could that brooch, together with a few sequins, then jazz up last winter’s beanie hat?
- Be Bold: A coward dies a thousand fashion deaths – probably in a black trouser suit and a pair of court shoes. Don’t be afraid to take a risk: what’s the worst that can happen? And once you start customising you’ll find your desire to shop for new clothes satisfied by a bag of buttons or a fabric flower rather than a cocktail dress or new suit. Result!
[Photo Credit: m01229]
Skint in the City writes about living the stylish life on a shoestring budget, such as how to buy Pucci and decorate apartments even when you’re living on a starter’s salary. Mixing down-to-earth personal finance with tips on budget style, entertaining and home styling, Skint in the City is for those who haven’t given up on their dreams of living the stylish life – even if their budget’s currently tighter than their skinny jeans.