How to re-style your old clothes

How to re-style your old clothes

For a minimalist, the feeling of relief you get from donating a big bag of clothes to a thrift store or selling off garments that don't meet your style criteria is hard to beat. Your wardrobe breathes a little easier when it's not stuffed with ill-advised purchases that haven't been touched in years, and getting dressed in the morning is so much easier when you're not picking through a bunch of nos. It's great!

But if you've been keeping up with the ethical fashion world, you also know that most things that get donated don't actually make it to people who need or want them. Maybe they get recycled, but probably they end up in the landfill. Just because you got the happy feeling of getting the clothes out of your closet doesn't mean that's the end of the story for the clothes. Out of sight, out of mind... but still a problem.

As we all become more aware of the impact of over-consumption on our planet, it's time to be more thoughtful about what we do with the refuse of our old habits. There's got to be a more sustainable way forward.

Before "donating," consider offering items to friends who may appreciate them, or selling on a resale platform. Consider reworking a garment into a new item you will like to wear more, or using the fabric for another project. If it's 100% cotton, maybe even cut it up for rags!

True story, when I was growing up, my dad would wash the car in the driveway and use... his old underwear to dry and buff the car. Ewww & hahaha — but I mean it worked!!! It was all clean at that point.

OK but all that aside, what else can do we do with all this stuff we don't want anymore? Especially clothes that are perfectly fine, not even rag territory? What if it's out of style, or no one wants it, or you don't know how to sew? Well my question would be:

Is there a way to style it that might mean it can stay in your closet after all?

I have a pair of gray chinos I bought from J. Crew nearly seven years ago in preparation for a new office job. I had searched high and low for non-jeans to wear to work and splurged on this pair. They fit my butt without being too tight, they were comfortable, they were nondescript. Perfect.

But also they were a typical low/mid rise — typical for pants in 2012. Not ideal for Talia's style in 2018. 

Somewhere along the line, I realized I prefer a higher rise on all my trousers. With a high rise, the waist hits at my actual waist and a tucked-in shirt makes my legs look ten miles long. Mid-rise isn't terrible, but it's just not what I look for when I'm looking to add pants to my closet.

But I have these pants, so now what? The chinos have languished on and off in my closet for the last few years. I would wear them occasionally, but never felt like Me.

Recently though I came up with a fool-proof formula for integrating the pants into my current style. The trick is to disguise the rise somewhat, then redirect the attention with a crop top.


The Formula

The Formula

1. Low/mid rise pants

2. A longer, fitted top

3. A looser crop top

Over the fitted top and the pants, the black crop top gives the illusion of a high rise. It's the look I like, and the pants continue to get worn!

I personally like the contrast of the stripe top under the crop, but you could go with fitted top that blends more with the pants too. The important thing is for the top layer to appear as though it ends at your waist. Having it be a looser fit to contrast the fitted bottom helps the eye differentiate between the "pants" and the top as well.

What other tricks Do you have for making your older clothes fit into your current style?