Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The $0 Wardrobe Re-invention Project!

I am on a shopping diet.

It's self-imposed, but will happen under the judging, disapproving eye of my minimalist husband. He doesn't actually have a say in my purchases. My money is my own, and I'm currently the winningest bread-winner in our duo. However, he definitely has a right to pipe up about this shoe purchase or that new shirt: my closet is just the worst. I ran out of hangers. Again. And have I mentioned that I share the lone (and tiny) storage space in our whole apartment with that poor, poor man? My skirts constantly taunt his slacks. My blouses bully his shirts. His wardrobe ends up huddling together at the very edge of the rack, hoping for a safety-in-numbers approach to survival.

It's not just a space issue, though. if I'm ever going to pay off debts and save up for grown-up purchases like houses and cars and Airstreams and hot tubs (and tattoooos!), I need to curb spending.

So here's my challenge: no new clothing/shoe/accessory/jewellery/beauty/non-essential spends for 2 months. Nothing frilly. Nothing frivolous. NOTHING.

 [ oy, can someone puh-lease get me another beer? ]

I actually started (officially) last Monday, so I'm already more than a week in!  

Exceptions: a proper haircut, non-vanity products (deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen), underwear if needed (needed), and a nude strapless bra (to replace the one that exploded while on my body in the middle of the No Frills produce section).

Oh yeah, and the necessities of life: tacos and beers and the like. Duh.

Yikes. I might wilt and fade and die without chameleon-like style-self-expression. How, oh how, do I reinvent myself each day with the same old pieces from last year? #firstworldproblems 

It's doable with a little resourcefulness, a mess of creativity, and a good pair of fabric scissors. Luckily, I have all three. But even the DIY-challenged can breathe new life into last season's rompers, pants that fit a much-skinnier former self, and dresses hoarded since high school. Without spending a dime. 

Wardrobe CPR:

1. Trade. Have you not yet discovered the wonder of clothing swaps? Sister, PLEASE. I have a friend with a bit of an attitude about used clothing, but these are your FRIENDS, girl. Surely you will not contract imaginary/worst-fears-come-true parasites if the hand-me-downs come from a friend who shares your personal hygiene OCD. I have gleaned many an amazing piece and have peacefully parted with gems I couldn't bear to drop in the big metal Goodwill bin. 

 [ swap scores: vintage teal petal-print skirt // denim jacket // chevron tank ]

2. Revive. Dye, tie-dye, paint, embellish, restring, stamp, re-purpose, darn, mend... I actually darned socks once, during my poor student days. I felt all wartime-y. Like I was doing my part for my country. Of course, said socks did not end up on the feet of soldiers. Also, they were red with monkeys on the ankles. A girl with an actual salary can probably stand to avoid darning, but I'm excited for some more interesting revitalization projects. I restrung beads from two vintage necklaces to make this one. I'm inspired to make more!

[ $80 at asos.com or... I could DIY my plain white chucks with some easy stamping ]

3. Layer, mix, (mis)match. Not a new concept, and really my all-the-time M.O. I just need to start getting a lot more creative in the next 8 weeks. Example: I have this midi-dress in white with crocheted bits. I have worn the shit out of it. The top is a bit ill-fitting now and the armpits reveal many a sweaty summer bike ride. But the skirt portion is pretty lovely. Throw a light gauzy tee over the whole mess, and voila! I considered converting it to a skirt, but the top portion is perfect as a layering cami. Win-win.

4. Nip & tuck. You don't have to be a master seamstress to make quick alterations to your too-big, too-small, outta-style pieces. There are plenty of great online tutorials, some not even requiring a machine! See P.S. I Made This and A Beautiful Mess for some fun examples. My new projects for the coming weeks (if I can ever find time to do anything hobby-ish) are to convert two dresses into skirts. 

First: my actual wedding dress. Back in tha day, I ripped apart an off-the-rack BCBG dress and re-made it to suit my farm-themed wedding. Now, I'm going to lop off the bodice, slash out most of the lining and turn it into a semi-sheer summer maxi skirt. I'd like to vintage-up the colour but the poly lace won't take to normal fabric dye. Suggestions?

[ before // after... ]

[ after-after? // via chictopia.com ]

Secondly, I have a Won Hundred dress in an awesome pixel pattern, but the bodice won't close over my boobs anymore. I'd like to tell you it's because I'm suddenly a lusty, chesty broad. No such luck. I think I just got too fat in the armpits and back. Joy! This dress, too, is destined for a similar fate: the guillotine!

5. Dress up/down. Also not brain surgery, but think beyond the LBD (that's "little black dress" for the dads/husbands). I'm a firm believer that every dress has two personalities – Peggy by day, Joan by night. I originally bought this Zara pink peter-pan-collared dress for a wedding. I accessorized it with pearls and black patent for a faux-Chanel-Barbie look: sweet, classy & feminine. But I discovered that it can be work/play appropriate, too, with flats and tights! 

Also, I can do pretty much anything in any season with my little green dress (LGD!):

6. From scratch, baby. There are some awesome beginner patterns online that require only the machine basics. I tackled this Victory pattern in a barn in 6 hours.

We'll see if I have any time for even one of these projects. I am WAY too ambitious, pretty booked up socially, and terrible at time-management. I'm not setting any unrealistic goals here. However, I'm pretty confident that I can stick to my shopping diet. It will be tough, especially when I visit my mother next month: "Oh, just buy it!" and/or "It's sooo you." and/or "I'll pitch in half."

What are your secrets? Tell me! Help!


  1. YOU'RE SO FRICKING CREATIVE! i am completely hopeless but i am determined, by the end of the year, to learn how to use a sewing machine.

  2. LOVE the picture at the computer. Your birthday is coming up - let's go shopping....I'm buying!!!!!

  3. This is so inspirational! I have started to become addicted to shopping.. I never used to shop this much but now I see clothes/thing/makeup I like and I just have to have them. At what point can one have just way too many things?