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Four Ways to Make Old Clothing Feel New

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Sure, it’d be fun to be a millionaire or a celebrity who gets all her clothes for free, but for us regular folks, a change of seasons means a few strategic new items, along with refreshes for the old ones. Luckily, there are easy and economical ways to make even the most well-worn staples feel like brand-new stepping-out clothes.

Fix Them
In the course of normal wear, hems fall out and stains happen, so it’s no wonder that those items end up pushed to the back of the closet. Now’s the time to reach in and find all the items that have stains or a lingering funky odor, and get them to the dry cleaner ASAP. Inspect the hems of your paints and the inner thighs of your denim and take them to a tailor. Replace buttons and grease zippers. Have the heel nubs on stilettos replaced and give every pair of shoes a real polish. Whatever’s causing you to not wear an item, take it to get repaired, and you’re virtually guaranteed to want to wear it more often. Not to mention that whatever it costs to make the fix is far less than what it would cost to buy a new one.

And if an item can’t be repaired or cleaned, toss it—then you’re totally justified in getting a replacement, and you’ve got the extra closet space all ready.

Dye Them
“In” colors change just as much as patterns and styles, and it’s easy to change the color of basics like tops and tees or to lighten the wash of jeans. Once a garment’s color is the right-now one, you’ll be more likely to wear it.

For dying fabrics, grab a fabric dye at a craft store (and perhaps a crafty friend) and follow the instructions on the box. (Remember that it’s much easier to dye light items dark than the other way around.) To lighten the wash of dark jeans or any other dark item, throw them in the washing machine with a capful of bleach.

Dying is also a good option to breathe new life into loved basics that have intractable stains. When white tees develop yellowing under the arms, dying them a dark color allows you to keep wearing them for far longer. File this tip away for the moment that this season’s mints and blushes and dreamy pastel shades cease to be popular.

Alter Them
It’s rare that an item—especially pants or dresses—fits perfectly right off the rack, but be honest—how often do you actually get clothes altered properly? The change of seasons is a perfect time to finally have pants hemmed, dresses taken in at the waist, or jackets let out at the shoulders. Any good tailor will be able to help you achieve a perfect fit, and once you have something that fits like a glove, you’ll want to wear it every day. If you’ve recently gained or lost weight, this is a must.

Refashion Them
The boyfriend jeans you loved so much last season are out this season…what to do? A tailor can turn them into skinnies or shorts, giving them at least another year worth of wear.

Tailored tops, bottoms, and dresses can usually be transformed from one type of garment to a new one—jackets to vests, maxi dresses to minis, wide-leg trousers to slim-fits—if you love the fabric or pattern. Your tailor can help you see the possibilities in items that have fallen out of favor with fashion, but not with your own sense of style. 

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