The following is a guest post by Marie Woodruff, author of How To Keep Your Wardrobe Updated.
So you want to be your own stylish fashionista on the cheap, without breaking the bank? Living on the cheap you can be just that.
The primary focus in keeping your wardrobe updated economically and fashionably is to stay away from fads. Choose simple, classical designs in natural fabrics. The simpler your garment is, the more possibilities you will have to upgrade your wardrobe selectively from time to time with embellishments, enhancements, accessories, and simple redesigns.
Embellishments – These can be simply applied with machine-washable fabric glue. You can buy iron-on embellishments from fabric stores Also experiment by cutting out interesting designs from yardage and then fabric-gluing them onto your garment. Try using your old clothes for inspirational designs to apply onto your newer clothes. Consider using your favorite crochet doiley, or a remnant of patchwork or macrame to embellish any piece of your existing garment. The possibilities are endless.
Enhancements – Have you put on weight and outgrown your jeans? Not to worry. Add a half-inch strip (or whatever width you need) in contrasting colored material to each side seam of your jeans. Go out and see how many people stop you to ask, ”Where did you get your jeans?”
Do you have a colorful table cloth? Wear it as a wrap-around skirt or as an over-skirt. I remember one lady staring at me askance and finally asking, “Is that a table cloth you’re wearing?” I answered, “I didn’t have a thing to wear!” I’ve also worn my table cloth as a shawl.
Think outside the box. I once wore a fancy nightgown to dinner and no one at the restaurant raised an eye-brow. Of course, this was in L.A.!!
What if you’re going on a cruise but don’t want to be burdened with too much luggage, yet you do want to be a fashionista on your cruise? Choose a simple full-length basic skirt, slim or flared, in black or light beige. Adorn it with three different colored ribbons sewn horizontally about 3”-4” above the hemline. These ribbons are your “variation control.” Pair your skirt with a sleeveless shell in any of the colors of the ribbons in the skirt. Now, if you have any heels you no longer want, dye them to match any of the ribbons in your skirt. Shoe dyes are available at shoe repair shops. Now you have three additional looks. Or just wear heels to match the color of your skirt. Or wear a long-sleeved blouse in any of the three colors of the ribbons with a shell the color of your skirt and now you have six different possible outfits. Augment your outfit with a fringed shawl in any of the colors you have in your ribbons, shells, blouses, or skirts to drape around your shoulders or waist and you’ve created another look. Mixing and matching is the key. Finish off your outfit with a simple string of pearls or gold chain necklace. Another alternative: Remember Oscar Night 1998 when Sharon Stone walked down the red carpet wearing her husband’s white Gap dress shirt paired with a long silver skirt? She not only looked great, she wore an original.
Scarves of any size and color are invaluable to your wardrobe By gathering and ruffling scarves (or handkerchiefs), you can change the length and the look of the skirt. Layer the scarves with the straight edges hanging downward from the hem, or layer the corner edges hanging downward (in a V-shape). This can be done with slim or flared skirts. For a formal look or semi-formal look, use soft silk scarves; for a casual look, use cotton or linen scarves; for a wild country look, use multiple colored scarves (in solids or prints), even in varied sizes. Hemlines can also be lengthened by using leather strips, fringes, ruffles, laces or patchwork. The possibilities are limitless.
Scarves can be worn in a variety of ways to update your fashion look: as head coverings, forehead wraps (for jogging or playing tennis), neckties, belts … in a variety of twists and turns. They can also be used to adorn your handbag or boots. Try pairing two different contrasting-colored scarves twisted together for a unique designer look. For my wedding veil, I wore an oversized white mantilla I had brought back from Italy. Now I use it as a drapery for my poster bed.
Accessories – The best choice for accessories that never go out of style is a simper string of pearls and a gold chain Add a pair of gold earrings and that’s all you need Other than her rare state occasions, the Queen of England wears only a double strand of pearls every day. That is all. The late First Lady Barbara Bush wore her signature string of faux pearls every day for all occasions. That was all!
Different colored buttons are another artistic way to add interest to a simple blouse. Or replace boring plastic buttons with expensive ones to upgrade the look of any of your garments.
Redesigns – My sewing skills are minimal, but that doesn’t stop me from creativity. I had a beautiful purple silk blouse with a nasty stain I couldn’t get out. I bought some red silk fabric and asked a seamstress to remove the stained bodice (right side) of the blouse and replace it with a newly sewn one in red. Then I had her remove the left sleeve and replace it with a red sleeve. Don’t think that didn’t get people looking at me askance! For a minimal cost, I saved my favorite blouse and I created an original fashion statement.
In my book How To Keep Your Wardrobe Updated (available in paperback and Kindle) I list 19 different styles of pants from short shorts to harem palazzo pants that you can cut down from any length of your exiting pants. My book also shows options for finishing the hems of your pants in seven different decorative ways.
Think twice before you decide to discard your old clothes. Look at them like an artist would look at an empty canvas and let your creative imagination run wild. Keeping our wardrobe updated on the cheap is a way for you to create haute couture originals and always be in fashion. It is also a lot of fun.
Fashion creativity is vastly limitless. My book, How to Keep your Wardrobe Updated, has 235 simple illustrations, all drawn by me, with easy-to-follow instructions to help you become your own haute couture fashionista on the cheap.
For more ways to save on clothing: