You can give a second chance to garments you love, but no longer fit your needs.

Diana Vreeland, a late fashion icon, has one of my favorite quotes about fashion: “Fashion is part and parcel of daily life. It changes constantly. The approaching revolution can be felt in fashion.”

Fashion trends change and so does our need for certain clothes. As we age, get older, go through pandemics, or live in an era with rising global temperatures, we will outgrow the clothes we have.

It’s a good time to look at your clothes and decide what to do with them.

Straightforward solutions

Swensk is owned by Mats Ekstrom, a Swedish clothing shop in Melbourne’s central business district that provides a personal service and emphasizes tailoring. He says that if you have gained weight from “lockdown and wine-drinking”, is not a problem. A tailor can usually handle trousers that have enough fabric in the waist seam. A quick fix for clothes that are too tight is to move buttons a half-inch here and there.

Ekstrom emphasizes to clients that even small changes can make a big difference in how things look. Ekstrom says it’s important to balance your proportions and recommends that your sleeves be approximately half the length of your wrist bone and the bottom bone in your hand.

The length of trousers should be proportional to your height and the length of your legs. This can sometimes come down to personal preference. A good tailor can alter the silhouette of trousers to be more current as long as they have enough fabric. Ekstrom recommends showing the tailor a pair you like to show them how it looks.

It can be more difficult if you have grown beyond a certain size. “Making things larger is really difficult to do.” He recommends looking at the facts and asking yourself if you’ll ever have the body of a twenty-year-old again. If no, he suggests selling or giving away those clothes (without sending them to landfill).

Making old things new

Nicole Mallalieu is a fashion lecturer at the Australian College of the Arts and welcomes a growing number of designers and young people who are cutting up and transforming old garments into new pieces.

From the reconstructed T-shirt dresses of the Central Saint Martin’s graduate Conner Ives, the reworked clothing of the Melbourne label TLC World and Romance Was Born’s found fabric Forever range to the kids all over Depop, in the right pair of scissor-hands, old clothes can be given value and currency.

Mallalieu recommends taking this as a guideline when you are thinking about what to do with clothes that you love, but won’t wear again. She suggests that if you are unable to sew, a tailor can replace your waistband with stretchier fabric, or make a too-snug jacket a vest.

You can make too-small dresses into skirts or tops. She says this allows for greater flexibility in alterations: Lowering the waistline of an A-line skirt will give you more space, while the top can be worn with pants or layered.

Share your love

Mallalieu states that sometimes clothes don’t fit our lifestyles or moods. However, it is important to keep seeing the value in them. She says that clothes have a lot of energy embedded in them, both from people and the environment.

She suggests that you find someone who may wear it, such as a friend or family member. They’ll then return it to you when it’s done. This allows the story behind the clothing to be shared and hopefully saves it from being “another anonymous garment in an unsorted pile of discarded clothes at an auction house.” These conversations can be started with the following: “I love it, but I don’t wear it anymore.”

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