Upcycling & thrifting: ditching fast fashion for good

It can be difficult to keep up with trends while also keeping up with your bank account, especially while in college. Rather than giving companies that support the fast fashion industry your money, try thrifting and upcycling instead. While it might take a little more effort, that hard work will benefit the environment and our human rights across the globe. Keep reading for some tips on how you can stay fashionable and eco-friendly.


Go outside your comfort zone

When you’re perusing the aisles of your favorite thrift shop, don’t just stick to the racks that contain your size, gender or type of clothing — branch out and check out every section. Men’s clothes can easily be altered to become more of a women’s fit by trimming the length of sleeves, and plenty of women’s clothes have unisex forms to begin with. Or, frankly, just wear any clothes you like. 


Revamp with a recolor

Ever find a shirt or pair of pants that’s the perfect fit and style, but in a terrible color? Luckily, there’s an easy solution: fabric dye. Check the tag to see what fabric the article is made out of and research the best methods to dye it. Some fabrics, especially darker or shinier ones, won’t usually take dye very well. Additionally, traditional dye will only deposit color, not exactly replace it, meaning you can’t go to a lighter color without bleaching first. Grab some dye from a craft store or Walmart, read the instructions and have fun.


Cut it out

Rather than giving up after not being able to find the perfect pair of shorts or crop top, make your own. For shorts, look for pants that are a bit looser in the thigh area, which may help your shorts be more comfortable after you cut them, especially if you’re planning on rolling them or adding a cuff. Try them on, mark a light line with a dry-erase marker or deodorant (which usually comes out of clothes) while you’re wearing them, take them off and make the trim. Distress them — safely — with an x-acto knife, scissors, sandpaper, tweezers or anything else you find that can alter the fabric. Shirts follow a similar thread — determine where you’d like to make alterations while wearing the shirt, draw on it and repeat. Consider asking a friend to help you with the back if you can’t get a good view of it.


Get crafty

Beyond just a cut and dye, there are plenty of other ways to take your thrifted finds to the next level. Just taking a casual walk down the aisles of a fabric store is sure to give you plenty of inspiration. Check out sewn patches, embellishments, patches of spare fabric, embroidery supplies, fabric paint and more to make your clothes your own. If you’re going in with an idea in mind, spark up a conversation with someone who works at the store — they might be able to give you some advice for your project, and even if they can’t hand you a step-by-step, they can probably point you in the right direction.

Photo: B. Cagle

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