Out With The Old
With the new year now upon us, there’s never been a better time to sift through your clothing collection and sort the sartorial wheat from the chaff. After all, maintaining a carefully curated wardrobe gives you peace of mind and keeps you positioned at the top of your style game.
For best results, you’ll need a guiding principle, and the old adage: ‘out with the old, in with the new’ hits the proverbial nail right on the head. That means shifting anything that’s not seen the light of day for a while to make room for your new key investments for 2015.
Begin by asking yourself the following questions: have I worn it in the last eighteen months? Do I still like it? Am I realistically going to wear it again in 2015? If the answer to any of these is a no, then it’s time for it to go.
In With The New
That said, while there’s bound to be a few questionable pieces that need chucking, not everything currently languishing in your wardrobe should be dumped. Some items of clothing are classic and timeless, while others can be salvaged, re-imagined and re-purposed. Although ‘out with the old, in with the new’ is your guiding principle, it’s worth bearing ‘waste not, want not’ in mind too.
Just because that worn shirt or shabby pair of trousers hasn’t left the house in a while, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely useless. These days, there’s nothing a good tailor can’t do. If you’re still finalising your New Year’s resolutions, make sure one of them is to find yourself a tailor you can trust. Not only can they work minor miracles when it comes to suit jacket and trouser fit, they’re often a dab hand at reinventing some of your tired threads.
Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t do most of these DIY renewals yourself – most require just a good pair of cloth scissors and some precise folding – but if you don’t want to leave anything to chance, then we would recommend visiting your tailor for the best possible results.
1. Long-Sleeved Short
This is probably the most obvious entry on the list, but shortening long-sleeved shirts to short-sleeved ones still seems to be a dramatically underused method. Appreciating that a good selection of quality shirts forms the backbone of any capsule wardrobe, most guys buy the same types of shirt each season, replacing older ones with new ones.
But why not alter your old shirts into something for the summer ahead, rather than simply chuck them? We understand that the majority are still unsure about them, but if the last few spring/summer seasons have proved anything, it’s that short-sleeved shirts are no longer the preserve of the sartorially clueless.
Provided your long-sleeved shirt already fits well, all you need do is cut each sleeve an inch below where you want the new sleeve to end and then cuff (fold a couple of times) the sleeves to hide the cut. Easy.
This works especially well with old Oxford shirts in shades of blue, pink and green because the faded colour they take on in their old age plays perfectly into summer’s hazy pastel-inspired season.
For those that want to be slightly more precise, and have access to a sewing machine, try the in-depth video tutorial below:
Short-Sleeved Shirt Lookbook
If you’re still on the fence about short-sleeved shirts, the lookbook below should convince you that they can in fact look effortlessly stylish:
2. Custom Collars
Sleeves aren’t the only customisable aspect of a well-worn shirt; you can modify the collar too. Whether your current collar has seen better days or you just fancy a change, altering it can give your shirt an entirely new look.
This particular customisation might be better off in the hands of a tailor, depending on the fabric of your chosen shirt. If you’re going it alone, why not try creating an on-trend band/granddad collar by cutting off the existing point collar on your old denim or Oxford cloth shirts? This works well because the (inevitable) post-customisation fraying works well with the ruggedness of the fabric.
If your shirt is constructed from a finer, more delicate material, it’s better to bow out and book an appointment with your tailor. They should be able to alter the current collar (size or style) or create a new one entirely – try a contrasting colour or pattern to really breathe life into the garment.
Check out this superb DIY band collar example by Izzy Tuason at TheDandyProject.
Image: Calliope SS15 AW15
3. Who Wears Short Shorts?
Unless you’ve worn the crotch out of your favourite pair of chinos or jeans, there’s no reason why they can’t be converted into shorts in about five minutes flat.
Similar to shirts, your legwear just needs to be cut an inch or two below where you want the cuff to sit, and then neatly cuffed at the appropriate mark. The knees and hems of trousers are often the first areas to wear out, so this trick will bring your favourite pair back from the brink.
If you’re looking for a slightly neater approach, use a sewing machine to hem your new shorts with a clean finish.
4. Pick It Up And Put It In Your Pocket
No matter what it is, if it’s got an interesting pattern on it – turn it into a pocket square. Everything from that old paisley shirt to those houndstooth cotton trousers to that plaid scarf is primed for a bit of pocket square DIY.
You don’t even have to sew them into the shape of a square if you don’t want to. Simply cut out a large enough section, fold a few times and then stuff it into your pocket – you’re good to go.
However, if you do want to create bona fide pocket squares then there are plenty of YouTube videos that provide step by step instructions:
5. Change The Buttons
One of the easiest alterations you can make is to change the buttons on your existing pieces. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old work shirt, pair of chinos or even your trusty mac, switching the buttons for coloured or higher quality versions is a subtle alteration that makes a surprisingly big impact.
Not only that, it takes no time at all and you don’t need any fancy equipment – just a needle and thread.
There are hundreds of guides out there on how to sew on a button, and it’s a life skill that all men should learn. But perhaps the best advice we can give you is to remember that the existing holes left from the old button provide guidance as to where your needle should be going.
So, scour eBay or get down to your local craft shop and see what jumps out at you. Why not try lighter coloured buttons in preparation for spring/summer, or upgrade your standard plastic high street buttons for mother of pearl versions?
There you have it; just a few ideas on how you can inject some new life into your lovingly worn clothes, rather than simply ditching them to make room for their replacements.
Have you tried any of these DIY tricks before? Was it a resounding success or regrettable failure? Are there other methods we could try?
Let us know in the comments section below…