How many items of clothing do you own that would be “perfect” if they were altered/repaired? That skirt that’s just a little too tight (or loose), the shirt missing half its buttons or the jeans that you constantly have to roll up?
The best outfits are not always expensive or trendy, rather they are the ones that fit us well and are most becoming to our body type.
I had over a dozen items of clothing in my wardrobe that didn’t fit well or needed to be mended or altered. Having recently moved into a much smaller apartment, it seemed like the perfect time to do a wardrobe cull/audit.
Shoes – I ended up giving away five pairs that didn’t fit well to the charity shop, a pair of snakeskin boots that were too small, another pair of ankle boots that were uncomfortable, a pair of cheap runners and two pairs of too-large heels.
Jackets – A lovely tweed vintage jacket that I bought on impulse but never really wore as it was a size 14 had to go as did a cream embellished one which had lost some of its trimmings.
T-shirts/tops- I spent €25 on a Levi’s t-shirt in Spain when they were all the rage but it was really poor quality, it was very thin and had faded a bit so it had to go also. I also let go of a gorgeous navy bodysuit that no longer fit me.
Jeans/Leggings: I donated two pairs of jeans, white ripped ones that I wore approximately once a year and black mom jeans that never really fit well.
I also donated an impractical pair of lace-up black leggings that I hardly ever wore.
Handbags – I own an insane amount of bags and after much deliberation decided to part with a tiny impractical bag and a floral crossbody that I loved but rarely used.
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Skirts- I owned two beautiful leather skirts that no longer fit but I was reluctant to let them go.
I brought them to a seamstress to see if they could be let out but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible.
The zip in the black one below broke the last time I squeezed into it! And looking back, I can see it’s too small for me…
I replaced the zip but realising they would never fit me again (bar developing some kind of wasting disease), I gave them to a fashion-loving friend where they will have a good home!
If you can’t bear to give away a much-loved item to the charity shop, then why not give them to a friend or family member?
Another too-tight suede skirt made its way to the charity shop after I learned it could not be altered either, leaving me with 17 fewer items in my overcrowded wardrobe.
Mending and fixing
I have a good collection of vintage shirts and blouses and while I wear some more frequently than others, one paisley print beauty was sitting forlornly in the back of my wardrobe.
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I bought this a few years ago in Lyon Loring in Stoneybatter but discovered after a couple of wears, that the buttons were prone to snapping off and almost all of them fell off.
I kept the buttons and the shirt but never got round to fixing it until one day I took it back out of the wardrobe.
I came up with an interim solution of wearing it under a pinafore so no-one could see the missing buttons.
Eventually, one quiet Sunday, I sat down with a needle and thread and gathered up all of the buttons to sew back on.
I wanted to use the original buttons as they are really pretty and thankfully, I found all of them bar one.
I always wear my collar open so I didn’t need a button for this, leaving me with just the right amount for all the missing ones.
Before I replaced the missing ones, I went back and sewed the remaining ones tighter so they wouldn’t fall off.
I ran into a small bit of bother when I realised the button openings were so small only the thinnest needle could pass through them but luckily I had a very thin small needle that did the job.
Ta-da, my blouse was as good as new and having washed it twice since my stitches have held up nicely.
I intend to wear this blouse a lot more now, with jeans as below or underneath my black pinafore which contrasts really nicely with the black in the blouse.
Mending and fixing up items can be a pain, especially in this day and age when we are used to everything being instantaneous.
Getting a professional to do it is the ideal option, however, alterations can be pricey, sometimes costing almost the same as a new item.
If it’s a tricky job or an expensive item, I’d advise going to an alterations place such as the Alterations Centre on South Anne Street. I had a dress altered here before and I was really happy with how it turned out. I’ve also used The Zip Yard for alterations and they have branches around the country.
If it’s something like sewing on a button or stitching a ripped seam, why not have a go if you have basic sewing skills? If you don’t but can’t afford alterations, then look up YouTube tutorials for help.
Or you could ask a friend or family member who’s handy at sewing but make sure you do them a favour in return!
My little DIY project has inspired me to see what else in my wardrobe could do with some TLC and hopefully, I’ll get more wear out of what I already own.
As well as mending clothes, replacing the heel tips or resoling your shoes will help them last longer. I’ve several pairs of leather boots and good shoes that have lasted me years with repairs.
It’s better to buy expensive shoes which will last longer than a cheap pair which won’t be worth mending.
Outfit: Black trench coat: Daisy Street at Asos: £34.99/ €41.14
Vintage blouse: about €15
Jeans: Topshop €55
Belt: Charity shop €1
Earrings: Penneys €3
Total cost: €115.14