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What to wear when you have “nothing to wear”

Have you been trying to get off the hamster wheel of buying new clothes for every occasion or, even worse, every month? But ultimately succumbing to the consumerist pressure of getting a “closet essential”?

While buying second-hand (from either physical or online thrift stores) is definitely more sustainable and cheaper than consuming fast fashion, what can be thriftier than reusing the clothes already in your wardrobe? Reusing your existing clothes is an effective way to reduce your waste, steer away from overconsumption and get your creative juices flowing. Here are some ways to re-wear your existing wardrobe by creating new outfits out of the pile of the clothing on your bedroom floor:

1. Make the most of your dresses

If you’re like me and lazy to do laundry but have re-worn every t-shirt in your closet twice this month, here’s a tried and tested method: wear your dress as a shirt. While this requires some serious tuck-in skills, it gives you quite a few extra tops to pair with jeans or a skirt.

Short dresses aren’t too difficult to tuck in and look less bulky than one would expect under a pair of thick denim jeans. If you aren’t convinced with the whole tuck-in thing, the simplest would be to pair a solid maxi skirt with a dress, disguised as a top. Another way to maximise the use of your dresses is wearing a cropped t-shirt or sweater over a dress, making it a brand new skirt! And while prepping for a day trip to Sentosa, you can even wear a wrap dress as a coverup for your swimwear.

2. Sharing is caring

Graphic tees are all the rage nowadays but there’s no need to buy one, just nab one from the boys. Steal Borrow a t-shirt from any male loved one — dad or brother or boyfriend — and tuck it into a denim skirt or a pair of jeans. Put on some sneakers and there ya go! You’re ready with a slouchy I’m-definitely-not-about-to-doze-off-in-this-early-morning-lecture look.

If the boys’ selection of graphic t-shirts isn’t to your liking, borrow a jacket to change up a simple outfit or to attempt to pass off your pyjamas as a comfy lewk.

3. Play with monochrome

While it’s extremely intimidating to tow the delicate line between a beautifully colour-coordinated outfit and looking like a teletubbie, there’s no harm in trying it out in front of your bedroom mirror.

Going monochrome isn’t as hard as it looks: you don’t have to wear every item of clothing in the same shade; it can be shades of the same colour. This is a great opportunity to play with textures. It’s simple to start off with all white or all black, venture out to neutrals like grey or brown and then progress to bolder colours. 

Don’t be scared to add a pop of a contrasting colour or colours in a graphic on a t-shirt or on your shoes, it adds more dimension and versatility.

4. Redefine tops

Not to sound like that one professor who makes even the simplest of topics complicated, but what are tops? Just about anything that covers the top half of your body, right? By that definition, almost anything can be a top. Try making things that aren’t really tops into tops, like scarves. Here’s a video that shows you eight different ways to do so.

If you prefer dressing more conservatively, layer a turtleneck or solid t-shirt underneath the scarf. You can even wear swimwear as a top: just treat a monokini like any other bodysuit,  or a bikini top as innerwear to layer a cardigan or printed shirt over.

5. Experiment with makeup

Try a new eye look or a new shade of lipstick, maybe one borrowed from a loved one. To experiment with eye looks, reach for a new colour, try a funky new liner design or simply add a pop of colour into your inner corner. Here are a few of my favourite eye makeup looks to spice up a drab outfit you’ve worn to death. Even if you’re not the best at makeup, know that practice makes perfect. If you don’t like how it looks, you can take it off in less than a few seconds.

6. Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise

Accessories make more of a difference than you think. Remember, the same outfit plus different jewellery equals a different vibe. A plain old white t-shirt with blue denims can look vastly different with 90’s beaded jewellery than with a ton of layered gold necklaces, or with a simple string of pearls and some pearl studs for the ears. Without changing any elements of the actual outfit, you can seamlessly transition from DIY chic to baddie vibes to something more elegant. Something as simple as a scrunchie can pull a whole outfit together and convince others you took more than three minutes to pick out an outfit.

The most important part is to have fun dressing yourself up. Put on your favourite music and dance it out. Blast your version of the grooving-in-my-room-till-3-am playlist to feel your best. Nothing will look good if you don’t feel good, and expressing your creativity through reinventing old clothes definitely makes you feel amazing. Keep an open mind and try to make your own “nothing to wear” hacks — who knows, you might start a new trend!

Vedika Sharma

Nanyang Tech '24

Vedika is a second-year Economics major at Nanyang Tech and a lover of all things cottage core. When not writing or working on academics, she can mostly be found sewing, watching trashy reality TV or gushing over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She can hold hour-long conversations on intersectional feminism but can't pronounce Worcestershire.
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