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5 Upcycle Projects You Can Do to Revamp Your Old Clothes

Sustainability is huge in the fashion world lately, and for good reason. Fast fashion contributes to so much waste that is harming the planet. Many college students are faced with the dilemma of choosing between the affordability of fast fashion or the sustainability of higher-end brands. Luckily, there is a happy medium. Enter: upcycling.

Upcycling is when you take something old and use it to create something new. In terms of fashion, this could mean using an old or lightly worn article of clothing and reworking it or even heading to a thrift shop and getting creative with your finds. It’s also a fun option for a DIY gift for a friend. Dig deep into your creative side and you may surprise yourself with what you can create.




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I'm sure you’ve seen tie dye countless times in your feed since the beginning of quarantine. But you don’t have to buy something white as a designated tie-dye project. Spend some time digging through your closet and see if you have anything that could use a refresh. Even shades of light gray or pastels could make the perfect canvas for your tie-dye creations.

Taligate Shirt



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If you’re the creative type, try your hand at a custom tailgate shirt (even if tailgates IRL aren’t going to be a thing this semester). My personal favorite way to customize a shirt is by cropping it, adding a keyhole neck, and sewing on a lace trim. There are tons of tutorials on Pinterest you can refer to for help. The best part about this DIY is that you can’t go wrong. Grab scissors and see where it takes you.

Painted Denim



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Painted denim is so on-trend and is the perfect way to add a personal touch to your wardrobe. From jackets to jeans, you can revamp any denim piece you have. Print out a stencil beforehand and trace it in pencil on your piece to keep things neat. Prep the denim with gesso and sandpaper beforehand in order to create a smooth surface for the paint so that it doesn’t soak into the fabric.




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Fashion majors, this one’s for you. If you know how to sew, give embroidery a shot! Your first attempt may not be perfect, but you can practice on scrap fabric until you get it how you envisioned. Whether you go for something simple like a word or phrase or something more complex (like image), an embroidered design will add some personal flair to a t-shirt, jeans, a tote, and pretty much anything else you can think of.




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Patches are such a fun and easy way to spice up a jacket and make it your own. The best part? A lot of them are iron-on, so new sewing skills are required. You can get really unique patches from Etsy to speak to your interests. Personally, I have my eye on these pretty butterfly patches.

Next time you think you have nothing to wear, think again. Spend an afternoon sorting through clothes you would otherwise get rid of and see if you can breathe a new life into them. It’s not only an affordable way to update your wardrobe, but it also benefits the planet.

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Carli is a 2022 grad of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and served as the style section editor for Her Campus. After being a national style writer for Her Campus, she launched Her Campus FIT. A born and raised Jersey Girl, she is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. In her spare time she loves running, jamming to Taylor Swift, and tracking down the best burgers. Find her on Instagram @carliannescloset.
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