The seasonal change is quickly approaching, which means it will soon be time to swap out our winter wardrobes for warm-weather wears. Rather than shop for an entirely new spring wardrobe—which fast fashion makes so easy despite how extremely toxic it is to our planet—why not recycle the clothes you already have?
You know, those pieces you just can’t let go of, but plan to retire after this season? Reinvent them, as opposed to shoving them to the back of your closet. We reached out to Bridgett Artise—the designer behind Born Again Vintage, a collection of fashion-forward, recycled garments—to lend us her expertise on reinventing our winter favorites to make them suitable for spring and summer.
With her line, Artise gives a new life to vintage pieces by combining them with the contemporary, taking the most standout elements of both to create unique, one-of-a-kind items—thus keeping as many garments out of landfills as possible. She and her brand are dedicated to sustainability, hoping to one day make it as common as fast fashion. She certainly knows her stuff, too. In fact, she's written two books on the subject: Born Again Vintage: 25 Ways To Deconstruct, Reinvent and Recycle Your Wardrobe and the forthcoming book 27 Dresses, an inspirational guide to upcycling your formalwear (even your wedding dress!) into practical and wearable everyday garments.
Below, Artise gives us the how-to with plenty of chopping, sewing, and gluing involved. Combining DIY projects and sustainability efforts—what could be better?
Give an old sweater a new purpose
Do you have an old sweater that’s seen better days, but you just can’t seem to part with it? Rather than letting it waste away at the bottom of your drawer (and take up a ton of space), Artise has the perfect way to renew it—by turning it into a cute spring crop top.
First, try on the sweater and mark where you would like it to end (Artise recommends at the belly button for a trendy top that pairs well with all of your spring culottes). Once marked, take it off and lay it flat on a flat surface. With fabric scissors, cut straight across the sweater, an inch below where you marked. Next, cut the sleeves off at the seam.
To complete, either fold the bottom of the top under by one inch, using fabric glue or a needle and thread to hold in place; you can also use fabric glue to add a decorative trim across the bottom.
Turn your old cardigan into a spring top
You know that old fitted cardigan you used to wear on all of your job interviews? Well, instead of throwing it away (because honey, you are not wearing it to your next one), it actually has the potential to be a killer spring top with a little snipping here and there.
First, lay the cardigan flat on a flat surface, buttoning the last button (or two if it’s extra long). Starting about six to seven inches under the sleeve, cut from side seam to shoulder seam in a rounded shape—“Cut like you’re making parenthesis,” Artise says. Fold the sweater in half vertically, and repeat this cut on the other side. Next, unfold your sweater and either fabric glue or sew down your edges—or, if you're feeling ultra crafty, crochet the edges for a more finished look. You’ll end up with a plunging sleeveless top, perfect for showing off all of those cute bralettes you've been waiting to wear.
Revamp that old crew-neck sweatshirt
You know that sweatshirt you once loved? The one you stopped loving long ago? You don’t have to part with it completely (we know, it’s hard), but you can certainly give it a bit of a facelift (and some ventilation) for spring.
First, lay the sweatshirt flat and cut under the neckline to make a larger opening. “Know that the larger the cut, the bigger the slouch effect,” says Artise. If you’re looking to channel that '80s off-the-shoulder look that’s totally back in style, we say opt for larger. Next, starting from the top of the shoulder, cut two-inch slits about an inch apart from the top to bottom of the sleeve, and repeat on the other side. You can pull lightly at each cut to achieve more of a hanging, distressed look. Finally, cut off the sweatshirt’s bottom ribbing for a more relaxed, draped effect—and there you have it! The perfect spring sweatshirt for when temperatures begin to rise.
If you’re feeling extra crafty, Artise suggests cutting an image or print from an old graphic tee and fabric gluing it onto the center.
Chop up your polyester
If you're an avid shopper of things from decades past, you’ll know that a lot of the best vintage prints are made of polyester. And polyester is hella warm. When it comes to making your favorite polyester pieces—especially those quirky vintage button-downs—spring-appropriate, Artise suggests getting creative with your scissors.
“Cut out tops are on trend, so cut out the front shoulder panels on your polyester button-downs,” she says. “Not only will you be physically cool, you’ll be stylishly cool too.”
Skip silk on silk
Silk is something that can be worn all year round, especially when you have some solid separates. However, head-to-toe silk isn’t always the most comfortable look on a hot day—in fact, it can make it pretty brutal (and sweaty) for you.
Artise suggests pairing your favorite silk pieces from winter with something breathable to ensure you don’t overheat. “If you’re wearing those cute, printed, silk, wide-leg pants, pair them with a cotton jersey top,” she says. “Or, if you’re wearing your favorite silk blouse, tie it in front and wear with a cute cotton jersey pencil skirt. Silk on silk can be a sweaty mess.” We definitely agree, so save that styling moment for fall.