5 Great Ways to Reuse and Recycle Old Clothes

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We’ve opined before on the woes of contemporary fashion and shopping culture. Clothing trends rise and fall like the tides of the ocean. We could spend thousands of dollars to build a modern wardrobe, only to find it near obsolete a few years later.

While we opt for generous helpings of classic, time-tested staples in our clothing diet, there are some trends we can’t fight. As a result, from time to time we must atone for our questionable purchases and purge our closets of the Clothes That Time Forgot.

What to do with these wardrobe castoffs? Standard procedure says toss them in a plastic bag and drop them off at the local Goodwill. But why not put your old clothes back to work? Check out these ways to reuse and recycle old clothes that you don’t wear anymore.

1. Denim is precious; hang on to your old jeans

A few holes doesn't have to mean the end of your favorite jeans.

A few holes doesn’t have to mean the end of your favorite jeans.

Pair of jeans marred by a hole in the knee? We could tell you to snip off the legs and fashion a pair of jorts (Warning: link contains images not suitable for children), but it’s a look we highly discourage.

Instead, save your old jeans for a rainy day. When your favorite pair of jeans invariably begins to wear out, use fabric from the old jeans to patch them up. It’s like a skin graft for your pants. Don’t worry they won’t feel a thing.

Note: we do not endorse a patchwork look. I good tailor should be able to sew the transplant fabric into the candidate jeans, creating a near-seamless look.

2. Turn an old t-shirt into a stylish tote bag

This is a fantastic idea, one that is beautifully detailed here on Delia Creates.

green produce bag

Photo credit: http://www.deliacreates.com/

Re-using an old t-shirt to create a fashionable tote bag doesn’t require as much work as you think. Just a few steps and you can give new use to an old t-shirt that would have otherwise retired to life a dust rag. And with plastic bags slowly being banned across the country, this is a practical, attractive, and environmentally-friendly way to carry your groceries.

3. Turn a hoodie into a laptop bag

This may not be a long-term solution for your laptop transport needs, but it’s a clever and resourceful option. As demonstrated here, with a few folds and a knot (no sewing required), an old hooded sweatshirt can double as a laptop bag.

4. Expand your closet using an old belt

beltIf you really can’t part with your old clothes and could use a little more space in your closet, then this is for you. Clothes hang on a horizontal bar in a closet, resulting a lot of wasted space directly below the hanging clothes. Try taking an old belt and putting the buckle over the top of a hanger. The belt holes act as additional spaces for more hangers. This technique can double the space in your closet.

5. Host a clothing exchange party with friends

We believe that the number one reason people get rid of their old clothes is not because they are worn out or don’t fit anymore; it’s because they’re sick of wearing them. That’s just the product of seeing ourselves in the same outfit time after time and a desire for change.

Most of us feel this way. Your friends have clothes they’re tired of wearing too. Why not propose a trade? We’ve done clothing swaps with friends in the past and it’s a lot of fun because it’s truly a win-win arrangement. You get something new (to you) and you get it for what feels like nothing. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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