Why You Should Revamp Your Clothes and Accessories Rather than Buying Something New


Easy ideas for refashioning and revamping your clothes and accessories to make them look even more fabulous


Did you know that sewing machine sales have skyrocketed in recent years.

This made me think – are people actually going to start making their clothes again? Or is it more about revamping and altering what they currently own?

As an image consultant, I spend a lot of time in people’s wardrobes. They often think I’m going to throw a garment out, when in fact all it needs is just needs a small alteration to make it totally wearable and a great working item in their wardrobe, so I often spend a lot of time kneeling at my client’s feet pinning up hems of skirts, tops and sleeves. Interestingly one of my clients commented to me as I did this “I always thought there was something wrong with me that all tops looked terrible on me, when in fact they’re just too long for my body“.

Read up and see the pics of some great alterations and how much of a difference they can make to a garment.

Another way to revamp your clothes is to dye them. Quite often people have white shirts that are no longer that white, or white doesn’t really suit them, so rather then throw them out, I suggest they go and get a pot of dye and give that a whirl. They are often surprised how well this works and how they can turn something they never wore into something great. I even used this to turn a white silk shirt which I’d managed to get a black stain (ink?) on that wouldn’t come out, I dyed it navy and love it so much more now!

Get tips on how to overdye and the results you can expect here plus everything you need to know about dying here.

Alternatively, I’ve made a boring jacket interesting by adding some ribbon around the cuffs. It’s the little extra touches that can take a bland item to a beautiful one.

Damson suit

And did you know that the skirt of this suit used to be a pair of pants!

It’s the ribbon around the edges of this suit jacket that make it more interesting and creative in its appearance.


I’ve bought the book Just for the Frill of It from Amazon, and am going to have a go at doing a bit more of this myself!

Get more ideas on revamping your accessories and clothes

How to take up tops

It’s Ok to fiddle with your scarves

How to change the colour of your shoes

It’s Ok to fiddle with your jewellery – necklaces

Changing up your earrings

More tips on alterations


What have you revamped in your wardrobe?

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  • I am not that clever. I think my lack of ability to “re” any item comes from being the daughter of two parents in the fashion business.

  • I recently took the jacket from a thrifted suit to be altered to fit me better and the bill was $35! Only because it’s a charcoal heather wool basic pantsuit and the trousers fit well will I ever get my $$$ out of it. So I am definitely motivated to try.

    Ugh. But finding the time …

  • La Belette – it’s not to do with cleverness! You are so clever.

    Rebecca – a $35 suit – that’s so cheap! It’s not about what you paid for it to start with, it’s the cost per wear that’s important.

  • Yes! Took those dowdy, ankle-length tapered skirts to a friend’s house, chopped ’em, and hemmed ’em. Now I have knee-length skirts I adore!

  • Thanks for the mention Imogen.
    I bought a sewing machine when I married in 1989 and saved a fortune making all the curtains in my house.
    Last year I had to replace the machine but it had more than earned its keep.
    I wouldn’t make new clothes froom scratch but I love altering, shortening and have made many dress up costumes for my children over the years.
    As for dyeing – I tried it earlier this year and I am a convert.
    A great post and I hope you like the book.

  • Starlight: I know, I myself have a pile of things waiting for me to alter them – must get onto it!

    Sal: so glad you got those skirts taken up – you’re 31 not 61! (And even then, I don’t let my 61 year old clients dress dowdily either).

    Jane: Thanks for the inspiration. I too have saved a fortune making the curtains in my house – long stright lines are easy to sew.

  • I have recently (about nine months ago) started sewing for myself again. I used to sew all the time, starting when I was barely a teen, and through my first pregnancy. I hated the maternity clothes that were available in 1983! (Come to think of it, I’ve never liked the maternity clothes available in stores…)

    The reason I started sewing this time around was that I finally realized that almost no RTW clothing *really* fit me through the bust. (I could get by with knit tops, but wovens…oy, vey! Darts pointing in all the wrong directions, buttons pulling across the front, shirts always riding up at the waist, and so on.)

    I was recently fitted at an Intimacy shop, and found out I should have been in a 32F/G bra instead of the 36D/DD’s I’d been wearing. Very few stores sell clothing (let alone bras!) that fits me, and it is extremely difficult to alter RTW for a large bust. I’ve occasionally found RTW clothing that fits (like Bravissimo), but the selection isn’t all that great, and the quality (for the prices they charge) leaves something to be desired as well.

    As a result, I’ve been sewing a lot of my own shirts and dresses, relying on my ever-present FBA (full bust adjustment) alteration to achieve a flattering fit. I also have to lengthen my sleeves and pant hems at least 2″ (and I’m only 5′ 5″!). I almost always test out my patterns in a cheap but similar weight fabric before I cut into my expensive stuff. (I don’t necessarily go to all the trouble of finishing everything like I would in something I plan to wear, I’m just making sure that the fit is on target.) Once I get a basic (TNT, or “tried and true”) pattern to fit, I can tweak all sorts of design details so no one would ever realize that it’s the same shirt/dress.

    I do occasionally alter RTW items, mostly skirts, because it’s fairly simple to take in the hip (on those skirts without side seam pockets). Because RTW is usually done on sergers (which trim the seam allowances quite narrowly), taking things in is more of an option than letting things out/down).

    I have one other tip about dyeing clothes – dye two or more different colored items at the same time – the resulting shades will be almost always be complementary to each other (works best with lighter colored clothing). Dharma Trading Co. is a great online source for dyes for a variety of different fibers.

  • Dear Imogen, I wish you had written this last week! Ive just given to charity three sacks of clothes! With your suggestions I would have saved myself a small fortune! Never mind! What about coming to the Uk and doing a bit of clothes styling for me? Love your blog. All the best. Antonella

  • Christine B – you are an inspiration – I need you to whip up some clothes for me as I have the same bust issues!

    Lunarossa – you’ll know for next time – thanks so much for stopping by.

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