Repurposing your wardrobe isn't just for Level 10 Pinteresters — even if you have no skill with a needle and thread there are plenty of ways you can repurpose dresses in your closet that you're feeling bored by. This is a relief, seeing how most dresses rotate in our closet the way we rotate through summer love affairs. One moment we were happily sprawled out on a blanket underneath a tree, eating watermelon with our popsicle-striped dress on, and the next we're considering introducing it to our friend down the block.
While that keeps things fresh and exciting in your wardrobe, it also keeps things pinched and a little alarmed in your wallet. What if instead of tossing those dresses out, you continued to use them in your closet but in non-obvious ways? Just because you’re bored of them as frocks doesn’t mean they can’t take on a different styling role and feel brand new. To keep you off a CLOTHES SHOPPING-INDUCED bean-can diet, there are clever ways you can change dresses you're convinced you'll never want to wear again, and change them into something completely new and interesting. Here are five ways to repurpose a dress to make it feel like something fresh.
1. Hem It Into A Crop Top
This one is my favorite go-to move because it solves so many ailments. There's so much that can go wrong that makes you sour on a dress. For example, sometimes my style shifts subtly and a certain piece no longer fits with my aesthetic, or sometimes I buy a flirty little number but then never have the courage to wear it out because it was so outrageously female. Other times a dress is just too short or too tight all of a sudden. All of these are reasons to toss the item because it will never get worn — or, at least, it used to be.
But instead of giving up on it, why don't you make it into a crop top? Or if crops aren't really your style, you can at least hem it into a shirt. Think about it: If it was too short or too figure hugging, [if you snip it into a top that problem gets solved] SNIPPING IT INTO A TOP SOLVES THOSE PROBLEMS. If the print was too busy it's now more subtle because it spans less material, and if it didn't fit your aesthetic as a dress, it could be reworked with pants or skirts to match your new style (like I did here with the frilly shoulder dress). It fixes all the issues!
2. Turn Into Into A Skirt
Sometimes a dress as a whole doesn't please you, but separated into a skirt it might. One time I had a frothy-like, [tafetta] TAFFETA floral dress that would tumble to the floor and flirt with my ankles every time I walked. It was beautiful. But the thing was, the top of it was so dated I couldn't bring myself to ever wear it out — it had these Monica Gellar circa 1994 spaghetti straps that just threw off my whole aesthetic. So I thought I had no choice but to part ways with it.
But then I thought: What if I put a turtleneck crop top over it? The straps were covered, the dress turned into a skirt, and my life was forever complete. And you don't have to stop with turtlenecks, either. You can easily layer chambray shirts, cropped sweaters, long knits, or sleeveless tops over dresses to change them into something completely new.
3. Add A Sleeveless Shirt On Top
Sometimes you're just simply bored with a dress. There's nothing wrong with it, it still fits your style, but you've just worn it and seen it so many times you've had your fill of it. It's like how during that one summer you ate nothing but Rum Raisin ice cream, and now you can barely look at the sign without cringing.
For moments like those, add an unexpected top layer like the sleeveless shirt to break up the look. It's unexpected because — unlike a sweater or button up — it leaves the sleeves peeking out. It acts more like a vest than a top and keeps the style of the dress intact while bringing something new to the table.
4. Create New Proportions
Sometimes all you need to do to make an item feel fresh is to mess with its proportions. Dragging the line of the waist up or down the usual cut is often a daring move because it completely changes the feel of the piece. For example, one of my favorite moves is to layer a long, thigh-skimming sweater over a maxi dress, which gives you this really chic, intentionally baggy look. It changes summer dresses into cozy fall or winter gowns, and can be played up or down depending the color of the sweater.
If you layer the same long sweater over a mini dress, then you get a flirty but cozy look. Similarly, if you layer a cropped sweater over a maxi, you get a different vibe than when you had your long jumper over it because the waist line has been shifted way up. If you find yourself bored with a frock, try messing with its lines in this way to give it different moods.
5. Layer Two Of Them Together
This might sound outrageous, but it's really subtle and easy. If you're bored of a simple dress, try layering another one underneath to give it a pop of something new. For example, layer a lace or sheer dress underneath a sweater dress to have that light and airy hem peek out from underneath the knit material.
If you have a short skater number, pop a longer skater dress underneath so that longer hem not only adds length, but brings in a new color palette or pattern. One time I had a wool A-line dress I loved but have worn to death, so I popped a floral dress underneath to give it a slightly grungy, Anne-of-Green-Gables look. It completely changed the feel of the skirt and made me want to wear it all over again.
Dresses are one of the first pieces that can be easy to get sick of in a closet, but they're also one of the easiest to re-imagine, making your closet that much more versatile and you that much happier that you didn't have to throw something out.
Images: Marlen Komar (5)