No matter how many parties and events you need to attend this winter holiday season, there’s no need to splash out on expensive, all-new outfits. Here are some tips for re-using and upcycling last year’s ensembles.
Know the scene
Before you raid your closet, it’s key to understand the tone of the event you’ll be attending. Knowing how fancy or laid-back it’s expected to be helps narrow your wardrobe choices and can boost your chances of feeling stylish and comfortable. If it’s an event where you won’t know anyone, take heart in knowing you can re-use last year’s outfits without the other guests being any the wiser!
Consider borrowing or swapping clothes with family or friends for a new-to-you look. If not a whole ensemble, perhaps there’s a single key piece—such as your sister’s tailored blazer or your mother-in-law’s dramatic scarf—that you can borrow to turn an everyday look into the perfect office holiday party outfit. Attending or hosting a clothing swap (you can read more about those here) is another great way to broaden your options without spending money. Alternatively, visit thrift stores, where you’ll often find high quality clothing for less money, including cheap holiday party dresses or other interesting pieces to add to your festive wardrobe.
You can dramatically alter the look of an old or basic outfit by simply changing up the accessories you use. Pairing a black dress or pantsuit with, for example, colourful shoes, an inexpensive statement necklace and a sparkly handbag can elevate a look you might have otherwise worn to the office. Accessories, such as fancy earrings, bracelets, brooches and other costume jewelry; belts, scarves, sashes and shawls; shoes, stockings and gloves; and hats and hair accessories, are all good options for adding some bling to your holiday party attire.
Love them or hate them, the “ugly holiday sweater” is still a thing, with parties centred around the theme more popular than ever. Instead of paying for a new sweater that you’ll only haul out once a year, why not take an old one that you already have and make your own “ugly” version? (If you don’t have one you want to alter, consider buying one online or in person at Joe Fresh). It’s easy to adorn a sweater with bits of garland or other holiday ornaments. Tack on some cut-outs of holiday images such as candles or gingerbread cookies, or use puffy/glittery fabric paint to draw any design you desire. Almost anything goes and your creativity will surely be an icebreaker! You can even attach a string of battery-operated mini lights for a twinkly sweater that will steal the show.
If a garment you wore last year no longer fits the way it used to, not all hope is lost. A trip to the tailor can tell you whether it’s feasible to let out or take in seams for a better fit at a lower price than a brand-new outfit. The same goes for inexpensive clothing that doesn’t quite sit right on your body. An inexpensive tailoring job that makes clothes look custom fit will instantly improve your ensemble. Other ideas for upcycling an old outfit include shortening hems on skirts and dresses or adding length (perhaps with a bit of lace trim), altering necklines and collars, removing sleeves entirely or cinching in wide shoulder straps (easy to do with pretty pins or brooches), or embellishing a piece with embroidery or beading. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, all the better.
Make yourself the centre of attention, not your outfit. That could mean opting for a striking hairstyle, getting your nails done, wearing a beautiful scent or a dramatic makeup look with a smoky eye or the perfect shade of lipstick (Tip: PC Optimum members earn PC Optimum points when they shop at Shoppers Drug Mart). But most importantly, carry yourself with confidence and you’ll rock whatever you’re wearing.
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