How To Sustainably Update Your Work Wardrobe Without Spending £££

Raise your hand if, like me, you’ve been experiencing wardrobe burnout lately. It seems like somehow, I’m always spending money on new clothes, and while I always have plenty to wear, I still feel like I’m not fully maximizing my wardrobe’s potential. Which is why, in an attempt to be both, chic and frugal, I’ve adopted a DIY approach to making sure the neglected pieces in my wardrobe get worn, get updated and get a little TLC.

First, start out by fixing what’s broken, torn, doesn’t fit properly or is stained.

(1) Grab some needle and thread to fix anything that has come apart at the seams or buttons that have fallen off. Never sewn in your life? Don’t be intimidated – making little adjustments like these are actually super easy and there are thousands of Youtube tutorials to help you on your way.

(2) If something doesn’t fit you properly – think hemlines or sleeves that need taking up or waistbands that need taking in, seek out your local dry cleaner, seamstress or tailor who could probably fix it for you or a small fee. Some department stores even offer free alterations on clothing that you buy from them, so don’t be shy to ask if something doesn’t fit you just right.

(3) Before you go throwing your stained items away, I suggest buying some Vanish spray. Trust me when I say it is the stuff of miracles! You spray a little bit onto a stain and then immediately put the item into the washing machine – it takes the stain right off! If your favourite white shirt is starting to look a little yellow, soak it in some clothing bleach.

Next, give your overly-worn items a little love

(4) If your shoes are starting to look a little dull and have lost their ‘new’ shine, go over them with a coat of clear shoe polish and then leave it to try. Leather handbags, shoes, belts or jackets can look brand new if you buff your usual moisturizer into them with a soft cloth in circular motions. If your black handbag is starting to fray a little from the bottom or the piping, peel off any loose bits and then colour the area underneath with a black marker / sharpie. Nobody will be able to tell!

(5) Is your jewellery collection crying out for a little TLC? Start out by untangling the massive jumble of necklaces and separating them all into clear, re-sealable plastic bags so you can see what’s in each one clearly. Next, replace any gems or crystals that have fallen out by using similar sized gems that have fallen of items you don’t wear anymore and embedding them into pieces you love with super glue. If your artificial jewellery is looking a little lacklustre, try coating the piece with a little clear nail varnish and then leaving it to dry to get some of is shine back. However, if your real gold or silver jewellery is looking dull, try soaking them in specialized gold or silver dips – my mum uses these for her rings and can’t live without them.

(6) If, like the rest of us, you’re sentimental and are still clinging on to the little denim skirt you wore in college or a favourite dress that used to fit you like a dream that are now too short, all you need to do is buy some pretty lace in the same colour as the item (or a contrast) and add it to the hemline to stylishly increase the length and make it more wearable again. Same applies for if the neckline on a top or dress is far too low – a piece of lace will cover up any unnecessary cleavage while still looking sophisticated.

(7) Dye is another great option if you’re looking to change up or refresh a formerly-loved piece. Using clothing dye to intensify the colour of a faded item works wonders, or you could also change the colour of a light coloured item to a dark one to give it a whole new look.

(8) If you’ve worn a pair of shoes so much they’ve stretched out and gotten loose, placing an insole in them will help them fit bitter. Conversely, if a pair of shoes is too tight, stuff them with socks or newspaper and leave it in overnight or for a couple of nights for them to loosen out. If that pair of heels you absolutely love makes your feet hurt, placing gel pads in them can help with the pain situation drastically.

(9) If the white soles on your beloved trainers are starting to look filthy, don’t throw them out. Instead – grab a tube of toothpaste (the white kind, not the gel kind) and an ordinary soft kitchen scrub. Apply the toothpaste to the rubber sole and use the sponge to rub off the dirt – your shoes will look brand new and will smell minty-fresh, too.

And finally, I saved the best for last! Its time to to get your creative juices flowing and update your less-loved pieces:

(10) Have an old blazer you no longer wear? Update it by raiding your grandma’s jewellery box and ‘borrowing’ her old brooches or sourcing some on eBay or car boot sales for cheap. Think I’m crazy? Check out this super cool inspiration image to see what I mean! You could even use the same tactic on old jumpers, berets, coats, shirt collars, etc.

(11) Taking sleeves off an old trench coat, leather jacket or denim vest is an easy way to turn it into an edgy sleeveless coat or vest to update your look.

(12) Never underestimate the power of a button. Updating the buttons on a vintage piece or on an item that just doesn’t get worn anymore is a great way to breathe new life into it and get it noticed when you’re dressing for work in the morning. I’m obsessed with gold military-inspired buttons because they’re such an easy way to elevate anything and have it look so much more polished and expensive. So I often source out gold buttons for next to nothing on eBay and then update pieces I own by sewing them on.

(13) Similarly, adding studs to a t-shirt, zips to jackets and leggings or even changing the shoelaces on old trainers can help seriously elevate them and your look.

(14) Lastly, head on over to Pinterest for inspiration on how to restyle items similar to ones you already own. Alternatively, invite a fashionable friend round (we all have one!) to spend the day with you and see how she would style pieces in your wardrobe. It really helps to see things through someone else’s eyes, delivering an entirely fresh perspective on something tired and forgotten. Make it a girly day with your favourite playlist and a bottle of bubbly – your friend won’t complain! You’ll have a fab time and make some lasting memories.

Do you have any tips on updating your wardrobe without spending money? Share them with me in the comments below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Anushka Moore is a Manchester-based Digital Content Creator and Stylist at Smart Works Greater Manchester, where she empowers women to dress for success at interviews and jobs.

She is also founder of the widely celebrated Instagram Body Positivity movement, 'Midsize Collective'. Her work with Smart Works and Midsize Collective have been highlighted in publications and media institutions of repute such as The Telegraph, BBC Radio Manchester, WhoWhatWear and ELLE.

Read More