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Upcycle your wardrobe with a touch of art and craft

Paint splatters, add-on straps, handpainted designs—there are many ways to give your old clothes and accessories a new life

Even changing something as simple as a button of a dress or a shirt, can make a garment look new
Even changing something as simple as a button of a dress or a shirt, can make a garment look new (Unsplash )

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Paint splatters, murals, handpainted designs—art is no longer restricted to galleries. The age of conscious fashion and upcycling is upon us, and the synthesis of art with fashion is the antidote to fast fashion. The siren call to end the endless cycle of buying clothes, bags, and shoes has been met with aplomb. So, how can one inject into a wardrobe that’s been feeling a little tired?

It all begins with investing in pieces that are tailored from quality fabrics and leathers, ensuring they last longer than a garment that scratches the itch to an ephemeral trend. Choose pieces which can be styled in various ways, and luxurious basics that can be reimagined as wearable art at a later date. Upcycling through art is perfect for those who crave something new, but don’t want to trash their things. It also lengthens the life of each piece, thus slowing down the cyclical nature of trends. A few nifty (and vibrant) tricks can transform your fashion purchases into new ones, right at home.

Also read: Children’s fashion gets a couture touch this season

Handbags have the longest lifecycles in the closet, and it’s easy to get bored of them quickly. The simplest DIY hack to breathe new life into an old purse is to clip on an embellished or printed strap (or two) and instantly transform it from a top handle to a crossbody, or a crossbody to a backpack (just sling it across both shoulders and the neck). 

If a larger, more permanent revamp is on your mind, try painting it. Subtle monograms in your favourite hues can transform your luxury tote to a bespoke one. It’s as easy as buying some acrylic paints and getting started, or you don’t trust your art skills, entrust the job to professionals.

If too many shirts and jackets litter your wardrobe and the urge to buy increases, use the same paints to reimagine them with abstract paint splatters (these score high on ease). Get the scissors and crop the hem and sleeves to create a whole new garment. This trick works well on boyfriend jeans too, which can easily become a new pair of shorts. Reinvent shirts into shackets that you can layer over other tops or T-shirts. Denim jackets and shoes are the perfect canvas to express yourself: think painted slogans or graphics. There’s nothing quite as cool as well-styled acid wash in the summer, so if you are feeling too creative use some bleach on a pair of old jeans. During winters  old sweaters can be reinvented by attaching stud earrings on collars or inserting a cute brooch.

Also read: A new exhibition in Hampi tells nine stories about nine yards

Kanika Ranka is the founder of The Studio Project.

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