How to

Stretch the Clothing Dollar

Evaluate, repair and reinvent your clothing

As fast fashion fills the landfills, we are starting to see a change in the fashion air. Shopping for clothing is not only about fashion anymore, but also includes considering function, sustainability, durability, longevity, ethically-sourced and earth-friendly materials. 

There is so much to consider and so many more choices available, from garments that do not need to be washed every time you wear them to garments made from recycled materials and footwear made to last more than a year; the list goes on and on. 


Where to start? 

  1. First review your closets and wardrobe. Consider what type of items have performed well, what is missing a button or needs hemming, what can be altered or remade, what does not fit and can go to a new home and whether you really need more.  
  2. Choose to think differently when buying clothing. Look carefully for durable, well-constructed garments that are easy to care for. Look at the manufacturer and its efforts at sustainability. Consider whether you really need a new item or if you can make do with something you already own. Look at the back of your closet - you may be surprised at what you find. 
  3. Follow care label instructions to treat your clothing well and extend their lives. Avoid over-drying clothes in the dryer or try hanging to air dry to increase fabric life. 
  4. When you need to buy, consider timeless styles of durable materials, consider out-of-season sales as well as second-hand stores or clothing exchanges. 
  5. Revamp...hem, alter or redesign. There are many tailors out there that are advertising services for remaking clothing from wedding dresses to bathing suits and everything in between.  
  6. Learn a new skill like sewing on a button, hemming, or stain removal to extend the life of your clothing, outerwear and footwear. Check with a shoe repair store on fixing footwear instead of buying. Try a fabric shaver to remove lint balls off sweaters.  
  7. With children who are always growing, your options will be different. Resale and clothing exchanges are popping up all over Facebook marketplace, at clothing swap parties and in parenting groups. You can also find great deals at consignment shops which specialize in children’s clothing. When you do buy new clothes, choose high quality items that will last for more than one child so they can be passed on to a younger sibling, cousin or friend or can be sold.  
  8. Avoid fast fashion; many people only wear 20% to 30% of what is in their closet. Become more aware of what you are buying and how it fits and how long it will last. If you have bought a fashion item that you have not worn more than 5 times, analyze why. Did it fade, stretch or shrink? Were you a victim of fast fashion? Becoming aware is a key step toward decreasing your clothing dollars spent and decreasing your environmental impact. 
  9. Make conscious clothing choices – think before you buy, whether new or used. Think about how you can NOT buy more clothing.
  10. Avoid putting clothing in the landfill; find a textile recycling location in your area.  

Extending your clothing's life

Upcycling Ideas

Old sweaters can be fashioned into mitts. 

Old blankets into pet beds. 

Men’s ties into cool vests, purses, pillows and skirts. 

Jeans into shorts or skirts.  

Assorted jeans cut up for a patchwork comforter.  

Sweater sleeves into wine bottle covers or slippers or socks. 

Hot pot trivets can be made from many fabrics. 

Halloween costumes. Let your imagination and creativity shine. 

Things to think about

Sustainability of clothing and other textiles – is a very complex issue due to environmental impact of synthetic fibres,  the dying of natural fibres, the huge amount of water needed for manufacturing and the toxins involved in the production of fibres and fabrics. 

Recycling of fibres is also gaining popularity and diverts more waste from the landfill. Consider garments made with recycled polyester, recycled nylon, recycled wool and recycled cotton.  

Some plant-based fibres like ramie, organic cotton, linen and hemp have a lower environmental impact than their counterparts such as wool, cotton, viscose, modal, rayon, bamboo and cashmere.  

Some new fibres, such as orange fibre and pineapple fibre come from byproducts of the juice industry, so there are no extra resources needed to grow them. 

As consumers, we can become more aware and seek out garments made of recycled or sustainable fibres and then perhaps manufacturers and the fashion industry will follow.