Sustainable Fashion: New Ways to Wear Old Clothes

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There are many ways to support sustainable fashion. You can research companies that are creating new clothing in a more sustainable way. You can thrift or why not just keep your clothing from year to year and continue to wear them?
Lesley wanted to showcase some of the oldest things in our closet, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to think about the idea of new ways to wear old clothes.

If you are reading this from MSN’s page, then click here to see all of the photos.

Quote of the day: “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” Oprah Winfrey

I love how Oprah talks about changing our attitude. While I LOVE shopping (no surprise there for those of you who have been reading my blog for years), I also love the idea of shopping in our own closets. It’s very sustainable for the environment PLUS great for the wallet.

Sure, it’s fun to have new clothes, but in all reality, many of the new things we buy aren’t a ton different from what we already have. In fact, the idea of finding new ways to wear old clothes is also good for your brain because you build new pathways which is good for our brain health.

Now everyone’s definition of “old clothes” is different, but join us as we showcase some new ways to wear our older clothes without spending a dime.

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Cathie-Shoes and Jewelry

Adding gold to a black dress
Dress: Old Navy-Goodwill~~ Shoes: Skechers Bob-Kohls ~~ Necklace: Walmart~~ Purse: Goodwill

This theme was not what I would call Cathie’s forte. She has been on a weight loss journey these past couple of years and therefore has to get new clothes when things don’t fit anymore.
That and the fact that her family is living out of an apartment until they find a new home means that many of her older clothes are in storage.

That’s why she concentrated on showcasing shoes and jewelry as part of this idea of finding new ways to wear old clothes.

Heck, I always laugh that shoes and accessories are a woman’s best friend because you can gain 10 pounds and those will still fit.

Black and Tan for Summer

I just love how Cathie chose the necklace as inspiration for the entire look. A black maxi dress can be easy to wear in the summer, and there are so many ways to accessorize it.

When the weather still says summer but you are thinking about the fall, adding brown to the black is a great color combination.

And then the gold sandals are a fabulous neutral that keeps the look lighter than if she had worn black shoes.

Insider tip: We tend to match our shoes to our dress or pants, but choosing a different color/neutral instead is very modern.

Cathie says that the sandals are over 5 years old. Sometimes I think shoes are the item that tends to wear out the fastest since they take a lot of wear and tear, yet if we have enough pairs to alternate often, then they can stay fresh for many years.

The other accessories of Cathie’s are also older. Since these things in our closet always fit no matter what we weigh, it’s nice to hold onto them. You may think that leopard print is trendish, yet I will argue that it really never goes out of style.
Gold hoop earrings are also classic so will look good no matter when you wear them.

Purses are another item that can last years and years. Sure, there are trends that come and go, but mixing in an older style can also give an outfit that air of whimsey.
Cathie found this brown purse recently at Goodwill, which means it could be older than dirt, haha.

Long black maxi dress for plus size women


New ways to wear old clothes for mature women
Skirt: Express~~ Cardigan: Roberto Cavalli preloved from Reelaton~~ Top: Naked Zebra-preloved~~ Shoes: Open Edit- Nordstrom~~ Bracelet: from Savers~~ Earrings: Target~~ Purse: from Bealls

A skirt like this I would consider a classic style. I call it an A-line silhouette, but how we classify it just doesn’t matter.
You might be surprised to know that this skirt is wool, and I wouldn’t normally think to wear it in the summer months, yet because it doesn’t sit close to my skin, it really wasn’t too warm.

I’ve had this skirt for over 30 years. I know this because I bought it and wore it back when I was in dental school. The funny thing is I’ve lost over 20 pounds since dental school, yet this skirt still fits. It goes to show how our pounds can move around as we age.
It fits into the example of new ways to wear old clothes perfectly since it’s probably one of the oldest things in my closet that hasn’t been handed down to me.

Insider tip: Skirts are the easiest thing to continue to fit into because there are really only 2 fit points. The waistline and the length. Especially flowy skirts like this don’t depend on the size of your hips or thighs.

This cardigan is new-to-me but since it’s preloved, it could be ancient for all that I know. I wasn’t very familiar with this brand because it’s usually out of my budget. But finding it on the Reelathon made it priced for my wallet.
I love that it’s silk and very loose and lightweight.

New Ways to Wear Old Clothes

While Cathie wore her older accessories as a way to join in for the theme, I decided to do the opposite. My clothing is older, so I tried to keep the look modern with newer shoes and accessories that are trending.

Both the purse and shoes are within a year old and represent the newer styles. Even the earrings are tassels which have flooded the market in the last 5 years.

I always think using our accessories is a budget-oriented way to update any look.

Insider tip: These sandals are flat. Too flat for my liking, so I added my clear Soul Insoles (found on Amazon here) to them. These insoles are peel and stick so can be switched to different shoes.

Silk cardigan for summer


New ways to wear old clothes for woman over 80

My mom made this yellow dress and matching jacket over 20 years ago. Usually, she wears the two pieces together because that’s how she made them. Yet learning to break up our “suits” or matching sets along with trying other combinations in our closet can be the best source of shopping.

Related Post: Breaking up our business suits for fabulous outfits

Charlotte goes on to share that when she first constructed the jacket, it seems rather plain. So several years after she made it, she added the fringe to the sleeves and pockets to update it.

Insider tip: Adding a trim as my mom did with the fringe is a fabulous way to make something more modern. Another trick is to remove a trim in the same way. Remember you can change the clothing you already have and make it different.

Wearing a Sleeveless Dress in Summer

We’ve had the discussion about the idea of baring our arms no matter what our age and size in the past. There are our thoughts and opinions about that shared in this post.

If you’ve ever noticed, there are always more selections of sleeveless dresses it’s because manufacturing-wise, it’s much easier. However, there is a multitude of ways to cover your arms whether it’s for warmth or comfort.

Charlotte wore a large rectangular scarf that she just tied around her waist with a rope belt to make it into a kimono. Notice that the belt goes under the scarf in the back and then over the panels in the front.

She finished off the look with a straw hat, yellow shoes, and a yellow purse. Her shoes are flat too, so my mom also wore her Soul Insoles with them. Since the insoles are clear, you don’t notice them at all. In fact, here is a close-up photo I shared on Instagram to prove that fact.

New ways to wear old clothes and make them fresh


Knot a tunic dress to make it less overwhelming
Tunic: Soussen Design~~Skirt: Gracy Elements-Macys~~ Shoes: Coasters-thrifted~~ Purse: no label-Cottage Gardens boutique

The concept of wearing some of the oldest things in our closet was Lesley’s brainstorm, and I love how it relates to new ways to wear old clothes. Lesley tells the story that she purchased this black tunic in St. Johns on a trip back in 1995. Its style has survived the test of time because it’s one of those pieces that can be worn in so many ways.

I know we usually think of a tunic as something to wear with leggings now, but I love how Lesley switched it up and styled it with a skirt instead.

This is not the first time you’ve seen this tunic on Lesley here on the blog. She wore it for the first time she modeled with us back in Denver when we talked about what to wear to a high school class reunion. The funny thing is she wore these same shoes at that photo shoot.

BUT if you notice, the tunic is originally a longer tunic with an asymmetrical hemline. Lesley took my motto about being the boss of her clothes and tied up the longer end with a hair elastic on the inside of the tunic.
This allows the skirt to peek out more and adds a great color scheme to the black above.

Colorful Accessories with a Black Tunic

When you have a colorful skirt like Lesley is wearing, it’s easy to incorporate all kinds of colorful accessories. And you aren’t limited to just one color scheme.

Lesley grabbed a yellow purse and then layered a blue and a red necklace together. The wedge shoes have the bright colors you see in the skirt and tie it all together perfectly.

Insider tip: Even if a necklace has multiple strands, you can layer it with other necklaces. In fact, Lesley shortened the red necklace by “tying a knot” in it, so it hung within the confines of the other necklace.

Wearing a skirt under a tunic

Other Inspiration for New Ways to Wear Old Clothes

I feel like one of my mottos is to wear what we have in our closets. By this time in our life, we should already have wonderful clothing we’ve already purchased. And unless your size has changed significantly, it should be common to want to find new ways to wear these old clothes.

One of the ways to do this is to practice shopping in your own closet. But you need a change of mindset occasionally because if you are anything like me, then you get into habits of pairing certain colors or pieces together.

That’s why I wanted to share other ways to think about wearing those older clothing items you’ve had for ages. And if you’re stumped, please reach out to me and I would LOVE to help.

1-The easiest way to combine clothing items in different ways is to start with color combinations that you may not have thought would work.
This post gives you many ideas and links to my color recipe which is essential.
2-Another trick is to stop categorizing your clothing items which I talk about more in this post. Whether that means in your head, you stop categorizing them by style, seasons, or dressy vs casual. For instance, all of the items we showcased in this post could easily be for a dressy occasion or a very casual event.
3-Unconventional ideas for changing up our clothes was the last post in this series. This is exactly what Lesley showed with her tunic above. You can make things look different using many tricks and tips.

I hope this gives you ideas for your own closet and finding new ways to wear old clothes!!

New ways to wear old clothes for midlife women
New ways to wear old clothes for slow fashion

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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