How to re-work your wardrobe

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Forget flogging off your unworn dresses - why not get a seamstress to update them?

London - Rummaging in my wardrobe for a dress to wear to a party, I noticed the frightening number of rarely and even never-worn items with price tags still attached.

A clear-out was desperately needed. I often bag up old clothes and take them to the charity shop. But what could I do with all my unworn dresses and tops?

One friend told me to sell them on eBay, but I don’t have the inclination for all that photographing, uploading and posting parcels.

Another suggested selling them at a car boot sale. Forget it. I’m not flogging my costly mistakes for a few quid each.

Essentially, I didn’t really want to get rid of them. I am one of the 92 percent of women identified by Marks & Spencer in a recent survey as clinging on to stuff they never wear.

My dilemma was solved when I spotted a card in the window of my local post office: “Dress unloved? Skirt unflattering? Make it fit, make it wearable! Renovate your wardrobe, no job too small!”

Perhaps, with a bit of tinkering, those items languishing in my wardrobe could be turned into things I would actually wear.

Not being able to sew and desperate to recoup the £533 I’d wasted on three dresses and a top, I decided to let seamstress Helen Munday work her magic.

First step was a fitting, so Helen could see my fashion faux pas - cue much eye-rolling and head-shaking by us both.

I briefed her on the changes I wanted to make and she set to work pinning each garment as I tried them on, suggesting some ideas of her own.

She told me it would cost between £20 and £45 to renovate each item, depending on the amount of work needed.

So, £105 later, did she manage to create a summer wardrobe from my retail rejects?

NUDE REISS DRESS

BOUGHT FOR: £179

RENOVATED FOR: £25

BEFORE: There’s only one reason I bought this dress - I had the same style in electric blue and, having attracted plenty of compliments, decided I simply had to have it in another shade. Somehow I forgot nude just makes me look washed out.

AFTER: A dress reincarnated as a top. I’m not convinced I will wear this too often, but that’s down to the wishy-washy colour that no amount of renovating can transform. It works with white cropped jeans because their starkness lifts the nude colour.

BLACK ALL SAINTS DRESS

BOUGHT FOR: £95

RENOVATED FOR: £20

BEFORE: I bought this bubble-hemmed dress because I’m a sucker for sequins and beading. Shamefully, I spent £95 on a neckline, despite knowing I’d never wear this dress.

AFTER: The pretty neckline is the star of the show, thanks to Helen hacking the dress into a top and re-shaping it to make it a closer, more flattering fit. The binliner skirt is in the bin and this great top is now one of my favourites.

BRIGHT ORANGE REISS TOP

BOUGHT FOR: £99

RENOVATED FOR: £35

BEFORE: I ration black in my wardrobe having finally realised, at the age of 30, that my Mum was right: I do look better in bright colours. But there’s bright and then there’s looking like a Belisha beacon. The only time I wore this top was to dinner on Halloween with friends - when I realised I was more orange than a pumpkin.

AFTER: What a difference a V-neck makes! With a hint of decolletage on display to break up the orange, I feel far less conspicuous in this ultra-bright top. I wore it to a wine bar with my husband last Saturday.

BELTED KAREN MILLEN DRESS

BOUGHT FOR: £160

RENOVATED FOR: £25

BEFORE: My olive-skinned, dark-haired friend looked fabulous in this, so I rushed out to buy it, too - even though it was baggy and unflattering around the neckline and torso, and I hate elasticated belts.

AFTER: Now Helen’s transformed the neckline into my favourite asymmetric shape, I’m planning to give this dress its first outing at a friend’s wedding, teamed with heels, a clutch and a fancy hat.

How to re-work your wardrobe

* WORK out the gaps in your wardrobe and how unworn items can be rehashed to fill them, especially if you have a special occasion or a one-off event coming up and you don’t want to splash out on something new.

* IF IT’S a dress, do you want to just change the style and shape? Or could it work better as a top or a skirt?

* SMALL tweaks can update a garment and make it more wearable. For example, removing sleeves from a dress or changing a top’s V-neck to a boat-neck.

* ADDING beading or a lace trim to the neckline, shoulders or hemline of a plain item will transform it into something special.

* DON’T forget that your seamstress is an expert on the technical side of alteration and will also know what can really bring a garment to life. But remember, it’s you who will have to wear the end result. - Daily Mail

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