Halloween, the only time of the year that it is acceptable to dress in skanky costumes in public. It is also a prime time for costume companies to force overpriced consumerism down our throats. For adult women a costume, that many will only wear once, costs an upwards of $70-300. Such a joke. Another major thing to point out is that we usually have no idea how these costumes are made… Are they made in sweatshops? By forced labor? With harsh chemicals that are polluting our environment? I totally think the fast fashion model we are currently using is unsustainable and wholly flawed.
I did not get the nickname Hand-Me-Down Princess for no reason. Growing up I relied on friends, my mom’s clients’ children and my brother’s girlfriend’s old clothing for my wardrobe. Heck, I even wore my brothers leftovers. While I may not have been the most fashionable, I always had my own unique style. I took what I was given and I made it work, for me. One skill I gained from living in other people’s discards was learning how to sew. I was practically sisters with my neighbors, the triplets, and they were always kind enough to lend or give me their clothes. The only problem was, they are 4’9″-4’11” and they hem their pants! At 5’9,” I am an entire foot taller than they are. High waters are not cute. 🙂
Clothing alteration became an enjoyable hobby for me. If I had a piece that I had worn for a while but wasn’t into that particular style anymore, I would simply change it. Cut it up. Rip it. Sew it. You name it, I probably did it. It’s crazy how a slit can bring new life to a skirt. Or how an ill-fitting dress can be turned into a tailored two piece outfit. I had fun with it. I got compliments, often!
I also made clothing from scratch. Picking your own fabric and bringing life to it is so gratifying! Jo-Ann and Michaels are convenient places to buy fabric, but the Downtown Los Angeles Fashion District is really fun to explore! Michael Levine is probably my favorite fabric store. I have quite a few unfinished projects that I’m sure I will get around to at some point.
This year for Halloween I made myself a Belle costume. You know, that Disney Princess from Beauty and The Beast? Yes, I know it’s a pretty basic/typical girl costume but the idea came to me rather organically. I vowed to not buy any clothing in stores for the entire year (2015) so I have been trolling Yerdle. Yerdle is an app where you give away unwanted items in exchange for credit to claim other people’s items. On Yerdle, I found this pretty yellow formal dress and for some reason it called to me. It was not my size, and I could not think of any occasion that I could actually wear it, but I got it anyway. When it arrived, I started thinking that it would make a pretty Belle costume!
I rifled through my old box of fabric scraps and found some sparkly mesh that I envisioned to be perfect for sleeves. With a little TLC, my Yerdle find has blossomed into a lovely custom costume. Here are the pictures of it’s transition. This is not really a typical DIY tutorial. I did not take great photos, I just used my iPhone to document it’s progress. I am very happy with the results! I wore it to the Karma Foundation and Maxim Magazine annual Halloween Party in Bel Air.
I hope this has inspired you to re-purpose some of the clothing in your closet! Please think twice before filling our landfills with textiles! Clothing can always be altered, up-cycled, traded, donated, used as rags or even stuffed into an old sweater to become a dog bed. Have fun expressing your creativity and individuality. Embrace art and life.