Upcycling & Restyling Old Clothes

No one has ever managed to escape the old excuse “I have nothing to wear”, when in fact they have a full wardrobe of clothes they don’t wear anymore. What if we told you that there is a way to beat this conundrum? 

Look no further than upcycling or restyling your old clothes and turn your forgotten fashion pieces into entirely new looks! Never again will you ever have to utter that old excuse. Upcycling old clothes and restyling them into something totally new is a great way to bring out your creativity and express ourselves through our sense of style.


What Is Upcycling & Restyling?

While the words have grown more common, not everyone fully grasps the concepts of upcycling and restyling. So, let’s understand them a little more.


According to an article featured on By The Bay, “Upcycling refers to the process of reusing end-of-life (EOL) components and materials to make new products in a way that maintains their ‘value’ to an equal or greater degree. In other words, it is the act of giving a “second life” to items that are no longer of service.”

There are plenty of clothes you can upcycle into other things. Perhaps they are clothes that are no longer in-trend or you can no longer fit. Many of us also have work clothes or school uniforms that we cannot wear anymore as they don’t make sense as casual outfits. These are clothes that while in good condition will no longer serve us and can be upcycled into other useful things.


Restyling means to wear 1 garment in multiple ways. This suggests that there may be clothes that have potential and possibilities we have yet to explore.

While certain outfits may seem to serve us for specific looks or uses, restyling can actually stretch its function to serve us more. For example, the blazer we wear to work can actually be worn with a great pair of jeans for a more smart casual look. 

According to ecostyles.com, “It’s the antithesis to buying lots of brand new clothes or fast fashion on a regular basis. A little creativity, layering and accessorising in fun ways can be magical.”


Getting Started


If you’re just beginning your journey of sustainable dressing, it may be confusing on how to start. You might feel like getting rid of everything you own and restarting your wardrobe. Hang on! Here are some ways to help you get started.

Lay them all out

One of the best ways for you to know how and what to upcycle and restyle is to know what you have to deal with in the first place.Set a day to empty your wardrobe and put them all in the centre of your room. Try and get every piece of clothing, undergarments, socks, belts, shoes, and accessories out so you can see them all.

From here, you can set up 3 piles – keep & restyle, upcycle, and give away & recycle. Quickly give away or recycle that last pile so as to not be kept gathering dust in your home.

You can send them as donations to places like Cloop and Salvation Army or make a few extra bucks by reselling them to places like Cash Converters or platforms like Carousell.

Research & reimagine

Remember the feeling you had when you first bought these clothes? Bring them back with some research.

There are plenty of tutorials that can give you some ideas on how to upcycle clothes. There are also workshops you can join to help you understand and acquire skills to upcycle clothes.

For example, you can upcycle old jeans and turn them into skirts, or you can use old t-shirts and turn them into bags. If you have more than one, you can always make more and give them as gifts to your friends and family.

For clothes you can restyle, take note of the multiple ways and occasions you can wear them. You can even have a small notebook or make a pinterest board where you keep logs of different styles and accessories to give that garment various looks.

Minimise new purchases

Shopping is quite addictive and can give you a boost of that feel-good hormone. However, over time you might end up where you started.

To avoid that from happening, try to minimise new purchases for a while. Besides, you still have many looks to wear from your current wardrobe.

A good rule to live by is to give away or recycle 2 garments for every new purchase. This will help you avoid filling your wardrobe to the brim.


Why Is It Important?


According to a 2022 article on Channel News Asia, “Singapore generated 189,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste last year.” This will give you an idea of how much clothes we throw out every year.

Textiles are difficult to recycle

While they are easier to be donated or sold to thrift stores, clothes that are not in great condition are not easy to recycle as compared to other kinds of wastes.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), “the high diversity of materials that make up a typical piece of clothing makes textile waste challenging to recycle.” Clothes are made up of multiple components like buttons, zips, and more. They are also made through blending different kinds of fabrics and fibres. On top of that, they are covered in a multitude of dyes and finishings such as water-repellent.

All that makes recycling clothes labour-intensive, complex, and the end results are not always of high quality.

Save money, save earth

Upcycling & restyling your clothes will help you save a great amount of money that you can channel towards more fruitful investments.

According to an article by Duckju Kang (DJ), “ On average, Singaporean households spent about S$171 per month on shopping for clothing, shoes, accessories, and other personal articles (including things for babies). This represented 3.5% of their monthly budgets, which was similar for the rest of the country.”

If you start cutting down shopping for clothes to only every 2 or 3 months, you can save a significant amount of money.

Upcycling & restyling is also a wonderful way to do your part for mother earth. It does not take up a lot of your time, energy or resources. Just a little bit of creativity and imagination.



One of the best feelings in the world is the feeling you get when dressing up. The excitement you feel for the end result, the confidence you gain when you wear nice clothes, style your hair and don on your makeup, as well as adding on little accessories to accentuate your overall look – there’s nothing quite like it.

However, we sometimes overlook the fact that looking good doesn’t need to be costly. Fashion is an art of expressing yourself through clothes. Why not express yourself in the most creative ways by giving life to old clothes, over and over again?