Take Vintage Clothes from Old To Gold with These Simple Tricks

When shopping vintage clothes you never know what you’re going to come across. Here are a few easy things you can do to upgrade any piece!

Vintage clothes shopping is like a treasure hunt – you never know what you’ll find! Thrift shops are a haven for vintage enthusiasts, DIY lovers, and budget shoppers. Discover exciting patterns, textures, and materials that pique your curiosity and transform them into personalized outfits with DIY tweaks. Opting for vintage clothes is a budget-friendly, eco-conscious choice and billions of textiles, including clothes, shoes, and towels, are discarded every year.

But some hesitate to shop at thrift stores, fearing outdated looks. However, by fixing things up, you can turn even the plainest item into a must-have wardrobe addition. Here’s a crucial tip: be careful with poor-quality fabric and instead, look for trustworthy materials like cotton, wool, and silk. Consider sizing too – oversized items can typically be modified easily. Altering thrift shop finds doesn’t require expert sewing abilities, but a basic comfort with needle and thread can go a long way.

Gauge your sewing skills and time commitment before you begin, but with minimal effort, you can reinvent thrift shop finds and create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Check out these tips and enhance your vintage clothes game! Leave no stone unturned with thrift store finds!

5. Boring Denim + Bleach = Beautiful Ombre

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Create your ombre denim shirt in four easy steps with a $5 thrift shop denim shirt. You’ll also need a bucket, standard bleach, and a dose of patience.

Here’s the method:

  1. Fold the shirt, dip it halfway into a bucket of prepared bleach following package instructions.
  2. Gradually extract the shirt from the bleach, creating a color gradient between the bleached and original denim – achieving the ombre effect.
  3. Allow the shirt’s bottom to soak in the bleach for approximately three hours.
  4. Finally, dry it in a bathtub to prevent bleach spills. Voila, an $80 high-fashion store look recreated inexpensively!

We drew inspiration for this DIY project from here.

4. Turn a Men’s Shirt Into a Sexy Pencil Skirt

Vintage Clothes


Thrift shops overflow with old men’s shirts. Found a shirt with an eye-catching pattern? Here’s how to repurpose it!

Follow these steps:

  1. Flatten the shirt, cut across the chest under the arms. Divide the collar into two equal parts.
  2. A tad complex step: Sew four pleats, two each at the front and back. Use a ruler for equal placement, iron the pleats, then stitch them in place.
  3. Position the collar halves equidistant from the central button using a ruler. Pin and sew them in place, trimming excess fabric at the back.
  4. Create a belt loop from leftover sleeve fabric. Ensure its center placement using a ruler, then hand-stitch it. Attach a button for added security.
  5. A final ironing, perhaps a belt, and you’re set!

For a comprehensive guide on this vintage clothes upcycling project, click here.

3. Completely Rethink a Piece

Upcycle Vintage Clothes


If you’re not super-crafty and want to start with a basic upcycle project, consider re-inventing a piece of clothing from the thrift shop. A long dress with a beautiful floral print, for example, can be turned into a skirt, shirt, scarf, handbag or a nice robe.

You could also remove the sleeves entirely and cut out a good part in the front center of the dress and then hem on either side. Voila! You’ve just turned a boring dress in a cute fashion piece!

2. Turn Thrift Shop Jeans Into Cropped Skinnies

Upcycle Vintage Clothes


Thrift shops brim with jeans. Once you find that flattering pair, treasure it. With minor alterations, they can be perfect. You need a sewing machine and some time.

Here’s the process:

  1. Choose bootcut or flared jeans. Use a denim needle for easy sewing.
  2. To shorten jeans, wear them, mark the desired length, and add a hem allowance. Remove the original hem.
  3. If the length is fine, undo stitches around the outer seam for accessibility.
  4. Use the cut-off part as a guide to shorten the other leg.
  5. Adjust outer seams, preserving topstitching on the inner seam.
  6. Try jeans inside out, pinning where they start to flare or where you prefer the taper. Mark the mid-thigh or higher for skinny jeans.
  7. Pin jeans to your desired width while wearing them inside out, add seam allowance marks.
  8. Join the knee pin to the hem mark using a ruler and fabric marker. Repeat on the other leg. Sew along these lines.
  9. Trim seam allowances to 1/2-inch, remove residual stitches. Open, press, and steam seams. Finish raw edges with a zigzag stitch or serger.
  10. For hemming, turn and press the bottom edge of each leg 1/2 inch inwards. Repeat.
  11. Stitch near the folded edge around each leg opening. You now have a pair of custom-fitted jeans for a fraction of the cost!

Inspiration for this project was found here.

1. Remodel an Oversized Tee

Upcycle Vintage Clothes


Discovered an oversized shirt at a thrift shop? Don’t leave it behind! With some alterations, it can be a stunning dress. Basic sewing knowledge is a plus for this vintage clothes repurposing project.

Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Wear the shirt inside-out, mark where your shoulders begin using chalk. Trace from the top to the armpit, then cut!
  2. Sew the sleeve smaller and pin it back to the original hole.
  3. Trace from the armpit to the bottom of the shirt, sew and remove the surplus fabric.
  4. Add thin elastic at the shoulder-sleeve intersection on the sleeves, secure it with stitches. Keep it taut as you sew it down.
  5. For a ruched waist, loop the elastic around your desired ruching spot, and cut.
  6. Wear the dress inside-out, mark your preferred elastic location. Do this on both sides.

Done! You’ve now made a charming dress addition to your wardrobe at a minimal cost. Cheers to upcycling thrift shop finds!