Reinvent Your Closet - Four Steps to Fresh College students find creative and inexpensive ways to update their wardrobe By Olivia Riley For starving college students, penny-conscious young adults and zero-income teenagers alike, keeping updated on the latest fashions can be pricey and sometimes an unachievable feat. For the younger demographic of fashion lovers, divas and divos everywhere are simply lacking the funds necessary to constantly give their wardrobes that most-desired boost each season as old fads fade away and mouth-watering new trends traipse down the runway…and, not to mention, the brutal beating your wallet received from the recession didn’t help. It’s fair to say that the seemingly never-ending, perilous state of the economy changed us all from feisty fashionistas to fund-less frugalistas. Yet a group of Hampton University juniors found a way to keep their wardrobe looking fresh without letting cold cash slip away with the winter breeze. Ryan Dennis, 20, Matt Jones,20, and Jason Harrison, 20, work collectively to ensure that each other always steps out of the dorm or apartment swagged out. How? With these four steps to fresh: borrowing each other’s clothes and accessories, thrifting, using nifty resources such as Plato’s Closet, and through clothing modification. It becomesslowly apparent to the discerning collegiate pupil that to survive college in style requires some out-of-the-box thinking, and these guys have thoroughly explored that mistakenly out-of-bounds region, proving that the road to style successis inexpensive, potentially rewarding, and quite fun. Step 1 – Sharing is Caring Borrowing and sharing clothes with your friends has been a staple in the female community for years: girls would go over to their best friend’s housesand try on her clothes and wear them out to an event and borrow each other’s shoesand shirts etc. But the practice hasn’t been so prevalent amongst male fashion lovers. “I think amongst men, size factors into it more, “ says Harrison, who describes his own personal style as an ‘ivy league college dropout.’ “Its not unusual for guys to have friends that are all various shoe and clothing sizes, so sharing isn’t as popular. Girls tend to befriend other females that are in a similar size range to them, so sharing is normal and easily facilitated.” Luckily for Harrison, Jonesand Dennis, however, they find themselves all within a comparable size range, rendering each other’s various closet pieces all sharable and allowing them to constantly keep their looks fresh, new and on the cusp of innovation. Step 2 – Being Thrifty is being Nifty But the boys don’t only get their clothes from each other’s closets. They frequent Hampton’s local thrift stores with a keen eye for great buys.
“It’s like a treasure chest. Everyone dumps their old clothes at these stores and we just go there on a regular and find diamonds amongst the coals. I found this fresh vintage Yves Saint Laurent button-up for only $4.99,” states Dennis. Dennis, a self-proclaimed “timeless-patriotic-metropolitan,” derives his style from timeless pieces of everyday Americana like white tees, clothes that are fitted, and denim Levis. “The things I wear are very patriotic, such as work-boots and Levis, and I’d also say my style is metropolitan becausethe things that I put together are very New York high fashion at a lower price,” adds the Queensnative. Utilising the convenience and affordability of your local thrift store, or ‘thrifting’ as its commonly referred to, has become increasingly more popular with the advent of the recession. Anybody can enter the store on a ten-dollar budget and leave with a complete outfit within a half hour. Items can be as cheap as 25 cents as with earrings and bracelets, or ten dollars with other larger items. Many clothing items are priced at 99 cents, $1.99, $4.99 and more. Step 3 – Clothing Trash Equals Mucho Cash Yet for those underfunded students hoping to turn their unused closet items into the cash cows that they are, the pendulum of clothing recycling also swings the other way. In addition to finding name brand clothing for low, discounted prices, stores such as Plato’s Closet allow people to also sell their old closet favorites to the franchise, freeing their closets of clutter while simultaneously filling their pockets with cash. “I’ve been fresh for a while but eventually stuff gets old to you, so I took some of my clothing from freshman year that I don’t wear anymore to this place called Plato’s Closet,” adds Dennis. “A few people on campus know about it. You take some of your clothing there and you get some money back for it; if it’s like name brand stuff. I got like 20 dollars worth out of about 15 things that I would never wear again, like shirts that I was wearing in high school,” says Dennis. “Then I used that money at the store and got two other things that I could wear now, so it’s kind of like I’m recycling my clothing and getting paid for it,” he continued. As a result, Dennis was able to trade in the old and purchase some new closet items at a minimal price. Although Plato’s Closet is not the only line of stores offering these sorts of clothing recycling services where patrons can buy and sell, they are the one of the most popular, with 246 stores speckled throughout the United States and one in Ontario, Canada. Hence there is a good chance that there is a store around the corner from your college campus or in a neighboring city. For a location near you simply visit www.platoscloset.com Step 4 – Distress, Destroy & Damage The final step to a revamped closet probably doubles over as the most enjoyable step. The guys recently experimented with clothing modification, a term used to refer to the processof
people taking the clothes that they have in their closets and cutting, distressing, bleaching and sewing them to transform the clothes into customized items and add shelf life to the clothes. “I took an old pair of jeans that I don’t really wear anymore and got some bleach and sandpaper and I distressed them myself,” shares Jones,a sports management major. “I took the jeans and the sandpaper and made holes in them in certain places to make them look distressed.” He then bleached his denim and created a new, personalized wash for his pair of jeans. While Jonesbleached and distressed an old pair of H&M Sliqs that he had lying around, Harrison took a more creative route, incorporating sanding, bleaching and painting to redesign his old season wares. First, using sandpaper to create distressed holes in his grey Levi jeans, he then used his jeans as a makeshift canvas, splattering bleach and blue and black paint on them. The practice of damaging, distressing and destroying your jeans or any other articles of clothing you possesis very inexpensive and is a fun and creative activity. At Wal-Mart, the sandpaper can retail for as cheap as $1.98 and Clorox runs at about $6. In Bermuda, sandpaper can be purchased at Masters starting at 75 cents a sheet and a 60 ounce bottle of Clorox costs $3.09at Marketplace Stores. Acrylic paint can be purchased from Artcetera. But the greatest incentive is the added shelf life and the new dimension that the clothing acquires after being tweaked. An old, grungy pair of jeans that would have potentially been trash-bound now will earn more wear and become aesthetically more appealing. Jones,who had the jeans for a little over a year, now believes that his once closet rejects will become a closet fave. “I wasn’t really wearing [the jeans] becausewhen you wear denim it starts to stretch out. “ Hence, Jonestook his old denim, tweaked them, and made them fashion gold. Modification can cover a range of activities, such as sewing on new buttons or little accessories that you may find to be cute, or throwing ample bleach onto your pants and scrubbing it in until you attain your desired effect. It can also be as simple as cutting off the arms on an old denim jacket and transforming it into a new denim vest. The possibilities are as limitless as your ideas. Just as these three college students have found cheap, fun ways to reinvent their closets, its just as fun and easy for any one else to give their wardrobes the same makeover. All it takes is a little creativity and using the resources around you.