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Does your old favorites not fit? Super cycle * them

Are you planning to buy a flea market or something, mama? & # 39 ;, asks my son, Jimmy, to view the terrible mess at my bedroom door.

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Piles of colorful clothing lie on the floor. Coats and dresses lie on the bed, coats and trousers dot the carpet, scarves and skirts hang over the backs of chairs.

A flea market had not been part of the plan, but I feel desperate – despite a wardrobe full of clothes, I still can't find anything I want to wear.

A year ago I might have solved that by going to High Street to throw money at the problem. This winter, the idea of ​​filling my cupboards with even more clothes, which became available within a year, is much less attractive.

The environmental costs of fast fashion have made shopping a lot more fun, and it is not as if one of the clothes is worn out: I can imagine the last time I really put a piece of clothing on & # 39; did not remember until it became untenable.

Clover Stroud, 44, (photo on the right) was able to transform her wedding dress with a visit to the upcycling fashion company Converted Closet

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And it is not that the clothing is unattractive. I can't pretend I have the budget or lifestyle for high fashion, so the black blazers, flippy floral dresses and custom pants that make up much of my wardrobe are the kind of things that can be worn season after season.

It is more that they look rather tired and, depressing, a bit tight. I am 44 and my clothes have not loosened in the last three years. The pile of favorite dresses that I pushed to the back of my closet to wear "if I lose half a stone" is increasing rapidly.

I am particularly stunned that the dress I was wearing for my second wedding no longer fits, although it may not be surprising because I have had three more children since then.

Originally falling mid-thigh with a deep neckline and made from a Versace print of colored butterflies and flowers on a black silk, it is a million miles of conventional white wedding attire.

However, when I married in, I felt fantastic. I hoped that I could wear it for Christmas parties this year, until I discover that it no longer fastens, the sleeves barely fit over my upper arms.

Fortunately, help is available in the form of the fashion upcycling company Converted Closet. Started by ex-City head hunter Kate McGuire in 2016, it shows you how you can transform your favorite pieces into totally new pieces of clothing with a little bit of smart stitching.

Kate seems like an unlikely face of sustainable fashion, which is just beginning to pick up his somewhat scratchy image of hemp dresses in sludgy colors.

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When I arrive at her home in West London so she can get an idea of ​​what she can do with my dress, she is impeccably made up in a beautifully cut black jacket dress.

Clover (pictured on her wedding day) says the environmental costs of fast fashion don't make shopping fun, she said how upcycling old clothes can give a new look

Clover (pictured on her wedding day) says the environmental costs of fast fashion don't make shopping fun, she said how upcycling old clothes can give a new look

Clover (pictured on her wedding day) says the environmental costs of fast fashion don't make shopping fun, she said how upcycling old clothes can give a new look

& # 39; Victoria Beckham converted, & # 39; Kate says, explaining how she found the dress in a thrift store, and, not discouraged that it was the wrong size, with a neck that was not suitable, had been reapplied by a local dressmaker.

"I prefer to call this supercycling, rather than upcycling, because once you get around it, the possibilities of what you can do with almost any item of clothing are endless."

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Her route to upcycling, or conversion, began in adolescence, after problems with her weight, causing her to hover between size 8 and size 16.

"The High Street in its current form, with cheap disposable fashion racks, didn't exist in Winchester in the 1980s," says Kate. "Even if it had been, it would not have adjusted me, because I had the impulse to change something. I have become good at buying and changing clothes at charity or vintage stores. & # 39;

Her A-level in fashion and textiles meant that by the time she left home, Kate could completely redesign and design an entire outfit. "Changing clothes that I bought cheaply became second nature and I began to appreciate the creative joy of reviving an article," she says.

The hobby eventually became a company. After leaving her job as headhunter in 2012 and after a three-year career break to look after her son, Gus, now seven, and adult twin daughters, Kate set up Converted Closet, upcycling pieces for customers and inspiring other women to do the same to do with their own cupboards.

Kate McGuire (photo) founded Converted Closet after she left her job as headhunter and had a career break to look after her children

Kate McGuire (photo) founded Converted Closet after she left her job as headhunter and had a career break to look after her children

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Kate McGuire (photo) founded Converted Closet after she left her job as headhunter and had a career break to look after her children

Soon a message came and she started advising customers who wanted to breathe new life into ordinary trousers – perhaps by piping them down the legs or a flash of color in the pockets – to change a vintage tweed men's suit to a much more ambitious complete redesign of a couture dress.

For just £ 30, a pair of unloved pants can be turned into an original piece, and for £ 150, a designer dress can be completely reconstructed or turned into a skirt and top.

Converted Closet now has more than 10,000 Instagram followers and the company is expanding, with a video series in the pipeline and investments to develop an app.

Kate reached a turning point in 2015, after watching Livia Firth & # 39; s documentary The True Cost, about the environmental impact of fast fashion, with Stella McCartney and environmentalist Vandana Shiva.

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"I was sobbed by it, but I also realized that we, as consumers, have to take 50 percent of the responsibility for the waste and environmental costs of the fashion industry.

& # 39; I did upcycling so long for fun and saw that it could help people get a fashion fix in a way that was nicer to the planet & # 39 ;, she says, reminding me that most women are only 20 percent of the clothing in their wardrobe. Consider what could be done with the remaining 80 percent, instead of sending it to the landfill & # 39 ;, she says, guilty of remembering the piles of unworn clothing on the floor of my bedroom.

Kate believes that the upcycling concept needs a rebranding.

A striking transformation: this vintage caftan is cut in half and becomes a long, flamboyant top or even a short dress (pictured earlier)

A striking transformation: this vintage caftan is cut in half and becomes a long, flamboyant top or even a short dress (pictured earlier)

This vintage kaftan (pictured here) can be combined with a straw hat and kitten heels

This vintage kaftan (pictured here) can be combined with a straw hat and kitten heels

A striking transformation: this vintage caftan is cut in half and becomes a long, flamboyant top or even a short dress (pictured left: before, right: after)

"Fashion is more than just looking good. Simply telling people to buy less and to wear more is not very inspiring, so super-cycling is a solution for that. & # 39;

Supercycling, she explains, is a movement, not a brand, because adjusting clothes is something that people have always done. But she hopes that, by defending the movement, she can create a new way of thinking about clothing.

"Instead of shopping for new clothes that end up in a landfill, converting something you already have, or buying something second-hand and working on it, can give you the satisfying feeling of wearing something new, but with less impact on it environment. "

This all sounds nice if you're an art student with a lot of time and energy, but how does supercyling work for me – with limited money and absolutely no time to start tinkering with a needle and thread?

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"You don't have to be able to sew. All you need are ideas on how to change a piece of clothing: cut the arms off a jacket to make a waistcoat, add ribbon finishing to trousers to update them, or embroider your initials on almost anything.

"The work can be done by your dry cleaner. And there are local seamstresses throughout the UK. & # 39;

Recalling the desperation I felt when fitting my old wedding dress, I am interested to see if she can work on her magic.

A cut above: this long prairie dress cut to medium length and the top made to measure has modernized it (pictured earlier)

A cut above: this long prairie dress cut to medium length and the top made to measure has modernized it (pictured earlier)

This long prairie dress turned into a top, teams with black pants and heels

This long prairie dress turned into a top, teams with black pants and heels

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A cut above: chop this long prairie dress halfway through and adjust the top to size (pictured left: before, right: after)

I had also taken a little inspirational navy blue fitted jacket that I bought at Jigsaw a few seasons ago. Kate throws her eye on the dress, concentrates on a thick sash at the back and shows me how to cut it off, and then made invisible panels in the arms and waist so that it fits properly again. Originally falling to shorter than the middle of the thigh, it now seems too short, so Kate suggests adding bands of colored ribbon to extend it.

Although Kate sometimes tinkers with her own clothes, when she has changed items correctly, she takes them to a seamstress.

"Ask them how long they have been working and maybe see some examples of their work, but basically go by your instinct. You can always have them work on something small before they continue with more ambitious reconstructions. & # 39;

To prove how easy this is, Kate takes my dress to a seamstress. I visit Kate again so that she can check the fit of the dress and then I come back nervously to discover how her vision translates into real life.

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Falling back in my wedding dress is emotional. The short dress that I wore seven years ago in my thirties and feared that I would never wear again, fits me perfectly.

I hardly see the panels of extra fabric that have been added along the side and on the inside of the arm to make the dress slightly larger, and the length is trimmed with thick satin ribbon in navy blue and orange, matching the original colors of the dress.

It has made the dress slightly longer, but also the thickness of the ribbon has given the skirt a better shape.

And the scraps of fabric were used to add a color bolt to the cuffs and collar of my navy blue jacket.

The jacket costs £ 60 to update, and reconstructing the dress and adding a hem was £ 70. "It's affordable, especially compared to what a completely new item would cost," Kate says.

Kate & # 39; s magical touch means that these clothes breathe new life into original items that nobody else wears.

Although I like what Kate did, there is something else: the feel-good factor to know that a dress that may have been slipped into the back of my wardrobe – or worse, dumped into the garbage dump – survived for another celebration season.

convertedcloset.com

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