Fashion & Shopping

3 Sneaky Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Garments

March 28, 2024

By now it’s no secret that we are both producing too many clothes and also consuming too many clothes. The average Canadian purchases 70 new items of clothing each year, according to CBC Marketplace. When we slow down, buy less, and buy better, we can end throw away culture and get back to the days of wearing what you have and caring for your clothes. Part of caring for our clothes is finding ways to extend their life. The first steps would be laundering, mending and storing our garments properly. The next steps include ways we can modify or alter a garment to make it wearable for longer. The three main reasons we get rid of clothing is staining, fit and style.  Here are some ways we can tackle these three wardrobe hurdles. —Jen Pistor

Dye Your Clothes

Clothing in lighter colours, especially those white tees, can look dingy fairly quickly.  Yellowing under the arms or stains can make an item undesirable to wear. The easiest fix is to dye the garment a new colour. There are many tutorials online to show you the supplies you will need and the  steps to take.  Here’s one from Rit Dye to get you started.  By dying a garment, we give it new life and it will feel all shiny and new hanging in our closet.

Make Them Fit

Another common issue we come up against are clothes that no longer fit. Those favourite jeans that are just a bit too tight or perhaps just a bit too big are usually the first to go.  There are actually fixes for those that could help you get even more wear out of your jeans.

Jeans too big? If you are finding your jeans to be a bit too big, a great fix is to have an elastic sewn into the back waistband. You only need to do this to the back so the front of your jean waistband is still smooth for tucking and styling. The elastic in the back band offers ultimate comfort and cinches in the waist enough to make them fit once again. 

Jeans a bit too small in the waist?  We recommend giving jean extenders a try. Yes, there are those tricks with rubber bands, but for a smoother, more low profile hack, this is it. The jean extenders come in a variety of shades and add instant length to your waistband. There are options available on Amazon and Walmart as well as on Etsy.  If you have some sewing skills, you could also make your own with some old denim fabric scraps. 

If you have a pair of jeans that you love but constantly get that annoying gap in the waist despite the jeans fitting everywhere else, we recommend Unbelts. Unbelts is a Canadian, Women Owned, Sustainable brand who has solved the denim gap problem. They are size inclusive coming in sizes 0-5X. They range in price from $45-$59, are gender neutral, and are cute enough to wear over dresses, rompers, blazers and other outfits. They are stretchy, adjustable, and low profile so you don’t get any bulk like a traditional belt.  Our favourite is the Unbelts Classic Core. 

Mend & Alter

Since the introduction of ready to wear fashion in the early 20th century, clothing became more affordable for the average person. However, since the development of fast fashion in the 1980s and then going mainstream in the mid 1990s, we have been losing the art of altering our clothing. There used to be an understanding that most garments off the rack would need some tweaking to get them to fit us just the way we want. In the past two decades with clothing prices being cheaper than ever, we’ve moved further away from this and adopted throw away culture instead. Instead of altering a hemline, we simply donate the item and get something new. Rather than altering the shape of a garment we toss it away because it was cheap in the first place. When we slow down our consumption and make more mindful purchases, we are more likely to purchase items we truly love and plan on having for a long time. Altering an item to our liking or having something mended or repaired will extend the life of a garment and save you money in the long run. A few easy alterations to keep in mind when organizing your own wardrobe include: 

  • hemming pants, dresses, and skirts to desired length
  • getting a dress made into a skirt or top and skirt set
  • changing buttons on a cardigan or jacket to modernize the item
  • visible mending on a sweater with holes or denim
  • cropping t-shirts and sweatshirts to a desired length


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