Building a Sustainable Wardrobe on a Budget: 4 DIY hacks to breathe new life into your wardrobe

Building a Sustainable Wardrobe on a Budget: 4 DIY hacks to breathe new life into your wardrobe

Finding clothes that feel good - for your body, your budget, and your values can be really hard at times, and it’s something our team has been talking about as we all ease back into leaving the house (and back into our jeans). 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some tried and true tips from our community on building a budget-friendly wardrobe that’s made for change. Changing bodies, changing lifestyles, and changing priorities. 

This week our team compiled our best tried and true (and beginner friendly!) DIY tips. 

Saved by the Belt 

Do you also live in a place where the air hurts your face? Extend your summer clothes into the fall and winter with some simple layering. We like to double up dresses and skirts with a sweater and an Unbelt for extra cozy comfort. 

How to:

While wearing the sweater add a belt at the desired length, slightly loose. Pull the fabric up and tighten the adjustable belt, tucking the extra fabric back underneath to give the appearance of a cropped sweater. 

This trick works for shortening dresses too - check out Unbelts Affiliate Jen Pistor’s video on shortening a t-shirt dress with a stretch belt for more inspo! 

DIY to Dye For


Tie-dye is just one way to use bleach to dye your clothes. If you dilute the bleach you can use stencils to dye designs onto your fav shirts or if you’re confident in your painting skills you can free-hand it. 

How to:

All you’ll need is something to stencil with, bleach in a spray bottle, and coloured clothing to be your canvas. The sky's the limit! But safety first - make sure to wear gloves and ventilate your workspace. 


cloth being stained by tea

If you’re nervous about using bleach, tea or coffee is a great alternative dye. Bright whites and other light colours can be dyed to off-white or light beige using any tea or coffee. Black teas will get you a darker stain (Unbelts DIY Queen Sabrina recommends Orange Pekoe), while lighter teas will give you a more subtle off-white look. 

How to:

You’ll need to submerge your items for at least an hour (up to overnight), and you’ll need a fair amount of tea bags so save your fancy flavours for breakfast and grab something on clearance for your arts and crafts day. For a full step-by-step guide, check out this blog from Apartment Therapy

Fabric Markers and Paint

Painting with bleach a little daunting or not an at-home embroiderer? No worries, there are tons of fabric paint options to keep your clothes looking fab and add some fun. Paint markers are a great way to embellish old denim or add a little flair to a shirt collar. You can also grab a stencil and create a pattern using a soft brush or sponge. This is a great way to hide minor flaws and snazz up our old clothes. 

Don’t Distress

Skinny, straight-legged, flare - we can’t keep up with what is “in” in the world of denim anymore, but we can share our DIY hacks to transform your jeans from flares to skinnies or skinnies to flares. 

How to:

Skinnies to flare - Choose a t-shirt or other old fabric, this will provide the extra fabric to “extend” the bottom of the jeans to give you a completely unique bell bottom look. Check out this blog by Andrea Durham Designs for step-by-step instructions. 

Flare to skinny - Cuff the jeans slightly, and pull the excess fabric together from two sides at the back.Insert a bobby pin to secure the fabric in place. 

Snip Snip Hurray! 

Raise a hand if you have a few crew necks in your dresser that you hardly ever wear 🙋. Us too. Here are our team’s favourite ways to change the fit of our t-shirts.

“I’ll sometimes cut off the bottom of my thrifted tees to get a more cropped fit.” - Dani, Customer Service & Social Media Coordinator 

“I usually cut my crew necks into V-necks. No shirt is safe from my scissors.” - Sabrina, Digital Marketing Coordinator

“I was really into Flashdance at one point, so I cut all my crew necks into off the shoulder boat necks. I still think it’s a cute, casual look.” - Devonne, Marketing Manager 

How to:

Lay out your t-shirt flat and mark a new neckline. Cut above your intended line and try on the shirt to make sure it looks the way you intended. If you want to prevent further fraying, hand sew the edges down. 

The excess fabric can be repurposed into a headband, reusable make-up remover pads, or rags for maximum upcycling. 

Already doing some clothing DIYs of your own? We want to know! Share your photos on Instagram and tag @Unbelts.