Deals Episodes

No New Clothes For a Year

The challenge to not buy new clothes for an entire year is saving one woman a lot of money while she memorializes her well-dressed grandmother.

"I feel like I'm connecting with her now in a way that I've never been able to connect with her," says Ashley Small, when asked about wearing her late grandmother's vintage clothes .

Ashley inherited the wardrobe when her grandmother, Virginia, died at the age of 99. Right away, Ashley knew she could make the matriarch's style her own.

"A lot of her clothing is comfort, the fabric is nice, so it has longevity. I feel like she had an effortless, casual fashion and I really appreciate that," says Ashley.

Then, Ashley decided to do something that sounds impossible, she is not going to buy any new clothes for an entire year! She has been able to use some of the clothing -- as is.

"Like this ensemble here. This is a skirt that I just hiked up and put a belt on a turned it into a dress," says Ashley.

But for other outfits, Ashley teamed up with seamstress and friend, Joy Massingill, to create new looks.

"I get compliments all the time," says Ashley. "Someone's like, 'Where did you get that blouse?' And I'm like, 'This actually was my grandmother's.' So that's probably been the major response, is that I've been able to keep a wardrobe that looks fresh and people are responding to it."

First, a hot pink dress that had 'grandma' written all over it. It's long sleeved, oversized and outdated. But not for long!

"We took the sleeves off to make it sleeveless and then we took it in on the sides so it's more fitted.We cut eight inches off the bottom," says Joy.

"It's so me," says Ashley. "I just love everything about it, it's flirty and fun!"

With a few simple changes and by adding a belt, the pink dress takes on an entirely new look. Joy also made a matching pink hair bow to go with it.

"Whenever you go bring in your garment to the seamstress, ask for the leftover pieces of fabric so you can make little accessories, little fabric bows, roses, headbands," says Joy.

Just about everyone has an old pair of pants or capris in their closet that they don't wear anymore. Take a cue from Ashley and Joy.

"I'm not really into capris right now," says Ashley. "I do like shorts."

The capris quickly went from frumpy and plain to sassy and short!

"We cut them off and made them shorts and then added some velvet to the bottom and then we added pockets," says Joy.

"I think the shorts are fun. They are probably my favorite piece," says Ashley. "I like the idea of pairing them with some boots, long sleeved blouse or even an oversized sweater."

Lastly, a dated silk skirt is a beautiful shade of light blue, but the thought of wearing it as is this made Ashley blue!

"I believe my grandmother actually made it. A lot of the items, if you look at them, I believe she may have made it herself, because there is no label," says Ashley.

With a few additions, this silk skirt is now a one-of-a-kind dress!

"We pulled it up and made it a dress," says Joy. "And we just added some extra ribbon that we had laying around and made unique criss-cross straps."

"I like that it's very wearable for many events, very functional!" says Ashley.

These new, fresh looks came from decades-old apparel. And they are all clothing transformations that saving Ashley big bucks.

"Ballpark, can save in the whole entire year anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000," says Ashley. "Because I spend a lot."

But in the end, Ashley says it's not just about the money.

"I do think when you are challenged and you don't have a choice but to work with what you have in your closet you get pretty creative," says Ashley. "A lot of it comes from the creative corner in my brain. I think if Grandma Virginia saw me wearing her clothes, she'd be very proud and surprised. I don't imagine that she knew what her clothes had the potential to do, that her wardrobe could be passed on."

If you have old clothing you would like revamp, here are some of Joy's tips for collaborating with a seamstress:

  • Bring along pictures from magazines or drawings to show what you like in clothing. Bounce ideas off each other so you can come up with something you truly love.
  • Discuss a budget - make sure you both agree from the start how much the services will cost.
  • Expect to pay a deposit
  • Expect several fittings
  • If you change your mind mid-way through the project, speak up!
  • Bring along shoes to try on with the outfit
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