Save a Sweater: Easy DIY Patches

Sweater Patches

I have a favorite cardigan that I wear 24/7. It’s gray, so it goes with almost everything. It’s not too bulky, so it’s easy to cram into a bag or carry around during a night out. It also fits just right. And it’s comfortable. I have had it since college and have worn it approximately 2,367 times. I love that cardigan!

So when it started to get holes in the elbows I was devastated. It was starting to look worn-out and old. It was borderline not work appropriate. But I am emotionally attached to that cardigan and the thought of replacing it was just too much.

And that’s when I had a brilliant idea – instead of spending $30 on a new cardigan, why not patch up my old favorite for free! I have more exercise t-shirts than any one person could ever need (You know, those baggy unisex t-shirts they give you at 5Ks and other sporting events? I own 300). So I used an old t-shirt to create elbow patches and sewed them onto my cardigan. It only took about 15 minutes for my favorite sweater to look brand new.

Here’s how you can DIY some patches for your favorite sweater or sweatshirt:

1. Find an old t-shirt you don’t mind cutting up.

2. Measure the size of the hole you are trying to cover up. Hint: Make sure you give yourself and extra 1/2 inch – 1 inch on each side of the hole to work with. If you make the patch the same size or smaller than the hole it will be impossible to sew it on.

3. Use the measurements from Step 2 to trace on and cut out patches from your t-shirt fabric. I made heart shapes but you can do anything you want like squares, circles, animals, flowers . . . go crazy! Hint: If you’re bad a cutting out shapes, draw or print something on paper first to use as a paper stencil. Then you can trace your shape onto the fabric lightly with a pencil to make cutting out a clean shape easier.

4. Pick a fun colored-thread that will go well with the t-shirt patches you made. Then hand-stitch each patch over your elbow hole. Hint: Here’s a great video on how to hand-stitch if you’re a beginner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2mfJweh8a0.

5. Viola! You’re ready to wear your sweater.

As you’re getting your fall/winter clothes out of the closet, I hope this helps you bring some older sweaters back to life!

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Life Hack: Say Bye-Bye to Deodorant Stains

You know when you put on deodorant and then put a shirt on right afterwards and you get those big white marks all over your shirt? Isn’t that THE WORST?! This probably happens to me at least once a week. You would think I would learn to put my deodorant on after my clothes or something, but no. I just keep getting all over everything I put on. Then I have to change my outfit and weirdly struggle to get into another shirt without my armpits touching the fabric. It’s as awkward as it sounds.

But the other day when we were in Las Vegas, I got deodorant all over the dress I was going to wear out, I was freaking out thinking that I didn’t have anything else to wear, and my sister just goes “Get another piece of fabric and rub it off.” All calm, like it was no big deal. So I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, rubbed a little at the deodorant spot, and . . . drum roll please . . . IT DISAPPEARED! It was amazing. Since then I have gotten 3 or 4 deodorant stains on stuff, and this trick works every time. No more changing tops!

Finally, having a sister with a degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design pays off!

Cheap Stuff I Love: SHOES!

If I have one rule to live by it is that when you see a pair of cute shoes that also happen to be super cheap, you BUY THEM. Any nice-looking pair of shoes under $20 is just too good to pass up. Think of how often you wear shoes. And how long they can last. And how they don’t have to go through the laundry. And how you can wear the same pair 2 or 3 days in a row and no one will really notice. And even if someone does notice it’s not gross to wear the same pair of shoes for multiple days like it is if it’s a shirt or pants – so who cares?!

I've never met an animal print I didn't like.

I’ve never met an animal print I didn’t like.

Long story short, shoes are the best part of your wardrobe. They are low maintenance, cute, and cost effective. You wear them everyday. So if you see a pair for $7.99 like I did at Old Navy this weekend, you DO NOT say no. You buy those pointy-toed snake-skin ballet flats! Expensive shoes are another story, but cheap shoes are always a solid investment.

Did I mention I like shoes?

Shoes. Let's get 'em.

Shoes. Let’s get ’em.

Old Navy also had a lot of other stuff on sale, like dress, tops, and jeans. If you’re looking to refresh your spring wardrobe on a budget, you should definitely check them out. I spent less than $50 and got a dress, 2 shirts, and a pair of shoes.

Happy First Days of Spring!

Mi Sweater Es Su Sweater

Sweater Swap! Just like April and Andy on Parks and Rec.

Sweater Swap! Just like April and Andy on Parks and Rec.

You know what I don’t do enough in my adult life? Borrow other people’s clothes.

My closet in college was 20 times the size of my closet now. Not because I had more money to spend on clothes or anything, but because I had a swim team full of girls roughly the same size as me whose clothes I could borrow (or let’s be honest, sometimes steal). If I was having one of those days where I hate all of my clothes and can’t find anything to wear, I would just raid someone else’s wardrobe. New clothes always look and feel better than old ones you’ve worn a hundred times which is why having a big group of friends with an open-closet policy is great – you have endless variety AND you don’t have to spend a fortune.

This week, a girl I work with asked me if I had a black cocktail dress she could borrow for an event she has this Saturday and I had a total flashback to my college days. She and I are roughly the same size, about the same age, and both have similar taste in clothing (although I admittedly wear much more animal print than she does). WHY have I never thought to swap clothes with her before? Why I haven’t I been raiding the wardrobes of every roommate, friend, or coworker my size for my whole post-grad life?

As you may have gathered from this post, I LOVE new clothes. I will use any minor event as an excuse to buy a new outfit. A date, a work event, a birthday party, a baby shower . . . nothing I already own is right for any of those occasions. If I don’t go to Forever 21 and buy something new, I will have to go naked. Nobody wants that. Although my budget is bigger than it was in college, I really don’t have enough extra spending money to drop $20,$50 or even $100 on new clothes every month “just because.” So if you’re like me and you frequently need new clothes in your life, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Sweater Swap! Trade clothes with friends who share your size and style. If you need a LBD for a cocktail party or are looking for a fun top for a night out with friends, ask around. It doesn’t hurt to see if any of your girlfriends have something they’re willing to loan you for the day. Worst case scenario, you don’t like or don’t fit into anything they have. Best case scenario, you get a new outfit without spending any money!

2. Consign It! If you’re a fashionista and you haven’t been doing regular business with your local consignment store, you’re missing out. Consignment stores will pay you money for your gently used clothes. If you have items in your closet that you’re tired of but that someone else might enjoy, bring them in to a consignment store and get cash or store credit in return. Each store will have its own policies on which items they accept, how much they pay per item, etc. so you might want to visit their website or call for details before you go. While you’re dropping off your old clothes, you can shop around for yourself; consignment stores usually have great, good-as-new items for much less than a regular retail store.

3. Accessorize! More often than I care to admit, I buy a new shirt or dress that looks exactly like something I already own. I see a shirt in the store, I love it and buy it, then I get home and realize it’s identical to a shirt in my closet. The new shirt just “feels better” because it’s newer and I haven’t seen myself in it yet. So before you go out and buy new, ask yourself if you have something already in your wardrobe that you could makeover. A dress can look totally different if you pair it with a chunky necklace or big belt. Or a blouse can look new paired with a different jacket and pants. Play around with jewelry, headbands, shoes, hair, makeup and see if you can make an old outfit look new enough to be fun again.

Happy new-to-you clothes shopping!

Wear This, Not That: Rules for Appropriate Office Wear

I think one of the things I miss the most about coaching full time is the wardrobe. The kids are great and all, but let’s be real – the ability to wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY to my job was probably coaching’s biggest perk. Appropriate pool attire includes everything from business casual to athletic-ware to a bathing suit so it’s not too difficult to decide if your outfit is acceptable. The main rule is if you’re showing more skin than you do in your bathing suit, put something over it.

Needless to say, my wardrobe needed a little boost when I entered the fulltime world of finance this fall. Our office might be business casual, but my stockpile of Lululemon leggings and UNH Swimming T-Shirts definitely doesn’t make the cut any more.

In a modern workplace it can be really hard to toe the line between “cute and fashionable but still professional” and “go home to change ASAP!” You don’t want to completely lose your personal style but you also want to appear pulled-together. Here’s a few tips for getting a work wardrobe started:

  1. Buy a few business staples like a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, or nice button-down. You don’t have to have enough “work-only” clothes to wear a new outfit every day for a month. Get a few, quality, well-fitting pieces that you can pair with other things you already have in your closet.
  2. Divide your closet into 3 sections: “Work” for clothes that are business appropriate, “Weekend” for clothes to wear only outside of the office, and “Halloween” for clothes that should only be worn as part of a costume (or possibly should just be donated to Goodwill). Keeping your clothes physically separated in your closet will make early morning decisions on what to wear a lot less stressful.
  3. No boobs, no butts, no bellies. It’s a rule to live by. If any of those things are hanging out, you should change ASAP.

If you have on an outfit and you’re still not sure if it’s okay, here’s a “Wear This, Not This” list to help you decide. If it falls under the “Wear This” category you are all set to walk out the door, if it falls under “Not This” you may want to reconsider.

 Wear This . . . Opaque tights or leggings in black, gray, or tan.  NOT That . . . Fishnet, colored, or designed stockings.

Tights

Wear This . . . Dresses that go approximately to knee length and cover most of your chest. NOT That . . . Dresses that you might wear to a club or party, have cutouts or slips, have a short hemline.

Wear This . . . Necklines that are approximately in line with your armpits. NOT That . . . Deep, plunging neck lines that show cleavage (or close to it).

Wear This . . . Leggings with a shirt or dress that completely covers your front and back, hem should reach the bottom of your finger tips. NOT That . . . Leggings with a short top that exposes your front or bum.

What to Wear With Leggings

Wear This . . . Dress sandals with straps. NOT That . . . Flip flops, crocs, or sandals without a back.

Wear This . . . Dress shoes with a kitten heel or heel 3 inches or less. NOT That . . . Fancy shoes you would wear to the club, lots of glitter or sparkle, heels 4 inches or more. Also don’t wear Uggs to the office. Just NO.

High Heels

Wear This . . .  Nice, fitted clothing that makes your natural shape stand out, makes you have clean, smooth lines, is comfortable to wear. NOT That . . . Clothes that are too tight or clingy, clothes that are uncomfortable and produce bulges.

Wear This . . . Undergarments that are comfortable and are unnoticeable under your clothing (that’s why they call them UNDER-wear). NOT That . . . Undergarments that are brightly colored, too tight, or are plainly visible underneath clothing.

Tank Tops

Wear This . . . Comfortable sweaters, athletic wear that has company logo. NOT That . . . Sweatshirts, sweatpants, pajamas, athletic wear that supports a certain team.

Wear This . . . T-shirts with generic designs like flowers or paisley on them . NOT That . . . T-shirts with large graphic designs or sayings (it’s great that you’re the “World’s Biggest Belieber!” but let’s keep Justin out of the office).

Wear This . . . anything you’d wear it to church or visiting Grandma. NOT That . . .  Anything that was part of a Halloween costume.

I hope these tips help you dress to impress!

Business on a Budget or Ideas on Dressing Professional for Less $

This one is for all you frugal fashionistas out there! Here’s a week’s worth of my outfits for work, where I got them, and how much I spent (aka my attempt to look professional while still shopping on a Forever 21 budget).

Disclaimer: I am by no means a style-expert; if I was Anna Wintour’s intern I’m sure she would judge me just as much as Anne Hathaway’s character in Devil Wears Prada. I am known amongst the kids I coach for only ever wearing leggings to swim practice (which I have been told is a fashion faux pas because they don’t count as “real” pants 😦 )  I do, however, enjoy shopping and I always try to look my best at work.  Like other people my age just starting out, my budget for clothes is a little more limited than I would like.  My idea for this post wasn’t just to show off how great my clothes are, but rather to give people ideas for buying clothes on a budget while still expressing your own personal style.

So here it goes . . .

Monday 8/26 –

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Sweater: Forever 21, $18.99

Pants: Gap, FREE (graciously donated to me by my sister)

Sandals: Payless Shoes, $7.99

Tuesday 8/27 –

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Dress: Target, $24.99

Boots: DSW, $89 (*splurge item!)

Wednesday 8/28 –

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Headband: Urban Outfitters, $10.89

Dress: Forever 21, $12.99

Chambray Shirt: J Crew, $34.99

Shoes: Forever 21, $11.99

Thursday 8/29 –

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Dress: Forever 21, $22.99

Sandals: Payless Shoes, $9.99 (same as the ones from Monday)

Friday 8/30 –

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(Note: I cropped my head out of this one because I made a weird face – it’s Friday 🙂 )

Shirt: Nordstrom Rack, $28.99

Jeans: Forever 21, $12.50

Sandals: Surprise! Same ones from Monday and Thursday again:), $9.99

Button: Free & made by our super cool button-making machine at Casco

Tips for Shopping Smart:

1. For Trendier Items, Go Somewhere Cheap – Places like Forever 21, H&M, Target, etc. are great stores to go to when you bored with your wardrobe and feel like you need something new.  If you want to purchase something trendy that might not be in style for more than a few months (like a peplum shirt or gladiator sandals), it doesn’t make sense to spend too much.  If you’re buying something you’ll wear a lot (maybe everyday), that’s when it makes sense to invest more money; if you need boots or jeans that will last for 100+ wears, it’s reasonable to spend more money for a quality item (like those boots I wore on Tuesday, I’ve worn them 2 or 3 times a week for 2 years and they still look nice).  For something you might only wear 5 times, try to stay more in the $10-$20 range – then when you donate it to Good Will after only a few wears you won’t feel as guilty.

2. Be Willing to Shop Around – Forever 21 is my favorite place to shop ever (even though I am 24 and probably too old to still go there). Yes the stores are huge and they have a crazy amount of stuff in there (most of which makes you look like Miley Cyrus at last weeks VMAs).  BUT if you are willing to spend some time looking around/ trying things on you actually can find some great clothes at an amazing price.  Spend a few extra minutes checking all the racks in the store, travel around to a handful of different places, try stuff on even if it only looks so-so on the hanger – investing a few extra minutes into really shopping around could help you find items you love at a lower price.

3. Borrow From Your Friends – One of my favorite things about my swim team in college was that it provided me with a lot of friends who lived close by and were conveniently my size!  A cheap way to spice up your wardrobe is to clothes swap with a friend – it means new clothes for you and her!  In addition, be open to getting hand-me-downs from friends and family. Although the typical younger sibling is supposed to complain about hand-me-downs, this has been one of my favorite ways to get new clothes since I was a little girl.  I have been stealing my older sister’s clothes since I was 2. Luckily for me, she is now a fashion merchandising director at Banana Republic, so 2 or 3 times a year she sends me a box with sample clothes from her office, as well as some of her own clothes that she is bored with . That’s how I got those nice blue dress pants from my Monday outfit.  Her boxes of clothes save me a bunch of cash! If anyone ever offers you hand-me-downs, I say take them – even if only 1 out of 10 items they give is a keeper, that’s one less piece of clothing to buy!

I hope these tips help you look your best at work while keeping some extra dollars in your pocket. Happy Shopping Everyone!