How to Put Together an Inexpensive Summer Wardrobe

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from our friend, Lindsay Bateman.

The warm weather is here and it is just going to keep getting warmer. You may be feeling uninspired by the summer wardrobe you already have, or maybe this is your first summer in a new city with a different climate starting from scratch. Building a new wardrobe can be perilous to the budget, but fortunately a summer wardrobe can be the least expensive of all the seasons.

Knowing when and where to shop will help bring down the cost of new items. A little trimming, hemming, and dyeing can also go a long way in reinventing what you already have, so harness your creative side!

Take a look at some of the easy ways you might be able to save on all your summer clothing needs this year:

Update Your Old Summer Clothes

You’re tired of it, it’s stained, it’s plain. Sure, you don’t want to wear your old stuff as is. Here are some ideas to make old new again:

  • Acid Washed Tees. This was a happy accident with bleach. If you have a t-shirt that already has some bleach spots or a stain, then this is a perfect solution. You can also take some darker tops and make them a pastel hue for a more summery feel.
  • DIY Beaded Flip Flops. Pick up some beads and ribbon at a craft shop like JoAnn’s or Micheal’s using their weekly 40% off coupon and make last year’s sandals look like a new designer pair.
  • Easy Infinity Scarf. This tutorial is for a no-sew infinity scarf. Use old t-shirts that are really thin for a nice, lightweight scarf.
  • Dip-Dyed T-Shirt. This is hot in the J Crew and Ed Hardy catalogs right now, but at very high prices. Take any top, bottom, or socks and dip them in dye only part way to make a fun fashion statement.

How to Save on Shopping

  • Consignment shops might be the best option because you can bring in your old summer clothes and get store credit to swap for newer clothes, accessories, and shoes. If you are bringing in clothes for trade, keep in mind that you will do better if you’re bringing in clothes that are in season.
  • Fall clothes start hitting the retail shops in July. Between Memorial Day and Independence Day you will see the summer styles become discounted and moved to the back of the store. That still leaves quite a few months of wear left to strut those new shorts before the leaves start falling.
  • Make sure to buy items that match other things you already have in your closet. The great deal on that cute red gingham print top would still end up being a waste of money if you had nothing to wear it with.
  • Host a clothing swap with family, friends, and neighbors.

How to Summer-ize Your Cold Weather Clothing

Here is a helpful list on how transform your winter clothing for summer use from WikiHow.

  • Shorten the sleeve length. Use a contrasting thread when hemming the sleeve or add on lace or a cuff.
  • Make cut-offs. This isn’t just for jeans. If you have some trousers that are fraying at the bottom, turn them into shorts or capris. Finish the edges with a hem or a cuff for a clean look. For cut-off jeans just letting the edges fray still works.
  • Remake a coat. Grab buttons, pockets, fabrics, and belts from other coats and create a unique, new lightweight jacket.
  • Make a sleeveless shirt. Grab a blouse or other top and remove the sleeves. Finish the armholes and add ribbon or ruffles to the neckline.

Using Accessories to Determine the Season

If you are one that sticks to inexpensive basics and neutrals year-round, then it can be your accessories that determine the season.

  • Button Hair Ties: Take the big fabric buttons off of coats and sweaters and attach a hair elastic to it. Now you’re ready for that summer up-do.
  • Scarf into a Bag:

  • Jewelry: Go for glass beads or leather items for classic summer looks. Check out this tutorial for a sweet fabric necklace.
  • Add a hat: floppy straw hats are great for summer and give the added bonus of much-needed protection from the sun. Straw fedoras are also an option to add pizazz to a simple outfit.

Photo credit: gock’s frocks, dolfi, RoseMReyes