I thought I'd write a post in the spirit of Ramadan - making the best of what you have, recycling and using outfits rather than buy something new (which is handy if you don't have a lot of money to spend!) These are some of the things I've done with unwanted clothes below - most of them are things I do regularly and which I recommend to a lot of people I know.
1. Donate them to charity.
Not every charity shop will take Asian clothes, but a good amount of them do - they love having beautiful things in the store and there's still an Asian market to sell to - the charity shops in my area usually have a few Asian outfits in store.
My mum occasionally donates Asian suits to the poor in Pakistan, either by cargoing them to relatives who can distribute them, or taking old suits with her when she travels to Pakistan herself. I usually give her a bunch of my old suits whenever I need to do a good clear-out (and need to get rid of outfits which are too tight!)
I keep all of my outfits in good condition so I'm glad that they end up in a good home - there are too many poor families who would appreciate a nice suit that they can wear for Eid or for special occasions. Our relatives in Pakistan normally distribute them to the poorer families in the area who can use these clothes or who can alter them to their usage.
The last time we sent some clothes and shoes over, my mum told me that two pairs of heels (which I never wore because I didn't like them and wasn't sure why I bought them!) had been stored away by the family they were given to, for the two daughters in the family to wear when they get married. It was really lovely to hear this - that something I never appreciated would be valued by the family who got them.
2. Sell them.
I hugely in favour of selling your outfit to fund your next one! I have sold outfits via eBay and PakLinks before (a forum I'm a regular member of!) and loved the extra cash coming in. Of course this depends on how well-kept your outfit is, and how fashionable it is - these days I've noticed that the more in-line with current fashion trends an outfit is, the more likely it is for it to be sold.
I've listed a few venues to sell online below - there's lots more of course, but here's a few to start off with:
- eBay, Preloved, Etsy Craigslist or Gumtree - these are all pretty big websites which are professionally run, which means a lot more viewers for your listings.
- Facebook groups like Desi Frugal Fashionista, Revolve Clothing, asianattire or even via local websites like OnceWear, MyPreciousCollection and WeBuyClothes. These are more tailored to a certain market, but it also means that people who visit here will be looking for things like your outfits for sale, and may be more likely to see them.
- There are even apps to sell from your mobile - I haven't tried any but I have read posts from a few bloggers who do use them.
- Instagram - this is becoming a big platform to sell a lot of things. I haven't seen that many pre-used outfits on here but I have seen a lot of businesses blooming on here - there's definitely a market here!
3. Re-invent them.
You can alter outfit, mix-and-match them or even add some Western pieces to them for a fusion look. I've even seen outfits re-altered for younger girls which is a lovely touch (I know I've handed a few to my eldest niece to be altered for her!)
I've started a series of posts on re-inventing your clothes (more to be posted soon!) and have had some good responses from it - it's really shown me that people do want to look for different ideas for their wardrobes,
4. Save the pretty ones for your daughters.
I've seen a big trend in the last few years of brides re-wearing their mother's outfits for a really vintage look, and it's lovely to have that sentimentality for your big day. You don't necessarily have to have a wedding outfit to store away for your daughters, but it's nice to have pretty keepsakes that you can pass down. Although there's no saying what the fashion trends will be like in twenty years, but fashion is pretty cyclical so you never know!
My eldest sister has kept a few of her vari (bridal trousseu) outfits stored away for her daughters, and every now and then she pulls it out and we ooh-and-ahh at them. My mum had a few old suits back in the day (the tinselly scarves included!) which we used to drape over ourselves, although a lot of them are gone now! I've kept my own bridal outfits safely packed and stored away, partly in case I want to re-wear any of the kameezes, but also for memories and for potential passing down; and I have old outfits from when I was a teen and young child which I have kept in a few places (and which I marvel at now because of how skinny I was!)
5. Make other stuff from your old clothes.
Here's a few ideas to start you off - I know a few people who have used their bridal outfits as artwork - packing them into a frame to display on the wall which is a nice idea. I've also seen worked outfits and dupattas cut and re-shaped into cushions, hanging art, Westernised tops and dresses, and even as patchwork for various things.
It's a nice idea and it gives your old outfits life somewhere else - and it's also a great medium for a bit of craftwork as well!
There are a lot of other ideas with what to do with your old outfits, but these are the main ones I thought would be useful. Do you have any other ideas? What have you tried before? Let me know!