How to save money and perk up your old winter clothes instead of buying more

After the consumerism of Black Friday it’s easy to feel a little downcast at fast fashion and the way we’re all constantly buying new.

Whether you saved your cash and watched on as the sale frenzy commenced, or bought more than you could feasibly afford, it’s all a bit draining.

Not to mention, many of the ‘bargains’ bought on the day either end up not being worn or making one single outing at a Christmas party before being relegated to the back of the wardrobe.

It’s not good for the planet, and it’s not good for your wallet, with the value of unused clothing in wardrobes being estimated at around £30 billion.

Instead of buying more that you don’t need (yes, even those capsule wardrobe items might not be an actual necessity) there are loads of ways to put the items you haven’t touched in ages to good use.

Particularly with high-value winter clothes – proper coats and boots never come cheap – it’s always better to mend and alter rather than buy new.

Clean stains

Stains are one of the main problems that makes you want to chuck something away. But, all is not lost.

Laundryheap’s Deyan Dimitrov tells ‘Ever had a stain so bad you just threw the whole item away? It happens… But next time, learn how to treat even the worst of stains.

‘Take oil stains for example: they’re absolutely relentless, but not impossible to remove. Just blot any excess oil, saturate the stained area with dish soap and wash as normal. And for a gentler method on lighter stains, try sprinkling a good amount of cornstarch over the stain and leave overnight. That’s it! Simply brush away in the morning and wash as normal.’

The experts there also state that it’s not always better to wash at high temperatures. Not only is it better for the environment at 30 degrees, you avoid shrinkage, and get the same results (as long as you’ve done your pre-treatment).

a person carrying Shopping bags.

Shopping might feel great straight after, but you don’t always need something new (Picture: Ella Byworth)

Shave away any fabric bobbles

No doubt you’ll be popping on a Christmas jumper or two over the season. Woolly scarves, too.

You may notice they have what’s called ‘pilling’ on them – those little bobbles that make wool items look way past new.

It’s easy to think of these as a reason to throw out your clothes,’ says Deyan.

‘But in fact,’ he continues, ‘they’re very normal and are caused by fabric rubbing together and fibres piling up.

‘To remove, very gently ‘shave’ off using a household razer. But if you’re less patient, you can invest in an electric fabric shaver which’ll do all the hard work for you.’

Head to the cobbler

Sagar Mehra, Head of Restoration at shoe restoration store ShoeSpa, is a dab hand at taking old, lifeless winter shoes (which often cost hundreds of pounds) and bringing them back to their old selves.

While many people feel that shoes should be thrown out when they’re worn down, you might be surprised at what a good cobbler can do.

Sagar tells us: ‘When it comes to leather restoration, virtually everything is possible and our customers are often surprised when the seemingly lost-cases are brought close to brand new condition.’

Although she claims that the sole often cannot be restored, they can add a new one on and save you buying a new pair.

Prices at Shoespa start at £49 which – if you have a pair of Doc Martens or Timberlands that see you through winter – is a fraction of the price of a new pair.

I recently had a pair of Doc Martens restored there. They seemed to be the ‘lost cause’ Sagar talks of, with the leather and plastic inside the boots completely cracked. What was an unwearable pair came back to me in a week as good as new.

Cobblers like Timpson’s are also a great option to replace things like heels and eyelets.

the importance of good shoes for fitness training

Give a new lease of life to your shoes (Picture: Ella Byworth for

Get rid of smells

If stuff has been sitting in storage through the year, it can start to smell musty or damp.

This doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause, though. Deyan tells ‘If damp smells do occur, you can treat them using some common household items. Simply add one cup of distilled white vinegar to your washing machine drawer during the final rinse cycle. Vinegar is a great natural disinfectant and will neutralise any musty smells.

‘It’s also an eco-friendly alternative to polluting fabric softeners. To add some fragrance the natural way, add a few drops of essential oil.’

Get items customised

Leather painting, colour changing, and dyeing are all great ways to take items and give them their spark back.

YouTube tutorials aren’t just for makeup looks, and you can find all sorts of ways to customise clothing.

Deyan’s top tip to revamp a pair of jeans is: ‘For the worn out hems on your jeans, simply cut half an inch off the bottoms, run the scissor edge over the newly created hem and throw into the wash. They’ll come out perfectly frayed and provide a new winter wardrobe staple without spending a penny.’

Even shoes can be switched up. Shoespa’s Sagar says: ‘The simple and most popular solution is the colour change, but we offer a full custom re-design, where the shoe shape and size are the only limitations.

‘We can use virtually all colours and both hand- or machine-made designs and patterns. We can add customised elements to the shoes/boots, including leather but also fabric and metal parts in some cases.’

You can even buy a shoe customisation kit like this one to have a go at home. You might not be a pro straight off the bat, but once your design skills are on point, you can take those old winter boots and make them 2020-ready.

Mending holes in clothes

A rip or tear isn’t the end of an item.

All you need is a needle and thread, and even the most obvious of rips can be hand-stitched over.

Check out this great tutorial that shows you step-by-step how to creatively sew over tears.

Alternatively, if you’d like something a little more professional, most tailors will only charge a few pounds for a small hole to be sewn. Get a quote, and see whether it’s worth mending.

Getting ill-fitting clothes tailored

Similarly, if you’ve lost or gained weight since last winter, and want to make your old items fit without throwing away, it’s often completely possible.

Prices will depend on the tailor you go to, but as long as you’re realistic with your expectations and happy to work with them to spruce up your items, you can negotiate the right amount of work for a price you’re comfortable with.

Cleaning shoes

If it’s just a simple case of cleaning up a pair of old shoes, here are Sagar’s tips:

  • If you decide to clean the shoes/boots on your own, follow manufacturers guidelines and check what kind of wet or dry cleaning techniques is suitable for your type of footwear.
  • Keep the leather properly moisturised, using shoe creams and leather balms matching your type of footwear. Leather, just like our own skin, needs proper love and care to stay in good condition.
  • Keep your shoes/boots away from humidity, sunlight and high/low temperatures.

If all else fails and you decide you’re adamant you want something new, try second hand.

Your local charity shop will undoubtedly be a goldmine, and Oxfam even have an online shop so you don’t need to rummage. You can search by style or brand, and there are heaps of designer goodies waiting to be re-loved.

Sellers on Depop will also have items that are as good as new – some of which are still in the shops – but need a new home. It’s a fraction of the price to go second-hand, and you’re helping cut down on wasted clothes too.