Don't throw out that top! Make use of what you've got and try one of these tailoring tricks for a better fit

Buying off-the-rack clothes is convenient and a lot more affordable than custom-tailored pieces—but with that affordability comes compromise, often in the form of fit. Instead of donating or throwing away clothes that aren't perfect, try these hacks to help give them new life.

If you're proficient with sewing basics, you can absolutely tackle these alterations yourself. Otherwise, a good tailor will be able to do these easily and help you improve the longevity of your wardrobe.



1. Try a bra strap holder

bra strapIf you wear a bra, you know the irritation of having your bra straps slip down. To keep them in place, simply sew a piece of ribbon (two to three inches in total length), folded in half (now one to one-and-a-half inches long) to the underside of your garment at the top of the shoulders where your bra strap would be. Anchor the creased end of your doubled ribbon to the shoulder seam.

At the other loose ends, sew in some small snaps, and then tack the end that's against the fabric to your shirt, leaving the other end free. When you're ready to wear your garment, just line up your bra strap against the ribbon, and snap securely into place.

You can easily make your own snap ribbon holders if you have extra ribbon around, but you can also buy pre-made holders or retainers from sewing stores and Amazon. Often the packaged ones don't even require any sewing as they come with small safety pins for attaching onto clothing.


2. Snap the gaps

snapNo one ever fits off-the-rack sizes perfectly. Either the shoulders fit well but the rest of the shirt is too large, or you have to size up to get a decent fit but then end up with droopy shoulders. It's much harder and more expensive to tailor shoulders, so if you have to choose, pick a garment that hangs perfectly off your shoulders.

To deal with gaps that often occur with button-front shirts, simply sew in small snaps in between the regular buttons. These will invisibly keep the placket in line and nicely closed, without any gaping or tugging.


3. Crop it like it's hot

zaraZaraIf you have a favourite tunic or shirt that's too long, or you just want a change of look, crop it by elasticizing the bottom, which will completely transform the overall style. This definitely is a step up from simply cutting it or knotting the front.

Cut your garment about two inches longer than you'd like the final length to be. Give the raw edge a quick zigzag either by hand or by machine to keep it from fraying. Then measure out your elastic, which should be one to two inches shorter than your natural waist measurement.

To start, anchor one end of the elastic at the seam of the shirt. As you hem the garment, keep the elastic tucked inside until you get to the other end. Then anchor the other end of the elastic to the shirt before finishing the hemming.