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7 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Clothes

by Sica Schmitz | Posted on May 06 2016

This month we are so honored to be helping with a “Suiting & Styling Academy” as part of the Downtown Womens Center’s 12 week job training program for homeless and formerly homeless women. Along with a talented beauty team, we will be teaching these inspiring women how to dress to feel their best as they take the exciting next steps in their careers and lives.

This is where you come in. We’d love for you to participate by donating your gently used professional clothing, shoes, bags, bras, and jewelry - write us and and we’ll even send you a pre-paid shipping label so you can support Bead & Reel in supporting women in the community. All sizes welcome, and whatever we’re not able to use will be donated or discarded responsibly by the Bead & Reel team.

Which led us to the often-asked question: how do you donate or discard clothing responsibly? We’ve put together a list of our 7 favorite things to do when you rip, outgrow, or fall out of love with your closet.

7 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Clothes - Bead & Reel


The best thing about investing in quality things is that they’re repairable – and worth repairing. When something tragic happens to your favorite dress or jacket, we recommend first contacting the designer to see about any potential warranties or mending programs. If you don’t have a warranty and don’t have a sewing machine, don’t fret, local tailors and cobblers are also widely available to fix everything from clothing to shoes and everything in between, and some cobblers can even repair leather and vegan leather items such belts, jackets, and bags. Check out The Tailor Project and iFixIt for tips and resources for your next repair project.


An estimated 3.8 billion pounds of textiles end up landfills every year, however recycling isn't just for plastic, paper, and glass - textiles can be recycled too. Blue Jeans Go Green will turn your old jeans into insulation for Habitat for Humanity, and Recycle Now will help you find where and how to recycle just about anything else in your closet (or home!), making it easy to skip the trash can.


There are endless ways to create something new from your old fashion. Get inspired by the Refashionista - who takes styles that don’t fit or aren’t flattered and alters them into chic new pieces - or join us on Pinterest for DIY ideas on how to give new life to your old clothes.

7 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Clothes - Bead & Reel


That’s right, instead of adding the usual brown yard waste to your compost pile you can toss in any clothing that is made from natural fibers. These include cotton, wool, silk, linen, or hemp. Skip the synthetic fabrics, or anything that has been chemically treated to maintain a healthy compost bin. We recommend this great guide with further instructions for you green thumbs.


One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Now with second hand entering the digital era, it’s really never been easier to sell your gently used clothes. We'll buy your vegan fashion, or you can sell it with apps like PoshMark, ThredUp, or TheRealReal right from home to clear out your closet and fluff up your bank account.

7 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Clothes - Bead & Reel


When you no longer need, love, or want something, there are many people in need who could use your gently used clothing. One quick caution is to research where you’re giving your generous donation because not all non-profits are created equal (or, are even really non-profits!). If you can’t give to the individual directly, make sure that the charity you choose is distributing your clothing donation in a manner that meets with your ethics. A few organizations we recommend are the Downtown Women’s Center, Dress for Success, and Out of the Closet, where the proceeds go to AIDS research and treatment. You can always check out Charity Watch to find out more about an organization.


San Francisco based artist, Julia Goodman, makes beautiful rag-sorters from used textiles. While maybe this isn’t your aesthetic or skill set, you may be able to gain some inspiration by daring to look at your textiles in a whole new way before you decide to discard. 


Contact us for a pre-paid shipping label to donate your gently used professional clothing, shoes, bags, bras, and jewelry.

1 comment

  • Henrietta (from The Future King & Queen).: August 03, 2016

    There are some great ideas here, which will come in handy as I’m trying to downsize my wardrobe (and to eventually own only ‘ethical’ pieces).

    Thank you for a thoughtful article xx

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