Have you ever heard of converting your wardrobe? Kate McGuire is the superhero who founded Converted Closet, a multi-platform blog where she supercycles clothes that already exist in her wardrobe. She saves the environment, her wallet and also gives us inspiration to partake in converting clothes we no longer wear, instead of disposing of them.
She is a former headhunter, who shares her life between London and New York City. She founded her blog after a family-orientated break when she discovered the ethical and environmental impact the fashion industry has on our planet.
She has an Instagram page with the same name as her blog, with over 8,000 followers, where she shares her creativity, ideas and secrets of revamping clothes and a Youtube channel where she promotes sustainability and conscious fashion through different series, such as vox pops around New York City, style hacks or converting people’s unwanted or unworn items.
Her creative nature combined with her friendly personality turn Converted Closet into a suitable space for getting informed about sustainability and a dose of inspiration to turn items that are old and shoved in the back of the wardrobe into desirable articles of clothing. Kate said she has been converting clothes all her life, ever since she was able to hold a needle.
“I started in my teens when I found it hard to get clothes that looked original enough, reflected who I was, but also flattered me. I had a weight issue and was very focused on dressing myself in a way that drew attention to the parts I liked and disguised those I didn’t. I became a flattery-scientist!
I have always had a very strong sense of my own style and found that converting clothes myself meant I could express myself exactly as I wanted to.
“It was only a few years ago that I realised that a) not everyone was converting their clothes and b) that there was potentially tremendous positive environmental impact to be gained by reinventing clothes we own and wearing them much more instead of throwing them away. Once I learnt about the huge environmental impact the fashion industry was having on the planet, I felt hugely compelled to share the fun of conversion with whoever might be interested! It’s about creating an alternative fashion fix. Converted Closet is all about elevating sustainability to make it aspirational and cool.
“Now I thread nothing but use my local alterations guy in the dry cleaners to do the honours. It’s not expensive and guarantees a proper, professional finish and fit which are essential. If you don’t know how to sew do not attempt it! Pay to get a good finish otherwise it’s very likely to end up in landfill after all and defeats the purpose.”
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry to the planet, after the oil industry, with just the UK’s industry being worth over £32 billion to UK’s economy. WRAP, economy experts, calculated the value of unworn clothes at £30 billion, with around £140 million worth of clothing ending up in landfill each year.
When asked about why people should start supercycling their wardrobe, Kate said it is a “no-brainer”.
“In 2015, when the last data was collected, 100 billion pieces of clothing were produced for 7 billion people. And when we ‘throw clothes away’ – there is no away. There is the surface of planet Earth. There is no excuse.
“But what I understand and appreciate is that for people to genuinely ‘buy less and wear more’ we have to make it truly cool. And give them something they want in exchange: new original clothes – that they love and maybe that they actually had a creative input into. I want to help people find their own ‘inner designer’ and tap into the creativity that everyone possesses.
“Sometimes we just need a bit of inspiration and that’s why I set up Converted Closet, to showcase examples and inspire people that supercycling is truly a fantastic potential avenue available to everyone who owns clothes,” said Kate.
She shared a few ideas of turning clothes that we might already own in our wardrobes into new and reborn items:
· Evening dresses into day dresses – chop off the hem and wear those pieces you ‘keep for best’ which never comes, much more frequently as day wear. It’s easy to dress things down.
· Long winter coats – chop off into shorter length coats, even jackets, or take the sleeves off and convert them into gilets (sleeveless padded jackets), then add appliqué badges.
· Divide dresses into tops and bottoms – or just take the top off a dress you’re not wearing and use it more frequently as a skirt.
· Reshape the skirt – turn an A-line into a fitted skirt or turn a long skirt into a pair of shorts.
· Turn trousers into shorts – or culottes, very on trend right now, add ribbons down the sides.
Thus, the options are endless; all you need is a bit of inspiration and guidance in order to achieve the perfect converted item.
Kate’s blog combines useful advice with splendid visuals, such as before and after pictures of her latest supercycled items and short videos that take you through the journey of the items prior to their conversion.
In one episode of the Converted Closet sustainable fashion series, Kate takes a Juicy Couture floor-length dress, which was never worn by its owner, and turned it into a brand new, totally different, shorter dress. She listens, sketches and converts in order to raise awareness about the current shocking state of the industry.
Kate shops in charity boutiques “all the time” and promotes second-hand shopping as a cheaper, more sustainable way of shopping and an alternative to fast-fashion consumption.
She said: “All clothes are a source of newness. All clothes have hidden stories – I love wearing clothes that have seen things and experienced things I can’t imagine!
“It’s also guilt-free shopping.”
“I’m helping the planet out whilst getting a fashion fix. Plus they’re always so much cheaper. It means I can take them to my local tailor, get them re-made to measure, and still be quids in! Win-win. Plus it will be totally original.”
Next time you want to throw away a dress that does not fit you anymore, a shirt that you have worn for the hundredth time or a pair of pants that has lost its sparkle, try to convert them into a revamped, more stylish item – or donate the items to your local charity shop and they will become someone else’s treasure.