Celebrities Embraced Upcycling Clothes This Year — Here's How to Do It Yourself

From swapping out accessories to DIY projects, here are a few fun ideas to try with your own wardrobe.

The most memorable red carpet moments of 2021 were all about déjà vu. Many celebrities challenged the idea that each event calls for a brand new outfit, and instead opted to break out old dresses and suits for a repeat — complete with a few twists, of course.

Between alterations and styling techniques, stars and designers proved it's possible for even the most elaborate throwback pieces to be revamped and feel fresh and modern again. After seeing all those fabulous rewears — and realizing how environmentally friendly this route actually is — we were left wondering how to upcycle clothes to give a new look to things we already have.

There are actually a handful of ways to upcycle clothes, and many of the best tricks involve DIY. To get those creative juices flowing, we've gathered six ideas inspired by our favorite fashion icons, ahead.


This Is the Year Celebrities Embraced Upcycling Clothes
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Kate Middleton might just be the queen of upcycling, and her key moves are easy enough to try on your own. Do as she did with this dreamy, decade-old Alexander McQueen gown and simply swap out your accessories. With a quick belt change and different jewels, the lilac design looked just different enough.


Maitreyi Ramakrishna
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We immediately swooned over Never Have I Ever actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan's rainbow dress from the 19th Annual Unforgettable Gala, but upon further inspection, we learned the Ashwin Thiyagarajan design was actually made from upcycled sarees. Reusing material is another sustainable move that even major fashion houses are loving.


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Sure, it was Hailee Steinfeld's blonde hair that first caught our eye at the Met Gala, but her gravity-defying Iris van Herpen dress stayed on our mind long after the night ended. According to Vanity Fair, the elaborate look was made from layers of Parley Ocean Plastic, sourced from marine debris. It's truly a visual lesson in how one person's trash can be another's treasure.


This Is the Year Celebrities Embraced Upcycling Clothes
Getty Images/InStyle

Perhaps there's something in your closet that no longer serves you or suits your specific style. As Angelina Jolie has taught us, you can always pass the piece down to a friend or a family member. Throughout the press tour for her movie Eternals, Jolie was joined by her daughters who wore altered — or fully revamped — versions of her old dresses. Zahara, for example, stunned in a beaded Elie Saab design, which first made an appearance at the 2014 Academy Awards.


Naomi Osaka

After seeing her upcycled denim collaboration with Levis, Naomi Osaka had us digging through old pairs of jeans, searching for pieces we could crop into shorts or embellish with beads. Even the smallest of alterations can make a big difference.


ASAP Rocky
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Donating a blanket to an antique store might just lead to it appearing on the Met Gala steps — at least, that was the case for this colorful quilt, which was worn by ASAP Rocky at the 2021 event. However, there are also other options if you're hoping to declutter your closet. You can donate clothing to places such as the American Textile Recycling Service, which might turn those pieces into upholstery or wiping rags, or drop items off at brands that support a circular fashion system, such as H&M or Patagonia.

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