Ew. Garbage? Who in their right mind would want to dumpster dive in the name of cutting-edge style? These days, it seems like everyone is in on the fun. Major designers the world over have stepped up to the reclamation plate in an effort to demonstrate that there is beauty and creative potential in that which is typically made to be utilized just one time before being chucked.You have heard of Nancy Judd, right? For years, she has made a splash thanks to her crafty trashy couture confections that showcase everything from crime scene tape and rusty nails, to junk mail and shower curtains. So, too, has Gary Harvey, with his witty array of flouncy frocks expertly crafted with empty skincare packaging and magazine pages, or Susan Stockwell, with her unique collection of map-crafted and coffee filter-tufted dresses. Candy wrappers, old newspapers, plastic bottles — they’re all fair game, as are broken objects, obsolete cultural artifacts and factory floor bits and pieces that would otherwise be swept into the bin. The coolest part, though, is that you don’t have to be formally schooled in the fine art of fashion design to exercise your innate trash-repurposing abilities. Tread with caution, though. This is one creative experience that you’ll quickly discover can be incredibly addictive.
Post-consumer packaging… can be refashioned into collaged, waterproofed umbrellas; rainbow-sweetened drink-pouch belts; floral-shaped cereal and cracker box pins; and 6-inch peep-toe, slingback, Christian Louboutin heels. Word on the street is that babies even go gaga for these booties made out of recycled ramen noodle packages! Bubble wrap… can be refashioned into a form-fitting cocktail dress, a strapless version with a full skirt, a honeycomb-like necklace pendant or bold-looking men’s ties. It is also a great material to incorporate into your artistic creations. Aluminum cans… can be refashioned into barely there bikinis and swimming trunks, supportive undergarments, stylishly arresting high heels, farmer’s market-worthy bags, wrist cuffs or charm necklaces, or used to make a petal-covered skirt. (Here’s an easy recycling project to get your juices flowing.) Magnetic PET video or cassette tapes… can be refashioned into a futuristic, sci-fi combo; an elegant evening look; a dramatic full-length coat; conveniently waterproof beach attire; and even hand-woven purses or neck adornments. Old men’s suits… can be refashioned into a multilayered dress, a criss-cross vest top or a vast array of reinvented garments and accessories like totes and “power suit” bags. Garbage bags… can be refashioned into a perfectly plastic ’80s-style jacket and matching skirt ensemble, a transparent fairy tale gown or a Marie Antoinette-era costume, or fused onto old bedding to create an edgy, one-of-a-kind jacket that will stand up to all sorts of wild and wacky weather. Old leather jackets… can be refashioned into new handbags — a simple yet fantastic way to breathe new life into a neglected or otherwise ill-fitting coat — or assorted types of jewelry and boots; not to mention cozy, custom-made winter-worthy gear for your pup. Leather gloves… can be refashioned into a earrings, pendants, hair clips, a grand (neck) fashion statement, brooches, dainty handheld purses or a halter top, or used to add a decorative upgrade to shoes, bags and coat lapels. Shoulder pads…. can be refashioned into a sultry hat or a plush, hooded coat, or used to reinforce the elbows of your favorite sweaters or shirts. If, however, you are a huge fan of the glitzy, Cristal Carrington throwback look, then here is a tutorial that will help you to create your very own over-the-top, shoulder-strutting version. Men’s silk neckties… can be refashioned into costume jewelry; the grand, sweeping, floral detail on an old dress; a tidy striped clutch; a glamorous halter top; custom gowns for formal affairs; belts; and hair bands. Oversized men’s button-up shirts… can be refashioned into newborn infant pants, an apron, a fitted bustier top, a ruffle-covered dress or a summer-weight skirt. There are myriad skirt designs and equally countless DIY tutorials floating around online, however, with just a bit more time and effort, this far more stylish halter-neck dress can be yours. Computer parts… can be refashioned into a vast array of fashion-forward possibilities, including a keyboard bustier; equally finger-clicking-good handbags; a colorfully wired, off-the-shoulder dress; and PC motherboard sandals. Pet food and kitty litter packaging… can be refashioned into surprisingly durable creations! While any paper-based material will suffice, heavy-gauge dog food bags can be deftly transformed into a fringe-covered frock, much in the same way that empty kitty litter and cat chow packaging can become rather sturdy shopping totes. Automobile scraps… can be refashioned into an upcycled upholstery-seat belt frock, a floor mat trench coat, Mini Roadster-studded purses, royally inspired cufflinks and sunglass frames.