Let me start by saying that I reign supreme in the realm of consignment. One who lurks around thrift stores. I have no difficulty donning somebody else’s old kicks if they’re cool enough for me to do so. I’ll gladly spend $2 on a jacket and lop off the sleeves to make the vest of my dreams. I get a kick out of looking into things. Personally, I like to put my own spin on things.
Used athletic apparel, especially form-fitting items, tends not to last very long. Additionally, the yuck ness of someone’s sweaty stretch pants increases marginally no matter how many times you shampoo them. What’s a frugal cross-trainer like myself to do about getting the correct outfits for each of my several sports activities?
Life Hack It.
Through the years, I’ve rethought the best ways to repurpose my once-expensive workout attire by chopping off legs, reimagining arms, sewing stragglers, rocking hand-me-downs, turning things inside-out and upside-down, and making a fashion statement. Running and biking are my mainstays, so I may over-trend in the hack-ability of those activities; but, I believe you will find that some of these ideas (or overall mindset) will adapt to a variety of physical endeavours. Some of my favourites are listed here.
1. The Pass-Along
Whenever he can, my spouse rides his bike. It’s time to hit the road with your wealthier pals. When I give away my old clothes and gear to someone who can make greater use of it, it always comes back to me in some way. If someone else has a tank top that “just doesn’t fit well in the tummy” a pair of x-small men’s pants that they don’t want, or an old layer that they no longer wear, I’ll gladly take them off their hands.
I accept these things for what they are and appreciate them for what they are and will decide their fate at a later time. Sometimes I’ll lop off the sleeves of an old cycling jersey to construct a tank top, which still has all the pockets I need but doesn’t bind my arms or cause unsightly farmer tan lines. I feel that this is the best way to wear a “bigger” men’s jersey since it allows for the most comfortable and natural draping. I wear a colourful sports bra or a thin tank top underneath if the shoulder cutout is too revealing.
2. On The Chopping Block
When it comes to giving new life to outgrown workout gear, I couldn’t live without a sharp pair of scissors. In the strictest sense of the word. An extremely sharp pair of scissors was left behind by the previous owner of our home. With the granddaddy of scissors, I chop off excess fabric to make headbands, sweat rags, and other odd accessories for my outdoor activities. I dug up a pair of Lucy Yoga Pants from 15 years ago among a pile of other black trousers.
They were expensive and were constructed of a pleasant stretchy blend, but they were always a size too big. They continued to disappear into the depths of the outdoor gear closet. Reinventing them gave me a sense of excitement, so I did it just now. In order to wear over my old cushioned liners, I’d been longing for a decent pair of straight-leg, above-the-knee mountain bike shorts. To save money, I sliced off the bottoms of the flared pants, tried them on inside the spandex I no longer wanted to wear on the outside, and voila! A new, flattering outfit was born.
3. The Multi-Repurpose
I despise doing laundry, which is a contributing factor to my fixation on recycling. Instead of worrying if my $90 Lululemon leggings (yep, I buy the Kool-Aid every few years) are in the dirty bin, I’d rather have a variety of alternatives and layers that I can build for a bike ride, run, swim, or snowboard excursion in varying Colorado weather conditions. In fact, the rare occasions on which I get to don my cosiest go-tos make each wear of them feel like a true treat and extend their lifespan. Some of the things I’ve recently put to new uses are:
- I’ve been keeping my expensive swim goggles from breaking in my gym bag by storing them in an old, Hard Plastic Sunglass Case.
- Doing hot yoga in a Prana Swimming Suit with a full-coverage, cushioned, halter-style top. I don’t see why not.
- During my downtime at the pool, I dry off with my Manduka eQua microfiber, odour-neutralising yoga towel. According to what I’ve heard, you may also use it as a “shawl” to meditate in. Appreciate it even more.
- I cut off the odd securing rings on my favourite fitting bikini bottoms with a metal cutter since I couldn’t stand the way they were attached. After that, I used a couple of more fabric ties from my swimsuit to cinch up the side panels.
- Imagining using my Gaiam full-length organic cotton Flow leggings as skivvies under my snowboarding pants. Over the past decade, I have relied on the same pair of fleece “floods” that was passed down to me. For my part, I believe the time has come.
- Use a shrunken tank top from your days competing in triathlons as the ideal base layer—it will keep your core warm while remaining discreet—on rides during the chilly months of fall.
4. The Tweener Knee-High
The freedom of expression inherent in mountain biking makes it a lot of fun. In fact, these days, just about everything goes. Perhaps as a way to set themselves apart from the spandex-clad road cyclists, mountain bikers are increasingly donning longer, more generously cut pocket shorts. Socks have followed this trend and are now worn so that they just touch the shin. I add my own flair by donning a pair of knee-highs from the “tweener” section of Target, which is both absurd and ridiculously inexpensive.
I have them available in a variety of cheerful colours and patterns, including heart-shaped polka dots and stripes in blue and pink. The faux pas is that they are cotton, meaning they are old school and don’t wick moisture, but they serve their purpose of keeping my calves warm on cool fall days, acting as mudguards on a particularly terrible path, and sparking talk. Some of them I wear as entire socks, while others I carefully snip off at the feet and use as a stylish and adaptable pair of leg warmers.
5. The Remnant Bin
I find it fun to rummage through piles of discarded clothing in search of multipurpose fabric remnants. I always check the leftover bin first when I visit the fabric store since that’s where I find the most interesting and unique stretchable fabrics. In such a case, I’ll look for discounted bolts of sports cloth. Invest in a quarter of a yard (the cutting women will love you) of your preferred fabric to make a one-of-a-kind “buff” (you know, those $20 headbands that double as neck gaiters and sweat rags).
The best way to avoid having to actually sew the buff is to find a fabric that won’t fray when trimmed (most stretchy varieties do) and then simply cut a long, broad rectangle that tapers toward the end for simple tying. I have a plethora of these in every imaginable pattern and shade. Plus, I have ten buffs so I don’t have to worry about washing one at a time.
Do you have any tips for saving money or repurposing materials? Describe them to us in the comments section below!