The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

DIY Fashion

Sophie Soar tells us how to DIY, changing the life of every fashion conscious student forever

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The continually feared moment by university students, occurring about three times a year and expected with bated breath, has once again clawed its way back into our calendars; we knew it was coming, we watched it silently approach and denied its existence for as long as possible. But lo and behold, the moment has come. The second instalment of our loan has run out, our overdraft near to maxing out, and even our savings have taken a rather painful hit.

We now count down the days until Easter arrives when we can vegetate on a sofa, basking in the knowledge that the fridge has been filled without lifting a finger or a contactless debit card. So how do we sufferers of OCSD. (Obsessive Compulsive Shopping Disorder) navigate around such a difficult time?

Carrie Bradshaw’s advice during financially challenging times isn’t always the most practical to be obeyed, such as, “when I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more.”

Whilst an interesting testimony to cultural nourishment, simply skipping one meal sadly won’t fully heal the hole in our bank accounts. However one of Carrie’s statements that determinedly resonates would be, “I like my money where I can see it: hanging in my closet.”

But how is this possible on a strict budget and with slightly more realistic life difficulties than those of a fictional columnist who dines out every night, rents her own apartment in New York and spends less time behind a computer screen across six seasons than any dissertation student in the space of two months?

Whilst I spend the majority of my time in Oxfam or Affleck’s rather than Dior or even Topshop, a recent epiphany (which any fashion design student, or even recreational knitter, will despair at) was to simply make my own clothes.

This seemed like a groundbreaking and revolutionary idea, until I remembered I have no fabric, abilities, or patience. I can tell you what a sewing machine looks like, but in terms of working one, I am at a loose end as soon as a thread comes undone.

Here presents another challenge: moulding my current, limited abilities of yielding a needle and thread to my extravagant notion of designing, sewing, and filling a wardrobe overnight.

Upon contemplating and accepting this reality check, I set my sights on a small task: chokers. Four velvet ribbons, four large buttons, a metre of elastic and 40 minutes later (I’m a slow stitcher—don’t judge), I had four new necklaces and an insatiable desire growing within me to go bigger and better. The success went to my head, partially aided by the third choker being slightly too tight and occasionally cutting off the blood supply to my brain.

Photo: The Mancunion

Photo: The Mancunion

Photo: The Mancunion

Photo: The Mancunion

An opportunity soon presented itself for further creativity: my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to LFW, resulting in a response of pure elation, excitement and utter panic. How do I dress to impress with next to no money? Motivated by sheer dread at wearing my charity shop rip offs in front of designers, models, and journalists alike, I trusted in my own creative flair (often a dangerous thing, but by some miracle I think I pulled it off) and headed to the shops.

Two hours, four meltdowns and a near death experience involving two trams later, my ideas were there and the fabrication of a new pair of trousers was soon to be attempted. Despite an agonising evening spent attaching a dismembered Topshop fur scarf to my H&M trouser cuffs, almost losing a couple of fingers and my sanity in the process, I travelled to London for Fashion Week with a unique pair of trousers and a smug grin glued to my face.

Photo: The Mancunion

Photo: The Mancunion

Whilst the DIY wardrobe isn’t for everyone, even the most limited of sewing abilities can be turned towards creating a cheaper, unique wardrobe. Even better still, the more you do it, the better you become and the riskier your creations may be. In spite of its time-consuming and, in my case, often injury-inducing nature, the incredibly rewarding feelings towards the end result are undeniable—and a smug smile is for once justified.