As much as I hate to admit it, I'm a serial one-time wearer. It used to be my dirty little secret (I, of course, like to think that no one notices how I don't repeat outfits), but with so much talk of sustainability in fashion and the rising popularity of less-is-more closet approaches, like capsule collections, I'll admit: I'm starting to feel bad about my, well, bad habit.
Despite it being the ultimate first-world problem, I'm at a point in life where I want to consume (and live with) less. (Read: I'm in the process of moving into a shoebox-sized studio right now, and kicking myself for all the clothing I've accumulated.) But, having come of age in a time where fast-fashion skyrocketed to the top of retail charts, my brain has become so programmed to wear that Zara top once, donate or sell it, and move on to the next trend, that I never really process why I even bought something in the first place. But this year, I'm changing that.
It just so happens that, around the same time I had this epiphany, I started noticing how street style stars, e-commerce sites, and even some of my favorite fashion insiders on Instagram were getting twice the wear out of every piece in their wardrobes — by simply wearing things backwards. (It's no surprise, given how many runways over the past few seasons have shown items that like they're intentionally falling off, ill-fitting, or generally disheveled.) And while this hack has started to catch on with button-up shirts, I wanted to see what other garments I could get away with styling the "wrong" way. My mom always told me I'd buy less if I got more experimental with what I already had, and years later, I finally get what she means. Because now, I look at dresses, cardigans, tanks, and even blazers as two pieces-in-one.
Despite how silly it sounds, it's actually pretty easy. And now, maybe I'll start wearing things twice before retiring them completely... Hey, it's an improvement, right?
The Backwards Cardigan
Let's get this out of the way: Cardigans can feel so old school — at least, when you wear them traditionally (pictured here on the left). Yet, for some reason, we probably all have one (or three) sitting in the back of our closets. So, how does one make it feel Instagram-worthy again? Flip it around and wear it with the buttons going down your back. For added interest, tie it in a knot about half-way down: This creates a high-neck, waist-cinching look in the front (ideal for paring with a high-waisted ruffled skirt), and a flattering V down the back. Hello, new going out top — day or night.
The Backwards Blazer
Is your tie-waist blazer feeling a little snoozy? Turn it around and, again, you'll end up with a high-neck, mandarin-collar-esque front and a plunging back. Pair with some fun trousers, black kitten heels, and a vintage bag, and you've got a look that's street-style worthy instead of sleepy.
The Backwards Tank
If you're feeling a little underwhelmed by your stash of tank tops from last summer and are itching to throw them all in a Goodwill bag and start from scratch, take an evening to try some on and see which ones can be worn backwards, like this button-front tank from Aritzia. Instead of having the buttons face-forward, cut out the tag, turn it around, and use the attached belt to create a peplum silhouette around the waist. It's perfect for Bermuda shorts and statement earrings (a.k.a. the ultimate sophisticated warm-weather outfit).
The Backwards Trench
I'm sensing a theme here: Anything with buttons down the front is fair game when it comes to this styling trick — the final example being this trench coat/dress hybrid from Tibi. Inspired by this photo from February's Fashion Month, I knew this would be the ideal piece to flip and reverse (plus, you can also change up the look of the sleeves with the attached snaps). Now, imagine how many outfits you can get out of this as a jacket, too...