Chic School 101: Upcycling with Karen Garalde

When I interviewed Karen Garalde, I wanted to ask her so many questions. But, I was curious to know more about her  UPCYCLED CLOTHINGsection on her website.

So, I had to ask her: What is upcycling?

“When you upcycle clothing, you’re transforming a garment and spicing it up to make it better than the original item. You’re reinventing the garment into something more modern and chic, using a minimal amount of harmful byproducts.” –Karen Garalde

Every year, I clean out my closet to give clothes to the Goodwill and other organizations that accept second hand clothing. I do it to ensure that I’m giving back to my community and that I’m not developing a closet hoarder habit.

Looking through vintage, second-hand dresses (Photo by Paulette Wilson)

Garalde explained to me that it’s important for people to embrace green fashion:

“We live in a society that over-consumes and over-produces. Not all garments that are donated to charity are even used as second-hand clothing; much of it just ends up in landfills. This means that our wardrobes have increasing environmental costs. Green fashion is not only eco-friendly, but it’s more personable.  Being green does not mean that the product will not be cool to wear or the quality is poor.”  -Karen Garalde

Nothing is wrong with giving or wearing second hand clothing to me. Upcycling is just a cool way to make old clothing into something stylish again and Garalde agrees:

“I’m always on the lookout for second-hand items that have the potential to be transformed into something different, more wearable and modern.” –Karen Garalde

I was so happy when she shared some of the recent things she has upcycled. Check it out:

1. Transformed men’s button down shirt into woman’s skirt


2. Upcycled polka dot cocktail dress (front &back)


3.  Bracelet pieces transformed into earrings



Now, don’t you feel like you learned a little bit of fashionable knowledge?
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10 thoughts on “Chic School 101: Upcycling with Karen Garalde

  1. Wow I never even considered the impact that the production (and trashing of) clothing has on the enviornment! Thanks for opening my eyes up to this. I have never really done any thrift shopping but I need to start. I know I have donated clothing I have never worn, so I’m sure there are lots of quality pieces that other have given away as well!

  2. Thanks again for the interview.
    The overproduction and overconsumption of fabrics is something that people are not as conscious of as oil, plastics, paper, etc., but I still think donating or upcycling old fabrics is something that we should all start working on. Nowadays we often toss old clothes and head back to the store, but in the past it was more common for people to mend/repurpose their old wardrobes out of necessity. We should teach the next generation basic skills like sewing again to mend their things for both the betterment of our environment AND to save money!

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