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Customise me

Customising is all the rage – rage! It’s a recession-buster, people. A surefire way to beat your overdraft into submission with a unique wardrobe at half the price. In theory, anyway.

In reality, it depends how good you are at the old arts and crafts. I can’t knit, needle or macrame to save my bacon (and I won’t lie to you, I have absolutely no idea what macrame means). I have clothes missing zips/awaiting crucial alterations that have been in-and-out of fashion threefold since they landed on my dusty ‘to do’ pile. Renegade buttons lay dormant in my ‘sewing box’ (ha!) for years. Even my son has clocked the harsh reality and waits until his granny comes to visit to get his swimming badges attached to his trunks. It’s fairly shocking stuff.

But as with all trends – and yes, I mean all – if it’s in fashion, I want me a piece of the action.

In the 80’s, for example, I cut off a pair of jeans ‘to look sexy like Madonna’ (I was 12). After several failed, uneven-legged attempts they ended up waaay too short. I looked more like a Club Tropicana-era George Michael (without the bulge) than her Madgeness.

In the 90’s, I went through a phase of ‘making my own jewellery’, using carefully-selected beads from Piece Hall Market, Halifax (where all the Nirvana fans go). All I could manage were disgusting drop-down earrings. More beads were blocking my mum’s Hoover than adorning my lobes.

At various points in history, I have also tie dyed. Less said the better (broken washer, ruined clothes, stained surfaces/fingers/legs, etc).

But we’re in the “Tenties” now and life is easier for the urban trend-lover. You don’t have to go anywhere near fabric paint, ribbon or felt (felt!) to personalise your gear. You can keep it simple with ready-made attachments. You can cheat, innit.

Clothes-wise, acquire that Lady ‘I cut my clothes up with scissors’ GaGa look by messing about with your worn-out garms – no sewing necessary. Instead of a belt, long beads a la charity shop or fringes from VV Rouleaux, add a touch of the unique to any dress. Crafty layers can fool anyone into thinking you’ve ‘designed’ your own outfit, and Freedom at Topshop have some tasty patches and natty brooches on offer to spice-up jackets (military and nautique are key themes, don’tcha know).

Chunky necklaces look great with hand-picked charms and handbags are crying out for dangly jewels and leather strips (Matthew Williamson-stylee) that will attach to the strap.

If you are desperate to bust the sewing machine and fabric glue out, stick within your limits. If you’re an artistic genius, go for broke. Otherwise, use the motto ‘less is more’ and attach a few subtle sequins and sparkles to bags, footwear and jackets.

And remember fashion-fixers, when it comes to customising, Wonderweb is your friend.

Less is more:

Written by Johanna Payton