Ethical Fashion Lifestyle

5 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing Into a Chic Hijab Wardrobe

Eco-Fashion Tips 5 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing Into a Chic Hijab Wardrobe
Written by Sarah Ghanem

Unless you’re in the habit of regularly clearing your wardrobe, it’s possible you only wear around 20-30% of your current clothing! That means there’s a lot of old clothing left untouched, but this can thankfully be put to new use.

In fact, your unused old clothing can turn into a brand new look or outfit! This is important to many Muslim women, as they need to keep their hijab requirements in mind (think covered up, conservative), but it’s also great advice for anyone looking to live and dress more sustainably!

Here are some tricks to upcycling your wardrobe, transforming clothes into shining beacons of eco-fashion!

1.    Tuck big tops into your bottom.

Some of your older clothes probably don’t fit you any more. If a top has become too big, create balance in your silhouette by tucking the hem into your bottom. Tucking loose tops into high or natural-waist bottoms can convert old clothing into something that flatters your shape and is more in line with your figure.   If you don’t feel like altering a baggy but beloved item, try adding a belt as a restraint. A great belt can transform big kaftans into sophisticated maxi dresses, or turn a large t-shirt into a chic, practical tunic. Cinching around the waist can easily bring the sides in, offering something much more practical and comfortable as a result.

2.    Add new style to small items. 

Eco-Fashion Tips 5 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing Into a Chic Hijab Wardrobe 2 co Beth Huntington via eHowdotcom

Photo Credit: Beth Huntington via eHow

Similarly, what can you with items that are no longer big enough? If something is too small, you can add a new style and purpose to it with a few quick alterations. An unused dress, for example, can be turned into a terrific top just by removing the bottom half.   As for existing tops, try adding fabric inserts down the sides to add extra room. This gives you a new item with a minimal amount of new fabric used.   If that wasn’t enough, this also gives you the opportunity to experiment with colour and tones. It never hurts to experiment with your existing clothing!   

3.    Get creative.

Eco-Fashion Tips 5 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing Into a Chic Hijab Wardrobe 3 from Tweet Potato Pie

Photo Credit: Tweet Potato Pie

  Good fabrics and material can be used for a variety of purposes. If an old top or dress you used to love has an excellent print or design, why let it go to waste? Once you get started, you’ll find a whole host of DIY projects for which you can use your old hijabs and old clothing!   Repurposing items you used to love but don’t wear anymore lets you enjoy ‘brand new’ items without spending more money or resources. Old jumpers, for example, can make perfectly soft pillows. Plus, these new handcrafted accessories will already match your wardrobe, since that’s where they came from!   

4.    Re-think outfit combinations.


If you watch my snaps then you know ??? LOL #dinatokio A photo posted by D I N A T O K I O (@dinatokio) on

It’s often easy to fall into the trap of not wearing something because you have nothing to go with it. An item that doesn’t have an outfit it works with is harder to use right?

In actuality, this is often has more to do with how we view the item than it does with the item’s actual limits. For instance, why give up on short-sleeved dresses, as well as blouses, when they can be effortlessly complemented with a cardigan or kimono?

If you have these items already, you can create a great new look exclusively from your existing wardrobe. The same concept also works for layering. If something has a low cut, combine it with a turtleneck jumper or collared shirt.

5.    Recycle, freecycle, and share your old clothing.

Eco-Fashion Tips 5 Ways to Upcycle Old Clothing Into a Chic Hijab Wardrobe 5

If there are items you simply can’t find a use for in your own wardrobe, that doesn’t mean those items are useless. What doesn’t work for you may work wonders for someone else’s style. Instead of throwing something out, you can ask your friends or head online to see if anyone would like it.

Some may fall in love with your old clothing the way it is, while others might see potential in the fabric or pattern. This is where freecycling reigns supreme, as many crafty people can turn old clothing into pillows, linen, and other useful household items. If you don’t want or need something, gift it to someone who will put it to good use!

Practice makes perfect

Embracing eco-fashion as a hijab wearer is not as difficult as you might think. The hardest part is, arguably, deciding which items can be worn as they are and which ones need a little improving. Once you get in the habit, however, you can easily create new items, outfits or styles without creating unnecessary waste.

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About the author

Sarah Ghanem

Sarah is a hijabista and fashion consultant at Modanisa. She is really keen on modern, but modest Islamic wear for women, and she’s always trying out new hijab styles and trends, while promoting eco-friendly lifestyle choices.


  • This is a great post! I think a lot of people are unaware of the environmental impact of the fashion industry and how important it is to preserve clothing. I am currently campaigning to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry by buying and selling second-hand clothes, and I love how you mentioned recycle, freecycle, and share your old clothing.

    I feel like the biggest problem that people have with second-hand clothing is the stigma behind it, and how it may be degrading as you are supposedly reusing ‘trash’ that other people have thrown out. Just like you said, ‘What doesn’t work for you may work wonders for someone else’s style’ – I totally agree! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

    I’ve also been doing some research into ways you can reuse your clothes by altering them or like you said add a little style and get a little creative, and I think your tips are really helpful! I’ve recently come across an idea that I love, it was how you recycle daddy’s old shirts. By cutting out a smaller shirt/dress and simply add a little magic by sewing up the hems or the sleeves. Volià! You’ve got a shirt for a baby!

    A lot of people associate second-hand with old, dirty and cheap, but I feel like there is nothing a good wash can’t fix. And with all the things you could do by getting a little creative, the piece of clothing you bought second-hand would look totally different and basically brand new!

    • I’m happy to hear you like the post! I always advocate green solutions and ideas, especially when it comes to clothing. And repurposing, reusing or freecycling your old attire can be such a rewarding experience!
      I love your idea of recycling daddy’s old shirts, thanks for sharing it!
      And it’s true, the old and recycled doesn’t mean: dirty and ugly! It’s just the contrary, it actually stands for: creative and beautiful! 😉

  • I just love to collect different patterns of Hijabs for every occasion. For more formal events like parties and weddings you need a hijab appropriate for the occasion. Hijabs made of chiffon or silk with embellishments like crystals can add sparkle to your outfit.

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