Upcycling Budget Fashion Pieces for Luxe Resortwear Style

Sustainable styling is something I gave strong consideration to, during my time under the strict Level 5 lockdown in 2020. When we couldn’t shop, couldn’t source, couldn’t exchange etc. I had to look to my wardrobe – old and new – to figure out who I was in a pandemic, who I am based on the items I’ve kept, and just how to have fun with what I had.

It was a lesson in line with the Upcycling trend in fashion, but it was also an experience heralding a self-styling evolution.

What Upcycled Clothing is, in Fashion:

“Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.” – Oxford English Dictionary

I give the items in my wardrobe more consideration now.

I savour the new finds with the same energy as the timeless favourites already making up my collection.

And when I had a luxurious beachside villa to review, which also coincided with my birthday, I began packing an eclectic mix of pieces.

Creatively reusing most of what I had, was key!

Access to a private infinity pool with an uninhibited seafront view alone, demands a little more than my everyday trusty one-pieces. However, I am still a big woman in a country that still doesn’t have an abundance of genuinely stylish clothing and swimwear items – trendy or otherwise. So, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the bountiful chest I’d been bequeathed.

Having visited the small town of Yzerforntien before, where my current gorgeous Hamptons-style abode sat, serene amid a captivating vista, I remembered my last stay at a villa down the way, and I how I needed to improvise then too.

A scarf is a viable bikini top if you twist it just right.

I just wrapped the material around my back, and began twisting two sides of one of my favourite scarves/headwraps, and then crossed them over – rolling, tucking, and twisting until everything felt secure enough.

This meant a clothing item I didn’t have to go out shopping for, and something well-matched to my well-travelled sunglasses and the sun-protecting mustard yellow hat from proudly South African milliners Simon &Mary.

Rounding up the overall resort wear look, are my durable pair of yellow wedge heels from trusty Woolworths, and pants chosen specifically for the richness of the colour and the micro pleats of its design.

The colour and cut flatter even the most voluptuous, and make the look scream expensive – and they’re affordable finds too!

What makes this approach to travel style and wardrobe management ‘Upcycling’, is my having:

  • Previously worn the scarf as a top, by wrapping the material around a strapless bra, and securing it with a few stitches
  • Invested in a trans-seasonal AND versatile clothing item – The scarf being a boon of a piece as I wear it as a winter headscarf, as a normal scarf or shawl, and now, even as a poolside essential.
  • Shopped less, thereby lowering my carbon footprint
  • Breathed new life into my established wardrobe.

Need more Tips for Sustainable Styling? Try:

  • Repurpose & Reuse
  • Be a more conscious shopper

“But with the threat of ‘greenwashing‘ – using eco and sustainable terminology without doing the work to ensure verifiable benefit to the planet – on the rise, consumers are having to become more savvy about interrogating their purchases.

Julia Harvey. (2021). Elle Magazine
  • Pay attention to the durability of certain materials for a clothing item you want or have. Pay attention to quality, along with price and where & how it was manufactured.
  • Think of every scarf as another style of belt – trust me, the elevation in style this can introduce to your wardrobe, is phenomenal.
  • Shorten those lesser-worn pats or dresses – Midi-fying items which you may not wear as often because of their length, may push you to rock that item even more AND showcase a body part (like legs) you previously hadn’t admired as much.
  • Don’t wait for special occasions to wear that special number – make special moments by wearing your amazing wardrobe pieces in different settings.
  • If someone near you, or if your wardrobe has an oversized blazer you were thinking of parting with, DONT! Oversized has been in for at least four (4) decades, so rather than not wearing it, wear it as a cape, or snatch the waist with a belt. It’s a great look for people of every shape and size.
  • Look after the wardrobe you have and love. You’ll find less need to replace items, which usually means buying.


Ask in the comment section.