"I'll completely rip out the seams of one basic vintage item and put it back together with a second, perhaps more contemporary piece to create an entirely different look,"explains Artise whose new book — "Born-Again Vintage," written with Jen Karetnick (Random House, $24.95) — was inspired by the indie designer's clothing line, B. Artise Originals (www.b-artise.com).
If you want to step outside of the cookie-cutter fashion trends and breathe new life into your closet full of clothes that you rarely wear, then Artise has some advice for you:
"The greatest part is that you don't have to spend a ton of money," she says. "Take a look in your closet and your dresser drawers. Pull out any old sweaters, skirts and dresses you're not wearing anymore. Do they have some potential?
"If not, hit the thrift stores and estate sales and sift through sweaters, keeping in mind that you don't necessarily have to find a perfect, unstained item or even the right size. What matters is that you love the fabric or the details or the color."
The idea is to use "scraps" in unpredictable ways, from pockets to pant cuffs. Artise suggests skipping the trendy vintage stores that tend to be expensive. Instead scope out garage sales, even the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores. You never know what wonderful little collar you'll find stuck in a drawer somewhere.
Get your scissors out and start creating some "new" clothes. Here are a few ways Artise reinvents some of the clothes featured in "Born-Again Vintage:"
— Boot pants: Tired of trying to stuff your jeans into your boots? Using an old sweater, add a colorful sweater sleeve to the bottom of your jeans to create the look of a leg warmer; jeans will slide right into those boots!
— Winter vest: Got an old velvet blazer you love? Turn it into a new vest with cap sleeves. Embellish the lapels with new fabric or trims.
— Vintage jumper: Transform that old prom dress by changing it into a fun and flirty length.
— Sweater slip dress: Find an old cashmere sweater and turn it into a tank top stitched onto an old skirt for a new one-piece dress. It is of my favorite patterns in Artise's book.
— Spring capelet: Take the flared skirt from a colorful old sundress, and trim it with the graphic print of another skirt for a great capelet.
— T-shirt blouse: Get a favorite old printed blouse and keep the collar to stitch onto a cotton T-shirt.
— Strapless top: Use the elastic waistband and billowy folds of a vintage A-line skirt as the basis for a hot summer top. Loosely belt it with a funky silk scarf to tie the look together. This is a great idea. Think about it.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.