How to: Make an Old Dress New Again

Put pants underneath it. Duh.


One of the most arresting trends at Fashion Week and particularly in Paris was the use of sheer overlays. I was especially keen on what Wes Gordon did at his show with long shirts that could have been dresses tucked into literal sheets of lace. Notable, too, were the chiffon overlays as evidenced at Maiyet, and Giambattista Valli and the tricks with intricate eyelet as displayed at Stella McCartney and Chloé. The trend is probably one more nod to the 90s but I see nothing wrong with that.

Chiefly because about a month ago, I had the idea to start an installment called How to Make an Old Dress New Again where I would, you know, take old dresses and make them feel new. I’m at this curious crossroad right now where I don’t want to be buying new things — instead just making what already exists in my closet feel as crisp at it did when it first landed there.

While the pictured white Simone Rocha dress can barely be rendered “old” — I bought it last February from Dover Street Market in London — I’ve also since worn it so many times and often in the same, uniform way that it could definitely use a lift. In removing the slip that is typically worn underneath it and instead replacing that with a white sports bra (fine, it’s actually a one-strapper by Helmut Lang) and cropped, high waist jeans, I basically turned it into the longest eyelet t-shirt known to mankind.

So, what do you think?


I’m wearing an Acne blazer and little emoticon pooper-macho minaudiere, the overlay of a Simone Rocha dress, the Maison Martin Margiela jeans I told you about last week — remember the ones I bought at a “fire sale” without trying them on only to learn they did not fit me at all. Not by any stretch of the fluctuating imagination, at least. [Enjoy pun here.] The shoes are Chanel.

I know, I know, I just put a dollar in the Douche Bag Jar.

Your turn! Please Snapchat me dress-facelift-selfies A.S.AP. And, duh, happy Monday.

Street style photo via le21, runway images courtesy of &

Need to revive your closet because you don’t know what to wear? Try making it feel fresh-2-death or just clean that hurricane out

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  • Looks really great!

    Also: a good idea!

    I’ve finally finished calculating and came to the conclusion that if you own, say, 20 pairs of shoes, 20 pairs of trousers (of any kind) and 30 tops (of any kind), you can get whooping 20 x 20 x 30 new combinations, that would be 12.000. Yeah. Now, let’s say you don’t care for half of them: this still leaves you with 6.000 possible combinations. If you start now and surprise us every day with something so lovely, we are all going to … live very long 🙂

    I love shopping in my own wardrobe, too, and I also use my sewing machine sometimes, to make new things by changing the old ones. I seriously adore the idea of re-fashioning clothes, be it by sewing or simply combining anew. Because is has soooo much potential but you are at the same time limited to what is already there: not all great art arises from plenty.

  • Of course it is a REALLY good idea; can we ever go wrong with those pieces? If I had to turn an old dress into new, then I’d have to dig deep into my childhood closet. Hm, maybe that 8th grade prom dress can do some fixin’…

    Your Friend, Jess

    • Leandra Medine

      Ooooh, I smell such a good project on the horizon

    • I’ll bite. Some of those old Betsey Johnson dresses I bought during my Bar and Bat Mitzvah rotation are still working their magic.

  • Really, really into this outfit.

  • Carley Frost

    I am always drawn to this dress everytime you write about it! But I have to say this look is my favorite. I LOVE this one! It might be my favorite look from you to date. I am inspired. Great job!

  • Lovely idea – taking something totally not fall appropriate and covering up JUST enough not to freeze your ass off. 🙂

    I feel like every time I eat something pumpkin-flavored I should contribute to the Douchebag Jar. Is that weird?

  • an envy-inducing update. so gooooood.

  • Stacey Freeman

    That clutch is hysterical, in a good way! I love when accessories make me smile by their sheer uniqueness. The layering dress with pants look totally works on you. I can’t pull it off, as I’m just too curvy and that many layers add bulk I don’t need.

  • i lived in this look in high school because i was embarrassed by my knobby knees. i think it might be time to bust out the old layering pants and try this look again sans shame.


  • monkeyshines
  • brunetteletters

    You look super cute on the second photo!!

    not a man repeller look but great!

    Brunette Letters Blog

  • AshleyOlivia

    This look is so very cute on you, but I’m not done recovering from the babydoll dress/top-over-leggings combination that was trendy a few years back. While the sheer overlays (especially the ones done in lace!) take the sophistication level far enough into the stratosphere that one doesn’t automatically think of Cher Horowitz and mini-backpacks, it’s still a trifle too reminiscent of my bazillion pairs of leggings for me.

    I might not feel this way if I hadn’t cleaned out my closet recently of all the babydoll tops and leggings. The sheer volume of the collection almost crushed me…

    • Leandra Medine

      Actually! Solution! — Bigger pants.

  • Mercedes Imani

    This looks amazing on you. I’ve never been able to master wearing pants under a dress without looking ridiculous, but perhaps it’s just a matter of proportions. Nevertheless, I adore this look. The shoes are dope.

  • Sartorial Revenge

    Great styling, awesome pictures! But more importantly, I love the idea of making ‘old’ clothes look new – especially given the fast moving nature of today’s fashion industry.
    I will be thinking of this post the next time I’m out shopping.

  • Love this look and love the way you styled it!

  • Leslie Hitchcock

    Boyfriend glanced at my phone screen and saw a picture of the lower half of you, asked “Is that you?” I think I’m doing it right!

  • Chicspace/Marguerite

    I have a Nanette L dress almost exactly like this and now I can resurrect back into my fall closet instead of relegating it to the spring storage rack. Brilliant.

  • Amatoria Clothing

    Yes! I also like to use a sweatshirt/ sweater to use said dress as a skirt.

  • Hayley Mitchell-Gardner

    gorgeousss! I really love how you’ve styled it over trousers its cool 🙂

    Hayley xx

  • Mollie

    I worked at an art gallery when I was in high school and there was this (weird) girl who always wore pants under her dresses. I hated it (partly because she was an idiot). Now I’m kicking myself in retrospect for not being as cool. In other words, I really like this outfit and now I have a NEED for an eyelet dress. Good job.

    • Leandra Medine

      You can totally borrow mine, Mollie. Also – from my experience, girls who work at art galleries ALWAYS know better than we do.

  • Samia

    Love your post , take a look on my blog :

  • claudia

    Amazing! The top is just incredible!

  • Chris


  • I love it! As a blogger and fashion lover who is on a budget, I’m often finding that I need to make my clothes feel new again. There’s a lot of pressure to have the newest, greatest and most expensive things (Clare Vivier leo clutch, anyone?), the top labels, etc. But isn’t about how you feel at the end of the day? If you feel good in what you’re wearing who cares.



  • a.n.a.l.u

    You are so right! the key are layers. Let´s rescue our old dresses!


  • Emily

    Perfect styling, Leandra! Always love reading your posts and this is no exception!


  • Sheer is going to hit the streets but you turned it into a fall look rather than summer

  • That dress is so gorgeous, however you style it 🙂

  • Oh man, I love this so much and to hear you use the words ~ ‘Take old dresses and make them new’ ~ is music to my ears as I started a whole business based on that one sentence!

    With the each seasons turn around of looks so high as well as cheap and cheerful knock offs available as soon as the model has stepped off the runaway shopping for things we don’t really need or want is just so easy. Most of my clients complaints are that they own a wardrobe full of clothes that they just don’t wear. After weeding out what needs to see the inside of a charity shop {} and concentrating on what’s left we ‘go shopping’. Shopping your own wardrobe is SOOOO rewarding and finding new and exciting outfits from pieces you already own is just such a thrill.

    I love that you’ve come home form Paris rejuvenated and have made a wicked outfit out of ‘oldies’ ~ Really looking forward to more of How To Make An Old Dress New Again.

  • mmaexetoile

    Brilliant. I finally invested in a crop-top to wear under old dresses and sheer tops. Just that one little piece of (expensive) clothing changed my wardrobe by a few hot degrees.

  • mathek

    Yasmin Sewell did something like this beautifully during fashion month with a sheer tulle a line overlay and jeans! Perfect! Love your look!

  • Stephanie McCurdy

    Like it a lot. I now have an idea brewing to share, but must get the dress back from the cleaners before I can make the outfit a reality/photograph. Standby.

  • Amanda GREY

    Ok, this look is AMAZEballlz. Great styling.

  • Stephanie McCurdy

    (wrinkly) re-dress. Actually, that’s my only complaint about this dress–the wrinkle factor.

    • Leandra Medine

      looks good to me!

  • Lola Oladunjoye

    I am in LOVE with these pics!

  • sladja

    Oh girl, you rock it!

  • ooo it works well, good thinking girrrlfriend

  • mickie83

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  • mhermaid

    this is genius I love you Leandra