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Spring into style with easy DIY ideas

From new necklines to creative cutouts, TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas helps you instantly update your wardrobe without spending much cash.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

By definition, trends come and go, so spending a lot of money on these items isn’t always a sound investment. Luckily, you can try out some of spring’s most stylish looks for just a few dollars and a little inspiration. And not to worry, you don’t need to be a crafty queen to create your own haute couture. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY Style editor and author of The Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, has some simple ideas for turning your closet staples into fashionable garments:

Add texture From ruffles on the red carpet to daring designers like Rodarte, who are now bringing their eclectic designs to Target, depth and dimension offer everyday wardrobe essentials something extra. And honestly, something that might have been looked at as wacky a few years ago feels whimsical and pretty today — so consider transforming a tee (JCP.com) into 3-D. All you’ll need are some scraps from a junk drawer or a few strips of ribbon, tulle or fabric from your local craft store (Michaels.com). Just twist, tuck, pleat and sew by hand with a simple baste stitch, or a sewing machine if you have one. You can even safety-pin pieces for a temporary transformation. No need to be perfect — the less contrived and expected, the better.

Cut it out
Give your favorite frock a whole new feel by adding a striking peekaboo pattern to the neckline. The classic little black dress offers up the perfect canvas for cutouts and slashes. The result is edgy yet sexy, without feeling overexposed. A sophisticated, simple silhouette will best handle this modern update, as something too trendy could end up competing with the design. I was excited to find a great long-sleeved dress at Zara for just $20, and then for just a few extra dollars, my local dry cleaner’s tailor opened slits on the shoulders and on each side of the neck to show off a little skin. 

Celebrities from Emily Blunt and John Krasinski to Sandra Bullock and Penelope Cruz dazzled at the 2010 Golden Globes despite the pouring rain.

On average it should cost approximately $15 to $20 to make these minor alterations on a basic garment. While it’s best to have someone experienced selectively cut out the design, some scissors and strategic measuring can work with a cotton T-shirt dress or fabrics that don’t fray. Just use some masking tape to lay out the sections you plan to remove before cutting.

Do a drape From bias-cuts to one-shoulders, a wave of asymmetrical styles is sweeping in. And with imbalance being “in,” it’s much easier than you think to transform something yourself into a one-of-a-kind statement.

Reinvent a basic blouse by removing one sleeve with a seam ripper. Leaving the raw edge, just snip away any excess threads and steam or press if needed. You can either stop there and wear, or continue to attach a sheer overlay for a dramatic convertible accent. I picked up a yard of chiffon at Mood, the favorite supply store of “Project Runway,” for $8 (moodfabric.com), and hand-stitched one end of the piece to the front neckline (if you can thread a needle, I promise you can do this simple sewing job). Once it’s secure, wrap the fabric around your neck, drape it over a shoulder or leave it hanging and belt — anything goes!

Try bold shoulders
Want to literally elevate your look? Then pump up the volume of a soft jacket or blazer with shoulder pads. Hidden epaulettes, like those from The Natural ($10, HerRoom.com), are a fashion secret of costume designers and celebrity stylists. Considering that most tailored pieces can be pricey, this instant update is inexpensive and can be temporary. It's perfect for something you already own or can find on sale at a discount department store like T.J. Maxx. But the best part about this shape-shifter is it can literally do just that! Sharp shoulders can elongate your frame, balance out a curvier bottom half, and even disguise less-than-perfect posture.