Last summer, Marisa Lynch strolled out of a West Hollywood movie theater on the wings of inspiration.
Little did she know that the two hours she spent watching Julie and Julia would essentially lead her to become an online sensation with her New Dress a Day blog.
“I was amazed at how Julie was able to find a creative outlet that made her so happy,” Lynch, 30, remembers. “I knew I wanted to do something like that, but I had to turn it into something that worked for me.”
“I’ve always re-fashioned things, but it was always a side project. I thought of New Dress a Day, and I thought it was something that I could actually do that would allow me to be creative every day,” she says.
Her mission: upcycle 365 dress in 365 days for 365 dollars. It may sound tough, but one look at Lynch’s blog will change your mind.
“I don’t want people to think this is something they can’t do,” Lynch says. “You don’t have to have sewing skills to start doing this. Anyone can do it.”
The New Dress a Day blog features photos of Lynch out on the town in her fab creations along with very un-fab before shots, which feature Lynch sporting everything from Hammer pants to house-dresses to the dreaded muumuu.
She also includes instructions and step-by-step photos of how she performed the fashion transformations.
“Some days I sew for hours on a piece,” Lynch says. “Other days it takes 15 minutes to make a quick adjustment. Either way it ends up looking like a whole new piece.”
While New Dress a Day started with a readership of 200 of Lynch’s friends and family, it has caught on fast.
“Now I’m consistently seeing 7,000 page views per day,” Lynch says. “It’s grown beyond what I could have ever fathomed it to be.”
Lynch has also sparked an upcycling wildfire in her social circle. “It shocks people when I tell them I make my outfits,” says Lynch. “So many people have told me they are trying it out now. It’s infectious.”
With more than 200 dresses to boast, we had to get the scoop on her favorite redesign so far.
“It’s so tough to choose just one piece because there are a lot of things that I’ve become wildly obsessed with. I’d say [Day 77] is my favorite because it was probably the first creation that left me speechless,” she says. “I was so thrilled with how it turned out. It was a drastic change from the original, and super current to trends right now.”
Want to start a DIY upcycling trend in your group of friends? “Getting started is simple,” says Lynch. “You can start with your own closet.”
“Start with pieces you really love but don’t wear anymore,” she suggests. “Look at them and think about what you like and don’t like, and go from there. You can make simple edits that make sense for you.”
“Everyone has tons of T-shirts,” Lynch says. “They’re really easy to change into something else.” She suggests cutting the sleeves to create a new tank or hand-sewing a funky trim around the arms. If you’re not the best with a needle and thread, you can even get away with using heavy-duty masking tape.
For pieces you are ready to bid good-bye, you can use Earth911 to search for a recycling center near you, or donate your duds to a local charity.
Once you’ve re-created your closet, hit the thrift stores for further inspiration. With more than 200 days behind her, you’ll find no shortage of ideas on Lynch’s blog, and she has no plans to stop rehabbing garments once the 365 days are up.
She intends to auction off her New Dress a Day pieces and donate the proceeds to charity. Don’t expect her to fall off the blogging map either.
“I’m not going to stop after the year is done that’s for sure,” Lynch says. “We’ll have to change it up a little bit, but it won’t be the last of me!”