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’90s Kathie Lee Dress to Top Refashion

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When I first procured this Kathie Lee dress from the thrift store for a mere $1, I was afraid.

'90s Kathie Lee Dress Before Refashion
Don’t live in fear!

There are some pieces that intimidate even me, folks. And this was one of them.

There’s a lot to be afraid of. Like so many other Kathie Lee creations, it’s suuuuper matronly. :/ Those shoulder pads! That prissy collar! Those sleeves!


*takes several deep breaths*

When I’m confronted with a dress as unflattering and unlikable as this one, I find it’s best to step back and identify what I like about it, rather than just what I hate.

For instance, I like that front waist detail. It’s super fancy and has some potential. I also kind of like the collar, but would prefer to have less of it. The bodice fits in a loose-but-not-too-loose way that I like as well.

In other words, I got this!

Refashion Step 1: Get Chopping!

To get this refashion rolling, I first snipped out the skirt from the dress.

cutting out skirt from dress

Another nice thing about that waist detail is that it overlaps the skirt of the dress. This means I can chop off the skirt without worrying about adding a new hem, since the raw edge will be totally covered! Sweet!

Next, I pulled out my seam ripper and got to work on those sleeves.

removing sleeves with seam ripper
Pick. Pick. Pick….

This was a two-part process, as part of each sleeve was covered by that lacy collar. So, I simply trimmed around the lace after picking the rest of the sleeves out (Don’t worry…we’ll be cleaning up those raw edges in a bit!).

removing sleeves near collar
Snippy snip!
removed sleeves
I will not miss you.

Now we’re getting somewhere!

As I said before, I don’t like how high up the collar of this dress sits and would prefer more of a boatneck for what will end up being a more preppy-style top.

So, I cut it down a bit.

trimming neckline on refashion

Refashion Step 2: Clean up those raw edges!

All this chopping left me with a lot of raw edges to deal with, as well as the remains of that back zipper (the thing that looks like a tail in the above pic).

Since the zipper is plastic, and largely covered by that waist detail, I simply snipped it off.

back zipper
snipping off zipper for refashion
Snipping right along the seam!

“But wait! What’s to keep the zipper pull from just sliding off?!?”, you’re undoubtedly yelling at your screen.

Since the zipper is plastic, you can sew over it to shorten it! I stitched over the bottom part several times, like so:

stitching over zipper
Zipper secured!

Now for those armholes!

I pinned and then stitched the navy parts down first.

pinned arm hole for refashion
Nary a raw edge to be found!

Then, I swapped out the thread in my machine from navy to white and stitched down the top armholes & new neckline!

pinning upper arm hole
Byeee raw edge!
pinning neckline for refashion
A boatneck is born!
stitching down new neckline
Stitch it all down!

After I gave my new top a good press, it was complete!

'90s Kathie Lee Dress Refashion
'90s Kathie Lee Dress Refashion After Close Up
Take a closer look!

And here’s what it looks like from the back!

'90s Kathie Lee Dress Refashion After Back View
I love that button-up back!

While this top is a little preppier than my usual style, I still really like it, and look forward to wearing it out & about soon! 🙂

I styled my new top with a pair of ripped jeans and matching navy Sperry boat shoes (If you’re going preppy, go all in I say)!

'90s Kathie Lee Dress Refashion After Image 2
I think the ripped jeans work well with my new top!

Sidenote: Since I can’t get my hair cut right now, it’s now officially long enough to fit in a sock bun!

refashionista close up
It’s the little things.

I hope you’re all hanging in there & finding creative ways to occupy your time, friends. Things are tough right now, but good times will return. Let’s make sure to have some fabulous refashions to trot out when they do!


'90s Kathie Lee Dress Refashion
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45 thoughts on “’90s Kathie Lee Dress to Top Refashion”

  1. So Do excited you are posting again. You always have such great ideas and are creative to the max. Stay safe and keep refashioning. Lol in my youth I had a dress very much like that, except it was your fav color(Pink). I was a girly girl back in the day. Now I am just a crazy grandmother.

  2. I think a pair of “dress” shorts, a la Rachel Bilson in the first season of “Hart of Dixie” would be divine!

  3. She should watch Pretty In Pink for more inspiration! Learn to sew as soon as you can, and then start experimenting. 🙂

  4. You never fail to impress! I know you save extra material. Can’t wait to see what you do with the shirt part.

  5. I wish I could share pics here because I just took a screen shot of the “related products on amazon”. First one was a seam ripper (which is fine). The second one was for shoulder pads!!! (Not so fine).

    So happy your blog is back and updating so regularly!

  6. Love what you did. I’m curious, was there enough fabric left over from the dress to make a pencil skirt of slacks?

  7. This was a very nice transformation and well worth the effort!
    It would work as a dressy/casual top with other types of pants.

  8. Love this. But with the leftover skirt and sleeves, why not make a pair of capris that you could wear with the top ? That would be awesome, too.

  9. Good vision. That came out super cute. I would have preferred it with some nice fitted slacks over the ripped jeans though. I am curious about what you do with all these great clothes after your refashions. How many times do you actually wear them? Do you gift them to someone else? Or? How about a segment on the ‘Afterlife of a Re Fashion’?

  10. I think you knocked that one out of the park! I like the way you described what you did like about the dress………great way to hone in on those details and not get distracted form the rest. I will be looking at dresses in the thrift store (when the reopen) in a whole new way!

  11. Please keep your ideas coming during this stressful time. Many others, I’m sure, are like me and look forward to hearing from you. I am searching my closet for projects and have a few in mind thanks to you. Keep it up, girl!

    • Sometimes they are! When that happens, I just take in the sides a smidge after the armholes’ edges are fixed. 🙂

  12. Love it! Love it! Changing the collar to blue was genius. I have a question, what will you do with the skirt? Would love to see what you come up with.

  13. Love the transformation! The change you made to the collar makes such a difference. My husband says “it went from frumpy to hip”!

  14. HI, I think you should send this link to Kathie Lee Gifford. I will bet that she would love it and all the recycling styles that you produce and share. How about it?

  15. The before pic made me want to come up to your desk and give you an apple – or ask you to dust the furniture 🙂

    Looks fab now!! Well done.


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