The concept of making do, re-using, re-purposing is not new. I'm sure that since the first outfits were created they were eventually taken apart and re-used. Looking at garments from 1600's on, it's pointed out how it had been remade from its earlier form.
Here's a page from 1907 The Ladies' Home Journal, explaining how to update previous years garments!
The Great Depression had people being thrifty and creative. World War II with the rationing gave cause for instruction manuals telling women how to make do, mend, and re-purpose.
See the "Cutting Up In a Big Way" above? Even today we can do fun and creative things with existing garments. For example, I found a pair of men's jeans in great shape and re-cut them into a denim skirt. I wanted to salvage the fly and pockets. Any extra room I needed I added at the sides so it wasn't to obvious. I folded up the back pocket to reduce the size to be more proportional for me.
Ties are another fun group to play with. Most are made from incredible silk in gorgeous patterns. I take them apart to remove the interfacing, wash, and press. Then I make scarves from them! Here is a scarf made from 2 ties.
This is a scarf made from 4 ties. This one was made from older ties which are a bit shorter so not as versatile as the longer ties. But still fun with the hand painted designs.
So go to your favorite thrift store and look at the clothing as material! It's amazing what a little creativity can produce.
And if you are interested in learning more on how I made any of these, drop me a line: email@example.com. I am happy to share!