Shop Your Closet: How To Make The Most Out Of The Clothes You Already Own

shop your closet

This year I was fortunate to not only snag one of the hottest tickets in the blogging sphere, but I also have the honor of actually speaking at the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City, UT next week! (If you are attending, make sure to come say “Hi” at the “DIY + Pinterest” workshop!)

As the name implies, AltSummit is very much “design” oriented, and highlighting your personal style is a huge part of the conference experience. I don’t mind telling you, I have been pretty much FREAKING OUT about what to wear! But thanks to some wonderful help and advice from the Small Fry Blog gals, I have reached a zen-like state of wardrobe preparedness! They helped me see that I didn’t need to run out in a panic and buy a whole new wardrobe for the conference, but with a little creativity and a fresh perspective, I could re-work what I already had into something new and fabulous. :-)

Maybe you don’t have a “big conference” coming up…maybe you are going to a wedding, or a baby shower, or on vacation, or maybe you’ve got a hot date! I can think of many times when I wished I had “something new to wear” but lacked the funds to go out and buy something. Here are some tips from the Small Fry Blog gals and a few others I gleaned from around the www that we all can use to make the most out of our wardrobes…just they way they are!

wardrobe remix

1. Lean On Fashionable Friends

Sometimes we need an objective eye and a new perspective to breathe new life into an “old” wardrobe. Invite your most stylish friend to come over and stage a styling session. This is where Emily, Jenna and Nicole came to the rescue! They are the cute gals behind Small Fry Blog and some of the most stylish people I know. (Check out their blog and you’ll see what I mean!) They looked at things I already had in my closet (and to their credit didn’t laugh!) and helped me come up with 6 different outfits that I didn’t even know were IN THERE! It literally was like “going shopping” in my own closet. We actually had a lot of fun doing it too! So invite your friend(s) over and have a fashion party! Then you can return the favor and help them with their closet too.

wardrobe remix

2. Write It Down!

Once you go to all the trouble of putting together these great “new” outfits, make a list of them so your don’t forget! Having an outfit list you can draw upon when you are rushed in the morning, or late to a very important date, can make the difference between throwing on the “same old thing” and wowing your companions with your fabulous “new” outfit! :-)

I needed to come up with 3 day outfits and 3 evening outfits. I knew I would forget everything we talked about the minute they left, so Emily was kind enough to catalog everything we picked out on these purple sticky notes (because I didn’t have any chalk to use on my chalkboard!) She also made notes of accessories I might want to purchase that would add some pizazz to the outfits we picked out. SUPER helpful!

DSLR Camera

3. Document Your Duds

You could even take this idea a step further and take pictures of all of the outfits you create as a VISUAL reminder. Or better yet…stage a “fashion show” and have your fashionable friend(s) take pictures of you actually wearing the outfits! You can also use this idea to catalogue your collections. If you are a hoarder collector of shoes or jewelry or cardigan sweaters (like me!), make sure you put your collection to use by taking a photo of each piece and putting them in an “album” of some sort (either on your computer or actually printed out). That way you can make an “informed choice” instead of always grabbing the first one you see. Makes so much sense!

wardrobe remix

4. Keep Your Clothing and Accessories Visible

Even if you have a small closet and can’t imagine ever “losing” anything in it…EVERY closet has some mystery corners that seem to hide half of what we own. If you can’t see it, you’ll never wear it. Do your best to keep your clothing, shoes, and accessories relatively visible. You might want to consider packing away and storing your my clothes for each different season. This makes more room in your closet for the current season’s clothes to have their moment to shine. Another strategy is to shift your closet contents every few months. Move pants to the front and skirts to the back, etc. Try the same technique with your dresser drawers! Find different ways to SEE what you own so you can WEAR it.

wardrobe remix

5. Use Magazines/Websites As Inspiration

Women’s fashion magazines (online and on the magazine stands) are great sources of inspiration! Since trends come and go so frequently, compare those slick, glossy photographs with items in your own closet. I bet you’ll be surprised at what you already have that is “in” this season. Even if you don’t have the complete “look”…often you will only need a few small items instead of a new head-to-toe outfit.

wardrobe remix

6. Mend it, Tailor it, or Toss it!

I am fairly certain I am not alone in the fact that there are pieces in my closet that sit there day after day just waiting for me to “fix” them so they can be put back into rotation again. Poor, lonely clothes! Case in point. I have a lovely red sweater that I haven’t worn for well over a year because when I decided to cut the tag out of it (it was bugging me something fierce!) I also inadvertently cut a tiny hole in the fabric. I didn’t want to wear it for fear it would make the hole BIGGER…but I didn’t want to get rid of it either! So there it sat. Waiting for the “mending day” that never came. Until Emily picked it out to make an appearance in one of my conference outfits…now I’m being FORCED to fix it…and I couldn’t be happier! :-) Bottom line: keep your belongings in wearable condition so you are able to use everything that you own.

wardrobe remix

These are my MAIN take aways from my outfit planning session with Emily (pictured), Jenna and Nicole, (Small Fry Blog).

Six simple steps that have helped me tremendously already! Thank you girls!

So remember…. before you buy anything new, make sure you are making the most of what you already have in your closet! It’s amazing what “new looks” you will discover!

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  1. CTY says

    What I need is a system like the girl in the movie “Clueless”. a computer program for outfits that can be searched by theme (ie preppy) and then a closet that dispenses that outfit.
    Seriously though– I am a newbie to CA (“sleepy” country town) from NJ (close to NYC)–cannot even begin to describe the differences. I love my clothes and don’t want to part with them. The problem is that the only women who dress this way are the 20 yr olds, I am near 50. I feel like women my age here either dress like Marion the Librarian or the Queen Mum. I do get lots of strange looks–I started telling people “I’m from NJ” They say,’Oh’. What should I do? Sunday at church I got many strange looks because of my black on black argyle hose and black herring bone shoes- the rest of the outfit was plain (and very modest).
    I am defiantly not a slave to trend–but I need style. What should I do?

  2. Carolyn in Utah says

    Love this post!
    Just wondering, how do you find a tailor? I live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City and while there are zillions of home sewers, I’m not sure where the tailors are and I have asked around A LOT in the past. I just get blank stares from my friends and family. No wonder we all look so scruffy!
    Any suggestions?

    • says

      You can also try asking a good men’s suit store. They often know of ‘master tailors’ in the area. A good master tailor that has an eye for fashion can skillfully alter jackets and pants and give you a custom cut and look that can make you look like a million bucks! Try getting the referral from the highest end shop that you can in your area (men with money will usually only use SKILLED cutter/fitters). Then try having ONE piece done to see if their work suits you. They often can do skillful repair work, too! Hope this helps.

    • Sharen says

      Try and search for tailors in your area. As a bonus, some will have reviews so you’ll have an idea of what you’re getting into.

    • Vicki F. says

      If you look in the phone book under “alterations” you should be able to find someone. That is how I found someone when my daugter’s fairly new winter coat had a broken zipper. It was much cheaper than I thought it would be to get the zipper replaced, something I wasn’t willing to tackle myself.

    • says

      I’ve had a hard time finding one as well Carolyn! I finally found someone through a friend of a friend. They are like gold! ;-)

  3. says

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Pinterest as a fashion inspiration source and tool! :)))) I find interesting ideas on it all the time. :) But when it comes to putting together actual outfits my biggest advice is – try everything on! Maybe I’m just too much of a perfectionist but I’ve found that often the smallest details can make or break the outfit. For example, 2 extra inches of a jacket’s length might ruin everything, so you’ll have to either find another jacket to wear with a given pair of pants or a different bottom for the given top part of the outfit. You can’t always foresee those pesky little things until you have everything on. So now and then I go through my closet organizing everything and seeing what has to go, and doing a “fashion show” at the same time – trying on outfits and seeing what works together and what doesn’t and finding new combinations that work.

    • says

      You are absolutely right Olga! Pinterest is a GOLD MINE for outfit ideas! I actually saved a lot of pictures I found on Pinterest to a folder on my computer as inspiration for AltSummit.
      And completely agree with you about trying stuff on! I’ve been burned by that before.

  4. Rachel says

    I read the greatest tip on an organizing blog: Turn all your hangers backwards. Each time you wear an item, turn the hanger back the correct way. At the end of the year, you’ll easily see what you’ve worn and what you haven’t! This makes it a lot less painful to purge. :D

  5. says

    I also organize my closet by color. When I’m shopping I can visualize my closet and see what color I should buy. Keeping my closet organized also helps me to know if I need to buy something, or what I should buy; ex neutral layer piece, fun bold piece, or basic must haves.

  6. CarolG says

    Thanks Jillee! I got money for Christmas I was going to spend on pants for work. Then I altered 5!!! pairs in my closet so I don’t need pants anymore. I can shop for something else fun.

  7. says

    I have two good friends who have helped me over the years with my ‘dressing-dyslexia’. I can’t tell you how helpful it is have a set of fresh eyes, ones you trust to be honest and on target for great looks – to help coordinate clothing choices. I can do it, it’s just so much easier for them.

    • says

      You and I suffer from the same “disease” Janelle! Thanks for helping me put a name on it! ;-) I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence!!! BINGO!

  8. Linda F says

    I’ve been in a “reduction” mode for a couple months…. seems that I get carried away by random purchases that really don’t match what I already own. When I give myself a bit of space, I can see what remains much easier. I also color code (by catagory- tops, pants, skirts, etc) to make it easier to find what I’m looking for.