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5 Ways to Have a Better Wardrobe Without Spending Any Money

by Emily DeLong

14 January 2017

For me, running a business in its early stages has meant adhering to a pretty strict budget. I haven't bought any new clothes, shoes, or bags in a long time (although, full disclosure: I have kept several Margu one-offs and wonky samples for myself), and as a result I've had to learn to make do with a lot of the things I bought years ago that I most likely wouldn't buy today.

It was challenging at first, but I found that there were a few things I could do that really made an impact in freshening up my wardrobe, none of which involved buying anything. Take a look below to see my five suggestions for improving your wardrobe without spending any money.

 

1. Clean out your closet.

Perhaps it seems like an oxymoron that I am suggesting the key to a better wardrobe is to remove items from your wardrobe, but trust me on this one! After doing a thorough cleaning out of my closet, I was only left with the stuff I actually wanted to wear, and I actually ended up wearing more things that I owned rather than just throwing on that one shirt or two in the front of my closet out of desperation.

The best way to clean out your closet? Here's what I did: hold up every piece of clothing that you own (really, every single one), one at at time, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this fit me? (Not "Will this maybe fit me in the future?")
  • Do I like the way I feel while wearing this?
  • Was the last time I wore this in the last 12 months?

If you answered no to any of those questions, or if the item in question is irreparably damaged or otherwise showing its wear, it's time to part ways. Bonus points if you do the same process with your shoes, bags, and accessories.

 

2. Look at what can be repaired or repurposed.

When going through your closet, you may have found some items that aren't wearable in their current state, but could be wearable if they were repaired or altered. Maybe that one dress would be perfect if the hem as brought up a couple of inches, or maybe there's a hole in the sleeve of your favorite sweater.

If you happen to have any currently unwearable items that can potentially be salvaged, set them aside and set aside some time to work on a repair plan (whether that means repairing it yourself, bringing it to a tailor, or asking your mom for help). With just a small time investment and a tiny (if any) monetary investment, you can end up with a few new pieces in your wardrobe!

 

3. Set up a closet-purging schedule.

Even though you just purged your closet, you're going to need to do it regularly. For some, this may mean every three months; for others, it could be up to a year — regardless, you should get in the habit of going through your closet and reevaluating your possessions on some sort of schedule.

Maybe you switched jobs and you don't wear those 10,000 pencil skirts you own anymore; maybe you lost/gained weight and some of your clothing doesn't fit anymore; maybe you've undergone a subtle (or major!) style transformation and a lot of your clothing is no longer "you." It's unlikely you'll be exactly the same person forever, so your wardrobe shouldn't be exactly the same either.

 

4. Organize your closet.

This one is a biggie for freshening up your wardrobe! Prior to my wardrobe overhaul, my closet was completely unorganized and stuffed with clothes. I had zero organizational scheme, and to find anything I had to blindly plow through my closet.

One day, after cleaning out my closet, I decided to organize my wardrobe by color — and wow, did that make a huge difference! Not only did I learn that I own an inordinate amount of blue clothing, I was able to better plan out my outfits, not to mention everything was infinitely easier to find.

Organizing by color is certainly not the best method for everyone (although I do recommend it for anyone who owns a lot of colorful clothing like myself), so here are a few other organizational ideas:

  • Organize by occasion (work, weekend, workout, special occasion)
  • Organize by season (spring/summer versus fall/winter)
  • Organize by clothing type (button-ups, T-shirts, blouses, jackets, short dresses, long dresses, jeans, etc.)
  • Organize by the last time you wore it (when you do laundry, hang everything up in the back so that the things you haven't worn in a while are at the front)

 

5. Create an outfit you've never worn before.

The theme of this whole post really comes down to this: the best way to improve your wardrobe without spending any money is to find ways to see your clothing in a different light. By purging what you don't need and reorganizing your closet in a way that works for you, you're able to see your wardrobe better as a whole and are less likely to forget about some of the great pieces you own.

My final suggestion for improving your wardrobe is to create brand-new outfits by combining pieces that you never have before. I challenge myself to create at least one new outfit per month out of existing pieces in my wardrobe, and it's really helped me not get bored with all the clothing I've owned for years and years. This process does take a bit of experimentation (I've definitely tried on some combinations that did not work like I thought they would!), but once you do find a new clothing combination it's as if you went out and bought a brand-new outfit.

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