Easy Hacks to Totally Transform Your Wardrobe Without Spending a Dime

Fall in love with style again AND save money—double win!
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Janet Sahm Easter
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Fall in love with style again AND save money—double win!

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Brought to you in partnership with National Thrift Week

You may have heard the statistic, “You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time." That's certainly a wake-up call for your wardrobe this new year. If you've found yourself in a mid-season slump when it comes to getting dressed in the morning, there's an easy solution: Shop your closet.

Digging into your own closet and being open to the possibilities, rather than dropping unnecessary cash at department stores, can be fun, freeing, and downright thrifty. We've provided the steps to discovering a world of outfits from your very own drawers. It'll take a bit of work, but a little of your time is a lot of money saved. You can even recruit some friends to do the same, and have a clothing swap at the end—just as good as digging through a thrift shop!

CLEAN YOUR CLOSET//

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In order to shop your closet, you need to know what’s in it. The first step is the much-need cleaning session. Here’s what to do.

01. Take everything out.

Lay all your pieces on your bed into categories: dresses, skirts, tops, pants, etc.

 02. Get ready for the moment of truth.

Ask these questions: Does it fit? Have I worn it this past year? Is it damaged (slightly ripped, stained, missing a button)? If you’ve been meaning to fix or alter it, but haven’t, is it because you don't really like it enough to care? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then get rid of it!

 03. Sift and organize.

Go through the keeper pile to reacquaint yourself with your wardrobe. Are there items you completely forget about or are under-utilized? Try placing them in a more prominent place in your closet so that you don't overlook them.

Another tip for closet awareness: Hang your clothes in the reverse way that you usually do (front- or back-facing, whichever is not your norm). When you wear an item and put it back, place the hanger in the correct way. After six months, you’ll easily see the items you never wear—because the hangers have never been touched!

04. Donate.

What to do with that pile of perfectly good clothes that have lost your favor? Schedule a donation pick up here. If it's a pricier, designer piece, try taking it to a local consignment shop or join ThredUp, which makes selling your clothes, and finding your own gems, super easy. Or gather your friends with their own cast-offs for a clothing swap and get some new pieces without hitting the store!

SHOP YOUR CLOSET//

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Try these fresh pairings and combinations to revamp your closet, now that it's all clean!

01. Adhere to the three-way rule.

For every piece of clothing in your closet, challenge yourself to envision wearing it three different ways. For instance, take a sweater, a skirt, or a blazer, and scrap the obvious ways you usually wear it. Start mixing and matching dressy with casual, play with proportions, and layer (more on that below!).

02. Utilize staples.

Read: the white tee, the pencil skirt, the cardigan, the chambray top, and the shift dress.

Got a simple Hanes white T-shirt? It goes with pretty much anything. Pair with a midi skirt and statement necklace, a pencil skirt and cardi, or jeans and a colorful, pretty scarf. Make sure said tee is fitted and not too loose or baggy. You want it to be crisp, smooth, and bright white. (Most solid neutral tees or long-sleeved versions work the same way!)

That pencil skirt you bought for the office can be transformed into a date-night look with a fun blouse, leather jacket, and booties. Or pair it with flats, a graphic tee, and funky jewelry for weekend brunch with the girls.

Tend to throw a cardigan on as an after-thought? Try buttoning it up over a camisole and tucking it into your skirt so it's the main focus. You can also add embellishment with a pile of vintage broaches. 

The chambray shirt is a chameleon. It's super casual with dark jeans and cool sneakers or sandals, but tres chic buttoned up and tucked into a dressy skirt with killer heels. You can even wear it as a cardigan over a top or dress, but you might want to belt it to keep it from looking too baggy.

A simple shift dress holds loads of options. Again, try mixing casual with dressy. You may only save this dress for the office and events, but by simply throwing on a chunky knit sweater or casual jacket and flats you're ready for a get-together with friends.

03. Layer.

Layering extends your closet to beyond its perceived limits. A few basic tricks include layering a sweater over a collared shirt and throwing on a cool jacket or blazer, putting a chic turtleneck under a simple sweater, and (believe it or not) wearing a casual dress over skinny jeans or trousers. A slim-fit shift dress looks modern and trendy with a chunky sweater over it, and when in doubt, throw a belt on to cinch your waist and define your form.

It's also helpful to play with proportions, such as tucking in a top you normally don't or letting a shirt hang longer. Rolling the ends of your jeans or trousers can also change your look and draw attention to your cute shoes!

04. Accessorize.

Switch up your jewelry routine. Take a usual outfit and try on completely different bling, like a statement necklace or earrings. Also, take a cue from trying new layers with your clothes by piling on necklaces in varying lengths. Just stick to the same color or metal.If you own mostly neutral clothes, it's super easy to add color and prints through your accessories.

05. See a tailor.

Consider taking pieces to the tailor if they don’t fit correctly the way they are now. You can also spruce old shoes, like boots, with a new heel. Or use leather polish to clean up handbags.

This article was produced for National Bring Back Thrift Week, a movement to encourage thriftiness in America. National Thrift Week begins each year on January 17 (that's this week!), in honor of the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, the “American apostle of thrift.” You can find out more about NBBTW on their website or Facebook page.

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