Most of us probably don't have our dream wardrobes. In fact, some of us probably are actively frustrated by our clothes on a daily basis. But it doesn't have to be like this! There are truly ways to get your dream wardrobe on a dream budget — or I should say practically your dream budget (because let's be real, my dream budget is zero).
And I should also probably include a disclaimer: when I say "dream" wardrobe, I don't mean one that's just full of designer brands and expensive labels — I mean one that is full of cute, versatile pieces that you actually like wearing. There was a point in my 20s when I realized that not only was my closet full of stuff I genuinely never wore, but that it was full of stuff that didn't even go together. My style had zero cohesion, which meant putting an outfit together was usually time consuming and disappointing, and also meant that I almost always ended up relying on the same boring basics.
And because I genuinely believed I couldn't afford to get rid of things and start over, I just lived in a state of perpetual clothing frustration. If this is sounding familiar, you might also need a closet reboot. And here are seven tips for getting started.
1. Get Rid Of Everything You Don't Wear
Tiny House Talk, a site devoted to life simplification, recommended first pulling everything out of your closet when embarking on a wardrobe reboot project. Put everything into three piles: keep, donate, or throw away. And in terms of "keep" make a physical list of what you have before hanging them back up. Additionally, make sure everything you keep actually fits and isn't just something you're holding onto for "some day."
And if you're not sure, use the clothes hanger trick as described by Apartment Therapy site editor Janel Laban; "Turn around all the hangers in your closet so the hooks are pointing towards you (wrong way round)." she said. "When you wear something, put it back with the hook the normal way. In six months, any hanger still facing the wrong way is holding an item you haven't worn, ready for the donation bag."
2. Build Off Of Basics
H&M Jersey Tank Tops, $5, H&M
A compilation piece on Real Simple about creating a well-balanced wardrobe suggested focussing on basics. Make sure you have things like a pair of black pants, versatile tanks, and basic blouses to serve as your staples, and then focus on acquiring a few patterned items and statement pieces. That way you'll be able to actually build outfits as opposed to just owning a ton of unconnected items.
3. Only Buy Things That Go With What You Already Own
OK, this a personal tip that my aunt taught me and it took me way, way too long to actually implement it into my life. Before buying anything (shirts, pants, shoes, purses — anything!) think about what you already own that you can pair it with. If it's a stand alone item, don't buy it. It's how you'll end up with a closet full of odds and ends that you can't make into anything wearable.
4. Consider A Capsule Wardrobe
According to Today Show Style Contributor Lilliana Vazquez, a capsule wardrobe is about editing the clothes in your closet to only those that currently fit you and can be used in many different outfits. She said that if you stick to these requirements, you should be able to limit your closet to 30 items or less. "You've got to be cut throat with this process," she said, "if you haven't worn it in a season or the season before, it's got to go." And while this may seem limiting, you'll likely soon realize that you generally rely on a few basic staples anyway, and this will only serve to make sure everything you have works with everything else.
5. Know What To Splurge On
In a piece for Cosmopolitan, Senior Style editor Charles Manning said it's important to know what to splurge on, and most people are doing it wrong. "Don't spend $300 on a pair of black leather pumps that you could get for $50 at ASOS. The fact is, both shoes are going to wear out before you are done with them and it is doubtful that anyone, including you, would be able to tell the difference between the cheap shoes and the expensive ones anyway. Save your money for the attention-grabbing trend items that will become the focus of your outfit anyway," he said.
6. Avoid Complicated Textures
Manning also said when you're cutting costs on clothes, try to avoid pieces that have a lot of embellishments, like beads or textured patterns, as they're really hard to do well on a budget and will likely obviously look cheap. If you like things that pop, instead go for designs printed on the actual fabric itself.
7. Bargain Shop, Then Go To The Tailor
Harper's Bazaar editor Joyann King said her number one tip for loving your outfits on a budget is simply tailoring your clothes. "Taking the extra two days from purchase to have your neighborhood tailor nip and tuck your latest great find, versus ripping the tags off and wearing right away, will elevate the final product way beyond its original price tag," she noted. So if you find a super awesome and high quality piece at a store like TJ Maxx or Marshall's but it doesn't quite fit, you'll likely still save money in the long run by getting it altered.
There's no reason to hate all your clothes — especially when there are a ton of affordable hacks for creating a stylish and cohesive wardrobe. So section off a day or two of your weekend and start the next day of the rest of your fashion life!