How I revitalized my wardrobe without buying anything new

I recently wrote a post on how I felt like I lost my fashion identity, and one of the biggest parts in regaining it was taking back control of my closet. I had accumulated a lot of clothes, and I got to the point where I wasn’t even sure which of them were true to my style anymore. I was shopping all the time, but I felt like I couldn’t ever put together outfits I loved. If you’ve ever felt the same or felt like you had a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear, keep reading because this process has completely shifted my mindset and got me excited about my closet again. And the best part is, I didn’t even need to buy anything new!

The secret: quality basics. The main goal for me was to scale back my closet to include only the things I love and truly wear a lot. This actually took my a long time, and it was hard for me to do at first. When I’m trying to clean out my closet I always have thoughts creep in like “what if I need this someday?” But if you keep telling yourself you might wear a certain piece of clothing someday, I can almost guarantee you won’t. Here are the guidelines I used when deciding what to keep and get rid of:

What to get rid of:

  • Things you kind of like but never actually end up wearing because they don’t fit quite right
  • Styles or colors you don’t think are flattering on you
  • Anything you haven’t worn in over a year
  • Anything you don’t feel confident in
  • Clothing that brings back negative memories (this is definitely a thing)!
  • Costume clothing/something you would only wear once (for example, I had 3 Christmas sweaters and could easily thrift a new one)
  • Something you used to love but no longer wear – I had a ton of these, it’s okay to move on from clothes!

When it comes down to it, you have to use your judgment and get rid of the things that don’t make you feel good. I’m not saying to get rid of everything you don’t wear regularly and it’s okay to keep some things for sentimental reasons, but if things like that are starting to make up the bulk of your closet, it will keep you from finding the things you really like.

On the flip side, here is what to keep:

  • Basics like tees, plain long sleeve shirts, sweaters, etc. (especially in neutral colors) – these will be the foundation for your wardrobe
  • Things you find yourself grabbing or looking for a lot/that are always in the laundry
  • Anything you feel confident in, whether it is because of the fit, style, or color

Pay attention to the qualities in the clothing that meets the criteria above, and when you go shopping, keep them in mind. For example, a bulk of my closet is made up of neutral colors, and I tend to wear them the most. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t buy colorful pieces when I love them, but I recognize that I will tend to gravitate toward the neutrals the most when I’m picking out an outfit.

It’s okay to go through multiple rounds of this process (I certainly did). I kept a trash bag with the clothes I was getting rid of for about a month, just to make sure I wouldn’t miss any of the things I got rid of (I didn’t!!). I also picked a few things I had gotten rid of back out and put them back into my closet, and I never ended up wearing them. Trust your gut, and I promise it gets easier to get rid of things over time. Especially once you realize how cathartic it feels to get rid of the things cluttering up your closet, and to have a closet made up of only things you love. If you love everything in your closet, there’s no way you can’t love your outfits!

Once I was finally ready to get rid of the clothes (which took some nerve), I donated them to a women and children’s center near me. I suggest doing some research to find a nonprofit organization local to you that accepts clothes.

Essentially, this process was my starting point for the creation of my capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of classic items that you love and feel confident, and that should all pair together to create outfits that you love. The most important thing is that it should be true and personal to you! Once you have this foundation, picking out outfits should be much less stressful, and you can identify any gaps and build from there.

Stay tuned for my next post to see what I kept for the foundation of my capsule wardrobe!

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