Update Your Wardrobe Without Buying a Thing

Woman chooses clothes in the wardrobe closet

You're short on cash, but you need a new look. Let's face it: new clothes are expensive, and even buying a few new pieces can break the bank. Fortunately, there are lots of fun ways to add a new hint of style without spending a dime!

1. Pull Up Your Big Girl Pants and Take Stock

No one likes to clean the closet, but to improve the situation, you need to know what you actually have in your wardrobe! We tend to wear some outfits more than others, and therefore certain clothes float to the top of the dresser drawer or wardrobe rack. Take inventory of everything you have, and figure out what still fits, what's still stylish, and what you forgot about (and admit it...it does happen). It's time to make piles:

  • Make a stack of things that might need repair work and add those suckers to your to-do list.
  • Create a pile for anything that looks good but might be a different size than what you're wearing. If you can alter it yourself or know a friend who can, you can add those items back in with your go-to staples.
  • Build a stack of things you love but are no longer on-trend. More on that later.

Finally, donate anything you don't want to charity!

2. Ignore What Your Mom Said About Matching

Couple walking

It's time to break the rules! One of the great benefits of simply taking clothing inventory is that it allows you to see what you own, and try some new pairings. Have a mini fashion show-you could invite a friend for fun-and try out some new combinations:

  • Combining floral prints with stripes is on trend. Try matching a top with simple stripes to a skirt with small floral prints. Or, for a more adventurous look, try a striped sweater or jacket over a floral dress. For guaranteed success, stick to a cohesive color scheme.
  • You can also break the rules when it comes to matching formality. Who says you can't wear sequins during the day? Maybe that shirt you you wear club hopping can also work for brunch when you pair it with jeans and a pastel sweater.
  • Go wild! Mix seasons too. Try adding a jacket to a summer dress for an accent! How would your silk floral blouse look with those wool trouser pants?

Regardless, the idea is to get creative. Chances are, you'll discover some great outfits you never knew you had!

3. Swap Your Heart Out

Friend trying on denim jacket

Having a friend around is great for second opinions, but it can also help in other ways too. For one thing, if you convince her to clean out her closet too, the two of you can keep each other motivated. Try swapping out old clothes that you don't want. She might have something that she's never even worn that fits you too! A clothing swap is a great bonding experience, and trying things on with a friend is always a blast.

For added fun, have a swap party! It's great to focus on accessories, since that way, people of different sizes and ages can join in the fun. Afterword, plan to wear a new ensemble and go out to happy hour together to show off your new styles!

4. Go On a Dye-et

Tie Dye Dress

Old stand-by pieces feel a little drab? For the ultra crafty, a splash of color can enliven a tired outfit. Most drug or craft stores carry an array of different fabric paints and dyes at low prices. Dying an old shirt or pants can help it look new by adding a new color.

  • Brighten up some of your staple pieces. In general, clothes take dye better going from light to dark. So then, that old green top might look better black, or an old white skirt could look even better hot pink!
  • You could even try adding an ombre look to an existing piece. Just match a darker shade of dye to the existing color, and brush it on along the hem; check out this tutorial for instructions.
  • Dye is also great for faded clothes. If your blacks suddenly look gray, for example, give an old pair of slacks a dye job to revitalize their tone.
  • Fabric paint or even spray paint can give a new, chic edge to old t-shirts and clothes too.

Have fun, and get creative! After all, unique pieces are like style hallmarks. You'll impress with your fashion sense and your creativity!

5. Take Inspiration from Wonder Woman

Yes, seriously! In an age of superhero, science fiction and fantasy epics, costume designers for the movies have let their imaginations run wild. See a new film, and take note of the little touches (collars, accessories, pairings, etc.) to come up with some new fashion moves of your own.

Then pull out a few old Halloween costumes. You won't want to go to a nice restaurant dressed like Wonder Woman, but maybe pairing her belt or boots with a new outfit can add a fun, stylish touch. A sexy corset might look great with a stylish skirt or designer jeans. Maybe a costume suit coat or tight pants will look good with a nice blouse or handbag and give your fashion sense a bit of edge.

6. Get-a-Stitchin'

Woman at a sewing machine

Finally, maybe the best way to upgrade your wardrobe is to pull out a sewing machine. If you don't already own one or don't know how to sew, ask around for a friend's help. There are lots of easy hacks that can take boring and outdated clothes into prime, on-trend wardrobe wonders:

  • Try turning an old pair of pants into shorts! Try them on, measure them to desired length, and cut about an inch below. Hem the cuffs on the machine and viola! New shorts!
  • Or try making a few alterations to a baggy shirt for a sleek, fitted look. Try it on, measure the excess fabric, and sew on both sides to fit to your current curves.
  • Take some scissors to an old dress to create a new, chic top! Just cut it where you want it and hem the bottom.
  • Have an old logo shirt that doesn't fit or has faded out? Try cutting off the logo and stitching it to a new shirt for a retro chic look!

A few minutes on the sewing machine can alter anything into something that accentuates your body in all the right places, and make old clothes into sleek and stylish couture!

Update Your Wardrobe Without Buying a Thing