One of my goals after discussing my shopping or consumption problem in this post and then this post was to get better at turning to my own closet for inspiration, even when (especially when) I am convinced I have nothing to wear. Honestly, I have not been the best at doing this. It wasn’t until lockdown that I decided to take the time to figure out how to make it easier and more fun to put together new looks with what I already own.  

Besides saving money, buying less is better for the environment. Even if you buy a lot of your clothes on the secondary market. Purchasing things that you do not wear, even if it is a $2.99 Goodwill item, will eventually end up in the donation pile and possibly a landfill. Waste is waste. Developing this habit will help you rediscover pieces you forgot you owned (and hopefully fall back in love with). 

Shopping your closet will also help to define your personal style. If the trendy, impulse purchases do nothing but collect dust, but more timeless pieces are in heavy rotation, then you can start to define your personal style as more classic. Paying attention to what you wear all the time and what you cannot style no matter how hard you try, will help reduce wasteful spending on similar items. 

Lastly, as much as I do not want to turn this into an excuse to buy something new, it will help you identify missing holes in your closet. After all, you might need to purchase a neutral bottom or two to be able to wear all of those tops you just rediscovered.   

Here are a few of the tips I have used to help me shop my closet: 

Physically Touch All of Your Clothes – Yes, this sounds weird, I know, but this is a trick I developed when I was a single mother and trying to save every penny. Stop assuming you know by every item in your closet and literally move every hanger, touch each item, and evaluate every piece much like you would if you were in a retail store. You have no idea how many pieces I found sandwiched between other items that I forgot I owned that I was able to pull out and create a whole bunch of new outfits. 

Stick with What Works for You – How do you motivate yourself to make any change that was difficult or uncomfortable? Are you motivated by money? Does it help you to write down your goals for accountability reasons? Like any habit, it gets easier the more you do it  Having quit smoking decades ago by learning a lot about habits, I decided to apply a lot of those principals to shopping my closet: 1) Habits are not broken, they are replaced, and 2) you have to repeat the new action around 20-25 times in order to successfully replace the old action. Using this method, I told myself that I only had to resist the urge to add something new to cart for less than a month. 

Find Inspiration – To kickstart shopping my closet, I found inspiration in designer images I found on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. and used them as inspiration to recreate the look using items I already owned. Whenever you come across a look that tempts you to start shopping, step away from whatever screen you are on and see if you already own anything similar. 

Get Organized – You cannot rediscover items if you do not what you have or where they are. Be sure that all your like items are in one location. I do not want to get all Marie Kondo on you, but hanging items on matching hangers and folding things in a similar fashion will make it easier for you to see what you own – and makes the whole shop your closet experience a lot nicer. 

Wear Old Things in New Ways – Some of my favorite fashion hacks include:

  • Wear a skirt over a dress because the top makes a cute, well, top
  • Break up a suit or other two-piece set and wear them separately
  • Wear a cardigan or button-down backward 

Try New Combinations Play with contrasts and opposites. This can take the form of color combos you have never tried or mixing two different fabrications. Leather or tweed with lace is a fantastic look. So is chiffon and wool. A little chiffon under a long wool jacket is feminine and stylish, without looking like you did the walk of shame to work from last night’s date.

Make Your Closet Pretty – Retail puts a lot of time, money, and effort into the aesthetics of their stores and websites to make your experience as pleasing as possible. Apply this thinking to your closet. Add artwork, incense, and even your fashion mood board will help make your closet a place you want to be. 

If you have any tricks you use to rediscover pieces you already own, please share. We would love to hear it. We hope these tips make it easier for you to shop your closet for the reasons we listed at the beginning of this post, but we thought of another – The high you get from buying a new piece pales in comparison the high you get from finding a “new” piece already own!  

Images by Breezy Ritter