Shop Your Closet and Create Exciting New Looks Without Buying a Thing

by Karly Rayner

As the days draw in and the morning frosts are breathing down our necks, our wardrobes can add a much-needed splash of colour, excitement and optimism to the wintery mood. 


These seasonal changes can prompt those flights of fancy which have us daydreaming about a whole new closet to brighten things up a bit, but shopping our own collections and seeing them with fresh eyes can help us creatively whip up whole new looks. 


Below is a little guide to revitalising your most-loved pieces and, perhaps, figuring out key components which are missing, to allow us to embrace sustainable, transeasonal change without the shopping-spree. 


1. Adjust Your Attitude Accordingly

Channel an easy breezy attitude in our Jasmine chiffon blouse

If you’re anything like me, your default reaction to a deep-dive into your own clothing collection might be a dull sigh of resignation. 


It’s easy to slip into attitudes of feeling a bit hard done by, like you’re making do by taking stock of what you already have, especially when the consumer sirens are sounding all around us in the seemingly ever-earlier run up to Christmas. Perhaps it might be helpful to reframe your odyssey to the darkest corners of your closet as a rebellion against the pressure to buy, buy, buy.


When you don’t think you are going to achieve something, you rarely do and it can be hard to imagine genuinely finding exciting new looks with items you feel you know inside out. 


I'm more of a words person than a numbers person, so you’ll have to take the following statistic with a pinch of salt, but the internet informs me that with just 8 items, there are 255 possible combinations. In short, there really is a world of possibility in there among the odd socks and questionable birthday gifts from 4 years ago. 


2. Taking Stock


Now it’s time to see how the land of your closet lies with fresh, pragmatic eyes. As a handy bonus feature, this step will make any future shake ups a walkover in comparison. 


Remember that questionable birthday gift mentioned earlier? It’s time for it to move on to your nearest charity shop along with that little tinge of guilt which comes with never wearing it. Hoiking out all of those “what was I thinking?!” purchases which don’t spark anything near joy as you lock eyes with them for the first time in months helps you to see the forest for the trees. 


This is also time to gather a sick bay of all of those bedraggled, torn, stained or otherwise wartorn favourites and make a pledge to nurse them back to health. Often life gets in the way and these little repairs are put off for so long it genuinely feels like getting new clothes. 


A handy checklist for rooting out the duds in your wardrobe before the restyling and rediscovering can begin is:


  • Is it so uncomfortable you are positively tearing it off when you get home?
  • Is it so finicky when it comes to washing instructions that it spends most of its time at the bottom of your laundry hamper? 
  • Is it so irritating to iron that you just… don’t?
  • Does it fit properly?
  • Have you decided the colour makes you look like a boiled ham, even though it’s good in theory?


Saying goodbye to clothes to create more to wear might seem counterintuitive, but when you feel positive about all your garms, it’s an inspiring canvas to begin painting new looks with 


3. Categorise Your Items

The rich sapphire of our new Agnes midi shirt dress is surprisingly versatile 

This is where you find out you have, say,  a previously unnoticed picadilo for boxy t-shirts but a weird dearth of trousers to pair them with. 


Pile your clothes into loose categories such as plain shirts, dressy shirts, oversized tees, fitted tees, cropped tees. Trousers can be loosely clumped together by fit and skirts by length or cut. Try not to get too hung up on categories and just do what comes naturally. 


One pile will inevitably be smaller than the others and this could be a good place to invest.


4. Make Use of the Colour Wheel

Image credit: Stylebook

While most of us are comfortable with adding a pop of colour on a neutral canvas of black or white, pairing other less obvious colours can help extend the rainbow of your wardrobe into unchartered territory. 


Colours next to each other on the colour wheel look harmonious together, even if they aren’t exactly the same shade whereas complimentary colours (opposite each other) have a pleasing contrast which you may not have dared before. 


This is also a good time to whack all of those patterns together and see which are a clash made in heaven and which make you look like Pat Butcher getting dressed in the dark. 


5. Create Unexpected Closet Concoctions 



Here’s the bit where you experiment. If you don’t get a pleasing new outfit, you might get a good laugh out of some of the disastrous combinations you will inevitably cycle through. 


Ideally, you should try every top on with every bottom, but if the size of your clothing collection makes this too overwhelming, aim to try on at least 10 combinations you’ve never worn before. When you find one which hits the spot, it can be helpful to take a photo so you remember it. For the tech savvy, there are even apps which can help you organise your finery such as Stylebook.


This is also a good time to work on your layering skills and see which shirts and t-shirts can be worn under strappy dresses and which cardigans, jumpers, body warmers or scarves look best on top.


You’ll probably be surprised by how many new looks you summon from nowhere at this stage. In my most recent session of layer experimentation, I found at least 6 brand spanking new outfits without buying a single thing and now I can enjoy some of my summer flings all year round.  


6. What’s Missing?


Maybe your wardrobe is crying out for the ruby drama of our new Abigail Shirt?

While reducing the amount of clothing we buy is a great way to care for the planet, there is nothing wrong with investing in some carefully selected statement pieces you will wear again and again. 


This whole procedure is an excellent place to spot any gaps in your closet and fill them. If you’re hankering for a bit of the season’s statement sleeve drama, now you’re perfectly well equipped to choose a colour and silhouette which will slot seamlessly into the rest of your garments. 


Absolutely adore pink, but realise you don’t ever wear it and you’re not sure why? Live your best life and shine like the cerise queen you long to be! 


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