You don’t have to spend thousands on a brand-new wardrobe. Here are my 9 top tips for creating a new wardrobe on a budget—one that reflects your unique style!
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If you need to re-do your wardrobe on a budget, I’ve got good news for you. You don’t need to spend your entire rainy-day fund on new clothes, nor do you need to put everything on credit and hope you’ll have enough to pay it off on time.
During one of my “I have nothing to wear” episodes, I dug into the depths of my closet to find a mix of generic cardigans, old, stretched-out jeans, and dresses left over from a teenage Gossip Girl-inspired binge, all of which I hadn’t worn since I was seventeen.
Of course, while these clothes were technically fine (except for the stretched-out jeans, of course), but not what I wanted to be wearing in my mid-twenties. It was obviously time for a revamp.
Only one problem: I didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on new items. Nor was I super clear on what kind of a new style I wanted to evolve into.
So, if you find yourself in the same boat, this post is perfect for you. It’s definitely possible to refresh your wardrobe on limited funds, and even if you can’t replace everything, you’d be surprised at how even just a few small changes can make your wardrobe feel as good as new. Read on for my top 9 tips to re-do your wardrobe on a budget!
Table of Contents
1. Evaluate What You Have, What You Wear, and What You’re Lacking
The first step in considering how to change your wardrobe is figuring out what on Earth is going on in your closet.
First, separate what you’ve worn a lot lately—you’ll probably want to keep this stuff.
Then, figure out what you can see yourself wearing more of in the future (practically- not in a hypothetical “well-if-only-it-were-summer-all-the-time way”) and keep a small number of these items.
Finally, evaluate what you’re lacking, not in terms of trends or what you think you might want to wear, but what you might actually need (e.g., a new blazer for work, knee-high boots for fall, a raincoat, etc.).
Before you go out and buy anything new, have a bit of a fun “dress up” session where you see if you can come up with any new combinations that you hadn’t thought of (you could also do this together with a friend and exchange ideas!). Then, once you’ve got all your bases covered, it’ll be easier for you to evaluate exactly what new items you need.
If you’re having trouble getting rid of things, I highly recommend reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or watching her Netflix series.
2. Keep Your Basics
By basics, I mean things like plain, 1-color t-shirts, tank tops, 1-color blazers and cardigans, and jeans in a simple wash (like dark navy or black).
As long as they’re still in good condition and still fit, it would be a good idea to keep your basics as you can wear these items with pretty much anything in your closet.
This is especially helpful if you’re trying to figure out how to create a capsule wardrobe on a budget.
For example, let’s say I bought a pair of really colorful patterned pants. Instead of also shopping for a new shirt to match with them, I’d already have some kind of basic black or white top in my closet to match with them, which saves me money.
So, no matter what kind of new style you’d like to head towards, your basics can adapt to your new closet, and you won’t have to get into the perpetual cycle of having to spend extra money on new items to match with your other new items.
3. Brainstorm before You Buy
If you’re unsure of what kind of items you’d like to get or what kind of style you’d like to try, you can brainstorm what you might like by way of a Pinterest board where you can add inspiration looks or browse store websites for ideas.
One of my favorite ways to start this process is to create a Pinterest mood board with the general aesthetic that I’m aiming for, plus any outfits/pieces that I’m drawn to.
This way, you’ll have a better idea of what might work well in your closet that you would actually wear on a regular basis. Only then should you make a new wardrobe shopping list.
That way, you can stop yourself from impulse buying something you might think would work well in your closet, but that you might not actually end up wearing.
4. See if You Can Repurpose Any Pieces
Otherwise known as upcycling, repurposing your pieces means you alter them in some way, most often by taking them apart and putting them back together in a new way.
For example, my mom’s friend repurposed her daughter’s old cardigan this way and knitted a really cool pattern that she stitched on the outside of the cardigan, giving it a brand-new design.
Perhaps you have a dress that you don’t wear anymore but you think it would look great as a skirt, or you have a shirt that’s falling apart but whose fabric could be used to make a headband.
If you’re not inclined towards sewing, you could always take these items to a professional in your area who can make these changes for you.
Here’s a video from Miss Matti on how to upcycle clothes:
5. Invest in High-Quality Pieces
When it comes to figuring out how to look great, one of my favorite tips is to invest in high-quality pieces.
This tip might require a bit of saving up, but it’s generally worth it. The best high-quality pieces to invest in would be the ones that you are sure, without a doubt, that you’ll wear.
For example, I enjoy skinny jeans since they’re like a sturdier version of leggings, but I don’t like them when they’re so tight that they’re uncomfortable and constricting.
So, I invested in a pair of black Citizens of Humanity jeans. They cost an arm and a leg, but the quality is great and they’re really comfortable (they’re also made in the US).
While you’ll often pay more upfront, you’ll actually save yourself money in the future as the item won’t deteriorate as quickly.
For example, I used to go through 1 pair of fast-fashion jeans in a year as they’d just get super stretched out (and get all puckery) with regular wear, but my Citizens look just the same as they did when I bought them several years ago.
Same with a pair of Frye boots that I bought—still the same after several years of regular wear compared with a pair of fast-fashion boots that completely broke within a year of regular wear.
Just make sure to do some research on the brand/style/item you’re looking at by checking out some reviews online to make sure that the quality is likely to be high.
Of course, simply having high-quality items still requires you to take good care of them.
6. If You’re Just Trying Out a Style, Go For the Cheaper Option First
This step isn’t the opposite of the above step, but rather, just a way to save money before you spend a lot on something you’re not sure about.
For example, let’s say you really want to try out wide-leg pants, but aren’t 100% sure if you’d like them or wear them a lot.
Instead of splurging on a pair of $200-$300 pants, try to find something cheaper, on sale, or at a well-priced thrift store.
You can try out the style, and, if you don’t like it, you won’t regret spending too much on something you didn’t wear.
Then, once you’ve noticed that you’re wearing that type of item a lot and it fits with your closet, you can invest in a higher-quality piece that will last you longer and save you money in the long run.
7. Sell Some Old Pieces for a New Wardrobe on a Budget
This method works best if you’ve still got the tags on the item or if it’s in really good/mint condition.
If you’ve got any luxury or high-ticket items that people are after, this works too, and you could sell items like these to a consignment store or online on places like Poshmark or DePop.
You could also sell some of your old stuff (not necessarily clothes) on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace too (e.g., video games you don’t play anymore, tech you don’t use anymore like speakers or monitors, furniture you’ve got stashed in storage, etc).
Additionally, some thrift stores offer discount coupons if you donate to them, which you can then use for a discount on some new clothes.
8. Turn to Low or No-Cost Ways to Get New Items
This is one of the best ways for figuring out how to be fashionable on a low budget, or if you just don’t want to spend a lot of money on new clothes.It’s also one of the best ways to create a budget capsule wardrobe that makes it super easy to mix and match everything.
This strategy includes thrift shopping and getting some items on sale. You can also ask friends if they’re planning on donating/giving away any pieces or check out websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Facebook Marketplace for free/good deals.
You can also check out websites like Bunz, where you can trade items you don’t use anymore and get something else.
You can even try to pair different items from your closet together, and maybe find that the only new thing you need to completely make an outfit different is a new sweater to go overtop!
9. Think about Accessories
One of my top shopping tips for clothes is actually to think about accessories. The way you accessorize an outfit can completely change the way that it looks.This makes accessories the perfect (and often low-cost) solution if you’re trying to create a capsule wardrobe on a budget or learning how to improve your style.
Accessories can make something more casual or more formal, add more edginess to an otherwise basic outfit, or change up the same outfit with a different flair each time depending on your choice of jewelry, etc.
When decluttering your closet, make sure to see which accessories you have, and try getting rid of them only after you’ve gotten some new clothes.
That way, if the accessories are still what you’d still like to wear, you can think about how you might pair them with your new clothes to get even more variety out of your wardrobe.
I personally love shopping on Etsy for cool designs and jewelry made of good quality material, plus, I get to support independent artisans as well!
9 Tips to Re-Do Your Wardrobe on a Budget – Conclusion
Re-doing your wardrobe on a budget doesn’t mean you have to wear low-quality items that you’ll have to keep on replacing, nor does it mean you have to compromise your personal style.
I hope these tips gave you some ideas for re-doing a wardrobe that you love, that feels true to you, and that you can wear for years to come.
And those clothes you just got rid of? Don’t throw them out! There are plenty of things you can do with old clothes to give them a new life once their time in your closet is over.
More Posts Related to Re-Doing Your Wardrobe on a Budget:
- 7 THRIFT SHOPPING TIPS TO SCORE YOU THE BEST FINDS
- HOW TO SPICE UP YOUR OUTFIT IN 7 EASY WAYS
- 5 SIMPLE TIPS TO REFRESH YOUR WARDROBE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK