Closet Shop for Your Next Favorite Outfit

by Elysha Lenkin

Did you know that most women only wear 20% of what’s in their wardrobe? That means that the other 80% just sits there – unloved and without purpose. Maybe these unworn items are hidden in the back of a packed closet so they can’t be seen. Or perhaps these pieces have always remained a mystery because you never knew how to match them with what you have.

Well, if you’re ready to maximize your wardrobe and re-energize your style, I’m going to show you how to style clothes you already have and share a closet shopping strategy that will get you feeling great in a brand new outfit made up of stuff you already own.

How to Style Clothes you Already Have

1. Take A Good Look Inside Your Closet

One of the big reasons we don’t wear what we own is because we don’t know what we have! I can’t tell you how many times I’d be digging through my drawers and find a top that I had completely forgotten about. Since even closet staples can easily be buried, the first step styling clothes you already have is to look at everything you own. Grab a ribbon or a piece of string and tie it around the center of your closet rod. Pull everything out, and put all the items you wear regularly to the right of the ribbon. All the items you never or rarely wear will go to the left side of the ribbon.

Get out of your style right with these 7 fabulous tips for how to style clothes you already have. From how to get started in your closet to adding pop...

2. Define Your Look

Now you’ll set an intention around how you’d like your new outfit to look. Think of three words that describe the way you want to feel when you’re wearing this outfit. It may help to glance at the clothes on the right side of the ribbon (the things you like to wear) and come up with some words that align with those items. For example, if you regularly wear denim button downs over A-line dresses and skinny belts, you may define your look as pretty, relaxed, and polished. If you’d like to expand on your current style, you could replace “polished” with “chic”. So now your intention is to create an outfit that feels pretty, relaxed and chic. Remember these words as you’ll be referring to them in a bit.

3. Create Your Outfit Foundation

This will be the basis of your look, and to give it a fresh feel, you’re going to use something from the left side of the ribbon (the clothes you don’t wear). For our closet shop, pick out one piece that you feel excited to put on. One thing to note, items that you don’t wear, and you don’t like anymore should be removed from your closet all together. There’s no need to hold onto things that you don’t like! Feel free to incorporate a mini closet cleanout, and get rid of the stuff you won’t ever wear. 

4. Make It Comfortable

Sometimes, the reason we don’t wear things is because we remember them as feeling uncomfortable. Maybe there’s a pretty sheer top that you loved when you bought it, but then you didn’t like being so sheer so now you’ve pushed that garment to the back, and never wore it again. This is why it’s essential to add a level of comfort to your look to ensure that you’ll feel good when you put it on. If the sheer top was your outfit foundation, add in a comfortable cami to layer underneath. This will provide the coverage you seek which allows the sheer top to come back into the regular outfit rotation. Other examples of comfort pieces – leggings or capris, or even bike shorts under a skirt or dress. Sneakers and flats are also comfortable.

5. Make It Look Like You

Since most of us want to look like ourselves when we get dressed, it’s important to thread your signature style into this outfit. If you’re confused about what your signature style is, then think back to the three words you came up with earlier. Those words will help guide you to select other items in your closet. The most important element is that this piece feels like you. If there is an accessory that’s in your closet and it aligns with your signature style, wear it! If you want to look chic, is there a silk scarf that you used to always wear, but have since cast it aside? Perhaps this can be added to the outfit.

6. Make It Special

It’s always nice when something we’re wearing gives us a sense of joy. I always feel this when I put on the black studded belt and knitted sweater that my grandmother left me. You may have something that you bought for yourself to celebrate a big success like a satchel handbag. Or maybe there’s a piece of jewelry that your husband gave you for your 10th anniversary. Grab this piece now, and incorporate it into your outfit.

Get out of your style right with these 7 fabulous tips for how to style clothes you already have. From how to get started in your closet to adding pop...

7. Make It Pop

The last element to bring into your look is something unexpected. This is when you take your outfit into AMAZING territory. Remember the words you used to describe how you want to feel? Keep them in mind as you peruse your belongings to find something extraordinary. It doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top. Think of what you normally do, and then push beyond that a bit. But don’t go so overboard that you create an outfit you won’t wear because it’s not you. Stay connected to the three words as you bring in an element of surprise. If you always wear black or neutral tones, add a pop of color. Maybe it’s a floral pink headscarf. Or yellow socks. It could even be bright pink lipstick or neon nail polish. Do you, but make it fun!

When you have styled an outfit out of clothes you already have, try it on and notice how you feel. Do the three words that you chose earlier come to mind? If you need to make any adjustments, try to pull items only from the left side of the closet. This way you’re reintegrating your 80% into a wardrobe you love. 

About Elysha

Elysha Lenkin helps busy women get the glow of confidence that comes from looking current in their clothing and feeling amazing in their skin. As a commercial stylist for 20 years, she’s styled women of all shapes and sizes including Tina Fey, Carrie Underwood and Serena Williams. Sign up for Elysha’s free challenge to Reclaim Your Style and create your signature look in 5 days.