Fun spring styles fill store windows, as outdoor temperatures creep upwards to bring pleasant seasonal weather. Fashion fans may look forward to browsing new apparel options, but price tags may prove perilous in challenging economic times.
How can you update your wardrobe without buying new clothing? Try these 10 simple steps for shopping in your own closet and creating brand-new stylish ensembles from items you already own.
- Bring a friend.
Hold your own TLC “What Not to Wear” episode by inviting a trusted pal into your closet. Pick a friend with an eye for fashion and the guts to tell you what to toss. You may even offer to swap a few items for fresh looks.
- Try everything on.
Turn your closet into a fitting room and try every garment. OK, this is time-consuming, but you may be surprised at the long-lost items that fit perfectly and the favorite ones that do not. You will realize that even your old Japanese school girl clothes you wore on one of your school activities can still be turned into something modern and fashionable. There is more you can explore in your closet. You just have to be stylish and creative.
Parade each look with a full-length mirror and decide what to keep or toss. If you can’t decide, ask your fashionable friend to photograph you from several angles, and check out your look.
- Make repairs.
Examine clothing carefully, and fix anything that needs it. Replace broken zippers and missing buttons, studs or snaps. Mend torn seams. Tack up droopy hems and torn trims. Enlist a sewing expert, or do it yourself.
- Give leathers a new life.
Authentic leather belts, boots, jackets, purses, shoes and vests can look better than new with a little care. Take a tip from an equestrian, and use some saddle soap to clean these treasured items. Then wipe the leather clean with a soft cloth before massaging in some neatsfoot oil or conditioner. The best products may be found in saddle and tack stores, not shoe shops.
Suede, of course, will only tolerate soft brushing. Avoid using moist products on rough-cut leather and suede.
- Change hemlines.
Fashion hemlines seem to go up and down faster than department store escalators. Revive tired frocks and skirts by making them shorter or longer to flatter your own figure.
- Reinvent pants.
Tired pants come alive with simple changes. Remove frayed cuffs and re-hem trousers. Try on bottoms with shoes boasting various heel types to see what works best.
Save too-short jeans by snipping them off to make capri pants or shorts. My favorite jean cutoffs used to be my best pair of jeans, trimmed after they shrank shorter from multiple washings.
- Mix and match.
Pick through your closet to create quirky new outfits. Be creative. Pair a faded jean jacket with a frilly floral frock for a funky fit. Add leggings to a shorter skirt, and slip on some strappy sandals for spring.
- Break up suits.
Unmatched suits are in. Don’t be afraid to separate store-bought ensembles. That classic navy blazer may look sharp with a pair of khaki chinos or walking shorts. A black cropped jacket looks sharp with white or pinstriped trousers. A couple of well-made suits quickly contribute to countless polished outfits.
- Enlist a tailor.
Proper fit is critical to fine fashion. Find a trustworthy tailor to remake clothing to fit your form. Let seams in or out, if your figure has changed. Take out shoulder pads, and resize jackets.
- Accessorize with imagination.
Familiar fashions feel fun with a splash of color. Add bangles, beads, brooches or scarves to dress up a plain top or dress. Slip a bright camisole under a boat-necked tee or scoop top. Exposed bra straps are out, so tanks and camis are indispensable allies.
Have fun with your old clothes, and they will feel like new. Why not go shopping in your own closet before browsing in pricey shops?