According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends over $1600 per year on new clothing, with more money spent on women’s apparel than on clothes for men or children. That’s a ton of money, especially during tough economic times.
If you want to look your best without spending a lot of money, there are a couple of tricks, tips, and tactics that can help you spice up your tired wardrobe.
1. Check the Fit
Examine every single piece of clothing you own (even your underwear and bathing suits!), and make sure it fits properly. Have a friend watch you model each outfit if you need a second opinion about how your clothes are fitting.
Toss what doesn’t work at all, and tailor the rest. If you can’t afford tailoring, get creative with the rest of your ill-fitting clothes: use big belts to cinch oversized shirts and dresses, or sew side panels into your favorite jeans to add room to the legs and color to your ensemble.
2. Stay Organized
It’s time to go shopping in your closet. But just like with any store, you need to neatly organize all the merchandise. Pull everything out, and you will doubtless find entire outfits you had forgotten all about. When you put everything back in the closet, set aside the stuff that’s out of season, and organize the rest by occasion, and then by color. This will make getting dressed in the morning a much more streamlined affair.
3. Get Crafty
The humble t-shirt likely makes up a large percentage of your wardrobe. To inject a breath of fresh air into your tired stable of t-shirts, all you need is a pair of scissors (or maybe a needle and thread, if you’re feeling adventurous.) Use scissors to cut a larger, boatneck-style opening at the top of the shirt to show off more shoulder or collarbone, or shred the sleeves and back for a vintage biker look. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, cut the front of the t-shirt down the middle, remove the collar and buttons from an old button down shirt, and sew the two together to create a button down t-shirt.
4. Get a Haircut
So what does your hair have to do with sprucing up your wardrobe? Quite a lot, actually. Imagine a woman dressed in tight black jeans and a black trench coat. Now imagine her in the same outfit, but with long curly hair. Now with a blue mohawk. Now with dreadlocks.
She looked completely different, right?
Changing your hairstyle completely changes the way your entire outfit is perceived. Spend $40 on a haircut, or spend $400 on a new wardrobe? The results will likely be pretty much the same.
5. Swap ‘Til You Drop
Get together with your friends and swap clothes and accessories. Also keep an eye out for swap events in your nearest metropolitan area, which are generally free or ask for a suggested donation to benefit local charities.
6. Make New Accessories
Have a drawer filled with shirts that are missing buttons or skirts with tears that you’ve been meaning to fix? Transform your clothing junk drawer into fresh new accessories. A length of fabric from a skirt can be used as a scarf, or braided together to create a woven belt. Take leftover buttons and use them to create earrings or necklaces, and scavenge any beading or decorative elements to use on future projects.
7. Think Long-Term
Long-term storage, that is. Here’s the thing. The stuff you have now that’s 5-10 years old is outdated, but not yet old enough to be cool and vintage. Store those items for another decade or two, and you’ll have a vintage wardrobe that will be the envy of everyone in 2031.
Swap out the buttons on your shirts with fun and funky buttons from your local craft store. It’s a small change that only takes a small amount of time and money, but can completely overhaul the look of the staple pieces in your closet.
You can make tired items look brand new by taking proper care of them. Brighten whites with bleach or Oxi-Clean, and choose detergents that protect color. Always separate your whites from your colors, and wash your clothes in cold water to prevent against color loss over time.
10. Distress for Success
Rub jeans and t-shirts with 100-grit sandpaper to give them a distressed look. Why pay a hundred bucks for ragged jeans when you could just make them yourself?
Reinvigorating your bland wardrobe might take a little planning and elbow grease, but your wallet will thank you for doing it on the cheap.
Do you have any tips for improving your wardrobe on a shoestring budget? Share them with us in the comments below!