Useful Links to Help You “Shop Your Closet”

Many of us are trying to pare down our wardrobes, shop less often, and add fewer pieces to our closets. However, we sometimes worry that in doing so, we might sacrifice style and not look as polished and put together as we’d like.

We often think we need to buy more in order to cultivate new looks and keep our style fresh.  While buying new pieces is one way to update our look, it’s not the only way.  There is a lot of possibility waiting to be unleashed inside our very own closets!  Today’s useful links post focuses on the practice of “shopping your closet” and how it can help us to save money, better use what we have, and amp up our style quotient.

Shop Your Closet

There is more possibility in your closet than you think!

What Does It Mean to “Shop Your Closet” and Why Do It?

This first link comes from the queen of shopping your closet, Jill Chivers of  In this classic post from 2010, Jill presents the two main facets involved in “shopping your wardrobe”: the proper attitude and creating a working wardrobe.  Part of the attitude involves patience, as it takes time – often years! – to build a wardrobe that works for you.  The first step is to stop shopping randomly!

Read this article for lots of helpful tips, written in Jill’s inimitable style.  If you decide you want to really dive into shopping your wardrobe, check out Jill’s “30 Day Shop Your Wardrobe Challenge.”  I’m definitely going to take on this challenge and will write about it in future posts!

Angie of “You Look Fab” shares her thoughts on why shopping your closet (SYC, for short) can be an important part of one’s style journey, as well as a great way to save money.  She includes insights from one of her forum members on how shopping her closet provided multiple benefits even after a very short period of time.  I recommend also reading the many comments (61!) on this post for a variety of perspectives on how SYC has impacted people’s lives.

Some Tips for How to Shop Your Closet

Bridgette Raes writes that she’s probably the only style expert on the planet who doesn’t shop for sport. Perhaps that’s one reason why her articles always make so much sense! They are objective and sensible and a refreshing change from the types of articles most fashion professionals churn out.  In this blog post, Bridgette offers advice for how to create new outfits using the pieces you already have.  She includes sample outfit photos and some great tips for creating fun and fresh color combinations.

Huffington Post style writer, Anya Strzemien, found herself feeling incredibly bored with her clothes, so she hired consignment store manager Tara Muscarella to help her add some spark back into her wardrobe and style.  Tara offers sage advice for all of us, as she helps Anya to re-style a few of her sentimental closet pieces.  Be sure to check out the slide show which shows the new looks that Tara created for Anya.  While I don’t love all of them, I definitely took inspiration from Tara’s creative styling approach.

I Hope These Links Inspired You!

I hope these links have inspired you to shop your closet!  Even if you’re planning to shop in the stores soon, it’s a good idea to spend some time in your closet first to get a better idea of what you have and how it all works together.  Working more with what you have will help you to better understand what might need to fill in the gaps. Who knows? You might find you don’t really need anything new right now!

12 thoughts on “Useful Links to Help You “Shop Your Closet”

  1. I am currently “shopping my closet” as I piece together my wardrobe for the Project 333 challenge.

    In a previous comment I mentioned that I have a lot of pieces but many of these don’t combine to make complete outfits and so many clothes are not being worn enough because there is a lack of items/accesories to tie to my existing wardrobe.

    I thought that I had too much color and print but I have discovered that I have TOO many neutrals and haven’t chosen which neutrals to base my wardrobe on. So, I have black, grey, taupe, white, cream, camel, navy, brown and olive. Which sounds fine except that all the tones are different so they don’t work together either. And that explains why a grey cardigan that I love does not get worn because it doesn’t work with the other tones of grey in my closet. It also explains why I always end up working everything back to denim jeans, it’s often the only thing that works. Lesson: choose a couple of neutrals to work with!!!

    There is too much print. I am always attracted to print but again it creates problems as many only work with one neutral. Lesson: again, choose a couple of neutrals and work the prints with those neutrals plus look for more plain fabrics which tie in.

    Too many shoes. especially sandals and “pretty” shoes which are the shoe version of the above problems.

    I thoroughly recommend the Project 333 challenge. Paring down your closet forces you to look very closely at your clothes and how they work together. In my case, I am clearly seeing that my shopping mistakes are not because the garment itself was necessarily a mistake but because there is no cohesion to what I am often buying. It has also stopped me yesterday from buying a “cute” taupe cashmere cardigan I thought would be good “basic” because I am now seriously re-considering taupe as one my neutrals. Just saved a lot of $$$$.

    • Building a wardrobe is tough business, isn’t it, Carolyn? I can identify with so much of what you wrote! Like you, I also bought a lot of items that were great on their own but didn’t necessarily make for a good cohesive wardrobe. I bought SO many similar pieces but didn’t understand why I became bored with my wardrobe. Project 333 really helps to bring such issues to light. You are already reaping the benefits of shopping your closet. Just be gentle with yourself and patient with the process. It takes time to build a workable wardrobe but it’s worth the effort and the wait! I’m starting to feel much better about my wardrobe as I pare down and add new pieces less frequently and more selectively. I’m sure the same thing will be true for you!

    • Caroline: Lots of neutrals to choose from to create a core of 3 or 4 (taupe, cream, camel, and brown sounds pretty as does black, grey, white and another color). Some of your neutrals are “cool” colors — black, navy, grey, and white — and some are “warm” colors: cream, brown, camel, and olive; taupe is generally a “neutral” neutral. You probably can do a crossover among the warm and cool colors (a navy blazer with cream pants sounds delectable) but generally either the white or cream will look better with your skin tone. I have a black-grey-red-white wardrobe with some pink, purple, and blue playing secondary and tertiary roles. I’ve limited number of prints because they are limiting. My wardrobe is small but very workable, and it took me years to get it right.

      • Dottie, thanks for your encouragement. The problem is I just don’t want all this in my closet anymore. Getting dressed every day is torture and then at the end, there is a giant pile of the discarded clothes to clean up. Packing for a trip is a trauma!!! I am sick of wasting so much time, energy and thought into getting dressed, cleaning up and re-arranging my wardrobe.

        I have ALL the neutral colors covered. But I don’t want to invest any more money or energy into making all of these work because they don’t. For example, I have 2 pairs of olive pants, 2 olive pullovers, a cardigan, shoes and a jacket. None of these olives go together!!! They are all different tones. The garments themselves are all good but not together. I have one fantastic pair of olive green pants which I love. They are keepers as they work with white and black and navy and I love wearing them but they are enough. I didn’t need to go and buy any more in that color, I just needed to extend the wearability of the original pair of pants. I don’t even want to dress in head to toe olive anyway!!!

        I took a different approach to how I usually do a closet cleanout and removed all the neutral core garments. I started with all my favorite tops whether plain or print and then worked around those, putting back the neutrals/basics that worked in bottoms, jackets, then shoes.
        This helped me see just how many neutral basics I actually have, and, there are just way TOO many, most of which did not help to create a cohesive closet.
        I have now eliminated several groups – taupe, brown and olive, all the sludgy, muddy colors. I like clear jewel tones and for core colors I like black, blue-based greys, dark blue denim and white + navy and camel. I just don’t even know how they got in there in the first place!!! Somehow I am easily swayed off-course. I need to really remember who I am, what I like and what works for me and stick with that. Getting there.

      • Caroline: I hear you about getting dressed in the morning. In high school I actually considered careers that required a uniform so I wouldn’t spend so much time deciding what to wear — and I had a much smaller wardrobe than I do now. I also understand the emotional and monetary investment that your clothes may represent but it sounds like you have been overwhelmed by your wardrobe — “spoiled for choice,” as the British say. I found that what works for me is limiting my options to clothing that gives me great joy in wearing and that work well together. I know what colors work for me and when I go to a store I look ONLY at those colors. I also have a good visual memory for color and can match items bought in different places pretty well or I buy matchy-matchy items in the same place and from the same dye lot. Even blacks don’t always match! Regarding packing for a trip: I plan my wardrobe weeks, even moths, in advance and make a simple spreadsheet of what I plan to take and what items can be worn with others. My last trip (2-weeks this summer) evolved around two pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts, 6 tops (sleeveless, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, dressy, sporty, etc.), 1 lightweight rain jacket, 1 pr. sandals, 1 pair walking shoes, 1 pr. flip flops, 1 bathing suit, 1 robe, 1 pr. jammies, a pashmina, and undies. All of this went into small non-wheeled carry-on. All the tops worked with the pants and shorts, the sandals and pashmina worked with everything, etc. Limiting choice made planning my trip easier, packing (I was in several locations) easier, and flying easier.

      • Sounds like you’re doing well, Carolyn. Dottie gave you some good feedback, but she also said it took her a long time to get to where she is with her wardrobe. It will take some time for you to create a wardrobe that really works for you, just as it will for me, too. I think that if you stick with Project 333, things will become clearer for you and you’ll get a better handle on your color palette and what works best for you. I know it’s tough, but hang in there! I think you’re on the right path.

  2. Thanks Debbie for all these resources. They are perfect reading for someone like me who is on a shopping diet and also doing Project 333 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Megan! I’m glad you find these resources useful. I got a lot out of re-reading the articles and watching the video myself!

  3. Thank you for the wonderful resources you posted. I finished my closet clean-out, and while I have only clothes in there that I like and wear well, it sure looks empty in there. I hope this is just an adjustment.

    • I’m glad you liked these resources, Cornelia. Congrats on doing your closet clean-out! I know it can be a shock to have things look so empty, but you probably weren’t wearing the things you got rid of anyway. I’m guessing that after a bit of time, you’ll feel much happier with your closet. Best wishes!

    • You’re welcome, Diana. I’m glad you found this post before all of the holiday shopping craziness!

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