How to Shop Your Closet When You Feel Like You Have Nothing Cool

There’s nothing sadder than a full closet empty of inspiration; you have too many clothes to count, but you still feel like you have nothing to wear! When we’ve worn all our outfits at least a hundred times, we’re compelled to just ditch our wardrobe completely and splurge on some brand-new clothes. But while our fashion-loving hearts say yes, our college budgets aggressively shake their heads no. Well, don’t give up on your closet just yet, as we’ve found some new ways to “shop” your own clothes and rediscover the pieces you’ve stayed so faithful to.

Mix things up!

When we curate our own collection of stylish outfits, we tend to go basic and put pieces together to create “safely” fashionable outfits. Instead of playing it on the safe side, try mixing it up! Unload some of your favorite tops and bottoms from your closet, then close your eyes and pick a top and bottom randomly! Even if the two pieces look odd together, try it on and see how you like it. Tuck parts in, cuff some sleeves, tie some sections here and there and see what you can create! Today, style is more limitless than ever; all kinds of clothing trends from different eras and different parts of the world are in right now, so don’t be afraid to be more experimental with your outfits. The results may shock you and have you smitten with a new sense of style.

Accessories are everything

Don’t forget about all your little bits and baubles as they can totally reshape the outfits you wear!  A patterned scarf or a pair of sparkling studs can give the most basic outfits a whole new life to them.

Micki Wagner, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, says accessories spice up many of her everyday outfits.  “For me, accessories can change the way I feel about an outfit. You can elevate a simple T-shirt and jeans by adding a chunky necklace or dangly earrings. Or you can make a sweater and leggings feel more polished by adding your favorite watch into the mix. The best part about this is that you can use accessories you already have or swap with your friends/sister/roommate,” Micki says. Hats are super trendy now too, so try on one of your old snapbacks or that fun fedora buried in your closet to level up all your outfits.

If you want an understated yet magical transformation to your outfits, your accessories are the way the to go!

Get some social media inspiration

Want to shake things up but still need some inspiration to get started? Our favorite social sites like Instagram and Pinterest are hotspots for some serious fashion inspiration. Surf through Instagram and Pinterest for the items you want to style or for certain styles you're going for (e.g. ‘90s chic, contemporary style, etc.).

“If I notice there's a certain tee shirt I haven't worn in a while, I'll look up 'white tee shirt outfits' on Pinterest and save a bunch of ideas. My outfit inspo board on Pinterest is titled ‘Project Runway,’” says Erica Galluscio, a junior at Hunter College.

Pinterest can provide tons of creative ideas for pairing pieces together, while Instagram can update you on all the latest fashion trends, trends you can replicate with your own wardrobe. 

“I shop at Fashion Nova frequently, so I like to look at the Fashion Nova/Nova Babes tags on Instagram to get inspiration,” says Chelsea Jackson, a senior at Iowa State University. Search for certain styles you want to recreate with your own wardrobe, and who knows, maybe you had all the pieces you needed to create a certain look that’ll be your new favorite.

Don’t ignore some of your clothes

We all have that one piece we thought would be our new fave outfit essential when we were buying it but now it's practically collecting dust.

Meghan Schaffer, a sophomore at the College of Holy Cross, says, “Look for pieces that you don’t wear that often. Find a new way to wear something that’s just been sitting in your closet —you bought it for a reason so there must be something you like about it.”

Maybe that one pair of weirdly fitting jeans just needed to be paired with one of your high cropped tops instead of a tee or that grandma sweater needed to be tied up at your upper torso and worn with some distressed shorts to look super cute and fashion-forward. Don't leave those neglected pieces behind, give them one last chance before you write them off as unwearable.

Learn to layer

If your dressing checklist usually goes “shirt, check, bottom, check, shoes, check” then you’re seriously missing out on a full-proof styling secret: layering! Layering more pieces onto your basic outfits brings more visual interest and personality to your style. Hannah Strader, a senior at the University of Kansas, looks to layering as an awesome way to dress up what she already wears.

“My favorite thing to do is play with layers. You can dress up a graphic tee by throwing on a jacket or blazer and wearing it with dressier pants and boots,” Hannah says. “My favorite piece of advice is to wear heels with yoga pants or joggers. It immediately dresses up everything. Plus, don’t be afraid to use regular button--up chambray shirts or plaids as a piece of outerwear to be layered on top of more basic pieces.”

Layering makes clothing look more detailed and put together and it makes what you already have in your closet more versatile. Experiment with different textures, patterns and colors in your closet and layer those unique pieces together to create a beautifully dynamic ensemble!

Splice different styles together!

The best styles are the ones too unique to even describe, and those are born when two fashion worlds collide! Instead of going for just one vibe when you dress up, try to put pieces with totally different vibes together and you might be surprised.

“I love to combine business professional and casual in my style,” says Chelsea. “I'll take a graphic/comic book t-shirt and layer it with a blazer or structured cardigan on top.”  

Streetwear mixed with French chic, bohemian spliced with punk styles, --all these combos can make some sick new ensembles that’ll set trends wherever you strut across campus!

Repurpose/DIY your closet!

Old can turn to gold when you give some of your clothes a much-needed makeover! Try repurposing and altering the pieces you’re tired of. Youtube and Pinterest have tons of cool DIYs for transforming your clothes. Ripping seams, cutting and re-sowing, bedazzling and ironing on patches and prints can revamp the oldest and most boring pieces into new ones you’ll be excited to wear. Turning a pair of old jeans into a cute pair of distressed shorts or transforming that flannel shirt into a gorgeous two-piece outfit are just some examples of what you can create from your own wardrobe. Live out your designer dreams and redesign your clothes into more personalized and creative art pieces you’ll wear every day!

Our closets always need a good reboot now and then, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend tons of money for a closet re-do or that we need to throw away all the pieces we’ve worn and loved for so long; ‘shopping’ your own closet is not only an affordable option but a sustainable one as well! Instead of throwing your unwanted clothes into the bin and contributing to waste, sustain your closet to a healthy degree and find all the wonderful things you overlook about the clothes you already have. As you shop through your closet, if you run into pieces you know have had a good run and are confident you won’t wear anymore, try donating them or recycling them. Have fun shopping in your closet till you drop and here’s to being fashionably, affordably and environmentally conscious!