I love the idea of “shopping your closet” for outfits you may not already know you own. Doing a deep closet shop can be great for a number of reasons like saving money or living a more minimalist lifestyle. I love to do it for three main reasons:
a) It cuts down on the clutter in my closet, so I can actually see and make use of my outfits.
b) It gives my clothes an even wear.
c) Everything feels new again because I haven't seen it or worn it in six months!
Below are my 10 favorite tips and tricks for how to shop your closet cheaper, better, and more efficiently than you have previously (and I promise, most of these you haven't heard before!) We'll cover important steps such as:
- Do a closet inventory
- Pack away seasonal items
- Mix pieces you're thinking of getting rid of with things you love
- Make a list of staple items you're missing
- Throw away anything with rips, tears, stains
- Shop off season for missing items
- Make an annual clothing budget and stick to it
Tips for How to Closet Shop Effectively
#1- Start By Taking an Inventory of Your Closet
Depending upon the season and what you shopped for last year, there could be a surplus of items in one category. After living in NYC for two years, I have now have more sweaters and boots than I need in Atlanta.
I write down the things I'm missing (rain boots, for example), maybe a few items that need to be replaced (my trusty flats! a black tank top!). This helps me shop my closet better and ensure I'm not buying multiples of items I already own. When I need really high quality basics, my girl at Trunk Club helps me shop for them.
A Spring/Summer wardrobe and a Fall/Winter one. At the end of every season, ceremoniously pack away the out-of-season clothes. Personally, I put them in boxes and stash them out of sight either in my closet, or in another part of the house entirely.
#3 – Tag “Borderline” items and pack those away after six months
I tag a few “borderline” items that I knew I didn't get much wear out of to see if I wear them again the next season. If something that I've tagged from last winter doesn't get worn again the following one, I donate it instead of packing it away. Packing and unpacking for each season also allows me to inspect my clothes more carefully than I would if I just left them in the closet all year long.
#4 – Pair Borderline Items with Unexpected Pieces
Sometimes if I have a “borderline” piece, i.e. something I haven't worn in six months but still love or feel an attachment to, I'll take it out for a spin with something I've never worn it with before, just to see if I feel the same way about it, or if I can make it “work” with my current closet. A lot of times, this feels like I'm wearing something new, even when it isn't. If the outfit rocks, I'll keep the piece and wear it again. If it doesn't, I'll donate it.
#5 – Buy Off Season and Pack Away to “Shop” Later
Keep the extra “thrill” alive by packing away new items you bought off season and can't wear for a few months in pretty tissue paper in a separate box. I don't need to tell you that shopping off-season can save huge amounts of money.
#6 – Purge Without Question or Regret
Rips, tears, and stains? Throw away those items (no matter how much you love them) or donate them to goodwill. Seriously. I do this so I always look neat and that my clothes are in the best shape possible!
#7 – Shop the Magazines and Compare
I also allow myself to “shop” magazines twice a year to see what the trends are. I no longer subscribe since getting help for my shopping addiction but in the fall and spring I look at what is in style in the magazines and compare to my closet. Some items I used to own will come back in style, and other items I own that are more “Classic” will line up better with trendy jewelry etc.
Based on what is in style I pick two-three of my favorite “trendy” pieces and write them down. This allows me to indulge in the trends without going over budget or buying a lot of things I don't need.
#8 – Create a Targeted Budget
So after I've taken inventory of what I “need” to get for the season, I take the number of items and divide my total clothing budget by that number (find out how much to spend on clothes in a year, here). If I need 10 items…300/10=30.00 per item. $300 is usually what I spend in the quarter (unless I'm on a no-shopping challenge, or trying to aggressively pay down debt!)
#9 – Creatively Stretch Your Budget
What if you don't have a clothing budget for the reasons listed above, or what if you just got laid off, or seriously need to cut back for another reason? Think of creative ways to access new-to-you clothes whether its waiting for a gift occasion from friends and family, indulging in a clothing swap with similarly sized girlfriends, or shopping on Ebay (I get HUGE discounts on things I want from Ebay.) Necessity is the mother of invention, you know.
#10 – Start The Rotation
Are you bad about wearing the same things over and over again? Me too. So I intentionally hang things I've worn in the back of my closet and keep the unworn items at the front. When planning my outfits, I try to make them out of items so everything gets worn. It doesn't really matter how you set up the rotation, just that you find something that works for you.