Ever feel like everything in your closet doesn't work? We've had those mornings too. But you may be surprised to know that you don't need a whole new wardrobe to fix that feeling. In fact, you can look great, and save time doing it by simply re-organizing the way you handle your wardrobe. We caught up with some top-notch stylists to see just how it's done. Here, seven ways to change your look for the better—without spending a dime!
To look perfectly polished and make a go, choose outfits that match your personality. Create a style inspiration board on Pinterest by pinning outfits and celebrities whose looks you admire, recommends Catherine Sheppard, a celebrity stylist based in Los Angeles and founder of The Life Styled, a personal styling services company. “You’ll start to see a trend in the styles you gravitate toward after about 50 pins,” says Sheppard. “Plus, seeing what other people are wearing will give you inspiration on how to put outfits together and ideas on which items you’d like to add to your wardrobe.”
Weed Out the Clutter
“You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time,” says Bernadett Vajda, a New York-based image consultant and style expert. Having wardrobe clutter means you’re wading through stuff that’s just wasting space, and that also wastes precious time. “I suggest removing every single item from your closet and trying things on in front of an honest friend,” says Vajda. Then separate your clothes into three piles (keep, donate/sell, or alter).
Try a Hanger Trick
“Getting dressed should be fun and not stressful,” says Ashley Martini, author of Styletini: Shake Up Your Style, Stir Up Your Confidence. “That’s why closet organization is key.” After you’ve cleared out wardrobe clutter, organize your closet either by style or season and then by color. Martini suggests buying extra hangers that are different from the ones you currently own and putting an item back on the new hangers each time you wear something to differentiate what you have and haven't worn. After about six months, look at what you haven't worn and decide if you should give it away to keep your closet de-cluttered for the long haul.
Create a Capsule Wardrobe
To get ready faster and look polished, Martini says another key factor is acquiring what fashion insiders call a capsule wardrobe to take you anywhere and get you through almost any situation or event. “Keep quality in mind over quantity.” A few basics you should have: a little black dress, a fitted pair of dark-washed jeans, a pencil skirt, a cashmere sweater, a navy or black blazer, ballet flats, nude pumps, and a tailored white shirt. Find yourself lacking many must-have staples and on a serious budget? Check out Swapdom, an app and website where you can trade fashion finds.
Spend Where It Counts
While you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe to look fashionable, it is a good idea to splurge on everyday staples that add life to your style, says Sheppard. When you invest in high-quality pieces—an everyday handbag, great pair of boots, or leather jacket—you’ll take more pride in putting them on and won’t feel like you’ll have to keep buying things to replace them with. “Last year I splurged on a designer handbag, and I’m really getting my money’s worth from it,” says Sheppard. “It makes me feel like a fashionista even when I’m just wearing ripped jeans and a tee.”
Follow the ABC Rule
The secret to dressing for your body type is to accentuate, balance, and camouflage, says Vajda. “It's all about the ABCs: I have a client who is a size 18 and thought she had big arms. She purchased an entire sleeveless wardrobe after I showed her how to balance her figure with the right dresses.” Start by accentuating the things you love about your body, such as showing off toned legs with above-the-knee dresses and jeggings. Then balance out your silhouette to make your dimensions appear more symmetrical. “If you have narrow hips and wide shoulders, you should wear peplum skirts and dresses to help your body look more proportioned,” says Vajda. Finally, camouflage your flaws. If you do have big arms, skip cap-sleeve styles that only draw attention to this area and go for just-above-the-elbow and three-quarter length sleeves. Conceal tummy bulge with tops with a wide band at the waist. The bottom line? Trust your intuition. “You have to feel good in the clothes and skin you're in,” says Vajda.
Have the Proper Tools
“We all know the importance of accessories—shoes, handbags, belts, and jewelry—to complete an outfit, but what most women don’t know are the tricks of the trade that undercover wardrobe magic and help us all look perfectly put together,” said Stacy London of What Not To Wear, who has collaborated with style essentials company Hollywood Fashion Secrets on a new line that includes expert tools. “Summer dressing, with its skin-baring apparel, is a key time for using expert short-cuts that lift, hide, secure, tuck, tighten and hem to get more out of your current wardrobe.” For example, racer back styles are popular during the summer. She suggests using a bra-converting clip to adjust a traditional bra into a racer-back style and eliminate straps from showing. London also says that side-exposing tops and dresses are all the rage this summer. She says to do what stylists do and use fashion tape to keep just the right amount of breast flesh exposed.