How to Shop Your Closet

November 3, 2014

How to Shop Your Closet | Peaceful Dumpling

Have you heard that self-control is a limited resource? I definitely believe it. When I’ve been working hard, or resisting the urge to do something, I tend to splurge on something else like getting a vegan chocolate chip cookie. October was a particularly busy one-month period, and so my resolve to save up before the holidays is really being tested. Here is what I spent on clothing this month: first it was a tiny little ring ($24), then a pair of leggings ($16; necessary), then a cute fitness cover-up top ($20) and then finally a skirt ($44). It starts so innocently but adds up quickly–and with taxes, it would definitely have been enough to buy an investment piece like a new overcoat. How annoying!

So instead of feeling frustrated that I can’t go out and buy a new coat, I’ve turned to my own, admittedly fairly full closet for some new clothes. Shopping your closet was a big thing back around 2008-2009, but I don’t think it should ever really go *out*. It’s actually really therapeutic to take some time on a sunny fall afternoon, listening to music and finding some things you completely forgot you had. It’s also a good way to re-focus on your signature style so when you do buy something new, it fits what you already have. Shop your closet this week and see how many “new” outfits you get for free!

1. Do an inventory check.

As always, this all starts with knowing exactly what’s inside your closet and dressers. Go through your closet and see which ones are actually worth saving and re-purposing. If anything strikes you as too old, outdated or worn out, do put it in the “Donate” pile, because you won’t wear it again even if you keep it. Same thing goes for anything you bought on impulse and wore just a few times, or whatever doesn’t fit just right. But if it is classic, and you’ve worn it a hundred times before because it fits great, all it probably needs is a little TLC. Below, a favorite trench coat I got at Zara in April 2010 for about $100–clean and like new after $20 dry cleaning.

How to Shop Your Closet | Peaceful Dumpling

2. Re-think old outfits for a new look. 

One thing I’ve noticed from my winter closet is that my style has changed since last year, from more formal and ladylike to casual and actually more youthful. It’s not so much that my aesthetics has changed than that I’ve gone from buying office-appropriate clothes to more weekend-y clothes (for the week). Take this mini-houndstooth wrap dress from DKNY (above) that I bought in August 2012 for $88 (yep, memory like that). I used to wear this all the time, with fitted overcoat and stiletto heels…and now I wouldn’t go anywhere dressed like that, not even business meetings. Now I would dress it down with chunky-heeled knee-high boots and a cozy grandpa sweater–and voila, an outfit you can wear to brunch! Whatever investment piece you re-discover, try layering different types of sweaters or jackets, adding a belt or a scarf to freshen up the look.

3. Fix your shoes.

I’m fanatical about fixing my old shoes. If the heel is uneven and sloping (happens a lot to stilettos) or either the soles or the heels are worn down, take them to the shoe repair to get rubber soles on them. You might feel like you’re spending more money on soles than the shoes themselves, but this will save you so much money in the long-run, not to mention the environment.

How to Shop Your Closet | Peaceful Dumpling

Franco Sarto faux-leather knee high boots, gift, Christmas 2012

4. Tailor your jeans. 

How many pairs of jeans do you own? And how many of them actually fit you perfectly? Chances are, you have a lot of jeans and maybe 1-2 that you always wear because they fit you like a glove. Try on the pairs you don’t wear often and see if you can get them tailored just like the perfect pair. I’ve gotten my too-long skinny jeans hemmed, and a pair of boot-cut jeans tapered to straight-leg based on my favorite jeans. Now you have your own ideal fit without feeling frustrated in the dressing room!

5. Incorporate new trends.

The truth of the matter is, no matter how timeless your style, trends change–and you risk looking outdated if you resurrect your favorite outfit from Fall 2010. The key is to research new trends and incorporate the ones you like into your look (hello, Pinterest!). Even if you keep the main elements (the investment dress, the jacket) the same, little tweaks are going to keep you looking fresh. For instance: what I’m really excited for this season is sheer black nylons instead of opaque black tights I used to swear by. I also am keeping my eye out on thin, thin single-sole stilettos to compete with all my other platform heels. So yes, I might end up having to buy a few new things, but what’s style without some sense of fun? 🙂

How to Shop Your Closet | Peaceful Dumpling


Faux suede court shoe by Missguided ($47.48)–you better watch out, I have my eyes on you!

Also see: Eco Chic Lingerie and Loungewear for Fall 2014

How to Update Your Wardrobe

How to Find Your Signature Style


Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Missguided

Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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