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14 Ways to Expand Your Wardrobe on a Tight Budget

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Are you looking for ways to expand your wardrobe without breaking the bank? Contrary to what some fashion publications might tell you, you don’t have to fill your closet with a bunch of new clothes to achieve a fresh look! There are several ideas you can use, even starting today, to expand your wardrobe and make it feel bigger than what it really is – all while on a tight budget. Nope, it’s not too good to be true. Read on!

1. Shop Your Own Closet

Sometimes, the solution to our wardrobe woes is right under our noses! That’s right – I’m talking about your closet. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with the same outfits on repeat, but with a little creativity, you can breathe new life into your existing wardrobe.

In order to shop your own closet, first you have to be aware of everything you have. You might be surprised to find forgotten gems lurking in the back or buried in a pile. Now is the time to channel your inner child, play dress up with your clothes, and experiment with different combinations to create new outfits!

Related: Reinvent Your Wardrobe: How To Put Together Outfits With Clothes You Already Have

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2. Try Out a New Style or Trend You’ve Never Worn Before

One clever way to expand your wardrobe and make it feel as if you have a lot more options is to experiment with a new style or trend. Take a chance on something you haven’t worn before and see where it takes you!

Of course, you don’t want to adopt an entirely different style persona. The trick is to pick new trendy pieces that align with your existing style.

Perhaps you have a classic style and want to add something to your look to “liven” it up. One great trendy style to take part in would be animal print, specifically leopard print. Though I don’t consider it to be a trend, and neither does former Creative Director and President of J.Crew, Jenna Lyons (“leopard print is a neutral”), it’s thought of as a trendy style that could add a current twist to your outfit, plus it seamlessly works with the other neutrals in your wardrobe.

Or perhaps you’ve always admired the bold prints and colors of bohemian fashion, but haven’t had the confidence to try it for yourself. Why not dig out that embroidered blouse or flowy skirt you’ve been keeping at the back of your closet and give it a go? Pair it with your favorite denim or leather jacket and see how it feels.

Related: How to Dress Your Style and Choose Pieces That Will Perfectly Complement Your Signature Look

3. Host a Clothing Swap

Clothing swaps are essentially events where people gather to trade their gently used clothes and accessories with others. You know the saying: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

And if a clothing swap isn’t a common thing in your friend group, why not be the first person to host one? You can make a day of it by inviting a group of friends over to bring items they no longer wear or need and then trade with one another.

Not only is it a great excuse for a fun get-together, but you’ll also be adding to your wardrobe without spending a dime. (Oh, and offer snacks, because who can refuse free food?)

4. Rent Clothing for Special Occasions or for a Temporary Wardrobe Update

Are you tired of buying clothes that you’ll only wear once or twice for a special occasion? Instead of shelling out the cash for a new outfit, consider renting clothes for the occasion. This is also a great option if you need a temporary wardrobe update!

Renting clothes has become more popular in recent years with the rise of online rental services. You can find a variety of options – from designer dresses for the black tie wedding you were invited to, to cute tops and pants for the month when you feel totally uninspired. Not only is this a cost-effective way to switch up your wardrobe, but it’s also sustainable by reducing the amount of clothing waste.

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5. Borrow From Your Boyfriend, Husband, Friend, or Roommate

Have you thought about borrowing clothes from someone close to you? Whether it’s your significant other, your best friend, or even your roommate, there’s likely someone in your life whose wardrobe you can tap into for a fresh and exciting change.

For instance, maybe your husband has a cozy sweater that would look cute and oversized on you or your best friend has a pair of statement earrings that you’d love to borrow for a night out.

There are certain things I love to dip into my husband’s wardrobe for, specifically sweaters and button-downs. Oh, and sweats, because they are just so much roomier than womens!

6. Personalize Your Clothing With Sewing, Painting, or Embroidery

Whether it’s adding some embroidery to a plain t-shirt, painting your shoes, or adding patches to a denim jacket to give it a unique twist, personalizing your clothing is one of the best ways to make it feel as if you have new pieces!

Use fabric paint to add some color and designs to your shoes or clothing. You can use stencils if you’re not comfortable with doing freehand on your designs. If you have some basic sewing skills, you can add some extra details to your clothing. For example, you can add some lace or ribbon to the collar of a blouse or add some patches to a denim jacket.

Embroidery is also a great way to add some texture and interest to your clothing. You can embroider a small design on a t-shirt or go all out and embroider a jacket or dress.

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7. Score Some Second-hand Finds

If you want to expand your wardrobe on a budget, thrift stores can be your best friend. As long as you’re willing to put in some work, it can turn into a fun treasure hunt!

When shopping at thrift stores, keep an open mind and be prepared to spend some time looking through racks. But it’s worth it because you never know what goodies you might find.

Don’t limit yourself to just the women’s or men’s section. You can often find great oversized t-shirts or sweaters in the men’s section that can be styled in a trendy, oversized look for women.

And while you’re at it, look for vintage pieces: Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of vintage items that can add a unique touch to your wardrobe. Look for items from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that are making a comeback in fashion.

8. Learn How To Upcycle Old Clothing

Feeling tired of seeing the same old clothes in your closet day after day? Why not learn how to upcycle your old clothes to give them new life? With just a few simple tweaks, you can transform your clothes into something fresh and exciting.

First, start with your old clothes. Take a good look at what you have, and identify what you no longer wear. These could be clothes that are outdated, ill-fitting, or just plain boring. Once you’ve identified them, consider what you can do to improve them.

You can try cutting up old clothes to make new designs, such as turning an old T-shirt into a tank top or creating a new skirt from an old pair of pants.

Another option is to alter the fit of your old clothes. If a shirt is too big or too long, try cutting it down to size or adding a few darts to create a more fitted silhouette. You can also try shortening a dress or skirt, or even turning a pair of jeans into shorts.

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9. Embrace Accessories To Add Variety to Your Outfits

As you may already know, accessories are the easiest way to expand your wardrobe without spending a lot of money on new clothes. Adding a scarf, hat, or statement piece of jewelry can take a simple outfit to the next level.

Scarves are versatile and can be worn in a variety of ways, such as around your neck, in your hair, or even as a belt. Hats can be a fun way to express your personality while also protecting your skin from the sun. A statement necklace or pair of earrings can add a pop of color or shine to an outfit.

Another great thing about accessories is that they can easily be swapped out to create a completely different outfit. Try adding a scarf or statement necklace to an outfit that you wore last week and see how it transforms the look!

Related: 14 Creative Ways to Accessorize Your Outfit

10. Try Out Different Colors To Add Diversity to Your Wardrobe

When it comes to expanding your wardrobe, experimenting with different colors can give you more styling options and therefore, expand your wardrobe.

One way to try out different colors is to start with small accents, such as accessories like jewelry or scarves. Another idea is to invest in pieces with patterns or prints that incorporate multiple colors.

This way, you can add some variety to your wardrobe without going completely out of your comfort zone. A printed skirt or dress with different hues can also make it easier to mix and match with different tops and accessories.

Related: How Do You Add a Pop of Color to a Neutral Outfit? Follow These 6 Tips

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11. Shop Clearance Sales and End-of-Season Discounts To Find Affordable New Pieces

Though you don’t need to fill your wardrobe with new clothes to expand your wardrobe, why not take advantage of clearance sales and end-of-season discounts to purchase things you need? It’s only smart! This is a great opportunity to grab those statement pieces or timeless wardrobe staples that you may have been eyeing at a lower price.

End-of-season discounts are also a great opportunity to snag pieces that you can wear during the following season. For example, a winter coat can be purchased at a discount at the end of winter and can be worn for many years to come.

12. Repurpose Old Clothing To Expand Your Leisure Wardrobe

We all have those items in our closets that are too worn out or no longer fit our style, but before tossing them out, consider repurposing them as loungewear or workout wear. This not only expands your leisure wardrobe but also gives old clothes a new purpose and saves money.

For loungewear, oversized t-shirts can be turned into cozy nightgowns or sleep shirts. Repurposing old clothing not only gives you more options for leisure wear, but it’s also an eco-friendly choice. Not only will you expand your wardrobe, but you’ll also feel good about giving old clothes new life.

13. Experiment With Layering Different Pieces

Layering is my favorite way to make the most of a wardrobe and create new looks without spending a dime! A simple long-sleeved shirt can transform a sleeveless dress into a cold-weather-appropriate outfit. This look is perfect for transitioning from summer to fall, or for a night out when the temperature drops.

You can get even more creative too. For example, a floral dress can look great with a striped shirt underneath, as long as the colors are harmonious. Layering is a great way to make the most out of your wardrobe and experiment with different styles and looks. Plus, it’s a practical solution for chilly weather without sacrificing style.

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14. Invest in Timeless Wardrobe Staples

Even though this post is about being on a tight budget, I can’t finish this post without mentioning one of the best ways to expand your wardrobe! When it comes to expanding your wardrobe, investing in timeless wardrobe staples is a must.

These are the pieces that never go out of style and can be worn for years to come. A classic black blazer, for example, can be worn to work with dress pants and pumps, worn on a date with jeans and statement jewelry, or be dressed down for a weekend brunch with sandals and a pair of denim shorts.

The wardrobe staples are versatile and can be mixed and matched with other items in your closet. When you invest in these timeless wardrobe staples, you’ll always have something to wear!

Want help knowing what wardrobe staples to invest in? I created a resource for you that will help you build a wardrobe from beginning to end – with a checklist of all the wardrobe staples you should have!

To breathe even more life into your wardrobe, start wearing your clothes in unconventional ways. Here’s how: Step Up Your Style Game: 11 Ways to Wear Your Clothes Unconventionally


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.