tweed cardigan and denim shorts

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

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Drop that credit card. Or in the case of modern-day shopping, empty your online shopping cart. You don’t need to buy anything quite yet. You need to know how to put together outfits with clothes you already have first. Putting together outfits with clothes you already have is an easy and cost-effective way to add new looks to your wardrobe. With a few simple styling tips and tricks, you can reinvent your wardrobe and create looks that are fresh and new. If you’re looking for an easy way to change up your wardrobe without spending a fortune, keep reading for how to put together outfits with clothes you already have!

1. Do a Closet Inventory

Before you even get into mixing and matching your clothes and wearing them in different ways, it’s essential to do a closet inventory first! This will give you an idea of what pieces you have and what you need to make different outfits.

To start, take everything out of your closet and sort them into piles – tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, etc. Once you have everything sorted, take a closer look at each piece and ask yourself if it’s still in good condition, if you still love it, and if it fits properly. If it doesn’t meet all three criteria, it’s time to donate or sell it.

While you’re at it, now is a good time to organize your clothes to make it easy to find what you need. Consider organizing them now by color or category to make it easier to mix and match later.

Related: How to Clean and Organize Your Closet Like a Pro

By doing a closet inventory, you’ll have a better understanding of what pieces you have and what you need to create different outfits. It’s a good idea to do this on a regular basis to keep your wardrobe fresh and up-to-date!

2. Create a Shopping List

Okay, I know I said not to buy anything, but the truth is, you do have to buy a little bit – if you don’t have the wardrobe staples. Otherwise, it will be hard, nay, impossible, to put together good looks! After taking stock of your closet, now is the perfect time to complete your wardrobe.

(The wardrobe staples and a capsule wardrobe are what I live, preach, and teach, so I created a resource for you that will help you build your entire wardrobe from scratch!)

Create a shopping list of missing wardrobe staples such as a pair of jeans, a white tee, and a black blazer. These timeless pieces in neutral colors can be used to create different outfits and will serve as a foundation for your wardrobe.

Also, identify a missing statement piece that you would like to have such as a bold print blouse or a leopard print shoe. These pieces are great for adding some personality to your outfits and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion!

3. Mix and Match Clothes You Don’t Typically Pair Together

When it comes to putting together outfits with the clothes you already have, the key is to become a master of mix and match. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pieces and try pairing them in unexpected ways. With a bit of creativity, you can turn a simple outfit into a unique look that quickly becomes your favorite.

Here are some ways you can get started mixing and matching your clothes:

  • Different patterns and prints: You can pair a striped shirt with a floral skirt, or a plaid blazer with a polka dot dress. To make this work, keep in mind that you want to create balance. Choose one piece as the focal point and build the rest of the outfit around it. This way, your outfit won’t look too busy or overwhelming.
  • Textures: Combining materials like leather, silk, denim, and knit can create a visually interesting and stylish outfit. For example, you can pair a silky blouse with a denim skirt and add a leather jacket on top. This will create a well-rounded look that is both sophisticated and edgy.
  • Color: You can create endless outfit combinations by combining different shades and tones. For example, you can pair a bright red top with navy pants, or a pastel pink blouse with beige shorts.
  • Seasons: Think outside the box. Just because a piece is meant for a certain season doesn’t mean it can’t be worn in a different way. For example, try wearing a summer skirt with a chunky fall sweater or a pair of winter boots with a summer romper.
  • Occasions: Occasional pieces, such as cocktail dresses or formal suits, are typically items we keep in our wardrobes for special occasions or specific events. But why not try styling those with your casual pieces? For example, try tucking a formal blouse into high-waisted jeans or pairing a formal skirt with a crop top to mix formal and casual elements.
  • Styles: Mixing different styles and aesthetics can be a fun and creative way to put together outfits that showcase your personal style. For example, if you’re wearing a flowy bohemian top, pair it with fitted business casual pants or a structured blazer to create a balance of flowy and structured elements.

By mastering the art of mix and match, you can create a versatile and unique wardrobe with the clothes you already have. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different styles and combinations. Who knows, you might just discover a new favorite outfit in your closet!

4. Wear Conventional Pieces in Unconventional ways

Mixing and matching is one of the best ways to put together outfits with clothes you already have. But there’s another way to create new outfits – and that’s by wearing your conventional pieces in unconventional ways. It’s time to think outside the box!

Maybe you can wear a skirt as a dress. This trick works best with midi or maxi skirts that have a stretchy waistband. Simply pull the waistband up to your chest, adjust the fabric, and voila! You have a new dress.

Or tie an oversized scarf into a summer sarong. Try wearing a button-up shirt backward for a fresh take on a classic silhouette.

While you’re at it, gather style inspiration from a new place, source, or creator. If you tend to always look at Free People’s new arrivals, try reading classic-style blog posts instead (hello, like this one!). A fresh, new source of inspiration can help you put together great outfits that you might not have thought of before.

By trying new ways of wearing your clothes, you can create new outfits without buying new pieces.

5. Make the Most of What You Have

As much as we all love shopping and adding new pieces to our wardrobes, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to constantly be buying new clothes to have a great wardrobe. Instead, it’s about learning how to make the most of what you already have in your closet.

Another way to make the most of what you have is by shopping in your own closet. And though mixing and matching clothes is another version of that, challenge yourself to pull out items that you haven’t worn in a while to incorporate into your current outfits.

You might begin this by finding and then trying on a shirt or dress you haven’t worn in years. You may discover that it fits perfectly! Or maybe a skirt you thought was too short can be paired with the right shoes and tights and totally work.

Once you’ve tried these things on, take a look at what you already have in your wardrobe and think about what would complement these items. This could be a certain color or pattern that you could match with something else.

Another great tip is to incorporate trendier pieces into an outfit that might be a little outdated. For example, you can make a 90s-style slip dress work in 2023 by layering a blazer over it.

If you’re still struggling to make something work, consider altering the piece to better fit your style or needs. You can have a dress hemmed, add new buttons to a shirt, or turn an old pair of jeans into shorts.

6. Accessorize in New Ways

Accessories are a great way to breathe new life into old clothes and make a statement without buying anything new. There are plenty of ways to accessorize in new ways to add that extra flair to your outfits.

One way to do this is by layering necklaces. Mix and match different lengths, textures, and styles to create a unique and eye-catching look. Try pairing a chunky gold necklace with a delicate choker for a fashion-forward effect.

Another way to accessorize is with scarves. Scarves are versatile and can be worn in a variety of ways. Try tying one around your neck or wearing it as a headband. You can even tie one onto the handle of your bag for a pop of color.

Statement earrings are another great way to add interest to an outfit. Pair oversized hoops or tassel earrings with a simple dress or top to draw attention to your face and add some pizzazz to your outfit.

Belts are another way to accessorize in new ways. Cinch a dress or tunic at the waist with a statement belt or wear a belt over a blazer to create a more polished and put-together look.

Lastly, don’t forget about shoes. Switching up your footwear can completely change the look and feel of an outfit. Pair sneakers with a dress for a casual-cool vibe or wear statement heels to add some edge to a classic outfit.

Remember that the secrets of how to put together outfits with clothes you already have are creativity and flexibility. Play with different styles and aesthetics to find new and exciting ways to express yourself through your clothes. By doing so, you’ll be able to create a wardrobe that feels fresh, exciting, and uniquely you without constantly buying new clothes!

Want even more tips to use what you have? Keep reading: How to Maximize Your Wardrobe + Get The Most Out of What You Have


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.