how to style clothes you already have

How To Style Clothes You Already Have and Don’t Even Like

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward us a small commission – at no extra cost for you.

Do you have clothes in your closet that you don’t like but can’t bear to throw away? Maybe they were a gift or you bought them on sale without really thinking it through. First off, I believe that everyone can love their wardrobe and the clothes in it (in fact, I’ve coached thousands of women that were able to do just that!), but I get that there are times when you are just in “making it work” mode. Whether you’re on a tight budget or in the middle of a significant weight loss journey, you may find yourself styling clothes you aren’t too thrilled about. But the good news is that there are ways to make these items work for you. Let’s make some lemonade out of lemons together, shall we?

1. Get Clear On Why You Don’t Like These Pieces

Before you start trying to style clothes you don’t like, it’s important to figure out why you don’t like them. Is it the fit? The color? The style? Knowing the exact reason can help you fix the issue and turn it into something you may actually enjoy wearing.

How To Style Clothes You Already Have

2. Consider Getting These Clothes Altered

If you’ve identified that the fit is the problem, then it may be worth considering whether altering it can make a difference. Maybe the sleeves are too long or the hemline hits you at an awkward spot. By altering the piece to fit your body better, you might find that you start to appreciate it more!

If you don’t feel comfortable altering clothes yourself, consider taking the piece to a tailor. Even minor alterations like shortening the hemline or taking in the waist can make a big difference in how a piece looks on you. Don’t be afraid to invest a little bit of money into having clothes altered either, as it can make a world of difference in how much you enjoy wearing them.

Another option is to consider altering the style of the piece altogether. For example, if you have a dress with a long skirt, you might try having it hemmed to hit above the knee, giving it a completely new look.

Alternatively, you could try cropping a shirt or jacket to give it a more modern, trendy vibe. With a little bit of creativity and a willingness to experiment, you might be able to turn a piece you don’t love into a new wardrobe favorite!

3. Style the Clothes With Complementing Colors

Is it the color that’s really bothering you? Admittedly, that is harder to change, unless you want to break out a DIY dye kit. But thankfully, you can do some visual tricks to make the color feel (and look) less offensive to you.

First, start by playing around with different color combinations. Sometimes the reason why we don’t like a piece of clothing is because it clashes with the rest of our wardrobe. So by choosing complementary colors, you can create an outfit that is cohesive and visually pleasing.

One way to determine complementary colors is to look at a color wheel. Colors that are opposite each other on the wheel, such as red and green or blue and orange, are considered complementary.

For example, if you have a bright yellow shirt that you don’t love, try pairing it with a purple blazer. Purple will balance out the brightness of the yellow and the silhouette of a blazer creates a chic look.

Related: Everything You Need To Get Started With Your 2023 Capsule Wardrobe

4. Balance Out Your Clothes With Neutrals

Was the cobalt blue sweater a gift and unfortunately just not your style? One easy tip for styling clothes that you don’t love is to wear them with neutral colors. Neutral colors are versatile and easy to work with, and they can help to tone down an item that you don’t love. For example, if you have a bright and bold printed top that you don’t love, you can wear it with black or white pants to help balance it out.

Neutral colors include shades like black, white, beige, gray, and navy. These colors are fantastic to be worn as a base for your outfit. When wearing neutral colors with an item you don’t love, it’s important to make sure that the neutrals match or complement the item.

As another example, if you have a bright pink skirt that you’re not sure how to wear, you could pair it with a white top and nude heels. This would help to bring out the pink without overwhelming the outfit.

summer outfit flatlay

5. Pair the Item You Don’t Love With Something That You Do

One of the easiest ways to style clothes you don’t love is by pairing them with something that you do! Take a look through your closet and identify items that you truly enjoy wearing. This could be anything from a favorite sweater to a pair of jeans that make you feel great. Then try pairing these items with the clothing item you don’t love to see if you can create a more cohesive and appealing outfit.

For example, if you have a skirt that you don’t love, but a favorite top that fits you well and flatters your figure, try pairing the two together. By adding in some accessories, such as a necklace or a pair of shoes you adore, you can create an outfit that you feel confident and comfortable in.

6. Consider Repurposing

Just because you don’t like a piece of clothing the way it is doesn’t mean it can’t be transformed into something you love! Consider repurposing the items you’re not thrilled about into a new way to wear them.

For example, if you have a long skirt that you don’t like, you can turn it into a strapless dress by pulling it up and using a belt to cinch in the waist. If you have a plain t-shirt, consider cutting it into a boxy top. Have an outdated denim jacket? Try adding embellishments like patches to make it more interesting.

The more sewing skills you possess the more opportunities you have! If a pillowcase can be turned into a summer dress, then there’s no reason why you can’t transform something you don’t love into something pretty special.

7. Layer With Other Clothes in Your Wardrobe

Another idea that works is to use these disliked items as layering pieces. Maybe you don’t like a certain sweater on its own, but it could work well under a blazer or with a collared shirt underneath. You could also try knotting a button-up shirt or sweater to make it more fitted and stylish.

Or if you have a dress that you don’t love, try layering it with a cozy sweater. This will instantly change the look of the dress and make it feel more stylish. You can also layer your clothes with jackets or blazers. If you have a top that you don’t love, try adding a structured blazer to elevate the outfit.

how to style clothes you already have

8. Style Your Clothes Off Season

Maybe you hate a certain summer dress, but with a few clever styling tricks, it may become your new favorite cold-weather piece! Because after all, one way to give a fresh perspective on your clothes is to style them off-season.

If it’s a summer dress that you don’t particularly like, try layering it with a cardigan or denim jacket in the fall. Or if it’s a winter sweater that’s not your favorite, try pairing it with shorts or a skirt in the summer. You may find that you like the way the item looks in a different season and that it’s more versatile than you originally thought. And by changing the season you wear it in, you can create a completely new look and give your wardrobe new life.

9. Transform Your Look With Accessories

One of the best ways to elevate any outfit is through accessorizing. This is especially true when it comes to styling clothes that you don’t really like! By adding the right accessories, you can transform a dull outfit into something truly amazing.

Here are a few tips to help you accessorize your clothes and bring them to life:

  • Statement Jewelry – One of the easiest ways to accessorize is by wearing statement jewelry. This can include chunky necklaces, bold bracelets, or even big, oversized earrings. By wearing statement jewelry, you can instantly draw attention away from your clothes and onto your accessories.
  • Scarves – Scarves are another great way to accessorize your clothes. They can be worn in a variety of ways, including as a headscarf, around your neck, or even tied onto your bag. Scarves are versatile and can add a pop of color and print to an otherwise basic outfit.
  • Belts – If you’re not a fan of a certain article of clothing, try adding a belt to it. A belt can cinch in a dress or a top to create a flattering silhouette. It can also add some texture or color to a plain outfit.
  • Shoes – Shoes are often an overlooked accessory when it comes to styling outfits. But they can really make a difference in how an outfit is perceived. A pair of statement shoes can instantly elevate an outfit. Alternatively, a pair of simple, classic shoes can help tone down an outfit that might be too loud.
  • Bags – Lastly, consider accessorizing with a stylish bag. A great bag can not only serve a functional purpose but can also add some flair to an outfit. Whether it’s a leopard print tote or a sleek, understated clutch, a bag can really complete your look.

We’ve all been there – feeling forced to style clothes we already have and don’t even like. But next time you’re struggling to style something in your closet, start practicing these 9 tips on how to style clothes you already have. You may end up loving the clothing item you once thought you disliked when styled in a new and refreshing way. Because sometimes all it takes is a little tweak to transform an unwanted piece into a favorite!

Are you ready to keep maximizing your wardrobe? I thought so. Up Next: New Ways to Style Your Basics | 14 Blazer Outfit Ideas


Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.