How to Revamp your Wardrobe without Buying Anything New

a woman in a black slip dress

Maybe it’s the time of year, but I’m feeling a bit uninspired and my go-to solution is to buy new things. From shoes to bags to dresses, pants, and more. My going theory is that new will inspire me, make getting dressed more fun, and get me out of the winter blahs. Yet. I know that new isn’t always the answer- and that really, my closet(s) full of clothes have so much potential in them. The trick is getting me to use what I have, instead of reaching for the new. Looking for help and inspiration in making new with clothes I already have, I loved this Harper’s Bazaar article by Megan Doyle, about getting the revamp feeling without buying anything! While some of these practices aren’t for me, I love that the heart of the piece focuses on what stories we want to tell with our fashion, and finding those in our closet.

While I’ve reprinted the article below, you can read it here as well.

I would love to know- how do you deal with the urge to buy a ton new at this time of year?

How to revamp your wardrobe without buying anything new
Stuck in a rut? A sustainable fashion stylist could help you rediscover your personal style
7 OCT 2022

If you ever stare into a packed wardrobe and think “I’ve got nothing to wear!” you’re not alone. According to research on hundreds of wardrobes by sustainable fashion brand Pareto, we only wear 20 per cent of our wardrobes 80 per cent of the time. If you’re in a style rut, the answer doesn’t have to be a shopping spree. Instead, many women are turning to sustainable stylists to help them rediscover their personal style using what they already have in their wardrobes.

There are plenty of reasons that we end up with a wardrobe full of the “wrong” clothes, from relentless advertising on social media to rapid trend cycles that keep us constantly buying new clothes, regardless of whether they fit our style.

“In this age of information, it’s very hard to decipher what thoughts are truly our own, never mind our style, so it’s more important than ever that women go on a journey to discover what optimises their body, creativity and soul,” says Kerry Wilde, a UK-based sustainable fashion stylist and creator of the Embodied Soul Style Method.

a woman in a black tweed dress and flat black boots

Sustainable stylists offer a range of services to help their clients to discover the hidden potential of their wardrobes, like one-on-one sessions, group workshops, online courses, Youtube tutorials, questionnaires and more.

“I am interested in how to decouple your personal style from consumption, because we’re so hardwired for it,” says Alyssa Beltempo, a Canadian sustainable stylist. “Fashion is something that helps us both as individuals to express ourselves, but it also helps us feel like we belong. Our style evolves all the time, but I think it takes a bit of work, introspection, and knowing who you are. There are a lot of reflective pieces to it, like who do you want to be?”

People often turn to styling during a transitional phase of their life. Perhaps they’ve had a baby, are starting or changing their career, or going through a break up. “They want to feel like themselves,” explains Sam Weir, who runs her sustainable styling company called Lotte V.1 in New York. “It’s fun to be part of the process of them developing their career, their relationships, and making sure their clothing matches the image that they’re building towards.”

To uncover or rediscover your personal style, our stylists suggest coming up with a list of words to describe what you’re looking for. Don’t just think about aesthetics, but also the feeling you want to get from your clothes. “It’s really about figuring out who you are, who you want to present to the world, and then you can create a picture of your personal style,” says Beltempo. “Forget about camouflaging your mid-section — do you want to highlight your personality? Your smile? Your legs? Start from there,” she says.

On the rare occasion the stylists want their client to buy something, it’s because of that piece’s potential to unlock far more outfit options in their wardrobe.

“I’m not against shopping completely, I’m against overconsumption and a lack of thought when shopping,” says Weir. She sources the pieces for clients, always opting for secondhand clothing, and shares a care guide with clients too. “It’s not just about styling, we have to make sure all these pieces are taken care of so you can continue to wear them. These are forever pieces and I want them to take care of it.”

In some ways, a styling session can feel like therapy. “My services are about inspiring women to better understand their own unique language of style, embracing who they are now, healing body shame, shedding what no longer works, releasing old identities and returning to a style that evokes truth and authenticity,” says Wilde. “I think our relationship with clothing is deeper than we see on the surface and so grabbing a journal and beginning the process of unpacking what’s hidden beneath can be a cathartic way to tap into ‘who you think you are’ and what’s relevant for you now, here, today.”

Rarely do our sustainable stylists encourage clients to throw away clothing, adding to the mountains of textile waste already polluting the world. “The only reason I would encourage someone to get rid of something is the fit, if we can’t make sense of this for your body, that’s when it should be moved out of your wardrobe,” says Weir. She recommends gifting or selling before donating your unloved items to reduce the pressure on charities. “There are so many creative ways we can use these clothes before we donate.”

Hiring a sustainable stylist is an investment that isn’t always accessible, so if you’re not ready to take the plunge, why not download a wardrobe organising app like OpenWardrobe or Whering, which digitises your clothes and uses an algorithm to formulate outfit ideas. Whatever way you do it, taking stock of your style is an ongoing practice that will serve you in every stage of life.

“Taking time to re-wire our personal style and therefore buying decisions is well worth the investment as it reduces the consequences of an over-cluttered wardrobe bulging with unwanted clothes,” says Wilde. “If you learn how to move your wardrobe around and make it work more for you, the results can be transformational.”

a woman turns back to camera in a floral kimono and black jeans