Let's face it - new clothes are expensive! Outrageous prices, fashion trends that don't last for more than a few weeks, and wanting to live and buy more sustainably can make updating your wardrobe a nightmare.
Fortunately, you're not the only one trying to update your wardrobe without spending any money, and we've compiled the best tips from the fashionistas that came before you.
Swap Clothes With Your Friends
If you're constantly admiring your friend's clothes and vice versa, you can take advantage and raid each other's closets for new (old) items. Pull out the pieces you never wear anymore, the ones you bought but can't seem to get comfortable in, and pieces you know will just look better on your friends.
This keeps you and your friends' old clothes out of the landfill, and lets you bulk out your wardrobe with new pieces without spending anything but quality time. Update your wardrobe for free and spend time with friends: win-win!
Give Your Least-Worn Piece a Dye Bath
Changing your closet's color palette can be one way to make every piece feel brand new. Instead of running to your local craft store and buying bottles of professional dye, you can go a more sustainable route and use natural ingredients from your kitchen.
According to Skillshare, there are all sorts of different fruits, flowers, vegetables, and herbs you can use to dye your old clothes new colors. For example, you can use fresh beets to dye clothes pink/red, turmeric for a golden yellow, and purple cabbage for indigo. In an afternoon, you can secrete the natural dye, add your fixative (salt or vinegar) and simmer your clothes into a brand new color scheme.
Embroider Your Boring Pieces With Fun Designs
If you've got a knack for the fiber arts or want to indulge in learning a new project, embroidery is a great gateway. With a needle and some thread, you can stitch out any design you can think of onto jackets, cuffs, pockets, collars, buttonholes, and more.
Granted, we know you won't be able to master embroidery in an afternoon. So, if you want a new wardrobe overnight, this isn't the best way to freshen up your selection. But if you want to spend time learning a new skill (or flexing the ones you already have), give embroidering your old clothes a try.
Base New Outfit Combinations Around Themes
Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration to see your wardrobe in a whole new light. An awesome way to dig through your closet and re-familiarize yourself with pieces you might've forgotten about is challenging yourself to a good old-fashioned game of dress up.
Pick a theme for the day (favorite movie, album cover, random adjectives thrown together, etc.) and troll through your closet to put together an outfit that'd fit in that theme. Now you get to put pieces together you maybe never would've before and create brand new outfits out of old favorites.
Wear Your Favorite Pieces in Non-Traditional Ways
We'll bet that you wear each of your pieces exactly as they were intended. Shirts are worn like shirts and skirts like skirts. But, as so many people like to point out on social media, there are many more ways to wear clothes.
Take your favorite floor length skirts and hike them up into a midi dress. Unbutton your shirt-waist dresses and wear them as coats. Even call back to the emo days with ties worn as belts. There's an endless combination of ways you can wear the clothes you own if you just take a minute to think outside of the box.
Intermix Your Seasonal Wardrobes
Unless you're blessed with a Clueless rotating wardrobe, you've got half of your clothes packed away in boxes and bins waiting for when the season changes. When you've got your clothes split, it's too easy to get tired of your summer or winter wardrobe. Make the most out of your entire closet by pairing clothes from different seasons.
A huge puffer coat or faux fur jacket works great with a crop top and shorts. Layer a summer dress with a slouchy sweater over top for an autumn ensemble. Play around with combos and see just what cool outfits you come up with.
Update Your Darks by Dyeing Them With Bleach
Household bleach has so many more uses than just as a disinfectant. It can breathe new life into your tired old wardrobe. For your dark clothes, you can intentionally use bleach to stain them with funky designs. The reddish tan color can contrast with your darks in a wonderfully edgy way.
While there are so many different ways you can dye your clothes using bleach (such as using a spray bottle or cutting out stencils) one of the easiest ways for a first time go of it is typical tie-dye. There aren't any better instructions to follow than the famous bleach brand, Clorox's.
Cut Up Old Clothes to Make Fun Patches
Give new life to those old clothes that are too ratty to recycle by chopping them up and using them as patches on the rest of your wardrobe. While it'll be easier to use a sewing machine to sew on your homemade patches, you can always hand sew any patch to any type of fabric (just be mindful of the needles you're using).
And you can go as big or small as you like. Love a huge screen-printed design on an old t-shirt? Cut the whole thing out and sew it onto the back panel of your favorite jean jacket. Or give a flash of character to your pockets with new (old) fabric piping. This is a fun and easy way to update your wardrobe on a budget.
Pair Up Different Pieces to Create Unique Outfits
Pull out some of your favorite pieces from your closet and look at all the different ways you can create outfits from them. For example, if you have a favorite skirt, dress, jacket, button-up blouse, shell or sleeveless tank, sweater, jeans, and cropped pants, challenge yourself to see how many different unique combos you can make.
Try Swapping Your Shoes
If you usually wear dressy shoes with your nicer clothes and athletic shoes with your athleisure or casual clothes, try switching it up for an instant wardrobe update. Pair your favorite tennis shoes with a flowy skirt for a more relaxed look, or add heels to your most casual jeans to instantly elevate the style.
Layers Can Give Your Wardrobe a Life
While this wardrobe update hack won't work for every season, you can switch things up by creating interesting layers in your outfit during the cooler seasons. Try unexpected layering combos for even more variety in your style.
Your Closet Doesn't Need a Reboot, You Do
Often, we buy an article of clothing with a specific idea of how we're going to wear it, and we don't really stray from that. But this consistency can make an exciting wardrobe feel bland over time.
Zhuzh up your closet without taking out your credit card by challenging your perspective on colors, designs, and combinations. Most importantly, don't be afraid to experiment with anything that comes to mind. It's your wardrobe, so make it something you love!