How to shop your own wardrobe

Before you start groaning about the big task ahead, let me encourage you by saying that you may find some fabulous forgotten items in there! 

Let’s face it: shopping your own wardrobe can be the most cost effective way of revamping your look, if you know how.

Here are my top tips to get you inspired to shop for free:

1.    Set aside some time and space.   Just as any shopping trip, you need to make time for it – without the kids.  So make arrangements so you can have some YOU time.

2.    Make sure you have a good full-length mirror that you are comfortable with. (There are fat mirrors out there, so beware).  I am surprised how many women don’t have one.  Remember that you are only as dressed as far as you can see yourself.  Eeek.

3.    Put on your favorite funky tunes.  There is nothing like great music to get you in the mood.

4.    Now that you are in the mood, take everything out of your wardrobe and I mean EVERYTHING!  You can’t see what’s in there if your wardrobe is cluttered.

5.    Separate the items you haven’t worn for the last year from the ones you have and the items you love from the ones you don’t. 

6.    Put the items you love back in your closet and arrange them so you can clearly see them.  If you can’t see them, you won’t wear them.  There is no absolute right or wrong way of arranging your wardrobe.  Just find a system that works for you.

7.    Take a careful look at the items you are not wearing.  Ask yourself why you are not wearing them and see if you can wear them differently.

For example, in Lili’s makeover, she had a beautiful top she wasn’t wearing because it made her look pregnant.  Yet when we belted it with a wide belt and paired it with leggings and boots, it looked fab.

8.    Clench it in the waist.  A wide belt can make a massive difference to shapeless items.  See if there are items in your wardrobe that can be transformed with a suitable belt. 

If you don’t have one, go to a retail store with a simple return policy, purchase a few variations and try them out at home. 

9.    Change the length.  ¾ lengths are very unflattering.  Changing a length to above or just below the knee can make you look taller and slimmer.

10.    Learn to layer.  One of the biggest things Lili learned was that she could layer her favorite summer dress over a long sleeve top, tights and long boots.  Clever layering can give you so much more wear of each item, no matter what the season.

11.    Make a list of the items you need to make your wardrobe work.  If you find you have lots of tops, but nothing to wear them with, then you might need good basics.  If your wardrobe is full of black, then a colourful item or two can make your wardrobe pop. 

12.    Ask for help.  A fresh perspective is often helpful.  Ask a trusted friend or personal stylist to help you with this if the task is daunting.  There could be thousands of rands worth of clothing just waiting to be enjoyed, given the chance.

13.    Take your items to be altered.  Many women buy something with the intention of having it altered, only to forget about it.  Put all of your alterations in a bag and put it in the boot of your car NOW.   The longer you put it off, the longer you are wasting the money you spent.

14.    Exchange with a friend.  I love the idea of clothing exchange.  If you have a few friends who are a similar size, arrange a dinner party and have everyone bring their unwanted items that are still in good condition.  Swop out the clothes you aren’t wearing with your friends items you lust after.  This is not only cost effective, but green too. 

When budgets are tight, it gives us an opportunity to get creative and find ways to save.  I hope you are sufficiently inspired to make a date with your wardrobe and have some fun… for free.

Need some help to shop your own wardrobe?


Renowned for her work as a personal stylist and fashion designer, Tracy Gold offers a variety of personal styling services especially designed to assist you to feel fabulous about yourself.

Tracy will help you refine your existing wardrobe by teaching you what works for you, what doesn't and why. She will also teach you her effective shopping techniques that will save you a fortune and keep you from making the same expensive fashion mistakes again. 

Visit her website for more details www.tracygold.co.za.


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