Update Your Wardrobe for Under $20

WardrobeSpring is a great time to overhaul your wardrobe. But times are tight, people. I get it. Especially if you have a family, are in a committed relationship with your budget, and/or are still paying off school loans. My friend Sarah showed me how to update my wardrobe for under $20.

You’ll need:

  • 1 free afternoon
  • 1 bottle of wine and some snacks
  • 1 dedicated friend (bribe with wine)
  • 1 photo device 
  • 1 high-energy playlist

One Saturday last fall, Sarah and I downed a bottle of wine as we combed through every item in my closet, chucking the unnecessary, ugly, and out-of-date. With the remaining items, we put together head-to-toe outfits and took snapshots of each, compiling an online lookbook to make dressing easy. By weeding out the junk and salvaging the underused items, I gained several new professional outfits and cut my morning dressing routine time in half. And the best part? It only cost a bottle of wine and some snacks.

I gathered 4 bags of clothes for Goodwill and consignment and had a blast playing dress up, but the process was also a bit overwhelming.

Tips for Wading through Your Wardrobe

1. Recruit a voice of reason. An honest friend is invaluable. When I was on the fence about a clothing item, I deferred to Sarah. Sometimes her facial expression was the motivation I needed to chuck an unflattering, out-of-date, worn, or no longer age-appropriate item.

2. Have you worn it in a year? If you haven’t, don’t throw it away just yet. Ask yourself a few questions: Does it fit? Is it in good shape? Is it flattering? Do you love it? If you answer more yesses than nos, then ask why you haven’t worn it in a year. Do you love it, but just not know what to pair it with? Then it’s time to play dress up! (And refer to tip 1.)

3. Mix and match. Experiment with underused items to create new outfits. If you can find the perfect combo for that paisley satin top, knit vest, or cowgirl boots, go ahead and keep them! If not, it’s time to toss them in the black Hefty clothing coffin.

4. Say cheese! Take pictures of your “new” outfits. Seeing yourself through a different lens gives you a more objective perspective. This might sound scary, but I promise the results are not all bad. Sprinkled among the “Eeks!” and “Ugs!” were a few “Wows!” and “Hey! I look kinda hots!” Also, wine helps.

4. Looky Looky! Upload photos of your outfit combos to a site like Dropbox, Google Picasa, or make an album on your computer. If you’re stumped for what to wear in the morning, pull up your wardrobe lookbook–it’s like catalogue shopping every morning and there’s no “Does this dress make me look fat?” because your outfits have already been vetted by a trusted friend.

5. To donate or consign? A little extra cash helps ease the pain of parting with your stuff. If you have a lot of gently used, high-quality, or brand name items, you can make a few extra bucks by taking them to a resale store like Plato’s Closet or other local clothing consignment boutiques.

6. Make a shopping list. Now that your closet is clean and organized, you might notice you’re missing a few staple items. Button down white shirt? Black pumps? Pencil skirt? Black fitted tee?  Make a list. You now having a shopping guide to help maintain your organized and purposeful wardrobe by avoiding future random or impulse purchases.

There still a few months of spring left, I think hear my junk drawers calling my name!

Do you have favorite tips for getting organized? Share them in the comments.



  1. Thats’s funny. I did something recently with some clothes I bought from Goodwill. They were some really cute things, but I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d wear them WITH from my already established wardrobe. So, I went through and picked out a few outfits using those new clothes with my old clothes and took some pictures of myself in the mirror. Definitely helpful. I kept the pics on my phone, but I think I might transfer them. I don’t want someone thinking I’m just really stuck on myself if they go through the pics on my phone. lol Your idea sounds fabulous, though – especially the part about doing this with a friend. An objective friend. Wonderful post! Keep up the good bloggin’. I’m Pinterest-ing your post to spread the word.

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