Shop Your Closet to Refresh Your Wardrobe

You love wearing the latest looks, but your budget is stretched taut. Don’t give up on fashion. Chances are you have significant pieces in your closet that you can use as the basis for a fresh new look. Shop your wardrobe for your favorites, and make strategic purchases to enhance them, or mix and match with friends. Clear out your closet of things you don’t wear and go thrift shopping. You could either donate the garments (for possible tax deductions), exchange them for something “new,” or sell (for cash in your pocket) those old garments.

Keep, Swap, Donate, Sell, Toss

Set aside an afternoon (or preferably a weekend) devoted to your closet “shopping” spree. Line up a few of your BFFs or guy friends and make it a group project. Designate one day for sorting through your wardrobes separately; the second day for meeting up with your friends for a mix and match session.

Begin by sorting through every stitch that you own, and dividing each piece into categories: keep, swap, donate, sell and toss. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover a great pair of nearly-new boots or shocked to realize that you managed to buy six plaid jackets, none of which you ever wear.

Once you and your friends have gone through your wardrobes, meet up for a wardrobe exchange. Make it a party with pizza or Chinese food and music. That leather jacket that you never really liked may be perfect for your best friend, while you may finally get that blue-gray sweater that exactly matches your eyes.

The Perfect Fit

After all that hard work, your wardrobe should be shaping up, but you’re not entirely done yet. Go through your “keep” pile and the pieces you acquired from the swap session with your friends to determine which items are ready to wear. Replace any missing buttons and take things that cannot be taken to the cleaners.

There are also probably at least a few items in your wardrobe that are great but don’t quite fit the way they should. A good tailor can let out or take in seams, add cuffs or remove them or make other alterations to give clothes a custom-tailored look. The investment you make will be money well spent.

Now it’s time to hit the stores. Check out magazines or fashion blogs (or even our board on Pinterest!) for styling ideas to determine what purchases you should make to fill in the gaps. Emphasize the classics, but throw in a few fashion-forward pieces to bring your wardrobe up to date.

The Big Payback

Those clothing items that are perfectly wearable but just not for you (or any of your friends) can put money back in your pocket. Contact consignment shops for that designer skirt that doesn’t go with anything or for that camelhair double-breasted blazer than makes you look double wide. You can also place lower-priced unwanted items up for sale online, or hold a garage sale.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling your unwanted clothing items, many charities will gladly accept them. Be sure to obtain a receipt that lists what you have donated and their approximate value. You’ll need that information to claim a charitable donation deduction on your federal income tax return for next year.

Staff writer Audrey Henderson wrote this article. Her mission is to help fight your evil debt blob and get your personal finances in tip-top shape.