Make Your Wardrobe Feel Brand New With These Tweaks For Wearing Clothes You Already Own

Stuck in a style rut? We have some tips to find your way out — and all without buying anything new! Whether you're cutting back on your spending or wanting to shop less for environmental reasons, there's a lot you can do with the wardrobe you already have. Realistically, many of us need to buy fewer clothes anyway. 


According to, 92 million tonnes of textiles find their way into landfills each year. Of that figure, the average individual U.S. consumer is responsible for around 81.5 pounds of textile waste annually. That's a lot of waste, and the best way you can cut back is by wearing what you already have. After all, a good look really comes down to how you style it and not having the newest trendy piece.

There are plenty of ways to take inspiration from clothes you already own. By putting together new combinations, accessorizing, or altering garments, you can make your style feel new without new items. Not sure where to start? We've rounded up some ways to inspire new looks with the clothes that are already in your closet.


Belt it

It only takes a few seconds to put a belt on, but the right one can take your outfit from plain to put-together. A belt helps define your waistline, changing the overall silhouette of your outfit. It can make oversized dresses, shirts, and jackets more form-fitting, giving them a whole new look. Belted outerwear, like the belted jacket in this example, really makes a statement. The belt takes this jacket from oversized to fitted, making it look just a touch more glamorous.


There are so many belt styles, which means endless different options for mixing up your look. For example, a grommet belt is the one to reach for to create a grungier fit, while a belt with a big ornate buckle looks a bit more glam. The belt's texture, thickness, and color can all add to your look, whether you use a classic leather belt already in your closet or grab a statement belt to elevate your favorite tops. 

You don't even need to use a traditional belt! Use a ribbon, silk scarf, body chain, or another accessory as a belt to create a unique look. Plus, you can always get into the double-belting fashion trend to really kick your outfit up a notch. 

Break the rules

There are a lot of so-called "fashion rules," but one of the best parts of creating your personal style is figuring out the rules you want to break. Abandon the old sayings floating around your head to find new looks with what you have.


The easiest (and often most fun) rules to break are to pair colors and patterns that don't "go together." Black and brown or black and dark blue together can create a killer neutral look. There's even a name for denim on denim looks — and you should totally rock that Canadian tuxedo. 

Sometimes, mixing patterns is precisely what makes an outfit so distinctive. This look above is so fun and flirty because of pattern mixing. Even if it's not on purpose, many of us choose our daily outfits around style rules that influence what we think will match. One way to create a new look is to subvert the rules and experiment. After all, if there's one realm to play by your own rules, it's in your fashion sense.


Wear a dress as a shirt

Feeling uninspired by your current top collection? Turn your favorite short dress into a shirt instead. Best of all, there's no sewing needed. This hack is easiest with a mini dress (the less fabric on the bottom, the better). 


Tuck the bottom of the dress into high-waisted pants or a skirt, which will help keep the dress in place better than low-waisted bottoms. In fact, if you have a dress that you've stopped reaching for because it's too short, this is the perfect way to keep it in your closet rotation.

If you saw this outfit on the street, you'd never suspect that it was a dress tucked into a skirt. It's a great way to get more wear out of your favorite dresses and take advantage of them in different seasons. Paired with long pants and a layered sweater, your pretty summer dresses can be a part of your winter wardrobe.

Cuff it

This tip works for both tops and bottoms. Overall, cuffing your pieces gives a more intentional look and can either dress up or down an outfit, depending on how you style it. Cuff the sleeves of a t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, or thin jacket for a more casual look. Long button-up shirts look especially nice with a rolled-up sleeve, making them appear less formal; It's kind of like an equivalent of letting your hair down, but for your button-up shirts instead.


Cuff the bottom hem of jeans and trousers to see how it elevates your style. There are lots of ways to play with a cuffed pant hem — you can experiment with cuff thickness, double cuffing, or try a messier rolled hem rather than a neat cuff. And if you want to make the cuff less obvious, roll it under rather than over the hem. Cuffing your pants is also a quick way to style the baggy jean trend and deal with pants or trousers that are slightly too long. One last perk? Rolling up the bottom hem of your pants will help you show off your shoes better.

Knot it

All it takes is a well-placed knot to change up your silhouette. An obvious tip (and one most of us have used before) is to knot your top. Any t-shirt can become a cropped top by knotting it at the waist. You can knot your top in the front or offset to the side to make it more obvious. Or, place the knot in the back and tuck it under the hem of the shirt if you prefer to keep it hidden. 


This is another tip that works for some bottoms as well. Try a boho-inspired look by knotting the hem of flowy, wide-leg pants to make them more tapered at the ankle. The same can be done for the hem of a flowy maxi skirt if you want to change the silhouette for a more form-fitting look. Not to mention, knotting a maxi skirt at the hem is an excellent hack to make a too-long skirt wearable.


Jewelry, hats, scarves, bags, belts, and more — there's a lot you can switch up to give an old outfit new life. Accessories are so important; even the simplest accessories can make a statement. This outfit would be sleek but rather plain without the bright bubblegum pink bag and scarf. It's these accessories that take it from an everyday look to an eye-catching one.


Accessories are one way to add personality to any wardrobe. It's an especially useful tool for a small closet or a capsule wardrobe since you can make so many new looks by just changing out peripheral pieces. For example, you can completely change the look of a little black dress by pairing it with different types of jewelry, your bag choice, or by throwing on a shawl, belt, or scarf (or even a scarf tied as a belt). There's lots of room for creativity when accessorizing!

Layers, layers, layers

Layering can make all the difference in creating a fashion-forward outfit, especially during the colder seasons (though it can help you change up your summer looks too). A t-shirt under a slip dress makes it less revealing while still maintaining some sultry appeal. Pop a long-sleeve shirt under one of your dresses to transition to fall and give some of your favorite summer pieces an irresistibly cozy look. 


To take summer dresses well into winter, layer a vest or sweater on top, and then throw a long jacket over the whole ensemble to take it into really cold months. This tip works with tank tops, too; layer a t-shirt under a tank top for a 90s-inspired look.

Layering is the best way to make winter outfits memorable while ensuring you stay warm. In cold climates, bump up your cool factor (and your warmth) by layering outerwear. One way to do so is by wearing a thin jacket under a puffy vest. Or when the temperatures really drop, layer a thin jacket under a thicker jacket, like by wearing a blazer or bomber jacket under your puffy winter coat.

Play with tucking

Tucking in your shirt or sweater is one of the fastest and easiest ways to elevate your favorite outfits. To take it out of your usual, try different tuck types. The full tuck is a classic; you tuck the top into your pants or skirt all the way around. 


To mix it up a bit, try a front tuck, where you just tuck the front of your top and keep the back of the top untucked. Lastly, another option is the one in the picture above: a half tuck. Best done with a button-down shirt, a half tuck only tucks half of the shirt for a purposefully undone look.

This tip works for shirts, blouses, and sweaters. Tucking your top defines your waistline and can make some of your looser outfits look more form-fitting. One underrated way to tuck a top is to tuck the hem into your bra. This creates a cropped look; no knotting or cutting needed.

Go monochrome

Take a look at your closet and group like colors together to create a monochrome look. Monochrome looks are playful but put-together, and it's easy to take them up a notch with matching accessories. 


For most wardrobes, a monochrome fit is easiest to create with neutral colors, like black, white, beige, or camel, like in this example above. It's just what most of us already have in our closets! But if you happen to have another prominent color in your wardrobe, you can create more stand-out looks. When creating a monochrome outfit, consider mixing textures to get a more layered and interesting look.

If you don't have an exact color match, don't fret. Go for a tonal outfit instead, which means dressing in different shades of one color. Different shades add dimension while still sticking to a color theme. There's just something so intentional about both monochrome and tonal outfits that makes them automatically look cool.


Wear items out of season

If not physically, many of us mentally split our closets by season. It makes sense to delineate between warm-weather and cold-weather clothes. But that might stop you from mixing the two as much as you really should. Mix it up to take advantage of your closet. 


One popular example is to wear a summer skirt or dress in winter. To keep warm, add layers like a long-sleeve shirt underneath, a sweater or jacket over top, and tights or leg warmers for an extra layer. The base of this outfit (a white shirt and denim skirt) is a great summer look, but with the cozy layers and scarf, it's cold-weather appropriate. 

It's a bit harder to style winter clothes for summer, but it's possible during the shoulder seasons. On a cooler summer night, throw on one of your cozy winter knits over your usual summer outfit.

Switch up your shoes

Your shoes can really change the vibe of an outfit. The pair you wear can make an outfit more or less formal, sporty, feminine, grungy, preppy, and much more. The moral here? The shoes make a difference. If you always gravitate towards specific shoes for certain outfits, go out of your way to try something new instead.


For example, it makes sense to pair this long floral maxi dress with some strappy sandals or a delicate heel. It would go with the overall feminine look. Instead, pairing it with running shoes makes it more distinctive, casual, and sporty (not to mention probably more comfortable).

This outfit could also work with a pair of combat boots for an edgier look. Shoes are as much an accessory as they are a necessity, so use that to your advantage and play with new pairings to elevate a well-loved outfit.

Mix and match

If you're feeling really uninspired, pull everything out of your closet and try new combinations — you'll be surprised at what you come up with! Not to mention, physically taking your garments out helps you take stock of what's currently in your wardrobe. You'll have the chance to declutter and organize your closet and get rid of items you really don't need, and rediscover some old favorites that may have slipped into the back of the closet.


Don't be afraid to get creative here; specifically, try to mix pieces you haven't paired before. Consider different contrasts, like formal and informal, feminine and masculine, form-fitting garments with oversized pieces, and so on. 

For example, try a formal blazer on top of a casual dress, a girly lace top with baggy cargo pants, or a tight dress with your largest jacket. Sometimes, the pairings that don't "work" in your head (like two types of plaid) will look great when you put them on. It can also help to have a fashion-loving friend with you for this process. They might have some styling ideas that you've never even considered. 

Get garments tailored

Do you have tops or pants you avoid wearing because they just don't fit quite right? There's an easy fix for this problem that is often much cheaper (and more sustainable) than buying new. Visit your local seamstress and get them tailored! In the age of ready-to-wear clothing, tailoring is less common, but it's the best way to make clothing look just right on your frame. A better fit means a more put-together look — which also means a chance you'll wear the piece more often.


You'll want to invest in tailoring the nicer pieces that you'll either wear quite often or for special occasions. It's probably not worth it to tailor cheaply-made, fast-fashion garments that might not last past a season or two. Try tailoring items like your formal workwear, high-quality clothing you plan to keep for a while, special event clothing, too-long pant and skirt hems, and your most-worn basics, like your favorite jeans.

Swap out the buttons

Buttons can really change the whole vibe of a cardigan, jacket, or blouse. Put your sewing skills to the test and swap out the buttons to give an old top a whole new look. Wood or retro-looking tortoiseshell buttons are a good choice for making a cardigan feel cozier. Pearl buttons can add elegance to a silk blouse. Or use bright buttons to add a pop of color to a plain top. There are so many button styles to choose from, so reach for the ones that speak to you.


Some buttons also look just plain flimsy and can cheapen the look of a top. Have you ever grabbed a top from a fast-fashion brand and just felt like the buttons look drab? On the other hand, cute buttons might be the deciding factor that made you buy a cardigan. One way to make these cheaper items look nicer is by updating the buttons, and all it takes is new buttons and a sewing kit.

Patch or embroider

There are few better ways to make an item feel truly yours than personalizing it with patches or embroidery. Adding these details is a fun way to add character to your favorite pieces. Popular items to alter include sturdy outerwear like denim jackets and pants, shoes like your favorite Converse, and bags like backpacks and tote bags. Pretty much any item you can stick a needle in without damaging it is a worthy contender!


We love how all the patches take this jacket from plain to eye-catching. Choosing patches you truly love will make it feel even more meaningful. Sew-on patches are popular for their fun designs and the texture they add to a piece. If you prefer, you can also use iron-on patches to add a design to a plain shirt or sweater. Embroidering is the most challenging option of them all (you'll need to learn how to embroider!). But if you're crafty, it's a rewarding hobby that gives you endless options to personalize your closet.

Crop garments

All it takes is a pair of scissors to turn a shirt into a crop top or jeans into denim shorts. Crop tops are in for all seasons; to keep cool in the summer or to show a little peekaboo of skin in the winter. If you have clothes that just aren't doing it for you in their current form, give them the snip. But not without a bit of planning first! Many of us have had our own DIY crop top mishaps, so to save you from ruining your shirts or pants, here are a few tips to keep in mind.


First, you probably don't want to risk your favorite tops. You'll want to experiment with those old shirts in the back of your closet that you're trying to revive, especially on your first few tries. Go for a garment with a tight weave that won't unravel after you cut it, or prepare to sew a hem to keep the fabric from unraveling. 

You may also want to put the garment on to measure where you want to crop it. Clothing takes a different shape when it's on, so the best way is to measure it on your body. Use a fabric pencil to mark where you want to cut. Take the garment off and make sure your markings are even, and then you can make the snip. And always remember: You can cut more, but you can't put fabric back.