How To Shop Your Closet

Save yourself money and time while toning your personal style muscles

Less is more. No, I never really thought that I, a former fashion editor, would say that about clothes but here I am telling you that learning to shop your closet can be just as fun as throwing a credit card around Neiman Marcus.

Wait wait...before you click away to, give me two more minutes to explain. I love new things. Buying a new pair of shoes gives me a high I just can’t explain to most people. But as a (semi) responsible adult without an endless bank account, I have had to find ways to experience my retail high of choice without literally breaking the bank.

One Friday night while I was feeling bad for myself because I couldn’t buy something new for a friend’s dinner party (physically I could, but you know what I mean), I thought to myself:

“Jodi, you are a smart and creative young lady, why can’t we have fun creating a new outfit from the clothes you already own?”

Automatically my ego (aka Negative Nelly) was like, that’s boring and lame grab your credit card and let’s go to the mall! But my creative side was like, this sounds like a challenge, and boy, do we love a challenge.

What came out of this random Friday night was the formula I now use to “Shop my Closet” on a regular basis. I’ve been doing this for years now,  and not only has it kept me out of debt (well, out of serious debt), but it has completely toned my creative style muscles too.

Below I have outlined the complete 5-Step process I use to shop my closet — we even made you the cutest graphic to illustrate it, for those of you who need a visual. But before we get into the process, let’s talk about your thoughts real quick.


Mindset and Habit Grooves

Personally, I think that the biggest obstacle to shopping your closet is getting the right mindset. If you think you have nothing to wear, have worn it all or hate it all, it’s gonna be hard to convince yourself otherwise.

You have to believe that there are some combinations you haven’t thought of before or pieces you can see in a new light.

Your mind creates things called habit grooves (Google it). This insanely smart machine which we call a brain tries every day to conserve energy and be as efficient as possible. This includes streamlining all of our daily decisions like getting dressed.

When we look at our closet and see a black blazer our mind automatically recalls the time we wore it with jeans and a white shirt or the tailored trousers, that’s it. It doesn't stop and think of all the endless ways we can wear that blazer. It wants us to get dressed, get out the door and not get fired.

We have to stop and make a point to consciously think of other ways to wear the blazer. This takes focus, and that’s what this process is all about. We are creating a space for our minds to think outside the closet (see what I did there) and open up to new and exciting ways to see what we’ve been looking at for years.

shop your closet

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Clean It Up

It’s always easier to look at a clean non-cluttered anything, especially a closet. Spend some time giving your closet some TLC.  Hang up the clothes that have been in a pile for weeks, take your dirty delicates to get dry cleaned, straighten out your shoes so you can see them — do all the things you have been putting off before you start. The goal is to make your closet feel like a place you want to spend some time in.


2. Single It Out

Focus on a piece you own that you want your NEW outfit to be centered around. For example, if I have a dinner on Saturday night I might want to wear a dress with fun accessories or do a sleek masculine pants look. I know I have this great fitting basic mid-length dress, I have been wearing it the same way for years, so let’s try something new.

Pick just one piece to focus on. For the first few times, keep this process simple.

Good Rule of Thumb: Anytime you are starting a new habit it helps to keep it as simple as possible. The ego lives off of the complicated because then it can convince you to bail.


3. Find Your Inspiration

Now that you have your personal piece in mind, go on an inspiration treasure hunt. Head over to Pinterest and search for ideas. There are so many ways to style and wear clothes. No one has ever completely exhausted all the ways to wear the clothes they have, the ideas are out there and you can find them.

I love Pinterest for this because there are endless ideas. There are so many good boards to follow — check out my page and see who I follow to help you get started. There is lots of amazing style out there.

4. Focus On The Styling

Now that you have a few inspirational pictures, look for the style cues. So let’s say you searched red blazer, as you’re looking at all the inspiring images of red blazers look closer at the way they’re styled. This is the magic.

The details are really important — it might be the way the sleeves are rolled, or how the collar's popped or the jewelry placement, even the way it’s buttoned makes a huge difference. Get super clear on how the style makes the look.


5. Play Around

This is my favorite part. Now take the images and put them away. You can go back to them, but I want you to see what you can create from memory. This is where the style muscles get built. Your own personal touches will start to show and before you know it, you have a new look.

It’s like solving a problem or putting together a puzzle for me. I get such a high when I can create a new look out of something I already own. Learning to shop your closet will make you feel like a magician, a stylish one.


Your Turn!

Go for it, you really have nothing to lose. This process saves you time and money but more importantly, it gets your creative juices going and really helps you to sharpen your personal style. I want to see what you come up with when you shop your closet. Share your outfits with me on Instagram, please!

I would love to hear how the process was for you, if it was harder than you thought or easier, or you got stuck. I am here just an @polishingup away.


Always Polishing Up,