How To: Style Clothes You Already Own

In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of styling the clothes you already own when trying to find your personal style. Making the most of your existing wardrobe is an essential skill to have in your sustainable shopping arsenal, as it stops you from over-consuming and making impulsive purchases. It’s especially handy if you’re feeling the post-Christmas pinch, or stuck in a seasonal limbo that means you can’t justify buying another dress or coat before the weather changes. 

You’d think that stepping out of your aesthetic comfort zone is one of the hardest parts of your personal fashion journey, but it’s often the clothes you already have that are the trickiest to style. It’s all too easy to reach for the same jeans-tee-trainers combo whenever it’s clean, leaving other pieces that were once your favourites to hang, unworn and uninspiring, on your rail. Don't worry, though — this guide shows you how to create new outfits with the things you already own, helping you fall back in love with your existing wardrobe.



Wardrobe organisation

Sorry if this isn’t what you want to hear, but making the most of the clothes you have starts with organisation. Whether your wardrobe is the perfect advert for the KonMari method or you prefer it to be more of a textile lucky dip, it needs to work for you. Start with a clear-out; if you come across items from seasons past you know you’ll never wear again, thank them for their service and take them to the charity shop. Now, rearrange your wardrobe in a way that helps you see all of your options when you’re getting ready, and make sure any treasures you rediscovered while tidying are front and centre! 

Hanger flipping is a great way to see what you’re actually wearing. When you’re putting recently worn items back in your wardrobe, hang them the wrong way round on the rail — that way, you can immediately see things you haven’t styled for a while. You could also place them further along your clothes rail to create a simple first in, last out system. 

Looking for more wardrobe detox tips? Check out our e-book — it has a whole chapter on scaling back your clutter.


Repurpose old outfits

Above: A simple satin bias cut skirt can do the heavy lifting for a range of outfits. Even just switching up the tights from plain black to a motif and swapping boots for heels takes this outfit from workwear to a party look!

As a society, we love rigid, arbitrary rules, and that’s no different when it comes to our clothes. We’ve been conditioned to believe that outfit-repeating tanks your social status.  That clothes can only be worn one way, and only on specific occasions. We’re here not only to tell you that’s wrong, but to give you some pointers on how to make fashionable new outfits with clothes you already have:

  • Simple staples like satin skirts can be paired with just about any top in your wardrobe, so you can have some fun mixing and matching to create a new outfit each time.
  • Casual office dress codes and working from home might mean you have a few neglected pairs of tailored work trousers, but they’re easily dressed down with a playful tee and trainers at the weekend. 
  • With dresses, the options are endless. Style a contrasting long-sleeved tee underneath to add a new colour or pattern to your outfit (this works great with button-ups and bra tops, too!). Tuck one into jeans — nobody will know it’s not a top. Layer up with a relaxed knit or sporty sweatshirt on chillier days (top tip: wear your bralette over the dress instead of under it; you can use the band to create an effortless tucked-in look without a belt!) 
  • Got a shiny blouse or occasion dresses we’ve worn to one celebration and abandoned ever since? Don’t be afraid to restyle and rewear! If you originally paired the blouse with a skirt, make it the focal point of a power suit next time. Colourful accessories and a change to your makeup can make a dress unrecognisable to guests that have already seen it. And while you’re awaiting your invite to the next big party, take them on casual outings with the help of your favourite jeans and trainers. 

Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise 

Above: Our detachable collars are an easy accessory to throw on over existing blouses, dresses and jumpers to bring them up to date without starting from scratch!

Switching up your accessories is one of the easiest ways to change the whole aesthetic of clothes you already own. Turtlenecks and plain tees are blank canvases for necklace stacks — they can be the centrepiece of the look, or peek out from beneath a layered shirt or cardigan. Styling a cap or bucket hat with skirts and dresses puts a streetwear spin on traditionally feminine styles; when you fancy something more preppy, try a headband instead. A collar is a bit of a bolder choice, especially if they’re as frilly and floral as ours, but they’re great for adding a smarter touch to a plain knit or dress. 

Get upcycling

Above: Founder Louisa had some studio offcuts and a pair of bettered patent leather boots that were scuffed beyond recognition. The solution? A hot glue gun and a lot of patience!

Remember all the clothes you decided to part with in your wardrobe clearout? You can give them a second chance by upcycling them into an entirely new garment (and trick your brain into thinking you’ve bought something brand-new in the process!) There are loads of ways you can breathe new life into your existing wardrobe; you can put in as much or as little effort as you want. Here are some upcycling ideas you can try on the unworn clothes you own:

  • Falling out with a pair of jeans is one of life’s great heartaches, but there’s not much raw-hemming won’t fix. Too long? It takes an inch off the length. Too pristine? It gives them the rugged, lived-in look of a thrift store find. Hate the fit? Slightly cropping your jeans can change the silhouette entirely. 
  • Dyeing kits are easily accessible in craft shops and supermarkets, and are great if you fancy a more drastic change. There’s a whole rainbow of shades to choose from, and you can transform just about anything from old denim to plain cotton t-shirts
  • Fun graphic patches and panels of deadstock fabric can breathe new life into off-trend jackets or vintage blazers (they can also cover a multitude of sins, so don’t give up on that spaghetti-sauce-stained shirt just yet!)