If you’re staring into your wardrobe and feeling uninspired, you might be stuck in a fashion rut.
Going shopping is a tempting solution, and plenty of us do it: Aussies are the world’s second largest consumer of textiles, with most of us picking up about 27 kilos of clothes each year.
But what if you want to avoid band-aid purchases and make do with what you’ve already got?
We asked fashion blogger Hannah Klose, of Never Ever Pay Retail, how she stays inspired by her wardrobe while spending less.
Hannah has an eye for versatile and sustainable fashion, and a knack for remixing clothes she already owns.
To put her skills to the test, we roped in her best friend Jane Nielsen — a working mum-of-two — for a makeover.
The pair usually try to get together for a vino on Tuesdays, so we invited ourselves along.
In under an hour, Hannah pulled together five new looks from her friend’s wardrobe using items many of us already own:
Meet ‘Plain Jane’
Brisbane’s Jane, 35, works part-time as a physiotherapist while raising her two daughters, aged four and two.
When we arrive for the makeover, she’s wearing a tank top and jeans.
“I can’t say I’m very on trend. I don’t follow fashion closely. I have a classic style — I used to call it basic, but Hannah told me to call it classic,” she laughs.
“I don’t think I’m very creative when it comes to my wardrobe and I feel awkward if I try on anything too adventurous.”
Jane’s pretty switched on when it comes to choosing her clothes carefully and staying on top of clearing them out — a must because she shares a wardrobe with her husband.
But her biggest downfall is wearing her clothes in the same way over and over. That’s where Hannah comes in to help.
The ‘worn to death’ polka dot singlet
“You’ve worn this 100 times!” Hannah says while holding up a black-and-white polka dot singlet. “Let’s take it from summer to winter.”
Hannah chooses a white work shirt to layer it with: “It’s a way to give your fave singlet a new lease on life.”
She recommends folding up the shirt sleeves if the look feels too bulky.
Rule: Always close the top button. “It’s more chic this way,” Hannah says.
The ‘too short’ pattern dress
Next up is a dress Jane’s had for 12 months but doesn’t feel comfortable wearing.
“I feel like this dress is too short and inappropriate,” Jane says.
Hannah digs out a black denim mini skirt from Jane’s wardrobe.
“A black mini covers a multitude of sins,” she laughs.
“Hannah, I would actually wear this,” Jane says — seemingly surprised.
Rule: Make sure the skirt is longer than the dress. You also want the dress to fit comfortably beneath the skirt and not be too bulky.
The ‘frumpy’ stripe dress
There’s nothing worse than a dress that makes you feel frumpy — and that’s exactly what Jane says about this little number.
Hannah suggests cinching the dress at the waist could solve her problems, and grabs a sweater Jane’s had for six years.
“That jumper is something I’d wear to take the garbage out,” Jane laughs. She admits someone else taking a liking to it improves its chances of being worn in public.
And it works a treat.
Rule: Choose a sweater with a ribbed finish. “Otherwise it will free-fall and make you look more frumpy,” Hannah says.
The special occasion slip
Jane has worn this black slip dress to a wedding, but says it’s too dressy for anything outside a special event.
Hannah pairs it with an old grey tee — a staple for Jane. It gives the dress a more casual vibe.
Rule: Choose a high-neck top when layering with a low-cut dress.
The breastfeeding dress
Button-ups are a mum’s “breast” friend — and Jane has one that used to fit the bill.
“I have worn this dress heaps. It was really good for breastfeeding, but I haven’t worn it since,” Jane says. “I bought it second-hand.”
Hannah grabs a pair of jeans Jane was planning to throw out.
The button-up dress acts as a kimono and hides some of what Jane doesn’t love about the jeans.
Rule: Wear button-ups open with jeans and take summery pieces into the cooler months.
Hannah was hoping Jane would be a good sport about the makeover, but Jane says the tips were refreshing.
More than that, she says she’d “actually wear” the outfits. We’re calling this one a huge success!
If you want to try a wardrobe makeover at home, here are a few tips from Hannah to get you started:
- Flip through a magazine or scroll Instagram for inspiration. Try to find looks you could recreate.
- Grab a (truthful) friend or five. Others will always see something in your clothes that you don’t, and will (hopefully) give honest feedback.
- Choose items that are still in good nick. If something is tattered and on its way out, inspiration is unlikely.
- Don’t try to reinvent your entire wardrobe in one go. If you can find a new life for three pieces, that’s a great start.
- Be realistic. If you’re working with a piece and the fit is all wrong, you could donate it to charity instead.