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7 ways to solve a style rut when you can’t spend any money

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Alyce Greer

You’re welcome.

Every now and then, I start to despise my wardrobe with the heat of a thousand suns. My clothes are a mess, I’ve got too many things, and I’m running late and can’t remember one outfit I’ve ever worn since I was born.

Every time I have to get dressed, I am Cher from Clueless, when she can’t find her white collarless shirt from Fred Segal minutes before her driving test.

Because I go through this phase a lot, I have developed a number of hacks to get out of style rut and become civilised with my wardrobe again – without going shopping and dropping my life savings, that is.

I hope they can help you next time you’re crying in a pile of clothes on the floor.

1. Host a clothes swap

You’re already spending the entire season trapped inside with a heater, cheese platter and bottle of red, so why not add some friends and clothes into the mix for a really good time?

Tell everyone to cull their wardrobes and bring one garbage bag full of pieces they no longer want. All clothes get tipped onto the lounge room floor. Rules are set. Let the bargaining commence.

2. Create a Polaroid outfit book

Often, the reason we hate our wardrobe so much is because we’ve lost touch with it. We’ve had a fashion-inspired falling out. Outfit books are great for reconciling. They are also a clever trick used by stylists to the stars, so they don’t have to think of their own looks every day (ugh to that).

To create an outfit book, set aside an afternoon and prepare to go deep into your wardrobe with the sole intention of creating a bunch of outfits for different occasions, locations and moods.

Lay them on the ground and snap them with your Polaroid camera (or iPhone). Each day, refer to your looks and choose one that speaks to you.

3. Source some style-spo

Instagram is bloody great at wasting our time and sabotaging our work, but did you know it’s also highly skilled as a fashion-spo search engine?

Next time you’re lying on the couch scrollin’ the ‘gram, visit a few of your favourite style kings and queens accounts and find outfits you like, or think you can recreate. Tap save on each of them and pop them into a collection. Now, whenever you need to get ready, you can check this album for some ideas or a dose of inspiration.

4. Look in your partner’s wardrobe

What is it about other people’s clothes? They could be old, ripped and the wrong size, but they’re different to our clothes, so we love them more anyway.

Case in point: your partner’s wardrobe.

Whenever I want to set all of my clothes on fire, I take a trip to the boy’s closet in my house and go shopping (aka, stealing). Sometimes all my look needed was an oversized denim jacket and a beanie, you know?

5. Rotate your wardrobe

You know that feeling you get the day after you’ve cleaned your wardrobe, when it’s like you’ve got a whole new collection to work with? You find pieces at the back you had completely forgotten about, you try on things and fall back in love with them, and everything seems more enticing because it’s clean and tidy.

By all means, if you have the time and energy to clean your entire wardrobe out, go for it, but if you really can’t be f****d, a good alternative is the wardrobe rotation. All you need to do is shuffle the pieces to a new spot. For example, if you keep your skirts folded in a drawer, hang them on a clothes rack instead. If you store your sneakers in a tub under your bed, put them on show by lining them up along your wall.

Once you can physically see everything, you’ll feel like you have more to choose from, and you’re way more likely to wear something you haven’t worn in a while.

6. Create some rules

So you have a bursting wardrobe, yet you always wear the same three things. You feel boring most days and no matter how hard you try, you can’t find anything else in your dumb closet that you want to wear.

Enter, the wardrobe challenge. A series of challenges and rules you set yourself, with the aim of making you less of a snore in a fashion department. Wear jeans every damn day? You’re now on a one-month denim ban. Wish you wore more colour? Well, you wear colour every second day, starting now. Think you’re not a hat person? Congratulations, you are now because you just challenged yourself to add a hat to one of this week’s outfits.

7. Make friends with accessories    

For those of us that gravitate toward the same basics day after day, it can be tricky to add more fun, statement-y pieces to the routine. They might not physically exist in your wardrobe, and if you clicked on this article, you probably don’t have the dollars to be buying them.

That’s where accessories come in – our quick and easy friends that elevate any outfit. In an instant, you can go from looking like you didn’t know what else to wear, to looking like you intentionally chose that beige outfit simply so you could put the accessories on show.

Dig out all of your old scarves, neckties, belts, earrings, sunglasses and socks, or if you must, spend your very last pennies on one of them, because these are the items that will save your arse when you’re having a major fashion crisis.

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