How to make the most of your wardrobe when you’re broke

Poor but sexy.

So it turns out weddings are really f*cking expensive.

This is a lesson I’ve learnt while planning my own wedding in September. Did you know Portaloos can cost $1000?!!?! 

Anyway, I’m someone who has always lived within my means (my motto is “you can’t break your budget if you never have a budget”). So I’ve had to adopt a series of money-saving tactics in order to pay for the biggest, fanciest party of my whole goddamn life. 

One of these – and it makes me gag a little bit to even write this – is that I’m now on a total clothes-buying ban. As someone who gets sick of an item of clothing after three wears, this means I have to trick myself into liking my current clothing selection. These are my best tips. 

Clean out your wardrobe 

Some people hoard dresses, some people hoard shoes. Whatever your poison, start there. Then move through your wardrobe, getting rid of anything you no longer need. 

This isn’t to collect items to sell/make money (although that’s smart too). This is because whenever you clean out your wardrobe, you always find things you once loved but have completely forgotten about.

I recently cleaned out my accessories “collection” (a box of junk) and found myself a whole new set of rings! Be sure to check all pockets for $$$$$$$ too. 

Pre-plan your outfits

Most of us roll out of bed and spend two minutes choosing our outfit, resulting in wearing the same five things over and over again. 

If you look a little deeper into your closet, you’ll find a whole untapped resource – you’re probably only wearing 10 per cent of your clothes! 

Combat this by “prepping” your work outfits on a Sunday afternoon. You’ll have more time to shop through your wardrobe and style complete looks with accessories and shoes. Once you have five outfits on fleek, take photos on your phone so you can remember them for another day. 

Host a clothes swap night 

Other people’s clothes are always more exciting than your own, so gather up your equally-broke mates for a clothes swap night at your place. Entry fee is one bottle of wine and at least five pieces of clothing from their wardrobes that they no longer like (or still like, but like money more). 

It’s a simple concept: you drink the wine and fight over each other’s clothes. Seeing as you’re hosting, it’s only fair you get first dibs. 

Channel your inner fashion designer

Take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I really need 54 pairs of jeans?” The answer is, most likely, no. Actually, definitely no. 

Spend an afternoon getting crafty and customise your jeans – rip holes around the knees, cut full-lengths into cropped lengths, fray hems and turn some into shorts because #summer. This also works for chopping jackets into vests, old t-shirts into crop tops, etc etc. 

For this exercise, you’ll need a pair of scissors, a sanding block, YouTube and another bottle of wine.  

Don’t wear the same outfit twice 

This sounds contradictory considering we don’t have any new clothes to work with, but hear me out. Each morning, choose an item from your wardrobe that you do *kinda* like. 

For this example, let’s go with a T-shirt. This is when the rule kicks in – you’re only allowed to wear the T-shirt with an item you’ve never paired it with before. Usually throw on denim shorts? Try a pencil skirt instead. 

By following this rule, you’ll start putting together outfits that are technically new, and you won’t feel as depressed/drop $1000 on your credit card on your lunch break.   

Stick to the getting-ready formula 

As the year progresses and you find it’s been months since you last felt that beautiful swipe through the EFTPOS machine, it’s only natural that you’ll start resenting (despising) your clothes more than ever before. 

It will become even harder to get ready every morning. Just know you’re not alone – I am also in my room crying along with you, while counting my 5c coins. 

When this does eventually happen, it’s time to employ this secret formula that will have you dressed in one minute flat every single time. Choose a category that you have the most of – dresses, tops, bottoms, jackets, etc. This is your category. Every morning, you must start here and you cannot move on until you’ve picked something. Then add another item or accessories to match it.

How this works is that it restricts your choices, making it less overwhelming in the morning when you’re staring at your closet with panic.   

Earn your purchases

You’re only human. Sometimes you will break. If you’ve got zero willpower or just don’t think you can go without any new clothes for extended periods of time, take $20 out of your allowance each week and put it in a safe place. 

I recommend giving it to your mum – mums are great at this sort of thing. If you spot something in the window you simply cannot live without, you can buy it, but only if you have enough in the kitty. 

Alternatively, you can engage your mum again and invite her on a shopping trip to teach you the ways of lay-by. It will be embarrassing and you’ll hope to God you don’t see anyone you know, but you’ll be rich soon and you can drive back past them in your Ferrari so who really cares?

Illustration by Twylamae.

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