New Year, No New Clothes: How to Look Current Without Buying a Thing

There comes a moment in many of our lives when we take a step back and realize, I have too much stuff. While having too many possessions is a privilege in and of itself, acknowledging that it is time to trim the fat is just the beginning of the process. There are so many reasons to take a step back from shopping to evaluate what you already own. For starters, it's essential to the environment to produce and consume less waste. Also, if you live in a big city with limited space, there's simply no room for a plethora of duplicate wardrobe items. And finally, not shopping every time there's a fresh trend or crop of new arrivals is a thoughtful way to show appreciation for the wardrobe you've cultivated over the years.

Of course, we acknowledge we're a fashion and shopping website, so you'll find plenty of opportunities to "add to cart" if you mosey around our stories. However, if you're in a place in your life where it feels right to hit the brakes on spending and audit your existing collections, then the below tips on how to do so strategically should be of interest

Visit the Tailor


(Image credit: @galagonzales)

If there is anything—we repeat—anything hanging in your closet that you're not wearing because it doesn't fit quite right, stop what you're doing and head straight to the tailor.

It's totally normal to buy something off the rack and not have it fit like a glove. (Every body is different, right?) Consider a trip to the seamstress your secret weapon. Whether it's getting your favorite pair of jeans to finally stop bunching at the bottom or adjusting a blazer to fit more snug, spending the $8 to $30ish to make your wardrobe more custom can be far superior to buying new clothes.

Do a Closet Cleanse


(Image credit: @ada_oguntodu)

If you live in an urban city where closet space is limited, then you know all too well how easy it is to forget about certain items in your wardrobe. This year, take the weekend to pull everything out of your closet and examine which items you are and aren't wearing, as well as pieces to rediscover (e.g., that pretty sheer top that got sandwiched between your sweaters for the last six months).

Once you've made your edit, be sure to re-hang your items in a way that'll make it easier to reach for them. We highly suggest color-coordinating and separating by categories, like jackets, button-down shirts, sweaters, and so on. 

Consider Your Combinations


(Image credit: @camilecharriere)

Sometimes giving your wardrobe an update doesn't require buying new items or trends whatsoever. Often, subtle updates to the way you style or layer can make a world of difference. 

Take, for example, the street style look above. You probably already own all of the items in her outfit (blazer, button-down, jeans, boots), but tucking the jeans into the boots completely updates the aesthetic—and feels very 2020.

Refine Your Jewelry and Accessories


(Image credit: @champagnemani)

There's so much power that comes with accessorizing. You can wear something as simple as a T-shirt and jeans but if you add a printed scarf or a pair of bold earrings or even a few necklaces layered on top of each other, suddenly the outfit becomes a look.

This year, reorganize your accessories so you know what you're working with and have some fun mixing and matching them, regardless if you're headed to the office, out to drinks, or somewhere in between.

Don't Sleep On Beauty


(Image credit: @bettinalooney)

As much as clothing trends can help define a zeitgeist, so can beauty. Don't forget about experimenting with different hairstyles, makeup looks, and nail polish or art. It not only adds personality to your outfit, but it also can serve as a form of self-care—which is always a good thing.

Use a Rental Service


(Image credit: @vince)

If you crave newness, then consider using a clothing rental service. This route satiates the need to wear fresh items while eliminating potential waste. Our latest favorite program is Vince Unfold, which allows you to rent four pieces out at a time for $160 a month. Shipping is free, and there's no limit on the number of items you rent per month. 

Liking these tips but still need a few new essentials? Shop from these planet-friendly brands.

And now: 24 sustainable fashion influencers you need to know about right now.

Nicole Kliest
Freelance Contributor

Nicole Kliest is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City who focuses on fashion, travel, food, wine, and pretty much anything else that's amusing to write about. After graduating from Pepperdine University with a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing, she started her career back in 2010 as Who What Wear's photo editor and throughout the last decade has contributed to publications including Fashionista, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, The Zoe Report, PopSugar, Fodor's Travel, and several others. She also copywrites and has worked with clients such as Frame, Sea, 3x1, Intelligentsia, and others to develop brand voices through storytelling and creative marketing. She's very passionate about the ways we can improve our sustainability efforts in the fashion industry as well as cultivating content that's diverse and inclusive of all people. When she's not checking out the latest restaurant opening in her West Village neighborhood or riding her bicycle along the West Side Highway, she can be found scheming her next trip somewhere around the world. (Up next is Vienna.)