How To Conquer "I Have Nothing To Wear" Problems

You know how it is: You’re out shopping, feeling the buzz from that extra-whip, extra-everything latte, and sooner or later you find yourself deliberating over a skirt that clocks in at fashion it-girl level 100. It’s got some serious attitude. And, walking to the cashier, you think you’re just the person to trounce it.

Or so you thought. Fast-forward to four months later and it’s still hanging in the back of your closet — with all its tags on.

Why do we do things like that?! Why do we fall for impulse purchases time and time again. We pick out pieces that speak to us, that really catch our eye, but ignore the fact that there’s nothing in our closet that could possibly go with them. And so we’re left with a closet full of clothes… but nothing to wear. I blame the latte. That whip cream always fogs over all better judgment.

But I've found there’s a way to break this bad habit, and it’s to shift the way we think when we shop. Meaning, instead of trying to build a wardrobe of items, we should focus on building a wardrobe of outfits. Making that slight shift in thinking will help you build a closet that you can actually use and enjoy, and save you a lot of money and painful heartache along the way.

Below are the three questions to ask yourself to help keep your wardrobe on track:

1. Do I Have My Basics?

This seems like a no-brainer, but the easiest steps are often the ones most over-looked. Before you go buy yourself a set of sequined pants and neoprene dresses (but they were on sale!), ask yourself if you have everything you need in your foundation first. Everyone’s style varies so we’ll each have a different idea of what’s necessary, but some examples would include:

  • A pair of jeans, cigarette pants, high waist pants, black pants, a few turtlenecks in neutral colors, cable knit sweater, cardigan, white button down, chambray shirt, striped shirt, pencil skirt, full skirt, midi skirt, a solid colored dress, a little black dress, floral dress, cargo jacket, denim jacket, and leather jacket.

The importance of first tackling your basics is that it’ll give you a strong base to work with. Not only will this help pare down your wardrobe, but it’ll also give you a valuable supply with which you can mix and match. For example, remember that statement skirt we have hanging in our closet for four months now? If we had all our basics down-pat, we could have easily paired the skirt with a chambray shirt or a black turtleneck. It’s still a statement piece, but at least we could buy it knowing that there’s something in the closet to match it. Which leads me to my next question:

2. How Many Outfits Can I Create With This Piece?

Since we have our basics down, it can feel a little tempting to go buy just about anything and everything since we now have pieces to match. But to keep your wardrobe well curated, ask yourself this before you commit to buying: How many outfits can I make with this one item? Say the piece in question is a bit of a statement, like a suede tank. The 70s are back in vogue and you want to jump on board with your own subtle hippie flair. Before you add a new addition to the back of your closet, pause for a moment and try to imagine how many looks you can create with that one item. It can go with jeans, that’s a given. It’ll look fun with that one floral skirt you have... ah, it might look okay with the pencil skirt? No, well, no, it probably won’t. Hmm, what else?

If in the end you can only create two looks, then it probably isn’t worth buying. Think of it this way: Unless you plan to put those two outfits into heavy rotation, that means the tank won’t get a lot of air time. And if you’re looking to focus on building a wardrobe of outfits, that doesn’t really fit into your game plan.

3. What Is Its Remixing Potential?

Alright, so we determined that you already have all of your basics. Check. Which means that you can now move onto more playful items — like that one dress you just picked. And it turns out that it goes with a couple of other items already in your closet, so you're on our way!

But if you really want to buy things that’ll work hard for you, ask yourself one more question: What’s this piece’s remixing potential?

Say you have a sleeveless dress in your hands and you’re seriously considering walking over to the cash register right this given moment. Before you hand over your wallet, weigh how easily the dress can be remixed to really determine its value. We like to have workhorses in our closets, where one piece can act as many different pieces. For example, can the dress easily be layered underneath a skirt, turning it into a top? Would it look good with a turtleneck or chambray shirt underneath? Can you turn it into a vest of sorts, layering a turtleneck underneath and a skirt on top? If you said yes to a few of these, than the dress will give you a lot of mileage — you can use it over and over in outfits and it’ll still feel fresh. So go on, go buy it without a lick of guilt!

Asking yourself these questions should help you choose pieces that’ll take your wardrobe and style further. They'll open up more options on what to wear and will never leave you crumpled on the ground in the morning, suffering a mini anxiety episode over the fact that you have nothing to wear.

But remember — sometimes it is fun to splurge on that one dress that you’ll only wear once a year. The trick is to just not have a whole closet full of them!

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