There are many things to love about getting older: wisdom, experience, and a more relaxed perspective on life, to name a few. Another great thing about reaching a certain age is that you finally have a wardrobe that truly reflects who you are.
After years of accumulating clothes and trying out different styles, you’ve finally honed in on your look.
If you’re like most women over 50, your wardrobe includes classic pieces that can be mixed and matched to create fresh new outfits. A simple black dress can be dressed up or down with accessories, and a cardigan can be worn over a variety of different tops.
Sometimes, though, we get in a rut when it comes to our outfits, and we wear the same combinations over and over again.
No worries, my friend. With a little creativity, you can use the clothes you already own to create stylish new outfits that reflect your unique personality.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune on new clothes in order to create stylish outfits. In fact, you can shop your closet for inspiration!
Here are some tips for creating new outfits using the clothes you already own.
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Shop Your Closet – the What and the Why
We’ve all been there. We gaze into our closets, looking for something to wear, and nothing seems to fit right or feel quite right. Maybe our clothes are getting a bit tired and worn out, or maybe our body shape has changed and we don’t know how to dress to flatter our new shape.
If this feels like a familiar scenario, you’re not alone. A lot of women over 50 feel like they’ve lost touch with fashion and style, and they don’t know how to update their wardrobe on a budget. It’s a clothing rut that many of us can relate to as we wear the same outfits over and over again. My little paw is raised. Guilty as charged.
One solution to this problem is to “shop your closet.” What this means is that you take a look at the clothes you already own and see how you can mix and match them to create new outfit combinations.
This can be a great way to update your wardrobe without spending a lot of money, and it can also help to boost your self-confidence. Here are 3 benefits of “shopping your closet”:
1. You’ll save money – One of the best things about “shopping your closet” is that it helps you avoid spending money. By creating new outfit combinations with the clothes you already have, you won’t have to spend money on buying new clothes.
2. You’ll get more wear out of your clothes – Another benefit of “shopping your closet” is that you’ll get more wear out of your clothes. When you have a limited budget, it’s important to make sure that your clothes last as long as possible.
By creating new outfits with the clothes you already own, you’ll be able to wear them multiple times before they start to wear out.
3. You’ll feel more confident – One of the biggest benefits of “shopping your closet” is that it can help you to feel more confident. When you feel good about the way you look, it can have a positive impact on your overall mood and self-confidence.
How to Shop Your Closet: The Process
1. Affirm or discover your personal style
Creating a personal style collection is a great way to get inspired to create fresh looks with your existing wardrobe.
To get started, take a look at fashion inspiration sources like Pinterest, Instagram, and fashion blogs. When you find an outfit you love, save it to your collection. As you build up your collection, you’ll start to see patterns emerge.
Perhaps you’re drawn to certain colors, silhouettes, or styles. Use these preferences to help guide your wardrobe choices going forward.
When putting together an outfit, reference your collection for inspiration. Pulling elements from different looks that you love will help you create a unique look that is all your own.
Let your personal style collection be your guide to creating amazing outfits from the clothes you already have in your closet!
2. Organize, edit, and inspect your current wardrobe
First, remove everything from your closet, one item at a time. You’ll want to include shoes, purses, and small accessories such as scarves and hats. If you’re going to do this, do it right. Take your time and use the following thought process.
As you remove each item, decide whether you want to keep it, donate it, consign it, or recycle it.
Make four piles: keep, donate, consign, and recycle.
Then, take a look at the items in your “keep” pile. Be honest with yourself–will you actually wear these items? Do they fit well? Take the time to try them on. If not, consider moving them to one of the other piles.
Next, take a look at your “donate” pile. These are items that you don’t want or need anymore, but someone else may be able to use them. Consider taking these items to a local charity or clothing drive.
The items in your “consign” pile are ones that you don’t want or need anymore, but which may still have some value. You can take these items to a consignment store and receive money for them (which you can then use to buy new clothes!).
Finally, the items in your “recycle” pile cannot be donated or consigned. These items should be recycled according to their materials. For example, cloth items can be recycled at most fabric stores.
Organizing your wardrobe in this way will help you to clear out the clutter and only keep the clothes that you actually wear and love, and prepare you for the next step in shopping your closet!
3. Organize your updated wardrobe
The first step is to sort the freshly edited wardrobe by category: tops, bottoms, blazers, sweaters, dresses, skirts, etc.
Once you have everything sorted, you can start to further organize each category by basics and statement pieces.
Basics would be things like jeans, black pants, and a black dress. Statement pieces would be anything that is more unique or eye-catching, like a printed blouse or a leather skirt.
By separating your clothes this way, you will be able to see all of the different outfit possibilities that you may not have considered before.
Once you have completed this step, your closet will be organized something like this (we’re going to use an imaginary closet that has a right and left side):
On the left side of the closet are all of your “basics”, organized by type. So we’ll find the pants (probably jeans, black, navy, white slacks, etc), then the skirts, dresses, tops, sweaters, and blazers. These are the foundation pieces of your wardrobe.
On the right side of the closet are the unique, eye-catching pieces. We might find a leather skirt, a beautifully colorful top, a brightly colored sweater, a print dress. I think you get the idea!
Hey there friend, do you struggle to find pants, jeans, crops, & capris that fit you well? Yep, most of us have that problem.
Well, take a minute to learn more about Measure & Made, and their unique sizing system called ShapeLogic. Once you find your perfect size, you can buy and wear any of the bottoms on their site and they’ll fit you well!
4. Create new outfit combinations
There are a couple of approaches to this step, my friend. Decide which will work the best for you.
First, you can stand in your closet and start putting different combinations of clothes together. The goal is to NOT pair up the same tops, bottoms, and shoes as you’ve done in the past. Or if you’re like me, the same 2 or 3 outfit combinations and wear them repeatedly because they’re easy and no-brainers.
No, girlfriend. I’m not suggesting that you close your eyes and randomly pull something together, but do your best to put a top, pants, and sweater or blazer (or jacket, whatever works for you) together that you’ve never tried before.
Remember to use your inspiration board or collection to help you with this process.
The second option is to literally pull the separates out of the closet and lay them on your bed, for example. If you happen to have a clothes rack available, even better.
You might start by pulling out your pants and laying them on the bed. Then, add the tops. Try new combinations, colors, even patterns that you haven’t considered before.
And how about the shoes, mules, booties, sandals, slip-ons, or boots?
- utilize all of your clothes, even those you’ve historically set aside for special occasions. Wear them now. Why not?
- create outfits using your lesser-selected pieces. For example, if you usually wear jeans, try putting an outfit together with a skirt, or a casual dress instead
- use layering in your outfits in new and different ways. Pair a cardigan with a dress, put a t-shirt and blazer with a pair of pants in a new combination
- create different color combinations than you would typically choose, your might be surprised as how much you like it
- try on the outfit combinations, because you might just love this crazy new outfit you just put together!
- remember the jewelry (if it’s part of your personal style). The outfit might look familiar, but if you pair it with a statement necklace and earrings it changes everything
- change up the shoes, try different shoe combinations with your freshly created outfits
- check your inspiration collection frequently for fresh outfit ideas
5. Identify the gaps
One of the benefits of going through this exercise is that it will help you identify the gaps. If your freshly edited wardrobe has no black pants, for example, and it is a go-to item for you, then it might be a gap that needs to be addressed.
But wait. Isn’t using your current wardrobe the whole point? Yes, it is. And I’m going to guess that for the most part, your updated, edited wardrobe will have the majority of pieces that you want and need.
On one hand, you don’t want to run out and spend hundreds of dollars on new purchases. That’s not the goal of shopping your closet.
Here’s a suggestion that might help: Go back to your inspiration board or collection and see what the repeating colors, patterns, textures, fabrics, or overall combinations look like, and compare them to what is currently living in your closet.
If you see a pattern to your fashion and outfit preferences and it doesn’t exist with your current wardrobe, you can decide if a new piece or two is appropriate for your budget. Maybe it will be a goal to work toward.
Ultimately, it’s up to you!
Rediscover Your Personal Style in Midlife
The Fashion Cure
Shop Your Closet: My Experience Reimagining Outfits
So, I decided to put my advice to practical use and spent some time shopping my own closet. I’ve gone through a recent clothing edit so I knew that what was available to me was pretty much current and fit appropriately.
If you notice my changing eyeglass frames in the images below, they are from Pair Eyewear. My main frames are clear, which is nice when I want them to disappear on my face. When I want more color or to make a statement with eyewear, I magically add a cover. They’re magnetic – I also have three sunglass covers so I can change up the look on those, too. It is very cool!
Here are the outfits I created:
Although there is nothing surprising or ‘ah-ha!’ about this outfit, I was happy with the outcome. The black pants from Chicos Travelers Collection are really comfy. I paired them with a white collared button down longer-length shirt that I have only worn one time, a couple of years ago. It has some pretty detailing that I’d forgotten about.
The green microfiber jacket was purchased just prior to COVID in 2020, so I’ve never had the occasion to wear it.
I pulled out a purse that I love but don’t use all the time, and then put on my favorites, the Skechers scalloped edge slip-ons.
As you can see, my style is pretty classic for the most part. I wore a pair of black skinny pants and paired them with an extra long white cardigan from Lands End, one of my tunic tops from Covered Perfectly, and some pointy-toed slip-ons.
This was fun. I started with my Arc jeans because I love the unique style and shape of them. I purchased them awhile back from Everlane, and when I checked they are longer available. Bummer. But, any style of ankle length jeans will work.
I decided to use a consignment shop purchase from a couple of years ago – a black beaded vest, and paired that with a simple round neck short-sleeve t-shirt. I added a glitzy necklace, earrings, and my slip-on sandals that have some interesting silver straps.
This outfit is another simple creation, although this shot doesn’t include the scarf I pulled out of the closet. You can see that in the image at the top of the post.
What makes this interesting for my style is that I wouldn’t pair pink and blue in the same outfit. That’s just not my jam. But, with the pink glasses and the high-top sandals, it’s kind of fun.
The extra-long pink cardigan is from Amazon and it comes in a zillion colors.
This was fun. I’m not one to wear dresses often; actually almost never.
I’ve had this sleeveless leopard print dress for many years – at least thirteen. It sits patiently in my closet and I look at it, but just don’t choose to wear it for one reason or another.
For this look, I paired it with an extra-long black cardigan that reaches almost to the hem of the dress. Then, I pulled out the black ankle boots which I would typically wear with long pants – never like this.
But shopping your closet should be fun and a little adventurous, right? If I were to choose this look in the future I might add some black tights.
Conclusion: Shop Your Closet
Shopping at your own home, in your own closet, can be fun and rewarding. The key is to think creatively and not put separates together as you’ve done in the past.
If you open up your mind and play around with this, I’ll bet you can come up with some fresh, flattering, interesting looks.
Why don’t you give it a try!
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8 thoughts on “How to Shop Your Closet: 5 Tips for Women Over 50”
I constantly look critically at my closet making sure that I do love what is there. I have it categorized and keep some of the off season away so I can see better what I have. And I love creating new outfits from what I have!
Hi Mireille, it sounds like you use your wardrobe to it’s potential, and that’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
Great post, Candi! I would add that shopping your closet is also an environmentally friendly/sustainable option compared to buying something new to get that “new outfit” buzz.
Hi Sally, that is a great point! Thanks for reminding us about the environmental benefits of shopping our own closet.
Thanks for these great tips on shopping your closet to hone in on your personal style. My closet is in need of organizing at this point in time. You’ve given me the inspiration to dive into the re-organization process.
Hi Carol, I’m glad you’re motivated to do some editing with the wardrobe. Have fun with it and see how many fresh looks you can create!
Hi Candi. I find that now that we have our home, in Georgia (country), Ican buy better quality clothes, instead of shopping the chain stores, and keep the clothes a lot longer. I’m trying to just buy quality pieces, that I can mix and match, each season. Strasbourg, France was a really great place to get quality clothing. I especially loved the shoe stores, that were out of Paris, but had quality leather shoes from Portugal. Thank you for sharing. xx
Hi Christina, your purchasing philosophy makes sense! It’s great that you have the option of international shopping sources. 🙂 xo