Tips to Get More Wear Out of Your Wardrobe (Guide)

Whether you have budgetary, spatial or environmental reasons for a capsule wardrobe, this post guides you to maximize the number of potential outfits.

Contents
  1. Who said you’ve to wear your clothes always the same way?
  2. Reasons to create new outfits from your wardrobe
    • Economic motivations for shopping your own closet
    • Environmental reasons for slowing down fashion
  3. Look at your clothes beyond their purpose for outfit ideas
    • Try the dress-over-pants look with items from your closet
    • Try a midi skirt under a mini dress
    • Wear a dress as a skirt or shirt
    • Style a cardigan as a top
    • Styling a waterfall cardigan in different ways
    • Change the look of slouchy boots
  4. Wrapping up

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post at no extra cost for you.

Updated: 2/20/2021

Who said you’ve to wear your clothes always the same way?

Nobody!

This post illustrates several ways of wearing clothes like a waterfall cardigan, slouchy boots, suits and dresses in different ways to increase the number of outfits you can create from the pieces you already own. While this post is a general guide, there are also posts that just focus on one item like for instance how to wear a sheath as a skirt. This general guide leads you to the special ones along the way. Thus, read on or skip to the clothing piece you are interested in to get to the more detailed tips and tricks.

Reasons to create new outfits from your wardrobe

This post addresses how to shop your own closet for new, unique outfits. It provides solutions to the peer-pressure to have a never-worn-before outfit at any given dressing occasion. Besides career and social media pressure, there are many other reasons to get the most outfits out of the pieces you already own. The most important one is to create a new look for yourself. Being well dressed provides confidence.

Economic motivations for shopping your own closet

Unless you are a heiress like Paris and Nikki Hilton, you are most likely on a budget fashion-wise. For instance, buying new clothes to get a new look yields to a crowded closet.It becomes unmanageble, because you can’t see what you have. Consequently, you never wear some of your beautiful clothes. The next step would be to buy another outfit. It’s easy to see that this feedback loop is unsustainable on the long run.

Another reason to shop your closet is economy in its widest sense. You probably want to use your clothes in an efficient way. This doesn’t mean to wear them until they fall apart like a Hippie in Flower Power Style. However, a certain amount of times before you conseign them or give them to charity. Or you strive for a threshold cost-per-wear like I do.

Of course, you can’t wear everything with everything.

Environmental reasons for slowing down fashion

You may also be concerned about the environmental impacts of your fashion consumption. Even when you commit to buy Made in Your Country there are emission from transport, polluted water from dye, maybe fertilizers from growing cotton, irrigation or soil loss from overgrazing involved. Certain treatments of colored denim lead to airborne particles and dust-lungs in textile workers.

Look at your clothes beyond their purpose for outfit ideas

Take a look at your clothes beyond their original purpose! Look at a dress as a shirt or skirt. A cardigan can function as a top as well. Also take trends for inspiration to make new outfits with what you have. Lately, for instance, wearing a dress over pants is a big It thing. Of course, you can waste your money and buy one of the “pre-styled” dress with pants outfit. But guess what, unless you wear the dress without the pants or the pants without the dress you only get one trendy new look.

Look at your clothes beyond their purpose for more outfits from what you already own. #dress4success Click To Tweet

Try the dress-over-pants look with items from your closet

It is easy to style a dress with pants. Denim-on-denim is always a good idea in this case. But there are mnay other possibilities how to make a nice outfit with this trend. When the colors and style don’t clash, you can pair any straight print dress with pants. Use a belt to get nice proportions and to make the outfit look better. Straight black pants or slim leather pants with an A-style printed or texture dress are also good candidates for the look.

 

midlife fashion blogger in dress over pants

midlife woman in posh chic street style

casual chic mature fashion influencer in denim dress with pants
Lookbook Store motorcycle leather jacket (similar here). Liz Claiborne denim dress, J Brand skinnies, statement silver belt, GNW polka dot socks, Red Bubble scarf Spy Girl fashion blogger print, Prada satchel (all own), and embroidered Matisse mules c/o Soft Surroundings

Doing the dress-over-pants styling yourself provides you with many additional outfits. Here are further inspirations for the dress-over-pants looks for your inspiration.

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Try a Midi Skirt Under a Mini Dress

Another way how to make new outfits is to put a midi skirt under a mini dress. This dropped waist look permits you to wear your summer clothes in the transition season. When you live in a climate region with short spring and fall this tricks saves you the money for these seasonal wardrobes. The following inspiration photos illustrate the concept.

 

posh chic midlife woman in printed dress over lace hem underskirt
Victoria Victoria Beckham silk printed dress over DIY underskirt, Hermes collier de chien belt, and Calvin Klein block heel pumps (all own)
over 50 years old fashion blogger in knit dress over tulle skirt with tall boots
Rebecca Collins belt, upcycled tall boots (all own), tulle skirt c/o Lookbook Store and knit dress c/o Femme Luxe
style book author in casual leggings sweater pink and black look
Labradorite and pearls belt, unbranded mesh slip, GNW tights, Salamander shearling booties (all own) and sweaterdress c/o Femme Luxe
over 50 years old influencer in black dress with floral embroidery
Nine West lizard imprint heels, Chanel belt, DIY underskirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, cat eye gemstone necklace, Spence embroidered dress (all own), mirrored wooden sunglasses c/o Winkwood and sleeves c/o Cami Confidential

Wear a Dress as a Shirt or Skirt

One of my favorite tricks to get more wear out of my wardrobe is to look at a dress also as a shirt or a skirt. Would you think that the top in the next two photos is actually a dress from summer?

Wear a dress as a skirt or shirt for more chic outfits from your wardrobe. #styletip Click To Tweet

 

midlife style blogger wearing a dress as skirt to get more outfits form her closet

woman adding posh looks to her wardrobe by wearing a dress as a T-shirt
G-III suede skirt, u-knit dress worn as T-shirt, Gipsy coat carried over the arm, Sofie cardigan, Hermes collier de chien bangles, Science Inspired Jewelry DNA bangle, BGBC belt (all own), own pearl necklace twisted with Akoya pearl necklace c/o The Pearl Source Inc.

 

You can see the great summer dress styled as such in the post at the link. The next two photos show examples of how to style a fit-and-flare polka dot dress as a skirt to get more wear out of your wardrobe.

style influencer wearing a summer dress in fall as a skirt

#trendsover50 woman in dress worn as skirt and cardigan with leather coat
Karina Dresses worn as fit-and-flare skirt, GNW cardigan worn as top, Kieselstein Cord belt worn to define the waist, Christian Dior pin point neckerchief, Calvin Klein red block heel nude pumps, unbranded pantyhose, Gap leather coat (all own), and Florentine fringe suede leather clutch c/o Uno Alla Volta

 

Here are further inspirations on how to get more wear out of your wardrobe by wearing a dress as a skirt.

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Style a Cardigan as a Top

I think I have worn the cardigan shown in the photos above more often as a top than as a cardigan. 😉 How is that? Alaska is cold most of the year, does that count as an excuse? Or is “I hate ironing blouses or shirts” a better one? LOL.

over 50 years old woman in blue and white dress with cardigan work outfit

style book author wearing a cardigan over blue and white sheath
Cardigan worn over a Shein dress as a top with Kieselstein Cord belt, Prada bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Anne Klein pumps (all own)

 

Here are further examples for your inspiration of how to style a cardigan as top for more outfits from your wardrobe.

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Style a cardigan as a top. #styletip Click To Tweet

Styling a Waterfall Cardigan in Different Ways

The following outfit inspirations illustrate several ways of wearing a waterfall cardigan. Why not knotting the sleeves around your neck and wear it as a scarf? From the front this styling trick look like a scarf. From the side, the tails of the waterfall cardigan look like a stylish oversize scarf or cape. The photos below feature the cardigan worn open and in form of a wrap top.

over40fashion work outfit Own waterfall cardigan worn over a summer jersey dress c/o Ronen Chen with own Harley Davidson booties, ethnic belt, GNW tight, and DIY brooch

over 50 years old stylist in a modern winter office look with waterfall cardigan Waterfall cardigan belted with a Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle over a GNW cardigan worn as top, Clark booties (all own), and boot toppers c/o Top of the Boot
See these cool inspirations how to style a waterfall cardigan without looking heavy. #styleadvice Click To Tweet

Change the Look of Slouchy boots

The photo above shows an example how boot toppers enlarge your shoe wardrobe options. But you can even go beyond. The “booties” in the outfit below are actually slouchy boots rolled down!

Slouchy Boots …

over 50 years old woman in winter work outfit with faux twinset
Eddie Bauer tweed skirt with Lands End sweater, Moda International cardigan, pearls, GNW tight, and Vince Camuto slougy boots (all own)

 

… rolled down to booties

styleover40 work outfit

fashionover40 office outfit
GNW Luxe wool cashmere sweater with Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, GNW tights, Vince Camuto boots rolled down to be worn as booties, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Kieselstein Cord belt, and waterfall cardigan for an office appropriate look

Look at other clothes and their options

Don’t stop with the boots and cardigan. Be creative!

Knot a maxi dress at the hem to create a mini dress. #styletip Click To Tweet

 

For variations on how to wear the shearling coat shown in the photo below see Five tips to style your outerwear to avoid winter boredom.

advanced fashion woman in outerwear
Shearling coat over Eddie Bauer tweed skirt with Vince Camuto boots rolled down to look like booties, Pavolvo Russian scarf, matching LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, Salvatore Ferragamo belt, and structured bag (all own) for a winter outerwear to the office

 

When you liked the outfit recipes of this post, and want recipes for all kind of dressing situation in midlife, buy my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.

Wrapping up

Be creative. Think about how to recycle your wardrobe items in many ways. Get inspirations from colors. Ask yourself what pieces of your closet could you wear in a different way? Try to get more outfits of the items you already own with these above easy to copy tricks. Which outfit idea pops up in your mind with your own pieces?

 

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Photos of me: G. Kramm

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