4 steps to making better use of your closet

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December 9, 2022

If you're wearing the same few outfits on repeat, are struggling to put outfits together, and are buying more clothes...but it's not giving you more options, you probably feel like throwing it all out and starting again.  

But you don't need to do that!  There's lots of potential hanging in your closet, you just can't see it at the moment.  But all that's about to change.

Over the past 12 years I've helped women like you develop an easy to use, versatile collection of clothes WITH THEIR EXISTING COLLECTION, and I'm sharing my tried and true process below.

Scroll down to find out how to turn your jumbled closet into an easy to use, versatile collection of outfits that you enjoy wearing!


STEP 1- Gather together the tools of the trade 
STEP 2 - Rediscover what you have in your closet by identifying and assessing the unworn clothes
STEP 3 - Build new outfits with the clothes you've rediscovered
STEP 4- Make sure you don't let more unworn items slip back in

NOTE - You can click to visit each step individually, or keep scrolling down to go through them one by one

How to make the most of your existing wardrobe and make new outfits with old clothes

a few things to note before you start...

I just want to let you know that you're not going to be conducting a full closet consultation here.  That's too much to cover in one article as it involves other important points such as your body shape, and your style identity (my fellow Personal Stylist, Arash wrote a great piece on creating a style that's unique to you).  In this article I'm just focusing on helping you build new outfits with old clothes.

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed or nervous about starting this, that's OK.  It's perfectly natural. You're about to try and change habits that have built up over years and years, so you’re undoubtedly going to feel resistance.  It’s also an indicator that this is something you need to work through.

Take a deep breath, (and a sip of wine if it helps!) and take it one step at a time, it will get easier once you start ♥ 

I've created a workbook to guide you through the steps

It's a digital workbook that can be filled in on your computer, tablet, or phone


Gather together The Tools Of The Trade

  1. 1
    Full length mirror (this is crucial if you’re to build complete outfits that work!)
  2. 2
    Hanging rail (I've used this one for the past 12 years and it's never let me down)
  3. 3
    A notebook and pen (or my FREE workbook which you can download HERE
  4. 4
    Dressmaker pins
  5. 5
    A tape measure
  6. 6
    A selection of accessories - long and short necklaces, belts, scarves, footwear
  7. 7
    And an open mind!

To see all of my closet maintenance and storage recommendations, click here


Rediscover what you have in your closet

The next part of the process is to identify and remove from your wardrobe all the items you’re not wearing...don’t panic if it’s a lot of items, it often is!  As you remove them, assess each piece and put them into one of the following 4 categories: 


This is where you’re going to put the items that you don't like, that don’t fit, can’t be altered, or are beyond repair.

Be honest with yourself as to why you’re not wearing these pieces. Put aside any feelings of guilt and try and let go of the hang-ups associated with certain items. Give yourself permission to get rid of them (whether that’s selling, donating, swapping or binning) and move on. Trust me; it might be hard but it’s incredibly cathartic.

If an item holds sentimental value and you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of it, then consider removing it from your closet and storing it elsewhere.

CLOTHES THAT need altering or repairing

If something can be altered to fit you better or needs a simple repair to make it wearable, pop it in this pile.

With that said, there are a few ways to bypass alterations and fake the perfect fit.  I wrote a post all about this over here so I highly recommend you check it out before you cut and sew!


Any items you like, but that don't flatter you go in this pile.  

If something doesn't flatter you it can be down to a number of reasons, but the two biggies are that the color doesn’t suit you, or the item is the wrong shape for your body shape.  BUT this does not mean the item is no good!   There are quite a few things you can do to make these clothes work better on your shape so hold onto these items and head on over to THIS blog post when you've finished!

Not sure what clothes work best for you?

I've created a simple digital guide that will show you EXACTLY which clothes work for your shape, so you can enjoy getting dressed.


If an item doesn’t fit into any of the other 3 categories, you could be wearing it!

This is where you will put everything that you like, that fits and doesn't need repairing.  And this is the pile of clothes you're going to build outfits with in step 3!?


Build new outfits

All the clothes in the 'EVERYTHING ELSE' pile are items that you could be wearing, so in this step you're going to build outfits with them!

here are lots of ways to build outfits with these clothes, but the simplest is to focus on color so that's what we're going to do in this exercise.  If you want to be more experimental, I have a blog post HERE that will help you create even more outfits!

using color to build outfits

Take each piece of re-discovered clothing into your wardrobe, and pull out any clothes that you think match it or compliment it's color. Here are some tips:


A neutral is a great base to work with, it will pretty much go with anything, but do consider the tone and undertone.  You can do a monochromatic look, team it with denim, a block color, a print...


It the item is a block or solid color, the easiest color to pair it with is a neutral, but they look great worn with bold stripes, soft prints, the same hue in a different tone, or a graphic tee...


When it comes to prints try not to get overwhelmed by all the options.  Pick out a couple of colors in the print and focus on matching those 2.  Prints look great with a neutral, a graphic tee, another print or a block color.  If you want some tips on print mixing, check out this post

Once you've identified a few pieces that compliment the item of clothing you're working with, you can start to put them together to make outfits!

Do not rule anything out.  Try as many combinations as possible, and when you find one that works (and you will!) make a note of it so you don’t forget it!  And if you need a little extra help building outfits, check out THIS blog post I wrote that shares 8 more tips to help you build even more outfits.


Don't let those unworn pieces slip back in!

Once you've streamlined your closet and have turned it into a versatile collection that you can mix and match easily, you'll want to try and maintain it, because it would be such a shame to waste all the hard work you put in to sorting out your closet, by allowing those unworn pieces to slip back in and ruin everything.  So here are my top 5 tips to help you maintain your lovely new closet:

  1. 1
    Stop purchasing items that don’t fit you, don’t suit you and that don’t make you feel good!  
    Your gut knows what these pieces are...they’re the clothes you put on in the fitting room that you’re not sure about.  The pieces you liked on the hanger that don’t look quite as you’d hoped they would, and the clothes you faff with to try and improve how they sit on your frame.  If an item of clothing doesn’t make you feel good, it doesn’t’ deserve to take up valuable space in your closet.
  2. 2
    Proportion your closet so it aligns with your lifestyle so only buy clothes you know you’ll wear (that means no more “wishful thinking” pieces).  If you love a piece but you know you’ll rarely have the occasion to wear it, it will probably end up collecting dust in your closet.  By choosing not to buy those pieces you’re freeing up space for clothes you will wear.
  3. 3
    Only buy clothes that complement the items you already have. I like to follow the rule that I only buy something new if I already have at least 3 other things that go with it.  
  4. 4
    Look for the gaps that need filling in your collection.
  5. 5
    And last, but very much NOT least, is to make sure you have a strong foundation of essential items. These are what will form the skeleton of your closet.  They’re the foundation of your personal style and are what will make it easy for you to build outfits.  If you need some help figuring out what your essential items are, THIS might help!

If you follow those 4 steps, you should be able to start making much better use of the clothes you have in your closet!

Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

If you found this post useful, you might like these:

Text layed over an image of a women saying how to make unflattering clothes more flattering

Simple styling techniques to make unflattering clothes look better on you

This post shares some of the most powerful styling techniques I’ve developed over the past 12 years to improve the look of my clients (and my own) less flattering clothes.

8 Simple Tips To Help You Put Together New Outfits With Your Clothes

8 tips to help you build more outfits with the clothes you have

These tips will help you to be more creative with the clothes you have, so you can make more outfits and stop saying you have nothing to wear!

find out your true body shape

thsi post will help you find out which body shape aligns with your shape the most, so you can dress to show it off to it's best, and put a stop to disappointing outfits that steal your confidence!


These 4 steps will help you detox your wardrobe and unlock the potential hiding inside, by reworking your existing wardrobe and making new outfits with your old clothes.

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Hi, I'm Niki

author and personal stylist

Over the past 18 years I’ve freed thousands of women from the frustration of disappointing outfits, by showing them how to dress to make the most of their shape, and helping them build a closet that's easy to use and fun to wear.  My blog shares the tried and true tips and knowledge I've developed, to help you stop wasting money on disappointing clothes, and build a closet you enjoy wearing.

You can find out more about Niki here

And you can get in touch with Niki here