Tips for Utilizing Your Wardrobe and Getting Inspired When You’re Stuck

how to utilize your wardrobe

I think we all have periods when we feel tired of our closets.  Even though I’ve spent a lot of energy creating a mix and match wardrobe, I still feel tired of my closet sometimes.  I don’t know about you, but when I feel that way my first inclination is to shop for something new.  In the past I gave into that 100% of the time, but over the years I’ve been working to hold off on that impulse longer and longer and instead be methodical and intentional about shopping.  I don’t always succeed, but I’m much better off than when I started!

In November and December I added a lot of new pieces to my wardrobe because of some great sales and because of holiday collaborations with brands.  I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of getting use from those pieces, so despite having a ton of gift card money to burn, I’m trying to slow down that desire to refresh my closet.  I just feel kind of silly adding a bunch of new stuff when I recently added a bunch of new stuff and haven’t used them a whole lot yet.  I know I have more than what I need in there, which was only enforced when I played with the capsule wardrobe creator. (See my post HERE.)  I have more than enough to keep my outfits fresh.  I just need to spend a little extra energy to utilize it!

Today I’m sharing the things I do, and if anyone’s looking for fresh inspiration I hope this provides some!  I doubt any of these are things you haven’t heard before, but I figure it can be helpful and inspiring to simply talk about it.  Here goes!

– Open your calendar, and set your timer.  
Before all else, if I’m feeling bored with my outfits, I spend time planning outfits.  When I don’t plan my outfits, I default into the same ones.  I’m in a rush in the morning, and I just wear the same things over and over.  I am TOTALLY on board with repeating outfits, but it can get old and make me want something new if I’m repeating the same few outfits too much for too long.

There are tools like Stylebook App that can help you plan your outfits.  But if you want a quick and dirty way to do it, here’s what I do most often:

I schedule a 20 minute slot in my calendar for the week, usually Sunday nights.  When it’s outfit planning time, I set my phone timer to 20 minutes so that I feel the pressure to focus, not screw around, and not make it a big ordeal.  It can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes–whatever you want.  Just decide on a number and set a timer.

List each day, along with major activities and the temperature/weather for each day.  Below is my list for this week.  This already includes the outfits, but ignore them for now.  Just list all the days, activities, and temps.  Including the dress code for the activity might help (casual, really casual, dressed up, business, etc.) but I don’t because I inherently know that based on each activity.

Monday – Supervisory mtg + work at home (67 + sunny):
distressed skinnies + black dolman + b/w patterned cardi + tan booties + pendant 

Tuesday – Staff mtg (69):
Paige skinnies + olive tunic + teal necklace 

Weds – Interns mtg (70):
dark skinnies + red geometric print top + maroon cardigan + taupe booties 

Thu – Group training (71):
same as Monday? 

Fri – Coast leaders (71):
gray dress + black moto jacket + black sneakers 

Saturday – Worship practice (66):Everlane sweatshirt + striped tee + Paige skinnies + tan booties + blanket scarf (at night) 

Sunday – Worship at Coast (61 + rain):
floral H&M top + maroon cardigan + black jeans + riding boots + gold necklace

Setting time in the calendar and actually planning outfits is the first hurdle for me overcoming that need for something new in my closet.  Once I can get to that point, I know I’ll be good, at least for another week.  🙂  Now, onto choosing outfits!  

– Inspiration Idea #1: Make Pinterest useful
You mean actually DO SOMETHING with what you pinned on Pinterest?  Whaaaaat?

I know I’m not the only one guilty of pinning everything under the sun and hardly doing much with all that info.  Feel guilty, or laugh, OR recognize that that means you have a treasure of outfit ideas on your Pinterest board that will be fresh to you.

I go through my board, straight up just copycat outfits, and plug them into my little list above.  Maybe as a style blogger I should try to be original, but when I’m in a style rut I just don’t have the energy for that!  I am ALL FOR copying outfits.  I always think it’s funny when you guys ask permission to copy my outfits because that is what the blog is here for–to make getting dressed easier!

You can also use Pinterest to just draw color or texture mixing inspiration from an outfit, rather than copycatting.  However, that takes a little more brainwork on my part to reinterpret the outfit, and if I’m in a style rut I don’t have the energy for that.

Shop for the Look:

I got Monday’s, Friday’s, and Saturday’s outfits from Pinterest.  And I wore Monday’s yesterday (shown above, posted HERE)!  It’s interesting that the outfits I tend to copy are the simplest ones.  Sometimes I just want that permission to be basic.  *shrug*

– Inspiration Idea #2: Copy yourself
Aka, repeat outfits.  Repeat OLD outfits, though.  I know I just said that repeating outfits is often what makes me want to buy new clothes, but I meant copying the same few outfits over and over again.  Repeating an older outfit, however, or one that hasn’t been repeated quite as much, ironically can keep things feeling fresh.  It’s like re-listening to that old song you jammed out to years ago, or even just last summer.  You probably played it out during that season, but once enough time has passed, the throwback actually feels fresh.

Original Outfit Posts:
one  |  two  |  three

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday’s outfits are from my archives: .  And Thursday’s–just repeating an outfit from a few days prior, haha!

– Inspiration Idea #3: Look for the benchwarmers
Sometimes I’ll stand in front of my closet and look for something that hasn’t been used lately–the benchwarmers.  Usually it’s not ONE piece I look for because that can be an overwhelming number.  Rather, I start with a type of item, like skirts, dresses, colored pants, or cardigans.  Then I’ll focus on specific items from that category and build an outfit around them.  Sometimes I will come up with “original” outfits if I have the creative energy for it, and other times I’ll just look for outfits to copy.

Shop for the Look:

This is what led me to landing on outfits for Monday, Friday, and Sunday.  Those caught my eye on Pinterest because I was focused on getting more use out of some of those pieces.  The outfit above came from me focusing on the top (which is on sale for $25 and comes in 4 colors HERE.  It’s oversized but I’m still wearing Medium).

– Inspiration Idea #4: Find a formula
Set a timer for 2 minutes and write down any style go-to outfit formulas you can think of.  Like THESE, for example.  You can either think of them on your own or look through Pinterest.  Instead of focusing on the specific pieces, jot down the general types of pieces each outfit has (e.g. “patterned cardigan,” “jeans,” “bright top”).  Set a timer for another 5 minutes, filling in pieces you have for each category.

Other examples are:

  • plain tee + patterned cardigan + jeans + ankle boots + scarf or necklace
  • dress + tights or leggings + cardigan + belt + boots
  • dress + tights or leggings + moto or cargo jacket + sneakers 
  • neutrals + leopard accessories 
  • neutrals + a bright color

– Lean on your list.
Planning my outfits for the week can hold me over, but as each week passes, once I do let myself shop I still want to be intentional about it.  I NEED to make sure my clothes shopping list is in check, or else I will still be prone to poor shopping habits.

There’s my current list.  A list helps me stay focused on certain pieces that will actually build up my wardrobe.  Otherwise, I get distracted by ALL THE THINGS and buy random stuff!

More about creating a shopping list HERE.

– Overall…

  • Schedule a time to plan outfits.  It’s easier to think when you’re not in a stressful morning rush.
  • Be intentional about getting into your closet.  
  • It’s okay to copy outfits–even your own!
  • Formulas allow you to plug and chug and not think so hard.  Use them!  
  • A shopping list will keep you anchored.  

And of course, you can always search the PMT archives here for inspiration!  If you’re new to the site, there are series on Building a Remixable Wardrobe and Building a Wardrobe From Scratch.  There are also a ton of posts on how to wear one specific piece a bunch of different ways HERE.  You can also look up a specific item that’s been featured here and see all the ways I’ve worn it by visiting the Search By Item page, which lives on the blog sidebar.  Or, get a glance at all outfits in one place in the PMT Facebook albums.

For further inspiration, you can find my Pinterest board HERE.  Or follow me on Instagram HERE, as I tend to post a lot of outfits there that either don’t make it here at all or don’t make it here for weeks.

Got any other tips to add to utilize your wardrobe when you’re stuck?

Scroll to Top