5 Ways to create new outfits with old clothes.

Lisa Stockman creating outfits

Are you someone with a wardrobe full of clothes and have nothing to wear? If so, you’re not alone.

It’s a common sight when I go into a client’s wardrobe. They only wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and yet feel they need to buy more. The most common reason for this is they buy random pieces without thinking about what they will be able to wear the item with.

One of my favourite ways to help a client make use of the 80% they’re not wearing is to shop their wardrobe and create new outfits with existing pieces.

If you’re finding yourself in a similar predicament and want to make the most of the pieces you already have and create new looks without opening your wallet, these tips are for you.

  1. Colour your world

You may have seen this tip before but playing with colour is such an easy way to create new looks. Choose an outfit based on colour. Try picking an outfit head to toe of the same shade – tonal dressing. The shades don’t have to be exactly the same, in fact its more effective if you mix slightly different shades and textures. Tonal dressing will elevate your look and draws the eye up.

@lisastockmanstylist | Tonal dressing in red.

If you want to branch out of neutrals and are looking for colour combinations that work, think of the colour wheel. Look at making outfits with complimentary colours. They are opposite each other on the colour wheel. Combinations like blue and orange, green and red, yellow and purple.

Complimentary Colours | Victoria Beckham

Another combination to try is analogous colours, those next to each other on the colour wheel. Think yellow, yellow-green and green or red, red-orange and orange.

Analogous colours | Leonie Hanne

If shopping your wardrobe for colour is difficult, it could be because you’re drawn to buying neutrals. If that’s the case, experiment with tonal looks and add colour in accessories.

2. Layer upon layer

Winter is the perfect time to experiment with layering. Mixing lengths of jackets, coats and shirts and styling tricks like tucking in shirts and tops or rolling back sleeves.

The key to layering effectively is to only have one bulky layer, whether it’s a puffer jacket or coat or a heavy knit jumper. If you have too much bulk, you’ll lose the silhouette. Layering combinations are best discovered through experimentation. Try a turtleneck under a dress with a coat over the top, layer a coat over a denim jacket, wear a jumper over a summer slip dress with tights and boots.


3. Mix occasions

I often see in client’s wardrobes suits hanging in a “dressy” section, or “going out tops/skirts/dresses” hanging in a separate space, only to be worn for special occasions. These pieces can easily be dressed down or worn as separates to create different looks.

Separate your suit and wear the jacket with jeans and a t-shirt or wear a dressy lace dress with ankle boots and a denim jacket. Try and think of these pieces as options to add with casual items.

Of course, its hard to pair a ballgown with trainers, but you can certainly wear suit pants with trainers and a hoodie.

Party dress with trainers. Photo @conniepuntoriero for @glamcornerau

4 Four seasons in one outfit

In every wardrobe you’ll find pieces only suitable for extreme conditions, a string bikini, a down puffer coat or thermal wool turtlenecks. But many of the pieces you have can be worn trans-seasonally if you think a little outside the square.

Many of us wear lighter colours in summer and darker shades in winter. Why not mix these up. Pair a light summer linen dress with a knit under or over it, wear with tights and long boots layered with a coat.

Mixing seasonal clothing makes layering easy and allows you to experiment with colour.

Lisa Stockman | Layering summer pants with a winter coat and boots.

5. Accessories maketh the outfit

We’re talking bags, shoes, hats, glasses, jewellery and scarves.

Accessories really are the weight defying, affordable way to change up your look. They are also an easy way of adding your individual style and personality to any outfit.

Start with a basic outfit you love but maybe are a little tired of. Try it on with different styles of shoes, see what works and what doesn’t. Add a belt or a scarf. Pick one or two accessories and make them the statement to a basic outfit.

When I’m working with a client and creating new outfits with their existing pieces, the most common response I get is… “Wow, I would never have put that together but it works!”. The benefits of shopping your wardrobe are threefold. Not only do you save money and maximise the use of your wardrobe, you’ll help save the planet too.

By using these five tips, I hope you look at your wardrobe with renewed perspective.  For more on creating new outfits with old clothes, you’ll find a video explaining these five steps on my Instagram page @lisastockmanstylist.

Want the secrets to an organised wardrobe?