Clever Ways To Get An All-New Wardrobe On The Cheap

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
How many times have you looked in your closet and thought, I have nothing to wear? Or, found yourself rocking that same black turtleneck three (or more) times a week, just because you can't seem to find anything else that works? As women with a penchant for style, we tend to find ourselves in these conundrums way too often. Sure, scoring the latest baroque sunglasses, sneaker wedges, or "It" bag may be an instant solution, but a season or two later, they're most likely taking up space in your closet, serving as a constant reminder of things that probably weren't worth the splurge.
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To give your wardrobe the makeover it desperately needs (and deserves), we picked the brains of some of New York's top stylists. With affordable tips on how to rework (and remake) those worn-through pieces and secrets for making items last for seasons, your closet will become a well-curated oasis — rather than the dust-attracting, filled-to-the-brim space that it might be now.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Score A Pair Of Vintage Denim
"At the start of every year, I take a little trip to a local thrift store and grab a pair of vintage denim — think Levi’s mom jeans circa 1990," says Kristi "The Lady K" Scarrozzo. In New York, vintage shops like Beacon's Closet and Tokio 7 have a plethora of jeans for a fraction of the cost. Once you've found a pair that's comfortable in fit, the styling opportunities are endless. "In the winter months, I wear them many ways: cuffed small, cuffed large, or with the hem down for a nice fringe," she says. "As the seasons change, I crop them. In spring, I will wear them at half calf-length, capri length, or even Bermuda short-style. When summer hits, they get shortened again. Just think, the hotter it gets, the shorter they go." What better way to have your favorite pair of denim (that most likely cost under $10) last all year round?
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Shop The Men's Section
Still on the hunt for that life-changing, goes-with-everything white T-shirt? The answer may be hiding right beneath your nose. "Life revolves around the perfect white T-shirt — you can casually wear it with a pair of denim jeans or dress it up under your favorite leather," Scarrozzo says, emphasizing that this is a piece you shouldn't have to splurge on. "My go-to tip is to stop shopping in the women’s section and hop right over to the men’s. Those packaged, tag-less Hanes T-shirts normally come in threes (white, black, and grey)," giving you endless options for wearability. Consider this your three-step road to wardrobe happiness.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The "Boyfriend" Fit
"No, we aren’t talking the jeans," Scarrozzo says, laughing. "Nothing is as affordable as stealing your lover’s shirt and giving it that ladylike flair. A classic button-down (a staple in every man’s wardrobe) is a great oversized steal to mix and match with any season’s favorite pieces." For the winter, pair it with a leather pant, she suggests, or, in the summer, try rocking it as a dress or cover-up poolside with a wide-brim hat. "This could be the best (and cheapest) take-home from a crazy night out."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Swap With Friends
Experiencing a bit of wardrobe envy over your BFF's cool duds? Stylist, makeup artist, and DJ Valissa Yoe suggests cleaning out your closet and swapping pieces with "a mutually stylish friend." You never know, "she might be grown out of that slinky Alexander Wang dress that fits you like a glove!" Plus, eliminating things you don't wear inevitably leads to more space — and a more narrow focus on what you really need. "Getting rid of a few pieces in your own closet always lets you see things you never could before, as well."

If you find yourself holding onto things you don't wear just because you're attached to them, stylist Karin Elgai agrees that a clothes swap is the best course of action. "If you have a piece or two you're sentimental about, it's always nice to give them a good, familiar, new home with a friend," she says. "And, the best part? You can donate what's left and feel pretty awesome on the inside, too!"
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Take A Trip To The Tailor
Remember that pair of pants that's just too long? You know, the ones that have been sitting in the back of your closet since you bought them at a sample sale? "Gather up all the clothes that you never wear because they're ill-fitting," Yoe suggests. "Spending even $100 on alterations could revive several pieces that have been collecting dust in your closet for years."

Visiting a tailor is also a great way to revive items you have worn to death, and that no longer fit properly. "Try to rework old pieces with small alterations," says fashion and wardrobe stylist Anna Katsanis. "It can be as simple as adding new buttons to a coat or fabric to its collar, or distressing a worn-out pair of jeans." See — what's old is now new again.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Go D.I.Y.
If you're feeling crafty, bring some of your clothing back to life with some homemade magic. "Stick a pair of denim that haven't seen the light of day in the tub and spray on some bleach," Yoe encourages. We also recommend trying patchwork, stenciling, or mixed prints. "Grab a pair of scissors and age your favorite tee with some sporadic holes or a new neckline," or go all out with some tie-dye or breton stripes.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Invest Wisely
"You don’t need a whole new wardrobe each season," Katsanis explains, warning against splurging on too many trend-driven items. "The trick is to focus on a few staple items that will transition from season to season — think a well-tailored jacket, slim dark pants, one good (comfortable and wearable) pair of flats and heels, white T-shirts that can be layered with sweaters, an LBD, and a winter coat." The secret here is to invest wisely, something that those obsessed with fashion may find quite difficult. If you're going to splurge, Katsanis suggests choosing one strong bag and pair of shoes each season, while trying to avoid purchasing the "It" items. "As tempting as it may be, [the trendiest items] — like Prada's baroque sunglasses — will look dated after one or two seasons. The trick is to shop designer items during those in-between seasons, like Resort and Pre-Fall."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Stick To The Classics
Like Katsanis, stylist Sara Cooper warns against falling into the "It" trap, especially when it comes to accessories. "Wear a purse that won't feel old after one season, and wear it forever," she says. "This goes for outerwear as well — a classic leather jacket will stay with you forever, and it will even get better with age! How many items in your closet can you say that about?!"

Marissa Adele, a Brooklyn-based creative director and stylist, agrees that less is more. "A great shoe, a great bag, and a great coat will take you much further than a bunch of cheap options," she explains. Always remember, "quality over quantity."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Think Seasonless
Although we may be pressed for storage space, especially in a city like New York, there may be some winter-wardrobe secrets hiding within your warm-weather pieces. "Don't shove your summer gear to the back of your closet so quickly," Cooper suggests. "Some of your tanks could be great for layering with a sweater, and denim shorts can easily be sported in cold weather by layering with tights, boots, and an oversized sweater." The key to keeping things seasonless, Cooper says, is trying to stick to a more neutral palette — blacks, greys, whites, navys, and nudes. That way, the pieces are more likely to be able to "be reworked season after season."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Sleep On It
"I find it so rewarding (and affordable) to delay instant gratification and not buy on impulse," says stylist Anka Itskovich. Instead of immediately purchasing everything in your hand, she suggests trying on a bunch of things, setting them aside, and sleeping on it. "When I come back the next day," she says, "I find that I only buy the pieces that I yearn for and can't live without."
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