How To Create Fun Outfits With The Stuff You Own But Never Wear

It’s a good way to stifle the need to buy more.
Publish date:
June 3, 2014

A couple months ago, I imposed a shopping ban on myself. For the most part, it’s gone well. I have purchased a couple things. I got a new blazer and a couple new dresses. The whole goal of the shopping ban, though, was to stop myself from buying so much pointless stuff, and that’s worked pretty well.

Growing up, my parents prioritized their money towards education, health, and travel. I’m thankful that they instilled these values in me, and even more thankful that I had the opportunity to travel to so many cool places as a kid. My parents rule. My sister and I didn’t do a lot of shopping. I remember my mom saw clothes shopping as a particularly stressful event, and it was saved for special occasions. In that way, it meant more.

I would get a new coat every Christmas, and I looked forward to it all year. My mom would let me buy a new shirt or dress for school picture day. When I was a kid, I was really sick for a couple years, and after stays in the hospital, my mom would sometimes take me shopping as a way to relieve stress and treat me to a fun day. Shopping was always an indulgence, because it was never commonplace for me.

At some point in my adulthood though, I started treating every day like an indulgence. That mindset can have its perks, but it was detrimental to my wallet. I started reading a lot of style blogs and shopping-based websites, and started to feel like I always needed new, new, new things. I started impulse buying, which I never used to do.

Needless to say, over the past few years I’ve accumulated quite a bit of clothing that I rarely wear. Clothes don’t have that same joy anymore that they did when I was younger, because I don’t feel like they’re a treat. Mostly, I look at my closet and see hundreds of dollars I could have spent on food or a fun trip somewhere.

In the spirit of positivity and progress, I’ve been trying to wear the clothes I impulse purchased over the past few years. These are things that have been maybe gathering dust in the back of my closet, or things I bought and wore once but never again.

Utilizing our unused clothes is a fun way to create new outfits out of the pieces we already own, and it’s a good way to stifle the need to buy more. Often, when I feel like I have “nothing to wear,” I really just mean I’m a little too tired to put an outfit together. Pulling these unworn pieces out of my closet made me feel a bit more inspired, and excited to get dressed. Let’s see what I’m working with, shall we?

Distressed Acid Wash Shorts

I bought these from Zara last year in a random online shopping spree. The reason I never wear them is actually because they’re too big. This was an important lesson for me to learn—I’m not actually good at online shopping. Unless an online store has a brick and mortar store near me where I can return the item, I won’t ever return them. I just never get around to mailing things.

I finally got these taken in, and it ended up costing me way more than just returning them for a smaller size but oh well. Lesson learned.

The trick to wearing any bold and somewhat dated trend is to pair it with more modern pieces. To pull off these acid wash shorts in 2014, I paired them with a clean white tank and some trendy black booties.

A relaxed but well cut fit will help keep the look contemporary. I avoided the urge to pair a belt with the shorts, because I wanted it to be a simple and clean look so as not to invoke the over-accessorized aesthetic of valley girls past.

If you have a pair of acid wash shorts or pants, or maybe a skirt, sitting in your closet, here’s some outfit inspiration for you.

The Bodycon Skirt

Bodycon became something of a trend among my peer group towards the end of high school and the beginning of college. I never embraced it then, because I hated my body and did everything I could not to show it off too much. (I'm over that now.)

I bought this particular skirt (baby’s first bodycon!) at one of those Forever Teen Love Rocks 21 type stores in the mall to go with a Pretty Woman costume last Halloween. I’ve hung onto it since then, but have never worn it. Until now.

Paired with a casual sweatshirt and some sneakers, this skirt gives off comfy vibes rather than club vibes. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to a proper club, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I get anxiety in crowds, yo.

Shout out to Bruuuuuuuce.

You could pair this skirt with a tee and a blazer and some sneakers for a casual work look, or some booties and a boxy top for a chill night at the bar with friends. The trick is to leave the top slightly untucked, and keep all your other pieces casual.

Pair a bodycon dress with casual accessories to tone down the look, like so:

The Sequined Top

Okay, I actually have worn this top quite a bit but not enough considering the amount of money I paid for it. I really love sequins and gold is my favorite, so this top really called my name. The back of it is really strappy and cool, and it’s sequins all over, not just the front like some tops. (I hate that.)

Sequins, glitter and other sparkles can be a hard look to pull off, especially for someone with as mundane of a life as me. Shining gold sequins don’t exactly fit in at the dive bars and BBQ joints I haunt on the regular. Alas, I must make this top work for me because I love it!

Paired with a casual pair of cut-offs (which I cut off myself, thank you) and some flats, the top becomes somewhat toned down while still letting me feel like a golden disco ball.

I’ve written before about wearing sequins during the day, and clearly I stand by it. Here’s some more ways to make sequins and sparkles work during the day, in fun and unexpected ways.

Now, you tell me—do you have any pieces in your closet that you can’t figure out how to style? Let me help! Do you like coming up with unexpected outfits, by pairing things that don’t necessarily go together with each other?