How to Change Your Entire Wardrobe

Change Your Wardrobe

Sometimes you need to change your entire wardrobe.  You may have gained or lost weight, had a baby (or 3), are re-entering the workforce or had a house fire.  Whatever the reason, replacing all your clothing at once is a terrifying prospect.  Especially if you are a cheapskate.  Especially if you are a cheapskate who doesn’t like to shop.  Welcome to my own personal nightmare.

I am thinner than I used to be.  (Please don’t be envious of me, or stop reading, this is not a barfy inspirational story, just some background info so you know I am legit in this bit of advice)  There is enough of a change that the only clothing that still fit was my socks.  Even my pajamas were falling off.  Here is what I found worked for me:

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How to Change Your Entire Wardrobe

How to start: Make room on a large flat surface (like your bed) and get one reasonably-sized box.  Mark it Clothing with Memories.  Take a deep breath.  Pour yourself a drink (I went with coffee), find enough time to do this without distractions, and strip down to your undies.  Then try on every single piece of clothing you own.  Even the ones for other seasons.  Sort them by things that fit and things that don’t.  Take your time with this.  Sit down, cross your legs, Look in a full length mirror, make sure the items really don’t fit because you do not want to get rid of things that do.  The things that fit, put back in your closet and dresser.  The things that don’t, put in piles by clothing type (pants, shirts, etc).  The things that don’t fit but you are attached to, toss in to the clothing with memories box.  You are NOT allowed to put things in there because you paid too much for them in the first place only because it reminds you of something happy.  You can put that box in a safe spot later.  If you have a spouse who will tell you the truth about if a piece of clothing fits, by all means let them help.  If you have a pal who will do the same, pour them a drink too.

What not to do: Freak out about how much this is going to cost you.  Say mean things to yourself.  Feel bad about the mountains of clothes you somehow didn’t realize you own.  The place to start this is here, the time to start this is now.  You can’t go backwards, you can only go forward.  (so, that was a little barfy, sorry.  Moving on….)

What to do now that your bed is covered in clothes: Make a list of the clothes that no longer fit and stuff them into big black garbage sacks.  They need to leave your house.  DO NOT PUT THEM IN BOXES LABELED “INSPIRATION.” The only exception to this is if you are doing this because you are pregnant.  Then you can keep them for 1 year past your baby’s birthday.  If they don’t fit then, out they go.  The reason they MUST leave the house is because the you who lives in your house now doesn’t need that kind of pressure.  Bigger, smaller, you are a valuable human being who deserves to love yourself and treasure the you people love.  Plus, no one on earth has that kind of storage space.  Take your sacks to your local thrift shop or donation center.  Get a receipt and deduct it from your taxes, that is why you made the list of what is in the sacks.  Trust me, this is the easiest way to get rid of things.  Adult clothing at yard sales doesn’t sell well.  Consignment shops are good if you have high quality or designer items.  I called a pal who I thought wore the sizes I was getting rid of and told her to come with laundry baskets.  She did and was thrilled with her new clothes.  However you get rid of them, get them gone.

What to do now, after you have done most of the things I told you not to do:  Look at what fit and make a list of what you have and what you need.  This is tricky.  You may find you need fewer clothes than you thought,  I had many pairs of pants and skirts I felt I “needed”.  It turns out, I need jeans and khakis.  The rest I don’t want to wear.  I don’t “need” 8 turtle necks, but I do have to have 3 to make it between laundry days.  With the list in hand, go shopping.

I hate this part: You are going to have to spend some money.  On clothes.  Blech.

How to get clothes without having to eat Ramen for 2 months: Can you shop a pal’s closet? Do you have a sister or gal pal who might have some things to lend or give?  Do you know someone who can do a little sewing to alter things you already own but no longer fit right?

Goodwill, second hand, resale, and the like often have good choices.  Give them a shot.  I often find tops at these places.

Stores with reward programs like Kohls.  If you use their store credit card, you can save additional percents on your purchases.  I just used my 30% off to buy shorts for the summer.

Walmart: Love them or hate them, they do have cheap clothes and a wide range of sizes.  It’s not usually my first choice and I find their clothing does not last from year to year but it will do in a pinch.

Buy one in every color:  If you find a pair of jeans that fit buy TWO.  No one will notice if all your jeans are exactly the same.  If your store doesn’t have more of that item, most chain stores will let you order from their website and ship to the local store for no shipping costs.  But stick to your list.  If you really only need 3 pairs, don’t buy 6.

Remember that you didn’t build your wardrobe overnight so this might take a few shopping trips.  I know I needed a lot more coffee to get through the day I stuffed my legs in to 36 pairs of shorts!  If I can do this, you surely can!

photo credit: AndG –

About Guest Blogger Susan

Guest Blogger Susan loves work. When she isn't at her job as a school librarian she is working on her family fruit farm. She occasionally has a little fun but not if it costs too much.


  1. Marta says

    I do this once or twice a year–in addition to size changes, I can weed out things that are no longer in a condition to wear to work, and that sort of thing. I hate it, but there’s definitely a freedom associated with shedding things that really aren’t useful anymore.

    Ross, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx are my go-to spots for closet replenishment. Especially their clearance racks.

  2. Sara says

    I have found that it is better to spend $30 on a pair of shorts (or any type of clothing, really) that I like rather than $10 on a pair I only sort of like. I don’t wear the $10 pair as often as I wear the $30 pair… and in the end, the $30 pair costs less per wear than the $10 pair. Often, the more expensive item has a more flattering cut and is made out of natural fibers that wear and look better. WalMart is cheap, but don’t settle for cheap shorts that you hate wearing so much that they only come out on laundry day. That’s my 2 cents.

  3. Amy says

    While I have never completely replaced my wardrobe all at once, I’ve changed out clothing while pregnant. I set a $100 budget for maternity wear during my last pregnancy. I was lucky enough to pick up several tops at Old Navy for $1 and a couple of 75% off items from Target plus a pair of jeans from Goodwill…this really stretched my budget…it also helped a great deal that I didn’t need professional clothing.

    Still, I think replacing a complete wardrobe doesn’t have to be a budget buster. Consider breaking it into parts…maybe shop for a season at a time (but never in a state of desperation). Replacing a wardrobe is also a perfect opportunity for revisit (or create) your personal style and what your clothing says about you. I like the way Pam at over50feeling40 describes what she call the “Foundational Five.” Check out her posting starting July 10.

  4. tracy says

    One of my fun afternoons this summer was going to a clothing exchange! The whole first floor of the deuplex was full of clothes, maybe 100 pair of jeans, 200 tops, shoes, nail polish, perfume, books, etc! Coats and a kimono, and a few sassy items. Someone brought records. Everyone tried on, and brought, and took, and 19 bags were donated at the end. I got some great stuff! People took my stuff! I friended one of my friend’s friends on facebook to invite myself to this event, and it was great. This is the best moneysaver I have participated in for a while. Inspires me to think of a free market here in MN, what do you think? There are west coast ones that really thrive.

  5. says

    I’m a fan of Goodwill shopping. Most everything is $3. I can fill up a cart and not feel any guilt about the cost. That’s where I’d start if I was replacing my wardrobe.

  6. says

    Love the article. Walmart has very good exercise clothing. My friend also swears by their jeans. After my pregnancy my petite clothes didn’t fit me right even though I lost all the baby weight. Kohls has been a lifesaver for me.

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