How to Make the Most of Your Wardrobe

by - February 18, 2021

I will admit that my closet is larger than most, both in terms of space and content.

A lot of this can be owed to the fact that for nearly ten years, I was essentially buying clothes for two different people: work Ashton and regular Ashton. Now that I've been out of an office environment for several years, the work wear section of my closet is pretty sparse. I still have a few classic pieces for the rare occasion I have a professional event I need to attend.

Although my casual clothing is increasing due to current circumstances, the dress section of my closet is by far the largest, and I'll be the first to admit that I don't thin it out nearly as often as I should. (What can I say? I have a thing for dresses, and I find comfort in knowing that no matter the occasion, I will always have something appropriate in that part of my closet.)

All that said, I don't just buy new clothes all willy-nilly like. There is a thought process behind every item purchased, even if it generally all starts with "Oooh, I like that!" So today, I'm sharing 10 things you should do/consider when buying new clothes, featuring four recent outfits I wore in real life.

1. Take inventory of what you already own, making note of what styles, colors, fabrics, etc. you like best. Then use that to make a list of what you need.

2. Before you head to the store or fill up that online shopping cart, do a seasonal closet clean-out. Donate or sell items that are good condition. Throw away anything that's worn out.

3. Set a budget...and stick to it! Knowing what you can spend will help you make smarter choices.

4. Know how to dress for your body. There are so many benefits to dressing for your shape, the main one being this: your clothes will flatter you, giving you more confidence. For instance, because of my shorter, straighter stature, I tend to stay away from most tunic-style tops and midi-length skirts and dresses. Don't know your body shape? Check out this helpful guide.

5. Be practical about your try-on sessions. Instead of simply seeing how it looks in the mirror, you should be asking how it feels when you sit, walk, bend, etc.? Does it just fit or does it flatter?

6. Be smart about trends. If you see something you'd like to try, buy a cheaper version first. Store like Forever 21 are a good place to find so-called fashion forward items without investing a lot of money in something you may not wear again next year.

7. Before you commit, ask yourself: Can I wear [insert item here] at least three different ways? This one question has been huge in transforming the usefulness of my closet. When you buy one new piece of clothing, you shouldn't have to buy three more things to go with it. Plus, being able to wear something more than one way means you're more likely to get a a good cost per wear.

8. When shopping online, start broad and then edit. Add everything you like to your cart, then compare pieces, decide what you really like, and cut down.

9. Ask yourself: Do I have something similar already? If the answer is yes, do you like this version better? How many of these particular things do you want? Unless we're talking about your work uniform, the answer is probably no more than two.

10. If it takes you longer than five minutes to decide to buy, put it back and walk away. If you're still thinking about it several days later, re-evaluate.

Keep scrolling for outfit details!

Sizing notes: I'm 5'2" and weigh around 150 lbs. Unless otherwise noted, I wear size 6/8 or medium in tops and dresses, size 6 in pants and skirts, and size 7 in shoes.

Shirt: Target / Sweater: Amazon / Joggers: Old Navy / Shoes: Converse

Would you believe this is what I wore on Valentine's Day? I was home by myself and seriously did nothing. Okay, okay, so maybe I went to the store, but I felt no shame. Everything I'm wearing is still available, although apparently my pink Chucks are a seasonal offering so they're getting harder to find.

Dress: Old Navy (similar) / Shirt: Amazon / Jacket: Levi's / Boots: DSW

I had a pretty hefty to-do list on Monday so I didn't get out of my office much. But it was another wet, gray day and I wanted to wear something colorful to lift my spirits. The only thing new in this outfit is my boots, but my t-shirt and jacket are pretty much always in stock.

Sweater: Old Navy / Jeans: Aeropostale (similar) / Boots: DSW

Y'all, Tuesday was COLD. This oversized sweater was perfect. It's been one of my favorites this winter, but unfortunately it's only available in limited sizes. Good news, though, is it comes in several other colors! My jeans are several years old, but I linked to a pretty similar pair and Aeropostale is having a BOGO free sale on their jeans right now so hurry!

Shirt: Amazon / Sweater (old): Old Navy (similar) / Skirt: Amazon / Boots: Shoe Carnival (similar)

The sun finally made an appearance on Wednesday, but it was still cold. Regardless, I felt like celebrating the impending arrival of Spring. Plus, I needed to feel like Spring to get my March column written for the magazine. How awesome are these knee-high combat boots? I found mine at Shoe Carnival but they're not on the website anymore. However, I did find the exact same pair at DSW so you can still grab a pair!

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