5 Styling Tips To Be On-Trend, Using Items Already In Your Closet

Making smart decisions when it comes to our clothing can be just as fun as a shopping spree when you have the right attitude. We all know how it feels when your style evolves faster than your closet, and many of our favorite pieces may end up gathering dust. But with a bit of creativity and an open mind, we can reinvent our old looks using new tricks. 

Instead of thinking about Gen Z versus millennial style, you can take a cue from TikTok and pair these moments in time together, a la Taylor Swift's Eras Tour dancers dressed as old versions of her. Except we won't be calling our past selves "loser," like Swift's fans saw her do to her "Lover" era self during a concert on her tour. Instead, we're appreciating our past selves and their fashion choices for the joy and memories they represent. There are trends that will be around 20 years from now, and there are passing fads that will be over as quickly as they started. So we're all about saving money by learning to shop our own closets, using creativity to repurpose and redefine the pieces we already know and love.

Sustainable choices are always in

Creating a wardrobe that stands the test of time is a challenge in an age of influencers on TikTok and Instagram ads for Fashion Nova and Shein products that might fall apart in their first wash. However, there are staples already in our closet that give us hope — fashion commentator Aleska Servian shared with Harper's Bazaar, "We all have those same few pieces that we wear on repeat, regardless of how many clothes we have in our closet, and we need to be encouraged to build from that."

Making investments into pieces that you'll return to time and again won't just save you money; it won't add to the material waste created by the fashion industry every day around the world either. Frej Lewenhaupt, a textile expert, told In Style, "If you buy new just for the sake of a new micro trend, you will end up over-consuming, which leads to tons of textile waste ending up in landfills." He added, "Once they end up in a landfill, it can take hundreds of years for the materials to decompose." 

Don't underestimate your basics — instead, layer them

Pick pieces you can swap into different outfits, day in and day out, and lean on materials that are both comfortable and practical. Denim is always good for its ability to withstand wear and tear, plus there are always new denim trends popping up. Mismatched denim is even popular, so you don't have to worry about different washes or patterns interfering with the cohesion of your look.

Plain T-shirts also have more mileage than we give them credit for. A black tee can be dressed up with a leather skirt and jacket, or you can match a white tee with a classic pair of Levi's. One TikTok creator shouted out a bralette and cardigan as a tried and true combination, while maxi skirts and high-waisted trousers pair perfectly with tees, cardigans, and vests. TikTokers also have plenty of tips for mixing and matching items like cotton button-ups and motorcycle jackets. And right now, layering and doubling or tripling up on basics like tanks and sweaters can create fun and flirty illusions. 

Solidify your signature style

Trusting your closet requires trusting your own sense of style, but that can be easier said than done. Stylist Abigail Valentine told In Style, "Finding new ways to wear pieces you already own will help you maintain your personal style, optimize your closet, and reinvigorate your love for the items you already have." She also suggested playing around with your look more. She said, "It's important to make fashion fun and keep it new and exciting without spending money on each new trend."

A fresh pair of eyes can help you define what you like and don't like in terms of your personal aesthetic, so you can call in a friend to help develop your preferences. Stylist and sustainability expert Lakyn Carlton told Harpers' Bazaar, "Evaluate your wardrobe and pull out the things you already wear, create new combinations from the old, and then if you absolutely need to add something, figure out what that is."

Y2K fashion is better than ever

One major saving grace in the world of fashion is that whatever is old can be made new again with the right vision. Clothes that we were embarrassed to have ever worn in the 2000s are back in a big way, including jelly shoes, butterfly clips, and low-waisted pants. We can just make some adjustments for our tastes in the 2020s, like adding fishnet tights underneath low-rise jeans, pairing two-toned gemini hair color with your favorite old-school barrettes, and wearing loafers and Mary Janes with cute high socks.

"Wide-leg pants and baggy jeans are big this year," stylist Elysha Lenkin told In Style. "So are retro sneakers and the simple and utilitarian styles we wore in the '90s and Y2k." Back in the 1990s, you may have had enough foresight to save some of these pieces for your future self. However, if not, don't be afraid to repurpose hand-me-downs, whether they're oversized blazers from the '80s, dad sneakers, western-style fringe designs, or 2000s-era dusters. As the founder of TBC (To Be Created), Charlotte Warburton, told Harpers' Bazaar, "Don't buy an item just because it looks great on someone you admire or follow on Instagram." She encouraged readers, "Really think about your shape and size and whether their lifestyle relates to yours before you let yourself be influenced by someone else." 

Accessorize around color

Holding onto old accessories takes up less closet space than retaining your favorite knits or jackets might, and jewelry, scarves, and belts also have a range of potential uses. That might mean repurposing an earring as the centerpiece of a necklace or tightening your Y2K-era anklet into a bracelet wound around your watch band. Celeb stylist Pilar Scratch told In Style, "Don't be afraid to add accessories and a diverse pattern. [...] A pop of color always brings an older outfit back to life."

Personal stylist Abigail Valentine shouted out one blast from the past you've probably already invested in: "Big, long earrings are making a comeback this year," she said. "Try connecting hoops you already own to one another in order to achieve this look." Taking smart fashion risks pays off, and you might find yourself incorporating old scarves and ascots into your accessory line-up, wearing them as Y2K-era arm bands or tying them around your waist. Likewise, more is more right now regarding belts, which fashionistas are wearing doubled and tripled to create exciting ripples of texture at the focal points of their outfits.