Here are twelve ways to refresh your look without breaking the bank. In some instances it involves simply working with the items you already own. In others, it involves spending a bit of money on the right new items to feel sartorially refreshed. Some ways require a little patience and time, while others are an easy “quick fix”. Many of them are complementary. Choose one or more of these each season to avoid feeling bored with your style.
1. Try a New Colour
Adding an additional neutral or non-neutral to your style can have a meaningful effect. Add a different type of earth tone to a neutral wardrobe, or go for navy instead of black. Maybe pearl grey, cream, or tan is “your white”. Maybe teal, lilac, apple green, and orchid are your new favourite colours. Try pink instead of red, or turquoise instead of cobalt. Or go for a mid-tone instead of another dark colour.
A bright tomato red is my favourite shade of red, and it used to be the only red in my wardrobe. But a few years ago, I added all sorts of reds to my wardrobe because I love red. I now have cooler shades and tones like fire engine, wine, crimson, cherry, and burgundy in my wardrobe, and happily remix the reds in one outfit to create a monochromatic look. I also like to remix the reds with oranges and pinks.
2. Remix Colours in a New Way
Find new ways to wear the colours in your wardrobe to increase its versatility index. Remix neutrals in different ways. Lighten dark outfits, and darken light outfits. Try wearing lighter, or darker shoes. Wear monochromatic outfits. Wear high-contrast outfits. Wear low-contrast outfits. Combine colours that are close together on the colour wheel. Combine clashing colours. Wear three or four brights at once. Add some shine. Combine warm and cool colours. Wear footwear that bookends the colour of your hair or eyes. Remix brights with pastels.
I have a bright wardrobe that is grounded with all sorts of neutral blues and whites. I also have a bit of blush pink and some earth tones. I remix ALL of it depending on my mood because I have a high affinity for colour mixing. As a result, I am never bored with the colours in my wardrobe.
3. Add Pattern
Sometimes, wearing patterns is just the thing to get us out of a style slump. The patterns can be subtle or bold, neutral or non-neutral, large or small, and of anything at all. Try novelty patterns, abstract designs, landscape designs, ombré, swirls, marbled effects, tie-dye, botanical designs, paint splatter, space designs, heritage patterns, psychedelic patterns, and paisley for a change.
I love patterns, and have a lot of pattern in my wardrobe. I tend to stick to classic stripes, dots, plaids, checks, and florals precisely because I don’t get bored of them. That said, doggie and horse patterns are welcome.
4. Pattern Mix
If you’re new to pattern mixing and like the idea, try it. It needn’t be chaotic and maximal if that’s not your thing. Begin by combining two subtle, small, neutral and calm patterns together in the same palette. If you’re into something bolder, combine two larger patterns with more colours in them. If you’re very bold, combine up to four or five patterns in an outfit. I’ve found that as long as the patterns have one or a few of the same colours running through them, a sense of harmony is created.
I like to pattern mix my outfits. I go through stages where I pattern mix a lot and very boldly, feeling energized by the combination. Or I pattern mix in a more subtle way. Sometimes, I like to focus on solids. This year, I am in the mood for fewer patterns and more solids.
5. Try a Trend
Absorb the trend reports that I put out seasonally here, here, and here. Is there anything that tickles your fancy? Think in terms of new silhouettes and outfit combinations. You could try one trend, or several of them. Try a new look with inexpensive items, and try to keep an open mind. It’s amazing at how integrating a few well-chosen trendier pieces can change up the landscape of your wardrobe.
6. Add a Classic
Sometimes we forget how powerful, versatile, and easy classic items can be. Maybe add more of those to your style. Note that by classics, I include simple versions of iconic items like moto jackets, trucker denim jackets, Converse sneakers, Dr. Martens, cowboy boots, penny loafers, utility pants, gladiator sandals, denim button-down shirts, peacoats, tailored blazers, silk blouses, riding boots, clogs, trench coats, and the like.
I’m a big fan of the classics and wear a lot of them. I tend to wear the classics in non-neutrals and unexpected colours. This adds a playful integrity and makes them a more authentic match for my style.
7. Change the Silhouette of Essential Items
Wardrobe essentials are simple, and you can change them up to a trendier or different silhouette if you’re bored with them. If black boots are an essential for your style, change them up from pointy toes to snip toes, or choose a lug sole. Change up white sneakers to platformed versions, or tailored navy turtlenecks to fluid fits.
Dark blue jeans are a wardrobe essential for my style, and I like to keep them on-trend. I slowly and sustainably switched silhouettes from cropped flares and cropped straight legs, to cuffed relaxed straights, barrel legs, wide legs, and wide crops.
8. Change Your Hair
Change your hair in a subtle or dramatic way. Trim it, curl it, straighten it, layer it, add a finger wave, or bring out your natural beachy waves and curly coils. Tie it back, braid it, throw on a headband, or add a barrette. Sport a short straight fringe, or wispy bangs. Grow it out, or chop it off. Add low lights, highlights, rainbow streaks, become a redhead, become a brunette, or embrace your beautiful natural colour.
I’m doing two things to my hair to create a different look because I feel like a big change. After fifteen years of very short platinum blonde hair, I’m growing out my pixie and embracing my natural dark blonde colour. It’s slow going, but I’m beginning to see and feel a slight shift in vibe. It’s quite exciting.
9. Change Your Eyewear
If you regularly wear eyewear, make sure that you love your frames. If it’s time to update your prescription eyewear, readers, and sunnies, give the refresh the time and attention it deserves. Remember that eyewear accessorizes the face, which is where people are focussing most of their attention when they are interacting with you. Wear fab eyewear.
10. Amp Up Accessories
If you enjoy wearing scarves, try a new way of wearing one by tying the scarf in a different way. Scarves can be relatively inexpensive additions to our wardrobes so add another or a few if they’re signature to your style. Pattern mix with them if that’s your cup of tea.
Add accessories to your outfits if you previously went without. Wear the jewellery that’s packed away in a box. Add a belt, brooch, tie, fun socks, or hat to an outfit. Try a new style or colour of handbag. Swap out your handbags more frequently. Have fun with nail polish and nail art.
11. Tweak Your Make-Up Routine
There are a million YouTube videos to help you do just that. Change the colour of your lipstick. Wear tinted lipbalm. Add mascara and eyeliner to your daily make-up routine. Wear blue, green or purple mascara. Have your brows professionally shaped and dyed. Add bronzer. Wear blush.
I’m not a big make-up person, but have tweaked my routine over the years to refresh the look. I switched to blue mascara and added blue tightline to the inside of my top eyelids. I leave off the tinted moisturizer and lipstick, and sport naked skin with tinted lip balm. When I look a little pale, I add some blush.
12. Change your Dress Code
Amp up the dressiness of your daily outfits if you’re feeling overly casual. Wear your dressier skirts and dresses that are begging for some action. Conversely, add a relaxed touch if your look feels too dressy. Neutralize the dressy pieces by wearing them with denim, utility items, and casual footwear. Throw on tees, hoodies and joggers with blazers, leggings with dressier frocks, and motos with trousers, and fashion sweatshirts with skirts.
Sometimes I refresh my style in a very subtle way, and sometimes the changes are a lot more noticeable. Sometimes I can refresh with a few quick fixes, and sometimes I need to look deeper into my head and heart in order to pinpoint precisely why I’m bored with my style. It is an ongoing journey, and never boring.