I know the feeling. And I know you’re feeling it too. It’s one of the top questions I am getting in my DMs and question boxes on Instagram. I’m in a style rut, how do I get out of it? I think the last few years have been weird fashion-wise for many of us. We stayed home due to COVID and relished in our loungewear life. We started to venture out and put on some of our old clothes. But after two whole years of not really caring a ton about our outfits and the ever-changing fashion trends, we’re confused. And we are feeling like we’re in a major style rut.
I’ve been there. I’m currently there. It’s a combination of COVID lounge life for me, but also being on the precipice of a real fashion shift. And because of these two things, I have been hating everything. Plus, we’re a few years older! The things I was wearing pre-pandemic, I’m now having a very visceral feeling towards when I put them on. What were once millennial favorites, are now feeling dated. And it doesn’t help that Gen Z is pushing the 90s trend left and right. My closet and personal style are in need of a lifeline!
How To Get Out Of A Style Rut
Since we are clearly all in the same boat here, this is exactly what I’m personally doing to get myself out of a style rut. It’s working. Slowly but surely. I’m starting to figure out new things I’m loving, rediscovering old favorites but styling them in new ways that feel new and fresh. It’s not an instant fix. It’s definitely something that is taking me some time to slowly work through.
Go Through Your Closet And Purge
Part of the reason I think we find ourselves in a style rut is that we have too much stuff. This might sound contradicting, but we tend to gravitate toward the same things no matter how many options we have. This happens when your closet is overflowing with items. It makes you feel overwhelmed when you get dressed with too many options, and then you just grab your same old looks over and over again.
I can not recommend enough doing a massive purge. I mean MASSIVE. In fact, I did KonMari many years ago and it was beyond helpful to fine-tune my personal style, and get me out of a style rut. But there’s one thing KonMari doesn’t allow you to do and that is to try things on. Once you purge all the things just off of initial reaction, I do want you to go back and try on the things you thought you loved and had to keep, but haven’t worn in a long long time. When I did this more recently, I ended up getting rid of way more stuff that I thought I loved, but once it was on my body (which had been a while) I realized I no longer loved it.
By doing this process, it leaves your closet full of only things you really love and makes you happy. This will feel instantly better when it comes to getting dressed. But let’s not stop there.
Get Rid Of Things You Just Never Wear
I think it’s safe to say if you haven’t worn something in two years, it can probably go. The only exception to this rule in my book is keeping a handful of nicer dresses that are your go-to wedding and event pieces. I have a couple of these that I rotate through for weddings and parties that I still love, but maybe haven’t worn more recently. But overall, two years is a good cut-off for the rest of your closet. It means you didn’t wear it for at least two seasons that it was designed to be worn. And that says a lot!
Get Rid Of Things You Try To Wear, But Always Rip Right Off
Even I can think of the pieces in my closet that I try to wear, but instantly take off and feel like they just don’t work. More on some of this below under your colors, but I had a handful of red tops that I loved, but every time I put them on, I ripped them right off. I learned the color was washing me out and I just hated how I looked in it. These pieces aren’t serving you and they’ve got to go! They’re simply wasting your time while you’re trying to put looks together. This has also made me much more ruthless with my closet. Once my purge was completed, I still ended up tossing more and more as I started to wear things I hadn’t considered in a while. If I put them on and wasn’t in love like I thought I would be, goodbye!
Make Your Closet Ready To Wear
The final step in your closet purge needs to be pulling out anything that needs to be tweaked so it can be wearable at this very moment. A button, fixing a hem, a clasp, whatever it may be, pull anything out that needs to be brought to a tailor or cleaners so that it can be put back in your closet ready to be worn. Everything in your wardrobe should be ready to wear straight from the hanger. This also means ironing or steaming things, taking off the tags once you buy something, and so on. I always ensure that everything that goes back into my closet is ready to be taken off the hanger again and worn without any hesitation.
Play Dress Up In Your Own Closet
Now that you’ve purged and you’re left with things you love, it’s time to play dress up. Try on outfits, put things together, take photos, and style your outfits with different accessories. All of it. Spend time in your closet and don’t be scared to try new things. Layers, belts, you name it, try it all. This will also help you start to feel more energized by the things in your closet.
Not only does this inspire you, but it will help you figure out what you need to buy to fill in the gaps. I recently did this and realized how much I love lilac in my closet. But I don’t own much of it! Make a mental note of this (or heck, even make a physical list on your phone so you can reference while shopping) of the things you need or want more of to round out your closet. This will help you buy intentionally and only be adding value to your closet going forward.
Browse Pinterest Like It’s Your Job
I really love checking out Pinterest for style inspiration. You can very quickly go down a deep dark hole of ideas. Start saving things to a board, you can make it secret too and just name it personal style, so you can reference it in the future. And if you’re not sure what your style is exactly, saving all the things you really like, plus the outfits you styled in your own closet, will soon look somewhat cohesive. There will be some consistencies and take note of that! I also like to save outfit ideas from Instagram with their save feature and create a style album. It helps me reference outfit ideas for when I’m feeling bored with my closet.
Try On All The Things While Shopping
I feel like when we go shopping, we tend to just try on one thing here and there. Never full outfits. I want you to change that because it helps you get a better idea of how to style something. Head to the mall, or do some online shopping, but try ALL the things. Try different colors in the same piece. Try different style tops with the bottoms you’re trying on. Add layers and accessories from the store itself to see the full picture. You may have similar items at home that can easily be used to recreate these looks. But trying it on like this in the store will be more beneficial and you’ll be buying pieces you know work in your wardrobe.
When I shop online, I go all in. I buy multiple sizes, and colors and try random things just to see. It may sound crazy, but that’s what easy returns are for. Most stores offer them and it helps to make shopping more successful especially when doing so online.
And if you are shopping in the store, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have found some of my best things from the in-store stylists. One I especially love, is the Nordstrom styling services. Learn more about that here.
Find Your Colors
There were several pieces in my closet that I loved yet found myself never wearing. I’d put them on and quickly take them off and never find a time to wear them. I worked with Created Colorful to find my colors. You may have heard of this but it’s basically the color palette that compliments your natural skin tone and makes you look your best. There are warm and cool tones that coincide with spring, summer, autumn and winter palettes.
I’m a warm spring and knowing this helped to validate my feelings on many colors while shopping. I don’t do primary colors, they just don’t work for me. And knowing this helps me narrow things down while shopping and allows me to make better choices. This keeps me from buying things because I like the way they look on the model, but end up never wearing them once I get them. I knew generally which colors looked best on me, but having my color consult done, helped to fine-tune that list. And now I can shop confidently and know if I want to try something new and different, I should stick to a certain palette. Sure I can wear ANY color if I want and make it work, but wow is there a difference in sticking to your colors, especially when you’re shopping for new things online.
Try New Stores
I think this is something that will help you the most once you fine-tune your closet. For two reasons. You may find brands you loved but haven’t really shopped at a ton. Personally, that’s Reformation and Mango in my own closet. Some of my favorite pieces are from those two stores, but I don’t shop there much. So it’s just a good reminder. It’s also a reminder of where you shop at too often. Which alone can make you feel like you’re wearing the same collection of clothes over and over again.
For me, that’s Madewell. But honestly, not even done well there recently. It’s just a good way to see where you spend a lot of your money and if you need to branch out, this is a dead ringer of where NOT to shop. Try new stores. Ask friends where they’re shopping. Click through on bloggers’ Instagrams to see where items are from. PS, that’s the easiest way to support influencers, shopping through their links!
A few stores I’m trying more now than ever are Aritzia, Mango, Reformation, Pistola and Revolve. I also find browsing on a brand’s direct site can help provide a more merchandised shopping experience and you get to see their full collections.