The $30 Wardrobe Makeover

You’ve got a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. What gives? According to personal style specialist Lindsay Burns, owner of Las Vegas-based Style Savvy, the reason we experience clothing boredom is because we each have a uniform, whether we’re aware of it or not.

“Most women go to a store and buy the same things they are used to,” she explains. “Their new purchases are going to be very similar to what they’ve already got in their closet, so they end up with eight red T-shirts in various stages of repair.”

How do you break out of that rut and give your wardrobe the update it needs without spending a fortune? Burns shows us how to refurbish our closet without going broke.

Purge Ruthlessly

“The first thing you have to do is come to grips with cleaning out your closet,” says Burns, who points out that most people wear only 30 percent of what they own. “Banish the idea that you’re wasting money because you’re getting rid of it,” she says.

First, get rid of the easy pickings: pieces that are torn, stained, discolored or pilled. Also, anything you can look at and say, “Yes, I’m never going to wear that again.”

Next, assess the pile of clothes that you haven’t worn in a long time. Try each item on and try to see the piece for what it is and how it makes you look, advises Burns. She uses this simple checklist to rate the clothing objectively:

1. Does the cut flatter me?

2. Do I feel good when I put this piece on?

3. Does the color flatter me?

4. Do I see myself wearing this in pick-a-situation?


If you can answer yes to all of them, it’s a keeper. Otherwise, it’s time to donate it.

Get Back to Basics

To get the most out of your wardrobe, invest in clothes that can be worn with anything and dressed in several different styles. There are three-super versatile pieces that Burns says every woman should own:

1. White button-down shirt: A plain, oxford cotton shirt with long sleeves may sound boring, but what you can do with it is amazing, says Burns: “If you leave it long, you can wear it as a tunic over just about anything. You can wear it belted or not. You can starch it a little bit and tuck it in. And if you pair it with a black skirt, it immediately becomes a suit.”

2. Dark-wash jeans: “Every woman should have a great pair of very dark-rinse jeans that are boot-cut, so they flare out over any kind of shoe or boot,” she explains. Because they’re dark, they look dressy, so you can wear them to work or for evenings out. “They have no fading or distressing on them, so they make you look long and lean, and they go with virtually any type of shirt, blouse or sweater,” says Burns.

3. Black pumps: “This is the first shoe I would tell any women to buy,” says Burns, “because they go with so many dresses, most colored skirts, most pants, and they dress up jeans.” They’re an easy way to take an outfit from day to night.


Accessorize Smartly

If you’ve never seen the point in having more than one handbag or investing in belts, chains and cuffs, you’re not making the most of your wardrobe. “Accessories can take a wardrobe that is bland and dull and turn it into something that really pops,” says Burns. Her top picks:

  • Chain necklace: Invest in a long, simple silver or gold chain that’s long enough to double and even triple it around your neck. Wear it with a plain T-shirt and jeans, and it looks throwaway cool, says Burns, like, “Oh, I just threw this on.” If you wear it doubled, with one strand short and one long, it brings attention to your face, neck and shoulders. Triple it around your neck, and it looks dressier. Plus, you can put any pendant on it if you want to dress it up. 

  • Belt: Belts make a statement when worn over a top. A heavy belt worn over a tunic top, with jeans, defines your waist and hips. “The same can be done with a very thin belt, a quarter of an inch wide, to add a beautiful line of color in the middle of a black sweater,” says Burns.

Make Trends Work for You

One of the easiest ways to get on trend is with the “it” bag of the season or the color that’s the hottest, explains Burns. “When something is trendy, it is copied at all price points, so you can buy the Louis Vuitton bag or the Macy’s or Forever 21 version.” That color and that shape will be in every store because it’s trendy.

To make your entire closet trendy for each season, you can do it on quite a low budget, says Burns. All it takes is one pair of shoes, one top, one jacket and one bag. “By getting the ‘it’ shape of each of those four pieces in the ‘it’ color, you can make all your outfits trendy and of-the-minute without spending a fortune.”