how to make the most of the clothes you own

The clothes we own (or most of them) can be under-worn or not even worn at all. In fact, it’s estimated we only wear 20 per cent of our clothes 80% of the time according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal. The first step to making the most of the clothes you already own is to shop your wardrobe.

Evaluate what you own and what you already wear a lot (an example of this is my yellow top, wow have I been wearing that too much). Put those clothes to the back of your wardrobe and put the clothes that haven’t been receiving as much love to the forefront. Whilst doing this you might find that there are some pieces that just don’t fit in your wardrobe anymore and that’s when it’s the ideal time to do a wardrobe clear out, ensuring your closet isn’t overloaded with a mass of clothes (and they aren’t left strewn across the floor).

This weekend I delved into my wardrobe and found a t-shirt that I wore so much when I first bought it but failed to wear it after it was in my wardrobe for a few months. It’s been at the back of a draw for nearly two years but when I got it out I had the same feeling I had when I first bought it. The top evokes so many memories, I took it on a trip to Italy and there’s no way I’m going to sell it or give it away – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Redisovering the t-shirt was almost like buying a new one; the one thing that’s different is that I’ve saved a few $$ in the process.

After buying this daringly sparkly top last Christmas after a month or so of wishing its existence in my life I was stumped at ways to wear it. With jeans and a black tank top underneath? Was that the only way I was going to wear it? If so, the cost per wear would be huge and as a result it wouldn’t be that sustainable. In order to make the top a worthwhile purchase I would have to get creative and rethink ways to style it. Try experimenting with different ways on ways to style something. Tucking the top in or letting it hang loose, could you tie the top at the front?
Don’t feel restricted to wearing the item of clothing on its own. After taking inspiration from the depths of Pinterest and Instagram I decided to layer the top under a black t-shirt (as my mum remarked it is very rock chic esc.) and a completely different look is created. A new outfit that I could wear with jeans, a skirt (depending on the weather) and BOOM I have multiple outfits from one top that on first glance doesn’t seem versatile at all.

My favourite way of making the most of clothes I already own is reimagining the outfits they can go with. I find that t-shirts in winter can be perfect layered under a coat like the orange top from Depop above. However if just restyling wasn’t your preferred way of updating your wardrobe re-think or DIY a piece of clothing. There are plenty of ways you can update an old item of clothing through either patches or hand embroidery. Changing the hem of a skirt or jeans can completely alter the look of a garment.

Document your new and improved outfit choices and take photos (did anyone think a blog would be a perfect way to look back at outfits you loved?) There are apps such as Stylebook that allows you to sort your wardrobe into a visual experience, allowing you to easily see all the clothes in your wardrobe and change up what you’re wearing.

Your clothes will last longer if you care for them properly. As I mentioned in my post about Dress With Sense, the way you care for your clothes has a huge impact on the environment however it also either increases or depreciates the life span of your clothes. The easiest way to do so is to look at the label, does it need to be washed at a low temperature? Or perhaps it needs to be hand washed?

Wash less and wear it more. Every time that you wash a garment you’re reducing it’s lifecycle (and I am also currently feeling that my clothes have feelings with this comment) but it is true! There are guides on the internet that can inform you on how many wears you need before you should wash but in doing so also consider the fabric type too. Natural fabric such as cotton are more absorbent therefore can build up dirt more easily so should be washed more frequently than man made fibres like Polyester.

In a 2013 report by WRAP, it was found that the average active use of clothing was just 3.3 years. As a teenager who’s style is constantly evolving (although less so in the past few years) it is hard to relate to that figure, the item in my wardrobe that I’ve had for the longest is my navy blue GAP jumper, I wear it at least once a week and it’s been in my wardrobe for definitely 3+ years and I already know it’ll be in there till it’s on its last threads. In the study, the conclusion was: “the wide variety of reasons for which respondents have not worn items of clothing which they own imply a range of different actions are required in response. These need to take account of changing fashions, changing body-shapes, the sporadic nature of ‘special occasions’, a desire for more durable clothing and a lack of knowledge and skills on how best to care for clothes.” 
As a result, knowing how to take care of the clothes you own really will increase their longevity and you’ll be wearing your favourite item for longer than you would previously thought.

Do comment down below on different ways you like to style your clothes, do you have any tips to make the most of what you already own? It might just give someone inspiration on how to wear pieces that are just floating about their wardrobe!

eleanor //


  1. Carolyn Bell 28th March 2017 at 4:19 am

    This is a great post! I have the bad habit of thinking of clothes I would like to have rather than using the ones I already own. This is such a good idea to go back to old items and try new outfit ideas.

    Carolyn x
    Faithfully Carolyn

  2. Edie 28th March 2017 at 8:09 am

    Eleanor! First off, I love how you used Polaroid in this. Second, I've just ordered dress with sense – I've never even thought about clothes having an environmental impact whilst they're in your possession. The idea of discovering new clothes and re-wearing items from years ago makes me so excited!

    Edie x

  3. Emily Rhodes 28th March 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I love finding new outfits from my wardrobe, it is like shopping again! I always find new outfits by trying on different pieces together on an evening and seeing what works, it's quite fun 🙂

  4. Eleanor Pritchard 28th March 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you so much! I think we do tend to automatically think that oh this would look great with this top I've seen (and haven't bought) on ASOS yet a top similar could already be in your possession!

  5. Eleanor Pritchard 28th March 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Edie thank you! It's such a great guide and I think you would really like it! Haha same here 🙂 x

  6. Eleanor Pritchard 28th March 2017 at 4:11 pm

    It definitely is! It is so fun actually, I love finding new outfits that I love 🙂

  7. Eleanor Pritchard 29th March 2017 at 6:54 am

    Thank you Indi! You might find some pieces that you absolutely loved 🙂 xx

  8. Dalal Tahira 30th March 2017 at 6:56 pm

    your choice of photography in this post is so unique. I find that restricting myself to only buying things that I really really need is the best way to save money and also ensures that I actually wear what I have. I have so many pieces that are almost 5 years old in my wardrobe and I still wear them regularly, I also wear a lot of my mum's old stuff that she's handed me down and it definitely helps me on the clothing front as I don't have to try and buy more. loved the post !!!

    dalal .. Monochrome Daisies

  9. Eleanor Pritchard 31st March 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you Dalal, that is a good point – I am finding that buying less allows me to wear almost every piece in my wardrobe! (my mum also does love handing me down clothes haha)

  10. Rachel Wood 13th April 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I love this post, genuinely interesting! I think that statistic (20% of your clothes 80% of the time) is so accurate to me. I'm trying to work out a "cost per wear" when I buy new clothes now to make me think. And I really agree with washing some clothes less, it's not dirty it's just awareness of your clothing
    Rachel // Rachel Ellen

  11. Pingback: what I learnt from going on a new clothes ban - Eleanor Claudie

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