Well, here we are. Mid-January, and the realities of everything we spent over the course of our lives have hit us hard, forcing those resolutions to stop spending money to become a reality from which we will never recover. (Or will, but in like, two months.)
Which would be fine if winter had arrived with the fury of what we expect Canadian winter to be. Instead, December gave us green grass, 20-degree temperatures, and the promise that it might never snow again — which also meant that few of us are prepared for anything other than what I just described. (See: six days before Christmas, I bought silver oxfords from Browns. As if I’d be able to wear them in January or in February or March. See also: I am a delusional person.)
But now it’s too late, and our wardrobe isn’t ready but neither our we. So here’s how you can reclaim it and yourself without spending any money (or much money, if you only own shirts that don’t have sleeves).
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1. Get rid of everything you hate
The thing about clothes you don’t love is that they can’t help you. You will never, ever wear them and you will be stuck forever looking at pieces you resent and wish you’d never bought. So make like those terrible movies and do the purge: if you haven’t worn it in a year (formalwear aside), you never will. Make space for the clothes you love (or will eventually buy), and never look back.
Oh, and an additional tip: look up local consignment shop to see if you can swap clothes for cash. And if not, drop your threads at a charity shop because damn it, that’s what they’re for.
2. Okay, now step two: adhere to staple bottoms
I’m a woman who likes to wear black pants. (Specifically, American Eagle’s high-waisted jeggings, in black.) I am comfortable in this fact, and they work with everything, so instead of worrying about two parts to every outfit, I have embraced a bottom (no pun intended JK all puns intended) that’s winter-appropriate, and also complements every kind of top to exist. Gold and sequined? You got it. A sweatshirt? Absolutely. A button-up? Sure. And odds are, you have a favourite too. This is fine — uniform dressing exists for a reason. So with the budget you do have for pants, pick up a few of your favourites, then mix-and-match with layers, boots, jackets, and tops.
3. Accessorize accordingly
Duh alert: an oversized necklace, bracelet, or ring (think everything seen in the Iris Apfel documentary) can and will up your outfit ante, especially if your existing pieces are relatively neutral. Better yet: you can pick them up for super-cheap at second-hand stores like Value Village or Goodwill, where beads, wooden pieces, and vintage brooches go for anywhere from about $1.99 to $5.99. Take it from me: nothing dresses up a plain black long sleeve by a few stacked necklaces, especially since they’ll be the talking point over the rest of your outfit. (Bless us everyone.)
4. Makeup: eye shadow, lipstick, whatever you want
I know we all like to talk about how exciting the start of a new year is, but it’s also boring. It’s super boring, and it’s super cold, and this week I was actually annoyed when I realized I had to leave the house to be a functioning member of society. Nobody, right now, wants to be a member of society. But here we are, looking at all our old clothes and wondering when we became the people we now are.
Fortunately, there is a solution that requires minimal effort: makeup. And I don’t mean a lot. If I learned anything in 2015, it’s that you only need to choose one avenue on which to venture down: eye shadow, eyeliner, or lipstick. Pick one, bold it up, and make that the accessory equivalent to making whatever you’re wearing stand out. MAC just released its line of Ariana Grande’s Viva Glam line, and a dark plum will dramaticize any look, no matter how tired you may be of it. (Also, your Instagram game will be the greatest of life.)
5. Remember: coats
Here’s why winter is weird: because it’s cold out, we feel like our clothes must exclusively reflect everything we see happening outside. So, we assume that everything we own must be made of coat. (Like today? I’m wearing a sweat suit — an actual sweat suit, courtesy of Roots, and the idea of leaving in anything less than this suit seems nonsensical and horrifying.)
But our coats exist for a reason, and as do scarves, hats, and winter wear. This means that you don’t have to limit your wardrobe to only "winter" options — especially since none of us do that for formal events or for parties or any instance where wearing something dressy and sleeveless is a relative option. In fact, "winter" wardrobes are whatever you make them. (Are you feeling a little less stressed now?) So remember that as long as you bundle up to head outside, you’re smooth sailing.