Frugal Fashionista: How To Shop In Your Own Closet

Fall brings out the fashion plate in me. Well, Fall and the higher probability of being inadvertently caught in a photograph during the Holiday Season.

Mr. Grasshopper is our trusty family photographer, who captures our every memory with a near-religious fervor. So, it’s not like we are ever paparazzi free. But, it seems perfectly acceptable to be caught romping around the yard, or frolicking on the beach in Spring/Summer wearing a threadbare band tee. Carefree even!

Woman in White Shirt Near in Green Beetle Car
Not me. Only in my mind’s eye do I look like this. The woman in my head would also tote around a giant case of Coke. Because, why not?

On the other hand, Fall and Winter with their packed holiday/birthday/anniversary schedule seem to engender more formal photo-taking opportunities. Suddenly, wearing my comfy rags (read ancient tees and jeans) to the family Christmas party, or Baby G’s daycare events doesn’t seem acceptable.

Mind you, this might all be in my head. If so, I appreciate you humoring me. Feel free to skip to another more high-brow (less neurotic) post if you must.

But with our new frugal lifestyle, popping out to go shopping (as was my habit in the past) is no longer on the menu. Instead, I’ve decided to go “shopping” in my closet. The problem of course is that I’m completely rubbish at deciding what looks cool or trendy. I naturally skew towards bright colors (think neon) and loud prints (think Hawaiian shirts). While the lifestyle guru within you might be encouraging me to embrace my inner hippie, it doesn’t really portray the kind of image I’m going for (classy mom who has stuff under control).

Woman in Blue Red Dress Shirt Walking in a Fashion Room

Enter Pinterest. I’m actually not entirely sure how other folks use Pinterest, but I’ve learned to use it to rifle through my closet and identify outfits that actually “go” together. When I was in college, folks often thought I liked to dress up. It’s not true. I just cannot – for the life of me – figure out what bottoms and tops go together. A dress solves that problem. I pull it over my head and voila an entire outfit. I need only figure out the shoes.

Case in point: Today was Baby G’s Halloween parade at daycare. I knew all the other mommies and daddies would be there. I wanted not to look like a grubby teen. (As an aside, I work remotely and usually spend my days in work out clothes, or pj’s. On days when I really “dress up” I even wear jeans and a ratty tee.) So, here’s what I asked Pinterest after looking at all the clean clothes in my closet “Denim on Denim outfits”

First, this told me that people actually wear denim chambray shirts with dark denim jeans. My inner ignoramus was pretty sure that there was a cardinal rule against this much denim – apparently that’s no longer the case.

Second, I learned that you can wear red shoes with all that denim. Thank you Lord! I happen to have red flats!!

Third, the general suggestion seems to be that you ought to leave your hair open. Okie dokie.

Free stock photo of fashion, clothes, shop, retail
This is obviously not my closet. No one in their right mind has a closet that looks this neat. If you do. I want to know about it. How? Why?? Who are you???!!

Here are a couple of tips from the couple of years I’ve resorted to Pinterest to aid me with this shocking lack of fashion know-how.

  1. Staples: I’ve slowly included a few staples in my closet. For me, these include the red flats (mentioned above that came to rescue today), a pair of converse sneakers, black dress flats, black boots, brown boots, rain boots, dark skinny jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt with horizontal black stripes, plaid shirt, chambray shirt, a brown wool cardigan, a grey wool cardigan, and a few neutral t-shirts. With these staples in tow (along with a wealth of scarves my generous mother has been kind enough to gift to me), I’m generally able to ape most of the outfit ideas on Pinterest. Another favorite search is “fall outfit ideas [insert year here]” or “winter outfit ideas [insert year here].”
  2. Pinterest favorites: This might be a bit of a time suck, but for all those moments you want to doodle away on the Interweb, consider creating a list of favorite outfits on Pinterest. The benefit of this ready-made list (which you will create based on items you know you have in your closet) is that you will spend less time looking for that perfect outfit in a time crunch. Instead, on the day of YOUR kid’s school event, you (smart closet-shopper) will be able to flip directly to your list of favorites, and pluck out just those items that you need to compose your perfect outfit for the event.

And just to prove that I’m not a nut who does this on her own lonesome, here are a few great articles from Self magazine and Frugal Beautiful advising the Frugal Fashionista about how she can shop in her own closet.

What are your fashion tricks on a budget? Comment below, and let us know!




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