How To Wear Everything In Your Closet (Yes, EVERYTHING)

Want to shop your closet or make the most of your wardrobe? Click through for smart tips on how to wear everything in your closet - yes, even those bridesmaid's dresses!

When I wear white, I eat spaghetti. Or drink coffee. Or munch on Cheetos.

Or write with Sharpies or open cans of motor oil or serve grape juice to passing children or basically do any and everything possible to STAIN THE LIVING BEJEEZUS OUT OF MY CLOTHING.

But I wear white anyway because what’s the point of owning it if it doesn’t get worn?

I am trying to apply this philosophy to my fancy and special-occasion garments, too. I mean, that floor-length, shiny, beaded, chocolate brown bridesmaid dress with the spaghetti straps? I’m not completely sure I can pull that off for work.

But my fabulous hats from Audi’s shop, my long thrifted taffeta skirt, my Lily vest, and my brooch necklace? Why should those languish just because they’re flashy, or dressy, or stylized, or a wee bit more delicate than my standard boots and tee-shirts?

As many have said before me:

None of my clothes are too good for me to wear them. If I own something, it should be fair game. Period. Click To Tweet

How to wear everything in your closet

Stop worrying about your clothes

I am an EXCELLENT worrier. Just ask anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes in my presence. But I do a decent job of living my life despite my worries, and not allowing anxiety to make me an agoraphobic shut-in. I do my best to apply this philosophy to clothing, too.

If I am so worried about ruining something that I won’t ever wear it, I might as well not own it at all. It’s relegated to closet candy and what they hell good is that?

If something gets worn and damaged, it can generally be repaired somehow. If something gets worn and ruined, well, them’s the breaks.

I realize that’s some tough love, especially when we might be talking heirloom garments or investment pieces … but you hear me, right? You might as well have set your money on fire if you’ve bought a garment or accessory only to let it gather dust. Click To Tweet

Create balance

Whatever your super special item may be, make sure it’s the only super special thing about your outfit.

This is particularly important if you’re dressing down a formal garment. Balance is created when you pair that sequined bustier with jeans and a black blazer, or when you wear your gigantic rhinestone bib necklace with a simple tee and black pencil skirt.

Make sure there is plenty of casual and commonplace to counteract the jolt of formal and unusual.

Keep rotation light

Although I’m making a goal of utilizing my fancies more often, I’d say one a week is plenty. No matter how dressed down they may be, special, delicate, or formal pieces are BOUND to stand out a little. And I like to stand out, but not every day.

Layer, layer, layer

The more stuff you’ve got on, the more a formal or flashy piece just looks like part of the mix. And even in summer, lightweight layers can help tone down a loud item.

A mondo necklace is much less mondo when it’s peeking out from a button-down shirt with a shrunken corduroy blazer thrown over it. A slinky formal dress becomes a sassy skirt when you pile a cowlneck sweater and cozy wrap on top.

Those special occasion pieces will be far comfier if they have a wide variety of OTHER pieces to play amongst.

Remember that you’re worth it

Again, none of your clothes are better than you. Who exactly owns whom, I ask yas? If you’ve laid down your hard-earned cash for a piece of clothing, it had better earn its keep.

It’s something you liked, something that fit your figure and suited your personal style, and it’s something that made you feel good. So allow it to make you feel good more than just once or twice in your lifetime. YOU’RE gorgeous and special, beautiful and luminous.

Why not wear the items you own that make you feel that way?

Do you make an effort to wear your most beloved pieces as often as possible? What are your tips for making such wearings relatively stress-free? 
Photos by hannah grace and mark clennon // cc

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  1. Casey

    Sal is one of my favorite bloggers! I love how she said "You might as well have set your money on fire if you’ve bought a garment or accessory only to let it gather dust." Such a good reminder not to let the "good" pieces languish in the back of the closet!

    I tend to wear quite a few pieces that most people would consider "special". I own a lot of vintage and antique clothing I wear; I just try to keep it rotating so it doesn't get too worn out. Yes, I've ruined a few pieces here and there, but the joy of wearing them has been worth it!

    ♥ Casey | blog

  2. lauralee

    i was JUST organizing my closet last night and feeling sorry for myself because i have the MOST BEAUTIFUL black skirt accentuated with beading and feathers (think designer find, not JC Penney with marabou trim) and nowhere to wear it.
    this post is a sign. i'm gonna go for it!

  3. Miss Diazepam

    Great topic! This is probably something felt by soooo many women!
    Personally I just avoid buying anything expensive! If it's delicate and beautiful it also has to be very cheap for me to consider buying it…I'm a thrifter/charity-second-hand shopper almost exclusively…and it works great for me 😉 This way I have awesome things to wear as often as I want, without worrying about them, because as much as I looove my emerald-green-lace-tunic…I only paid 2€ for it, so eventually ruining it won't exactely leave me penniless! AND if it gets ruined I still have loads of money to buy something else (equally cheap, obviously :P).
    I do splurge too, sometimes, when it's really worth it, by which I mean something is sturdy and needed. Examples: good boots, winter coats (but only if I don't have it already). This way they're something I'll wear so much that even when they eventually break they'll have totally repaid what I spent for them.
    So, I obviously suffer from anxiety too, and as you might have imagined one of my issues is about wasting money 😛

    I'd say to everyone: When you're really afraid of ruining something, think about what would happen at worst. Say that you spill some wine on you favourite top. Even if it doesn't ever get away, is it really that bad? Is anyone ever gonna notice that little spot in the corner? And if they do and think badly of you for that, are they worth any consideration? Ever again?
    And consider buying certain things where they're cheap. I don't want second hand socks (ehm), so I only buy them at markets, they are cheaper then from shops and I swear they're just as good. For f's sake: they're socks! And don't even get me started about designer tights…which will ALWAYS end up ripped anyway, no matter ho much you paid! 😉

  4. Zia Madeira

    Great topic!

    I went to a dinner theatre two days ago. I agonized over what to wear. My fanciest item is a very fuchia and very heavy and very sequined dress/pant combo worn for an Indian wedding, and I really want excuses to wear it. For the sake of the commute, I wore the fancy pants under a more basic skirt, and also wore the matching scarf to make it work. To my dismay I almost felt overdressed when I got to the show!
    Everyone needs to just wear beautiful things because it feels nice. Especially if the occasion can call for it! Like Tuesdays and grocery shopping! 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    Like Miss Diazepam, I tend to buy less expensive items. In general, I don't buy anything unless it's unique in some way. That way, I love everything I have and don't get suckered into buying anything cheap, but meh.

    Occasionally, I do feel some anxiety about ruining my favorite items. I just remind myself that "the glass is already broken." I think of my favorite items are already 'ruined', so when they do acquire stains or tears, it's no big deal because it's already 'ruined'.

    “You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”

    – Mark Epstein
    Thoughts Without a Thinker

    On days when I feel like dressing up (almost everyday), I do. I dress up because it's fun and, as Zia said, it feels nice. I know there's the thought of not wanting to "try too hard," but what's wrong with trying hard to please yourself? That's right, NOTHING. And there's NOTHING wrong with having nice things and wearing nice things and feeling, well, nice. You deserve it!

  6. meliasaurus

    I can normally wear one fancy piece and dress it down.

    but i have a dress that i spent a lot of money on (a lot to me) that i really want to wear but have no occasions. it's a big frilly short A line cupcake cocktail dress. it is killing me to let it hang there but I really don't know how to dress it down. :/

  7. bex

    I love this post. I figured this concept out at a young age, when I kept my first bottle of perfume hidden away in my dresser. I loved the smell of it, and would pull it out and wear it only on what I deemed "special" occasions. Well, five years passed, and that bottle was still in my dresser, and still depressingly full. At that point, I didn't even love the scent any more and ended up getting rid of it. Just a little reminder that every occasion is as special as you want it to be, and that if you hold something back and save it for what you think is the right time, you get a whole lot less use out of it than if you just wore it when you wanted to. If you love something … use it!

    I dress down alot of my "fancier" feeling clothing with cardigans or casual shoes. If they get ruined, at least it was by me, and not by moths eating em because they were stashed away out of sight.

  8. Jess

    Awesome post! Really got me thinking how I can wear some of the more dressier dresses I own. Thanks a heap!! 😀 x

  9. Han

    Kaelah at Little Chief Honeybee always says to dress like you're going to a tea party. I love this philosophy but struggle to put it into practice lol. Me and my friend have got a little challenge going on about making me wear more dresses lol. I bought two pairs of thick tights the other week in an aim that I'd be more comfortable than wearing semi see through tights (does that make sense?!)

    My Dad called the Spagheeti/white shirt thing – "The White Shirt Syndrome", my Mum cooks Spaghetti or something equally messy the day he wears a white shirt to work or a t-shirt to do stuff round the house.

    I tend not to buy white because I know that it will just get filthy.

    I have three dresses that are proper dress up smart dresses – but one of those is slowly becoming an everyday dress lol. The other one is too smart for my office so for now will stay as a going out dress

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