New Year, Same Closet? 5 Wardrobe Challenges to Combat in 2018

Fashion & Style

This year, I’m all about making New Year’s Resolutions beyond the usual, cliché suspects. I know I’ve already encouraged you all to consider ramping up your beauty regimen as we continue moving into 2018, but now, I’m taking you from your bathroom… into your closet.

I understand that aiming to shop less or adding more basic pieces into your wardrobe may sit a couple of notches below volunteering more or hitting up that extra yoga class each week. But I firmly believe that as we enter a new year, we should all do as much as we possibly can to be the best version of ourselves… so we mustn’t neglect our closets.

I recently helped a girlfriend sift through hers as part of her “new year, new me” strategy. I helped her identify a few shopping and style tweaks to make in 2018. We decided that it made more sense to call them “challenges” rather than “resolutions,” because let’s face it, they are hard and nobody is perfect–even meeting half of your goal can make all the difference.

I realize that what I’m about to say may make me sound like a total geek, but one of the nights I look forward to most in January is when I ask my hubby for sheer and utter privacy. I crank up my Sonos, crush some Thai takeout in my underwear and go HAM on my closet.

**Disclaimer: Before we get any further, I think I owe you some transparency. I’m not a perfect shopper. I, like everyone else, buy things I don’t need, I can let a psychologically irresistible sale get the best of me, and I can sometimes be known to hoard clothes.**

While I consider myself an ongoing work-in-progress, I constantly check and encourage myself to drum up new ideas on how I can improve my style each year, whether the goal is to perfect that smart, capsule wardrobe, become more organized or save a little extra cash.

Ahead, I’ve compiled a list of some tried-and-true New Year’s style challenges worth adding to your 2018 list. Enjoy!

1. Resist The Lure of a Sale

Clearance sales, flash sales, friends and family sales… yep, it’s definitely January. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the years, it’s that there is a huge difference between waiting for something you really really want to go on sale vs. buying something simply because it’s on sale. We’ve all been there. There was something really amazing about the item, but there was also something not quite right about it, but because it was on sale, you bought it anyway. Now, it’s sitting in your closet, collecting dust. A tale as old as time. 

When it comes to saying “no” to a tempting sale, I’m definitely a WIP as with my ADD, comes impulsivity. Case-in-point: earlier this week, I noticed that Levi’s was offering a BOGO50 on jeans.

“Omg! You totally need new jeans, and now you can get two pair! You’re basically saving money instead of spending! Do it, Madeline!” says the (shopping) devil who tends to pop up on my shoulder from time to time. Did I really need new jeans? No (and I sure as hell didn’t need two pair), because I didn’t even think about new jeans until I saw the eye-catching BOGO50 email. 

While some sales truly are worth it–seriously, is there a better feeling than when that one piece you’ve been eyeing for weeks suddenly drops 30% and what? It’s even available in your size!?–all are designed to be psychologically irresistible. This year, slow down and really think through your purchases. Try to remind yourself that retailers know what they are doing to you and your psyche and half the time, they raise the price prior to dropping it, anyway. Oh, and don’t forget that sale items are final sale. Enough said. 

2. Try Out a New Trend

Who says that you have to sacrifice or give something up when making a resolution? After all, we don’t say new year, new you for nothing. The start of a new year inevitably brings an entire collection of fashion trends to try to get ahead of. All of those bloggers and style crushes you stalk on Instagram that leave you saying, “ugh I wish I could pull that off.” Well, guess what? You can. Style is mostly about exuding confidence and owning what you are wearing. Step outside your comfort zone and have some fun (but make sure you are staying true to your personal style).

If you need an extra push, grab a friend and make a shopping date out of it. Sometimes we all need a little third-party reassurance.

Worried that this will go against your 2018 ode to saving more money? Editor’s tip: Don’t splurge on trend-driven pieces (they are called trends for a reason… so chances are they won’t stick around for long). Splurging on fast fashion will leave you with a good, old-fashioned case of buyer’s remorse. Places like Mango, Zara, Madewell, Pixie Market, and Topshop have those fashion-forward pieces at a fraction of the price of your favorite designers.

3. Purge Your Closet

The more clothes you have the more options each morning, right? Technically, yes. But an overflowing closet situation can also bring on those “Ugh, I have nothing to wear today” scaries. Too much of a good thing can ultimately leave you confused by your style and what you really love to wear– and let’s not even dive into how much $$ is wasted here.

If you don’t love your wardrobe, and you wish you did, you can change that. This year, try curating a wardrobe that meets your needs for almost any occasion, without having an overabundance of pieces you rarely wear.

Sometimes it takes a good purge to fall back in love with your wardrobe. I’m not telling you to instill a “no purchasing of any sort” rule (c’mon… what fun is that?), nor am I suggesting you just remove a few things you haven’t worn in a few seasons. Designate a night this year and take a page out of my book–remember: wine, Sonos, takeout, pants (optional)– and dive deep into the bowels of your closet. Take it all out, keep only things you truly love, as well as take inventory of the items you’ve yet to buy–and determine what is worth investing in.

Now, what to do with the “rejects?” Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There are so many amazing resale sites, like Poshmark and eBay (and hey, who knows, perhaps you’ll find something you like!), as well as donation sites and shelters that welcome your stuff with open arms.

4. Invest in Dual-Purpose Pieces 

Whether you work in a corporate setting, a casual agency, or from your neighborhood coffee shop- I get it, you want your professional style to truly express who you are. One of the biggest mistakes you can make for your wardrobe is dividing your clothes into two islands: work and play. Your office style doesn’t need to dramatically differ from your evening or weekend style–you just need to be smart about your shopping and styling.

I’m not claiming to have the whole “less is more” mentality completely nailed down, (anyone else guilty of blabbering to a sales clerk about the many ways you will wear a piece, when in reality you are just looking for the reassurance because you may be making a stupid purchase?) but I’m constantly trying to be more careful about what I’m investing in. When making a purchase this year, challenge yourself to think about the two, maybe three different ways it can be styled. Try and check as many boxes as possible (i.e. the workplace, Saturday brunch, and a night out for drinks).

Take a pajama-inspired blouse, for example. With just a different choice of shoes and pants, the top is easily transitioned from a day full of meetings to a day full of errands. Or, swap your go-to trouser-and-loafer combo for your high tops and oversized sweater and you’re weekend-ready.

Master this and you will not only have a clean and clutter-free closet, but it will also make getting dressed in the morning that much easier (not to mention give you way more mileage out of your clothing purchases!).

5. Revamp Your Collection of “Basics”

That buttery leather jacket that goes with just about anything, a classic trench, those oh-so-perfect fitting black skinny jeans (that make your butt look great), your t-shirt collection, a pair of loafers and oh, your favorite grey crew neck cashmere sweater–we call these your “basics.”  Basics are neutral pieces (if you ask me, stripes and light textures are totally considered neutrals) that are easily mixed, matched and layered and come in functional and comfortable cuts and silhouettes. They are the foundations of a timeless wardrobe and serve as an anchor to any trend-forward pieces you pick up along the way.

One of the ongoing battles of fashion is deciphering what you should spend real money on versus what you should buy on the cheap. I suggest channeling your inner-French girl and investing in quality basics–these pieces can be worn so many different ways, taking you from one season to another (and perhaps withstand years) so you may want to consider investing a little extra cash.

I often tell people to remember the “function over fashion” rule when it comes to buying basics. While mulling over a purchase, try asking yourself, “how many different ways can I wear this piece?” If you can think of multiple combinations, you know it’s not a one-hit wonder that sits in your closet.

The best part of having such a strong collection of basics is you can easily add some pizazz to your looks with simple additions–try playing around with layering or add a bold accessory. Take a crisp white button-down, for example, leave it unbuttoned, paired with a crew neck t-shirt or dress it up with a neck scarf.

Are there any shopping and closet resolutions you are trying out this year? Leave a comment below–I’d love to hear from you!

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The Cashmere Crew • Everlane • $100
MANGO Double breasted trench • MANGO • $84.99
Topshop Luna Faux Leather Biker Jacket • Topshop • $95
Cable Knit Turtleneck Oversized Sweater • Shein • $25
Converse Women’s Chuck Taylor High Top Sneakers from Finish Line • Converse • $54.99
Sole Society Caspar Loafer • Sole Society • $89.95
KAREN MILLEN Contrast Piping Blouse • Karen Millen • $89.99
H&M Oversized Coat • H&M • $139
The Mid-Rise Skinny Jean (Ankle) • Everlane • $68

Image sources: top / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

BY Madeline Nachbar - January 28, 2018

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I’m going to try doing all of these – especially decluttering my closet! I’m forever doing it and I want this year to be the year I complete it!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

January 28, 2018 9:28 pm

Great ideas! I’m trying to make way fewer impulse buys this year. My closet is full of $6 t-shirts that fall apart, so instead I’m going to save up and only buy planned out, high-quality pieces.

Jessica ||

January 29, 2018 2:56 am

These are such great tips. Thanks you for sharing. I especially agree with the idea to revamp the basic pieces in our wardrobe as having a good selection of high quality basics can really up level an outfit!

Allegra xx

Allegra Ghiloni Fashion Stylist

January 29, 2018 5:29 am

I love all of your tips! I just recently purged my closet and it felt so good!

xx Chelsea

January 29, 2018 9:36 am

Love this post! I am a sucker for a good sale but sometimes I really need to be less impulsive with my buys

January 29, 2018 4:15 pm

Thank you so much for putting together this post. Not only am I getting some inspiration from the images you chose (mixing “work-wear” with casual for example), but your tips are perfect for my new capsule wardrobe venture. Thanks again!

January 29, 2018 5:20 pm

Ugh. I need to pull everything out of my closet and reorganize! I have a lot of clothes I love, but this year I need to buy colors. From grey to taupe, I have too many neutrals, so I’m excited to buys colors! I still want high quality, classic clothes, but I’m just starting to spread my fashion wings!

October 28, 2020 2:47 am

These are such great tips. Thank you for sharing. I especially agree with the idea to revamp the basic pieces in our wardrobe as having a good selection of high-quality basics can really up level an outfit I love all of your tips! I just recently purged my closet and it felt so good!

May 22, 2023 3:09 am

A very detailed explanation was provided on this topic. This very helpful for girls. I really appreciate your winter outfit style is amazing. Thanks for sharing all beautiful pictures with us.

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