Curating Your Dream Closet on a Budget

Looking to build the wardrobe of your dreams? SITI NADHRAH shares four steps to kickstart your fashion adventure without straining your wallet.



Siti Nadhrah
Deputy Editor

Hype Issue #57

Published on
October 2, 2023

Have you ever stood before your closet, grappling with the familiar frustration of having “nothing to wear” or repeatedly sporting the same outfits? If the financial aspect of acquiring new clothing presents a challenge, you’re not alone. As a fellow fashion enthusiast, I understand the frustration of feeling uninspired when selecting an outfit, perpetually desiring a wardrobe refresh. 

Fashion enables creative self-expression through diverse aesthetics. Photo taken from @oakandfort on Instagram.

To conquer this sentiment, it’s imperative to cultivate a keen understanding of your style and construct a closet that is not only sustainable but also enduringly fashionable. 

Drawing from my experience as a fashion content creator, I’ve compiled four steps to assist you in curating the wardrobe of your dreams, without straining your finances or the environment. 

Step 1: Evaluate Your Existing Wardrobe

Start by closely evaluating your current wardrobe. This process serves two purposes: to identify frequently worn garments that can be mixed and matched, and to figure out your favourite styles and colours. Even if your closet isn’t bursting at the seams, conducting a thorough closet cleanout is essential. 

This step lays the groundwork for timeless additions by weeding out items that are seldom worn or designated as “one-time use” pieces.

Don’t discard the unwanted; consider donating to friends, family, or sustainable fashion initiatives. Notably, brands like H&M have embraced this practice, often offering coupons in exchange for used textiles. 

In H&M outlets, customers can drop off unused textiles in exchange for store coupons. Photos taken from NYLON (left) and Carousell (right).

Customers can donate items to the SSVP Shop for resale. Photo taken from SSVP.

Step 2: Cultivate a Timeless Wardrobe

Once you’ve evaluated your current collection, it’s time to ensure the bedrock of your wardrobe rests on essential staples. Introducing the “capsule wardrobe” concept: a collection of meticulously selected and interchangeable pieces designed to maximise outfit combinations. Irrespective of how your style evolves, a versatile collection is vital to enabling the exploration of diverse aesthetics, minimising the need to frequently replace staple pieces. 

These basics typically fall into four pivotal categories: tops, bottoms, denim, and outerwear. With these foundations in place, you can subsequently expand into other categories like dresses, sweaters, and more, to cater to specific needs.

Inspiration for starting a capsule wardrobe for men and women. Photo taken from @projanew on Instagram.

Colours also wield considerable influence in fashioning a capsule wardrobe – think of classic hues like black, white, grey, and neutrals. Having these staples will save you from frequently buying new clothes.

Inspiration for building a versatile capsule wardrobe with specific items and colours. Photo taken from Emily Lightly.

Step 3: Draw Inspiration for Your Style

At this juncture, the process takes a delightful turn, involving the addition of new pieces to your collection. You might already have a distinct style in mind, or you could be seeking inspiration for a fresh aesthetic. 

Nonetheless, this is the time to conduct research and refine your chosen style.

Pinterest (left) and Instagram (right) are valuable sources for inspiration and exploring various styles and aesthetics. Photos by Siti Nadhrah.

It’s crucial, however, to exercise restraint and avoid succumbing to impulsive trends while navigating platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram. Maintaining the perspective that trends are transient and cyclical can prove invaluable.

Harness your existing wardrobe as a reference point, aligning your new pieces with your established preferences. Understanding your body proportions is pivotal; this knowledge enables you to select clothing cuts that flatter your figure and enhance your comfort and confidence.

@jacquie.lm Bodysuits from @Newvisister 🫶🏻-The short-sleeve top is particularly flattering for body types like pear and apple because it adds volume around the shoulders, creating the illusion of a smaller waist. An asymmetric top works wonderfully for individuals with hourglass and rectangle body types, as it introduces interesting visual elements to the outfit. Additionally, it's a great choice for those with broad shoulders. Contrary to some opinions, broad shoulders can't be hidden, but an asymmetric top can divert attention away from them and draw focus to the top part of the outfit. A halter top also complements people with broad shoulders for similar reasons. The halter neckline shifts attention towards the upper body, minimizing the appearance of broad shoulders. #styletips #minimalist #flatteringclothes #newvisister #skims #skimsdupes ♬ Way Down We Go - Slowed - Ren
@jacquie.lm Today, I'll be sharing some tips on flattering jeans for different body types and why they work. Make sure to save this post for future reference, as choosing the right clothes can truly enhance your silhouette.🫶🏻 #flattering #jeans #jeansguide #clothes #denim #denimstyle ♬ Billie bossa nova X west coast lostten4ever - ved

Keep a checklist or inspiration boards handy to document potential acquisitions.

On Pinterest, you can create inspiration boards to gather ideas for fashion and other categories, aiding in defining your style and guiding your vision. Photos by Siti Nadhrah.

Step 4: Smart Shopping for Savings

The allure of retail displays can be irresistible, yet it’s essential to adopt financially sound practices. Rather than indulging every whim, consider these money-saving tactics: take advantage of discounts and major sales events like year-end clearances and Black Friday, which often slash prices by up to 70%.

Patience can yield considerable savings. Thrifting stands as another eco-conscious alternative, enabling you to explore diverse aesthetics on a tighter budget. From curated thrift stores to garage sales, these avenues brim with hidden treasures waiting to be unearthed. 

@anne.zenn 🚨 ITS SALE SZN 🚨 up to 80% OFF brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma, Under Armour and more at the @LINK Outlet warehouse sale!! #linkwarehousesale #sgshopping #sgweekends ♬ original sound - anne

While it might require more time and effort, the benefits are twofold: you pay less, and you contribute to sustainable fashion practices. Pieces you no longer require can be re-donated or shared with loved ones, perpetuating the cycle of sustainability. 

With these four steps, embark on a fashion journey that resonates with both your financial well-being and environmental consciousness. By doing so, you can say goodbye to the “nothing to wear” dilemma and embrace a sustainable and stylish closet.