6 Powerful Strategies for Replacing Wardrobe Workhorse Items


Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I were asked to share our personal strategies for replacing items in the wardrobe – particularly those wardrobe workhorses that wear out and need to be replaced.


Replacing Items in Your Wardrobe

1. Can You Get an Exact Replacement?

If it’s a particular cut/style/brand – can you buy an exact replacement?    If so, this is an easy way of keeping those workhorses looking fresh and stylish.

2. What if It’s Unique?

If the garment that is wearing out is something that is either more unique or you just can’t get the exact replacement for – it’s time to do some analysis before rushing out to replace so you don’t buy the wrong item.

Ask yourself – what do you like about it?  What are its features and benefits:

  • shape
  • style
  • fabric
  • details
  • structure
  • how it sits
  • how it fits

Once I know what you like about it, then you can start to look for a similar replacement that has the elements of design and construction that are in keeping with your list of criteria.

3. It’s Out of Fashion

If it’s no longer in fashion – and you can’t find anything that is even related, then you need to find something that will fill that wardrobe hole that is current but still fulfils your needs.

What was it about that garment that worked so well (use the criteria list above if that helps).  Then consider too your current lifestyle to figure out why it is that what you are trying to replace gets so much of a workout in your wardrobe.

You need to work out why it is that the one you love is the one you love.

4. You’ve Got Multiples

Do you buy in multiples? How do you know whether to purchase or not? How to stop making expensive wardrobe mistakes
One of Jill’s many leopard wrap dresses – they are all unique in some way.

Jill buys multiple items of similar garments – such as her leopard print wrap dresses – which are different, but still similar.  For her, this gives her the permission to wear them (if she only had one, she’d worry too much about wearing it out too fast, and so wouldn’t wear it at all – she’d be keeping it for “good”).  So she doesn’t have the same driving need to replace a garment the minute it wears out.

Her approach to wardrobe gaps is now one where she likes to keep the gap for some time rather than rush out to replace an item immediately, as she already has a large wardrobe with multiples, there is not the same need to replace as she already has similar garments she can wear.

This allows Jill to discover if the gap is really a gap – or maybe it’s something that is no longer a gap as she has discovered that there can be a cyclical nature of her wardrobe preferences.

5. Wardrobe Evolution

The evolution of wardrobe can be related to mood, season, fashion, lifestyle – all sorts of different things. You may find you wear trousers all the time one year, then the next barely wear them.  If something has worn out – does it really need to be replaced?  Not Always.

It’s worth noticing what you reach for more.  Are you wearing dresses now instead of trousers?  What about the season?  If it’s the end of the season and you won’t wear that garment for some months, is it worth waiting until the new season to replace as fashions may change in the meantime?

Wardrobes evolve over time, so it’s good to take notice of where you’re at right now.

6. What’s in Your Wardrobe Pipeline?

When you are considering adding extra items into the wardrobe – what are your criteria to make sure they will be of value to your style:

  • Really different – that is – not exactly the same as what you already own unless you are replacing something exactly.
  • Really love- it should rate and 8 or more, you should really want to wear it, it should meet your criteria (as above)
  • Really need – a replacement for an existing item that is wearing out, or a wardrobe gap you’ve identified that does need filling
  • Suits your current lifestyle – no point in buying a ball dress if you never go to balls!
  • Represents your current style recipe- it’s great to reassess your style recipe every so often (we talked about that in this video post), as you evolve and grow and so should your wardrobe.


How do you know what to buy and what to replace in your wardrobe? What do you look for? How not to make purchasing mistakes.
This top fulfilled my criteria for built-in detail (essential in my summer wardrobe where I may not want to add a third piece) and also fulfilled my current style recipe that includes more glamorous – flowing pieces.  I already owned one blue skirt when I found this one – but this one was more blue-violet (the other cobalt) and it has interesting construction detail – which the other doesn’t – so it fulfilled my “different from what I already own) criteria.


It’s so helpful to apply some analysis to find out why something works so well.  Knowing what you love helps you make fewer mistakes (I don’t believe anyone doesn’t make mistakes – we are all human, and retailers play all sorts of psychological tricks on us to make us buy – we are human and fallible – and that’s OK).  Here are 11 questions to ask yourself to make sure it’s a winner and should be added to your wardrobe.

Don’t treat yourself as a failure if you’ve bought the wrong thing.  If you’ve done this – treat this purchase as a learning experience and analyse why the item doesn’t work in the way you’d hoped.  This can inform you so that you don’t make that same mistake twice!  The more you know about your colours/styles/values/shapes/preferences – the easier it is to make good purchasing decisions (this is why I created my 7 Steps to Style program, to help you do this).

How Do You Deal With Your Wardrobe Pipeline?

How do you decide what to buy and what’s in your wardrobe pipeline?  Have you got another way of refilling your wardrobe workhorse gaps that we haven’t discussed here?  Please share in the comments!


More Tips on Shopping Successfully

When “Good Enough” is no Longer Good Enough For You

9 Top Tips on Finding Unique Items that Honour Your Style in a Mass Market Retail World

Who are You and How Does this Influence Your Style Choices?

Do You Only Buy Clothes When You Really Really Have to?

6 Brilliant Strategies to Creating the Perfect Wardrobe Part 1

6 Powerful Strategies for Replacing Wardrobe Workhorse Items


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Hello, it happened to me that one year was full of dresses and after two years I missed a couple of trousers, and know after having kids, my breast changed and I will have to make some changes inthe upper área, greetings to you all

  • Fantastic discussion, ladies- really enjoyed it!

    Once when my beloved orange velvet blazer was wearing out I went “aha! I love blazers, that’s my thing!” But I didn’t love all blazers, I loved THAT blazer… none of the others ever gave me the same feeling as that beloved worn out one. To this day I still haven’t found a replacement blazer that worked and have donated all the others. But I did finally get a military olive green jacket that fulfilled the role of that orange velvet blazer in my wardrobe- odd as that may sound- and I wear it all the time.

    And you know… when I’ve bought multiples to put away so as to have a new one when the first one wears out (shoes mostly) I find I’m ready to move on to a different style and the second pair seldom get worn.

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