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Update Your Look Without Spending a Dime

Mix and match clothes and makeup for an inexpensive style reinvention

spinner image Women mixing and matching various parts of their outfit
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images; JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images; Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Feeling the pinch from too  much  online sales bingeing and holiday gift giving? Time to tough it out and make do with what we’ve got. So why not get creative and give the stuff you own a DIY twist? As a beauty and style  editor  I love the challenge of salvaging leftover products and reinventing clothes without buying new. Here are nine ways to update your looks and boost your mood — for free.

spinner image Side-by-side of arms, one with rings and bracelets, the other with rings and a watch
Jennifer Lopez stacks her bracelets and adds rings; Vivica A. Fox prefers a combo of statement rings.
C Flanigan/Getty Images; David Livingston/Getty Images

1. Step-up your ring bling

Try wearing your rings on unexpected fingers like the forefinger or thumb, wear a handful of rings at a time, stack stones and bands of every metal and color — real and fake, classic and eye-popping.

spinner image Two women with several necklaces
Debbie Matenopoulos layers powerhouse necklaces; Tonya Winfield  stacks necklaces over a mixed print dress.
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images; JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images

2. Wear necklaces in a different way, too

Mix pearls with chains and leather thongs, delicate charms with eye-catching pendants, bold bibs with other chunky necklaces or lariats. Pin a big dramatic brooch on a chain as a pendant, too.

spinner image Women wearing scarves that offset their tops
Ellen Burstyn adds a multicolor scarf for a face-brightening effect; Cicely Tyson with a sky-blue neckerchief.
Dia Dipasupil/WireImage/Getty Images; Leon Bennett/WireImage/Getty Images

3. Use your vintage scarves to spice up clothes

Wrap a large scarf as a turban. Drape, twist and loop long lightweight scarves to enhance necklines of basic tees and sweaters or add a small neckerchief for an extra splash of color.

spinner image A yellow pantsuit with red heels, a red top with suede pants
Kelly Jo Minter combines a yellow pantsuit with red pumps and black and white clutch; Bo Derek mixes brown suede pants, a red blouse and silver ankle boots.
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images; Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

4. Combine colors and clothes in new ways

Think outside your usual habits. Instead of reaching for the same predictable combos, wear sunny yellow with scarlet shoes, a tailored blazer with track pants, a red silk blouse with brown suede boot-cuts, a lime green dress with a saffron quilted jacket and white flats. Stop thinking of seasons or categories. Mix sporty and tailored, feminine and gutsy, summer dresses with winter sweaters.

spinner image High dressy scandals, a high lace boot
Debbie Harry in platform sandals and pants; Debra Messing in black platform combat booties.
Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

5. Try those what-was-I-thinking shoes … again

It’s now cool to wear sandals and peep-toes with socks or tights, and platform shoes are having a comeback. Aren’t you glad you didn’t toss them?

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spinner image Women in metallic and sparkly dresses
Elsa Davis in a silver pleated skirt, black top and ballet flats; Bevy Smith in a gold pleated pencil skirt and T-shirt.
John Lamparski/Getty Images; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Belvedere Vodka

6. Swap evening pieces for daytime wear

Why save sparkly metallics and sequins for after dark when you can shine 24/7? Add any silver, gold or shimmery skirt to a black blouse, T-shirt or sweater and you’ve reinvented it. No cost! Reverse the glitz-on-top, black-on-bottom idea for another solution.

spinner image Women in mini skirts
Halle Berry in a miniskirt tailored suit; Christie Brinkley in a mini, black turtleneck and booties and ivory coat.
Desiree Navarro/WireImage/Getty Images; Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

7. Resurrect your minis

If your legs are still great (at least in your opinion) this might be a good time to revamp your short dresses and skirts. Yes, we are not Halle Berry, Christie Brinkley, Jennifer Lopez or Brigitte Macron, who wear super-short hemlines at the drop of a hat, but who cares? We have their body confidence, charisma and a closet filled with minis we can’t bear to toss. Just keep your top and arms covered for body balance. If bare-legging it is too much (or too chilly), add black knee-high boots or ankle booties and tights. Problem solved. Think of minidresses with straight shift silhouettes as tunics, too, and wear them over leggings.

spinner image Women wearing animal print
Lori Wyman in a leopard wrap blouse; Laura Dern in a python print pantsuit.
John Wolfsohn/Getty Images; David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

8. Pull out all your '80s animal prints and mix them

A jolt of python, cheetah, zebra, leopard or mock croc will rejuvenate your wardrobe, for sure. I know you still have bags, belts and probably a leopard sweatshirt or faux fur lurking in your closet. They’ll look so on-trend even you will be surprised at the compliments.

spinner image Closeup of women wearing makeup
Mary Steenburgen with defined brows, eyes and soft matte red lips; Angela Bassett wears layered and blended neutral makeup.
Leon Bennett/Getty Images; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images 

9. Reinvent beauty products

Layer eye shadows and blend lipsticks to create new shades and make leftovers and palettes more wearable than ever. Blend a neutral eye shade like gray, light brown or taupe over a colorful shadow to tone it down; blend a matte over a metallic/glittery shadow to mute the sparkly texture to a shimmer. Apply warm beige, peach or gold colors over or under those that are too cool (like purple, mermaid blue) or too dark and smoky to decrease their intensity. Mix a nude or brown lipstick with vibrant reds, pinks or berries to create softer, tawnier, more natural hues.

Last word: Spritz two fragrances on one over the other to make a unique DIY scent — stay within the same fragrance group and mix two florals, for example, or mist floral and spicy, woodsy and fruity if you really want to get adventurous. 

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