It’s the New Year (duh) and I want to reinvent myself clothes-wise. How do I clean and restock my closet? What does a diverse closet have in it? —Maya, 17, California

Oooh, I love me a closet makeover! Let’s start there and DIVE RIGHT IN. When you’re rummaging through your wardrobe trying to figure out what should stay and what should go, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I worn this in the past year or two?
  • Do I have any bad memories attached to it?
  • Is it in wearable condition, or does it have a giant Kool-Aid stain and a big hole in the crotch?
  • Let’s be real: Am I REALLY going to wear this again?
  • What kind of pizza am I ordering tonight?

I know some things are super hard to part with—you get attached. I recently parted with these decade-old pair of sweats that I didn’t want to give up—they were super worn-in and got me all cozy-licious, but they had a bunch of holes in the crotch! I finally had to let them go, because this diva goddess don’t need to be wearing any ratty-ass sweats. Any time a piece of clothing reminds me of something bad, like a breakup or a really bad day, I toss it out. Even better, I sell it (more on that in a bit). Keep the things that you’ll probably never be able to find again. If you have to decide between tossing a cute vintage sweater in your favorite color versus a faded sweatshirt from Old Navy, which one should you choose? Totally up to you, but I’d go with the latter.

After your closet purge, you can get rid of your unwanted clothes a few different ways. First, you can try selling them! Places like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange might buy them from you, depending what you bring. Crossroads usually posts what they are currently looking for on their site, but you can also call all of these stores ahead of time and ask. Since you’re under 18, you’ll need an adult to accompany you. Both of these places offer cash or trade which means if they buy your clothes, you can either get dat cold hard moh-nay, or take store credit which is usually a higher offer than you’ll get in cash. You can also sell your clothes online via Tradesy, Poshmark, and Threadflip. Another option: Donate your old threads to a thrift shop or shelter. Out of the Closet is a good thrift store to donate to, because they work with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Finally, you can hold a swap party! That will help you with the next part to your query which is…acquiring some NEW THREADS!

Curating and rebuilding your closet is GONNA BE A BLAST. Basically, a diverse wardrobe consists of having something on hand for almost every occasion. Now, I know most of us probably don’t have some huge Mariah Carey-status walk-in closet where we can keep every single item we’d ever want (MY WILDEST DREAMS), so we have to strategize. The easiest method is to think in terms of these four categories: “Casual Everyday School Lookz,” “Hanging Out With Friends on Da Weekend So I Gotta Look Cute,” “OMG What If I Have to Look Slightly Profesh for Something,” and “Extra-Special Outfits.”

For Casual Lookz, I recommend having a few pairs of good jeans (if you’re a jeans gurl, OBV). I always like one dark denim pair in the collection because you can dress it up a little bit if need be. Of course, your fave T-shirts, sweaters, and leggings also go in this category. For Hanging Out With Friends: A few cute skirts and dresses are nice to have on hand because, even if you’re just gonna go to the movies, sometimes you want to wear something a tad more fancy than jeans. For the PROFESH: A plain black skirt is useful—pair it with a nice cardigan and long-sleeved blouse. Finally, the Extra Special section is really a WILD CARD. If you’re out thrifting and find thee best sequin minidress in the world that you MUST have, even if you don’t know where you’re going to wear it yet, but it’s only $2 and DUH you just cleaned out your closet, then YES. That belongs in that very special category. Choosing clothes in your favorite colors, prints, and fabrics are another part of diversifying your wardrobe. If you’re stuck, watch some movies to get some outfit ideas, lurk the blogs and Instas of your favorite style icons and see what inspires you. Have fun, and Happy New Year! —Marie

I don’t know how to pull off crop tops, especially in the winter. I’m worried about showing the little pouch on my stomach, and I’ve tried a cropped sweater with high-waisted skirts, but that doesn’t hide it. What are your suggestions for wearing crop tops, especially as part of a cold-weather look? —Chelsea, Ohio

If crop tops were a As Seen On TV product, I’d be hosting their infomercial and singing their praises. If you think crop tops are just for the club, well, THINK AGAIN! CROP TOPS ARE FOR LIFE. I basically live in crop tops, and I have never even been to a club, because sensually lit rooms of trendy people intimidate me! (See? I am like the rainbow sponge lady of crop tops).

I truly think crop tops look great on body types of all sorts, not just on people with “toned” stomachs. There is no special body type required to let the strip of skin between your shirt and pelvis breathe free. My hips are pretty wide in proportion to my waist, which I first became insecure about while taking a ballet class as a kid. One day, I looked around and noticed my stomach and hips were sticking out a lot more noticeably from my leotard than the other girls’. It wasn’t until recently that I realized, Oh, my figure is dope and I can dress to play it up! This is where the other product I’d be shilling if I really were an infomercial extraordinaire comes in: high waisted bottoms. Crop top + high-waisted bottom = a match made in heaven. Plus, crop tops save you the hassle of having to tuck in your shirt: LESS BULK, MORE CUTE.

I, too, feel weird about showing off my stomach unless I’m, like, explicitly at the beach (and even in that case, I wear high-waisted bikini bottoms!), so I like crop tops that stop right at the top of my bottoms, or just slightly above them. If I’m wearing a loose-fitting one, I try to stick with a fitted bottom for balance. This is an easy look to try:

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Next, this cropped sweater I got on sale at Topshop last season paired with mom jeans or a high-waisted skirt has been my uniform this winter. Crop tops can easily be worn in the winter time as long as they’re made of a sturdy enough fabric. My mom always nags me like, “DON’T YOU GET COLD???” But, honestly, once I’ve got my coat on, I really don’t feel a difference between wearing a cropped sweater and a normal one, because my bottoms reach high enough:

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Coordinated sets make dressing in crop tops especially easy! I got this one from Missguided, where they sell a bunch of these in winter-weight fabrics:

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Finally, this cropped turtleneck/midi skirt combo as worn by Gabi is literally the polaroid of winter crop top perfection:

Photo of Gabi via Photobucket.

Photo of Gabi via Photobucket.

Now, you’re only your way to becoming the CREAM OF THE CROP TOP! (Man, who do I talk to about breaking into the infomercial biz?) —Gabby ♦

WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO COVER YOUR BOD WITH, AND HOW DO YOU MAKE IT LOOK GOOD? For answers, write Marie and her squad an email and send it here. Make sure to include your NAME/NICKNAME/INITIALS, AGE, and CITY, please!