january is the time of year to renew, reset, and refresh. and that means home organization as well as working on a healthy mind and body. on any given day, my closet is where you will find me planning my next outfit for my next blog post. in the spirit of the new year, i’m going to walk you through how to organize your closet in three steps. i hope today’s post inspires you to start the year off right by going through your own closet and reorganizing and retooling it.
many times you might find yourself muttering, “i’ve nothing to wear.” an unorganized overflowing closet just might be the culprit. if you have never tackled a closet purge i highly recommend that you do. this one task helps my wardrobe stay in tip-top condition for the upcoming season. many of you have seen shots and glimpses of my closet over the years, so i’m sharing a few photos of what it looks like today.
i chose a Possini Flower Chandelier to replace the original light fixture. it gives the room a modern look.
customized cabinetry from Inspired Closets Athens.
dedicate an afternoon to your busy schedule to assess your closet and go through every item in your wardrobe. i know, i know: a million other priorities compete for space on your ever-expanding to-do list. no one wants to sort through pencil skirts, cardigans, and that swoon-worthy dress found on the final sale rack. but i promise, devoting an afternoon to sort through your clothes is time well spent. which is why i’m sharing how to organize your closet in three steps.
if you are like me, you’ll uncover old fashion mistakes made throughout the season, weight lost or gained (let’s face it, ladies, weight fluctuates), or maybe, just maybe, it’s finally time to retire that beloved go-to blazer. (you know the one, it has a shiny sheen on the elbows due to years of love, but you’re reluctant to part ways.)
it isn’t easy to rid your closet of items that no longer fit or have sentimental value, especially when you’ve shelled out major cashola for the purchase in the first place. but keep calm and carry on.
since I am a bit of an organization addict—i’m a Virgo by birth and have a strong penchant for planning and systematizing—i wanted to share my method for a wardrobe detox. whenever i sort through my closet i put on a great playlist— still loving the Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan—then i pour a glass of wine and ask these three questions:
1. does this fit?
2. have i followed the ‘one year rule’? if i haven’t worn it in the past year, it’s time to let it go. (ruthless, i know.)
3. is this item damaged, e.g., moth holes, broken zippers, pilling, or missing buttons? or can it be repaired? having a great seamstress and shoe cobbler is a must.
if the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above questions, then it’s time to part ways. divide your clothes into three piles. sell, donate, and trash.
the items that make it to your sell pile are the ones that are either currently in style or gently used. it could even be a pair of brand new to-die-for jeans that were bought with the goal of losing five pounds. sigh. but take heart. these clothing items have the potential to make you a profit with little effort thanks to an emerging online marketplace for buying and selling clothes.
there are several marketplaces to choose from, all of which have a streamlined experience that makes it possible to list items, ship them out, and earn money or credit toward on-site purchases while sipping in your pajamas. how’s that for convenience? check out thredUP.
if by chance some of your unwanted items are still in good condition, consider donating them to a good cause. of course, Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army are always good reputable choices for your orphaned clothes. but there are other organizations that deserve and appreciate your contributions as well. personally, i love and support Dress for Success—a non-profit organization that addresses and fulfills the needs of low-income women who have left welfare and are interfacing with the challenges of the workforce.
but also consider local homeless shelters, specifically ones that cater to battered women. blogger The Midlife Fashionista opened a non-profit in the greater Boston area called Uncommon Threads. it’s mission is to empower women. trust me on this: it’s easier to let go of clothing when you know it is going to someone in need.
now onto the hard part. those items that can’t be repaired or have significant wear-and-tear must be tossed into the rubbish bin. i know it’s hard to say goodbye to your beloved LBD or your favorite graphic tee, but don’t let your emotions get the better of you. it must be thrown away. i repeat, the item must be thrown away.
it might take more than one try to get into the swing of downsizing your wardrobe, but the reward is a streamlined closet that makes getting dressed in the morning just that much easier, and maybe even fun. but you have to know what you own is working for you. after the closet purge is completed, it’s time to organize what’s left.
once you’ve purged your closet, it’s time to organize the remainder.
organize clothes by category—skirts, pants, sweaters, blouses, jeans—and arrange pieces by item and color so you can see exactly what you own. the same holds true for shoes. hang sleeveless dresses or shirts first, short sleeves second, and then long sleeves.
jeans, sweaters, scarves, lingerie are all items that I fold then stack on the shelf. arrange cedar strips or mothballs on your shelves to prevent moths from snacking on your cashmere or wool sweaters. jeans can be folded lengthwise and layered one on top of the other. same for chinos and leather leggings too.
lingerie is organized by color, size, and type. these are folded and tucked inside lingerie storage units. place a linen sachet inside for a special treat.
upgrade your hangers.
who else remembers the movie line, “no wire hangers!” well, we don’t have to be quite as obsessed as Joan Crawford, but i would advise upgrading your closet hangers. it’s a simple style trick that will extend the life of your clothes. and it gives uniformity. whether you prefer thin velvet hangers, or wood hangers, there is a hanger for you. don’t forget space-saving stackable skirt or pant hangers.
shoes, scarves, hats, and handbags.
store your shoes and handbags where you can see them. use clear shoe boxes or better yet store them on closet shelves or a bookcase. right toe out left toe-in is a space-saving technique. i like my handbags out of their dust bags and visible. “out of sight, out of mind happens” if i don’t! hatboxes are perfect for storing hats with the larger ones resting on top. scarves are color-coded, folded, and stacked.
all right, gang! it’s never the most exciting task to tackle your closet. but i hope how to organize your closet in three steps will spur you on. happy organizing! and here are four more posts to help organize your wardrobe:
this post has been update in 2021
is the Founder and CEO of Style at a Certain Age. She writes Sundays-Fridays on all topics ranging from fashion, health, wellness, home design and more.
She’s 63, 5’8, and size 8.
Love your closet, very well organize!!!.
Your closet is amazing! I cleaned out mine the other day. I had over 20 items that I consigned to the real real and Linda’s Stuff…$$$.
I have been a follower of your IG account for awhile. I turned 50 last year and went grey. There was no way I was going to sit through the color process in a mask! I was apprehensive at first but now I am so happy I made the decision. I have received tons of compliments. Strangers come up to me asking me who colors my hair. They are shocked when I tell them it’s my natural color.
You’re IG account helped me have the moxie to make this decision. Thank you
Great post as always. Just wish my closet was a bit bigger….between my fashionisto husband, and myself, it’s bursting!!! I so hate having to switch closets out every season! Maybe the next house….😉
A quick note about donations. The local charity I donate my gently used clothes to takes clothes they deem not salable and sells them for scrap or rags. Still makes money for the charity. So I bag up the stuff I’d throw away, label it, and include with my donation. Not sure if all charities do this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most do. Just a thought.
Happy New Year, Beth. Looking forward to your posts this year…maybe we can finally show off what we’ve learned from you to the outside world!
You have inspired me!!!!!
I love your style and your closet. P.S. I also love your pets.
Number 1, I love how your furry friends “help” you organize your closet. Clearly, they think you just need a little bit more fur tufts as an outfit accoutrement. HA!
Number 2, thanks for keeping it real and breaking this down. I have such an emotional attachment to clothes for some reason. But I am getting better! That fabulous dress I wore to one holiday ball and haven’t fit in since 2001? The super cute but super tight classic black skirt suit? GIVEN TO A NEW GOOD HOME. Those Stuart Weitzman’s with a broken strap because I got the heel stuck in the grass? FIXED! My ratty yet comfy-cute pjs? GONE!
Your post was so timely. The long clothes pole\shelf in my new(2yearsago) 8 by 8 closet fell down. I guess one can have too many clothes! Now I am forced to purge. Because of surgeries and covid I haven’t worn most of my clothes in the past 18 months so the one year rule doesn’t apply at this time. I’ll go with “would Beth wear this?” And does it make me look good? Thank you for your inspiration!
Thank you for reminder and inspiration. My closet is still overflowing with classic clothes. So my question is how long can we keep our classics without looking like an old classic? I’m kinda stuck. Especially with COVID and not going anywhere, I’m not getting good use out of them. Thank you for all the time and work you put in.
I luuuuuv your closet! All your advice is good too. Thanks for the inspiration. Maureen
I agree with Cheryl. I was told to donate everything. They will sort saleable vs. scrap and still make something from the scrap items.
Also, love your closet and your helpers!!
You just got me thinking – I thought I had my closet all organized and I just remembered our guest room closet where I have several garment bags full of cocktail dresses that I haven’t worn in probably 5-10 years! They are all beautiful dresses – black velvet, lace, etc., but my lifestyle is completely changed since retirement. Maybe someone else will enjoy them. That’s a activity for tomorrow!
I bet the world, right now has the cleanest, well organized closets 😉
I am a real minimalist, so it doesn’t take me long, but I love refining processes and yours always make life easier.
Humane societies will also take certain items for stuffing in animal beds. Anything beats the landfill.
Thanks again for the inspiration. Excellent timing right now as spring is around the corner – well, close enough for me.
Oh Beth, at a time when I am feeling particularly disappointed with myself and seem to have lost my way with my style, it’s good to know I’m getting something right! I’ve been organising my wardrobe like this for years (my mother taught me well). In Spring I pack away my winter wardrobe and revitalise my summer one, but before I do, I chuck out anything I haven’t worn or can’t decently get into. It saves space and as you rightly say, time when deciding what to wear next. Great article.
Happy New Year, Beth! Timing couldn’t be better for me.. I’ve let me shiny silvers/white grow out, have lost 23 lbs. so nothing fits (thankful for belts/loops). At a loss as to start building a small, well curated, seasonless wardrobe. I used to rock warm autumn tones…now, I don’t know which neutrals to start with, living at the beach in Southern California, casual retired lifestyle. Any thoughts, suggestions would by appreciated, I love how your creative style.
Thanks, a fan,
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