It’s that time of year when it’s out with the old in with the new. So why not set up some time for a closet overhaul? If you find yourself claiming “you’ve nothing to wear” an unorganized overflowing closet just might be the culprit. Or if you’re like me it’s time for a closet refresh. This is when I ruthlessly go through my closet item-by-item and purge. Whichever scenario you find yourself in I have a tried-and-true method for a closet edit. Are you ready?
First step, you ask, for a clean sweep? Dedicate an afternoon to your busy schedule to assess your closet and go through every item in your wardrobe. I know, I know, there are a million other priorities competing for space on your ever-expanding to-do list rather than sorting through pencil skirts, cardigans, and that swoon-worthy dress found on the final sale rack. But, I promise, devoting an afternoon to properly sort through your clothes is time well spent. If you are like me, you’ll discover that fashion mistakes have been made over the course of a season, weight gained, (even better, lost – let’s face it ladies weight fluctuates, it’s a fact of life) 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 still loath 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. Which is why, through the years, I have devised a tried-and-true method to purge my burgeoning closet and in the process make room for that drool-worthy new puffer vest.
Since I am a bit of an organization addict (I’m a Virgo by birth and have a strong penchant towards planning and systematizing) I wanted to share my method for a wardrobe detox. First off, when sorting through my clothes I put on a great playlist – still loving the seventies, nothing sounds better to me than the Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan – then 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 a 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 promise of losing five pounds. Sigh. But take heart, these clothing items have the potential of making you a profit with little effort thanks to an emerging online marketplace for buying and selling clothes. There are several to choose from which have a streamlined experience that makes it possible to list my items, ship them out, and earn money or credit toward on-site purchases, all while sipping my coffee in my pin-striped pajamas. As a matter-of-fact, I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my house. How’s that for convenience? Check out thredUP.
If by chance some of your unwanted items are still in good condition, please consider donating them to a good cause. Of course, Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army are always good choices for your orphaned clothes and are reputable if that is one of your concerns. 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 consider local homeless shelters or even better ones that specifically cater to battered women. In recent months, blogger The Midlife Fashionista opened a non-profit in the greater Boston area, Uncommon Threads, with a mission to empower women. Trust me on this; somehow 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 worn on countless occasions, 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.
It’s time for a tour of my closet/office. Yes, this is where you will find me on any given day editing my daily post or planning my next outfit. Notice how the shelves don’t have doors. This one feature lets me utilize every square inch of space. Nothing hides from me behind closed doors. There’s never a time when I have to squeeze in and fish something out from a dark corner. A nice design trick would be to install curtains in front of the shelves. But for now, I’m happy with an exposed workspace. The shelving unit is ALGOT from IKEA that we’ve had since our Shanghai, China days.
When we moved to Georgia last year, I knew the first re-do in our home would be my closet. Here’s what happened after we finally found a contractor. Which took several months… They kept disappearing on us. Who can relate? Originally, this room opened to the adjoining bedroom. The first step to enclose the room was drywall. Then a few coats of paint in Dove Gray by Benjamin Moore. For many years, I’ve been a big fan of neutrals in bedrooms – they’re sooooo soothing. But gray paint is currently on-trend in home decorating so it’s safe to say this room is ‘in.’
A Possini Flower Chandelier replaced the original light fixture to give the room a modern look. After it arrived, Mr. Style thought it might be too big. But once it was installed he changed his mind. What do you think?
In keeping with a light and airy space, I chose a contemporary glass desk from World Market that sits on a chrome sawhorse base. But when we created our YouTube room we exchanged the glass desk for a white desk. Anyone else moves furniture from room-to-room? The desk chair is chrome and white leather. It’s very simple and practical. Tucked underneath is a turtle stepstool that I rest my feet on when working. Sometimes, I pull it out if I need to reach something on the top shelf.
Last year I purchased an orange egg chair and glass table for my office/closet. But, again, those items were repurposed to the YouTube room. After our new kitten, Ollie arrived and decided to use the wool chair as her scratching post the egg chair found a new home in our guest room. The good thing is I’ve used a cohesive color scheme throughout the house which allows me flexibility. And that egg chair (which is a favorite of mine) has been repurposed several times over. Sheesh! Recently, I ordered a modern hot pink chair that will sit in front of the desk. At first, I thought I could get away without having an extra chair in the room but when my children visit they always drag a chair in from the other room then plop down so they can jabber away. Mr. Style does the same thing. Point taken! Directly across from the desk are three inexpensive white bookcases that house my shoe collection.
How about some closet organization tips? Here we go.
Organize by category.
Organize clothes by category – skirts, pants, sweaters, blouses, jeans – 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 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 are folded lengthwise and layered one on top of the other. 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, Joy Mangano huggable 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 shoeboxes 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 dustbags 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! Happy cleaning.
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.
My closet policy is one in one out. It makes you really think before you buy. I don’t always throw out the same sort of item I buy but something has to go.
it’s always good to stop and think about what we’re purchasing. closets have to have a rhyme and reason. good tip!
Thanks for the link to those wooden hangers–that seems like a great price to me!
Great tips Beth! My closet is my happy place. I love organizing to make dressing more efficient and less stressful. I group my clothes by item and then color, Shirts and dresses are organized by color and then sleeve length. I recently did a huge purge of my purses ( a weakness) and now feel my closet has more breathing room allowing for clarity.
it sounds as if you have a wonderful system in place, susan! isn’t it great to walk into an organized space and breath. there’s nothing worse than rooting through piles of clothes and still not finding what you want. a place for everything and everything in its place.
This year I moved to a new house and I gave to myself an entire room for my closet. Having an open closet is really really helpful. I can see what I have and it’s easier to mix and match clothes! xx
it sounds as if you have everything under control in your new space! it’s fun to mix and match when you’ve created the right environment.
Thanks for the great tips!
i always fold knitwear. they’ll stretch out over time if hung on hangers. so everything from tee’s to tunics are folded then stacked in a drawer or on a shelf.
Thanks, Beth! I’ll fold them then :-).
Great tips, Beth … thank you! I agree about consignment stores, we have a good one near us and I definitely take advantage with every closet clean out! I hang items by type but not color, definitely going to incorporate that too. I’m a scarf hoarder… seriously … is it ok to hang the lighter weight, summer scarves and then fold the heavier, winter scarves? I need to fold jeans and sweaters and then may have more room for a shelving unit in my closet. Also need to reorganize lingerie … wow, I have a lot of work to do! 😉
Before learning how to put together outfits, it’s essential to go review your wardrobe so that you’ll have an overview of what you have, what pieces are missing and what you need more of. I guess I really need a “Closet Refresh” and I should follow these tips! Thanks for sharing. And I couldn’t agree more on these lines which are my favorite – “Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. It must be thrown away.
Securing all of the ingredients you need to make your outfits, Outfit planning is important to mix and match (like kitchen essentials – salt, pepper and sugar) All pieces must be readily available to you. Like this over the door hanger I just recently bought from Tomorrow’s Oufit. So space-saving, so durable and strong, and the design is very fashionable. (: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a432f89c0cc33eb265fd9bab3facf3047e3204484d69cf206ab3982e6e9a4a04.jpg
make a comment