If you find yourself muttering, “you’ve nothing to wear” an unorganized overflowing closet just might be the culprit. Or maybe you’re like me, and it’s time to get organized with a closet overhaul. Twice a year in January and July I ruthlessly go through my closet item-by-item and purge. This task helps my wardrobe stay in tip-top condition for the upcoming season. Whichever scenario you find yourself in I have a tried-and-true method for a closet edit. Are you ready?
The first step 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 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 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. 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. Whenever I sort through my closet I put on a great playlist – still loving the seventies (nothing sounds better to me than 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 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 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.
Are you ready for a tour of my closet/office? This is where you will find me on any given day editing my daily post or planning my next outfit. When we moved to Georgia two years ago, I knew the first re-do in our home would be my closet. Originally, this room opened to the adjoining bedroom. A contractor was hired to enclose the room with drywall. Then a few coats of Dove Gray paint by Benjamin Moore were slapped on. This shelving unit from Ikea has been with us since our Shanghai, China days it’s called ALGOT. Notice how we left the shelves exposed without any 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 open concept.
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? An orange egg chair and glass side table were my original office furniture choices. But those items were repurposed to our guestroom after our new kitten, Ollie arrived and decided to use the wool chair as her scratching post… The good thing is I’ve used a cohesive color scheme throughout the house which allows me flexibility. Recently, I ordered a modern hot pink chair that sits in front of the window. It’s one of my favorite spots to work! Directly across the room sit three inexpensive white bookcases that house my shoe collection and several handbags.
A full-length mirror is a must for any bedroom.
Originally the office housed a contemporary glass desk from World Market and a desk chair in chrome and white leather. It’s simple and practical. Tucked underneath the desk was a turtle stepstool that I rested my feet on when working. If I needed to reach something located on a high shelf this stool provided a practical solution.
After a few months went by I realized the desk took up valuable space. The more I thought about how I wanted the room to function I knew a work center in the middle of the room would better serve my purposes than a traditional desk. I wanted a workspace where I could fold my tees and sweaters and maybe squeeze in more shelf space. That’s when I decided a kitchen island would come to the rescue. This one-piece combines form and function. It’s a perfect and practical solution.
But I have to admit that this year I’ve toyed with retiring our Ikea shelving units. I love the idea of a customized closet that would utilize every square inch of this room. A place for everything and everything in its place. Stay tuned!
Are you ready for a few tried and true closet organization tips? Read on.
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 organizing.
Here are four more posts to help with organizing:
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.
Okay I am jealous! Love your “closet”! 😍 You’ve given great tips. I did this after the first of the year and I was shocked at the number of items I bought that still had tags on them because I bought on impulse or just because it’s on sale or someone else has it. All of it was donated which I felt good about but talk about eye-opening! Now I try to focus on buying only what looks good on me. 😊
it is eye opening when we rummage through our closet item-by-item. but it keeps us on track doesn’t it? sounds like you have a great system in place going forward. thanks for sharing!
What a fabulous closet – I could live there! I think that the new table makes so much sense and looks great. It is so nice of you to give Ollie his favorite chair!!
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