Clean out that Closet!

I’m not sure how it happened. I’m just one girl, but somehow I ended up with 3 closets of clothes in my one bedroom apartment. One is technically a coat closet, and another holds mostly out of season (summer) dresses, but it still feels like things have gotten out of control. Getting dressed every morning shouldn’t be a trial, and it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is a little spring cleaning of your wardrobe and turn a critical, editorial eye to all those garments you’ve acquired. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing it with you. We may just rediscover some hidden gems along the way. Writing this article is my motivation to finally tackle this project and stop procrastinating! I’m a firm believer in paring things down to only the essentials, but you’d never know that by glancing at my closet. Nothing is organized in any kind of logical way. It’s time to do something about it.

Keep what you Love

First, I’m going to remove all the clothes I absolutely love and wear all the time, the ones that make me look and feel fabulous!  That’s the easy part. Now, what’s left in the closet is the stuff that hardly ever gets worn. And if it’s just sitting there being tolerated while it’s ill-fitting, out of style, worn out, stretched out, pilling, or just plain ugly, then it’s time for it to go. I found an old, long purple tunic, a yellow cardigan that’s too small, and a long-sleeved red shirt that’s never been flattering. What did you find?

Be Ruthless!

I know it’s difficult, but be ruthless! If it needs to be cleaned, put it in the laundry immediately or put it in a bag to be dropped off at the dry cleaner the next time you are out. These clothes are blocking your view from the great pieces that are already in your wardrobe. You need to clear the space to see the potential in the things that you have to work with right now.

Try on everything that you are unsure about and not ready to let go of yet. If there’s anything you don’t like about the item or how you look and feel in it, let it go. No girl should own anything that’s itchy, faded, or needs constant re-adjustment. These are the clothes you avoid that get in the way of having a wardrobe you truly love and enjoy. Get rid of them! And then think about new ways to wear some of the old favorites you probably forgot about. Why not experiment with layering? Or repurpose that party dress to wear to the office, dressed down by a blazer or cardigan and some boots? Don’t be afraid to play with a new look and try out new combinations. Here, I also repurposed a scarf as a belt.

Separate all of your accessories.

I’m not big on belts, I’m more of a handbag girl. Neither of those accessories are  easy to store. The best way to hold these is probably by using a clear plastic bin that you can find at places like the container store.  These bins can slip easily onto your closet shelves and hold everything from handbags, belts, scarves, heavy clothes, and shoes. I currently have one holding all my big sweaters and turtlenecks, so they don’t come tumbling down on my head or get stretched out and wrinkled on hangers.

I really love scarves, but have noticed that they’ve been scattering all over my closet lately on top of several different tops. They all need to be contained in one place, so I can remember exactly what I have and wear them! Adding a scarf can change your entire look, and elevate it to something more special and sophisticated.

After you have tried on all that remained, put back only those clothes that you truly love and make you look and feel beautiful, or those that you have found a new way to wear. It will feel so much better to know that all the clothes you have to choose from are right for you and your body now. It’s ok to keep some sentimental favorites. I can’t seem to let go of a certain pair of black skinny jeans and a beautiful (but old) yellow summer dress. But I don’t completely rule out wearing them again someday. You need to watch out for those nostalgia items and keep them under control. It’s a good idea to put these in a box and store them someplace out of the way of your everyday clothing. I have a problem hoarding miniskirts, but they are on a high shelf in my closet and therefore out of the way.

A couple of afterthoughts:

Some people color code their closets, but if you’re like me and not that disciplined, you can simply put like things together- skirts with skirts, tops with tops, separate work from party clothes, etc. This way you can easily see what you have and what you need to shop for.

I never seem to return clothes I order from catalogues that don’t fit me well. There are two solutions to that problem. One: avoid catalogue shopping or any shopping where no fitting rooms are available (hate those stores!). You may need to cool your impulse buying and online shopping habits. Two: donate the item to a thrift store, hand it down to a younger relative or give it away to a friend. They’ll be grateful for the gift and the item will stop taking up space in your closet. You’ll also release the guilt of having spent money on something that you couldn’t use. No reason to keep that item and feel bad every time you see it.

Keep the order in your wardrobe by using these basic rules:

  • Buy something new recently? Get rid of an old equivalent. Get rid of an old t-shirt if you just bought one, or toss out old shoes if just got a pair of new ones, etc.
  • Take a look at how many wear-at-home clothes you have. I realized that I had way too many sets of clothes or pajamas to wear at home and got rid of at least half easily, that frees up the dresser drawers and give your socks and undergarments space as well.
  • Look for opportunities to donate your clothing and update your wardrobe. I recently reduced the clutter in my coat closet by donating a raincoat to Haiti, along with some other household things. Keep an eye out for donation bins in your area as well.  You don’t want your cast-offs hanging around in your home and tempting you to put them back.
  • When you’re deciding whether or not to keep something, ask yourself if you would buy it if you saw it in the store today. The answer should come to you immediately.

Now, instead of gasping when you open your closets, you can breathe a sigh of relief. I hope you have learned some valuable tips when it comes to spring cleaning your wardrobe. I know I had fun, and am looking forward to creating a wardrobe full of clothes I really love!

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November 13, 2012. Tags: , . fashion.

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