I already know your closet is a disaster because mine was until this last weekend. A completely disordered, dusty warehouse mostly filled with outdated, ill-fitting, exhausted clothing that should have been donated years ago. And don’t even get me started on my bags, scarves and shoes.
Luckily for me, I have a masochistic friend who loves to organize more than anything. Her name is Julie, and she lives to perform the meticulous, mind-numbing chore of examining every item in her friends’ closets and offering her honest and often brutal judgment as to whether it should stay or go. I will never understand why she enjoys this. I personally hate organizing my closet, but as it has been a decade since I did anything more than put a few items away to donate or sell after I moved seasonal stuff out of storage so with Julie’s urging I bit the bullet and dove in. Julie taught me a lot this weekend, so I thought I would share with you some of what I learned from the trauma.
Step one: If you are lucky enough like me to have a friend who wants to tackle your closet with you, the environment must be right. Make sure there is music, a big bed to lay everything out on for evaluation, and wine, lots and lots of wine. Maybe you two make a deal: in exchange for her helping you, you do the same for her the next weekend. It is a lot easier and more effective to have the input of a friend who can be brutally honest about whether a piece is aging you, making you look heavier than you really are or just completely out-of-date. No, you cannot be an impartial observer to your own wardrobe; you are too sentimental about things that long ago should have exited your life.
Step two: Tackle one rack at a time. Just pull it all out and stack it on your bed. Then evaluate each piece separately, examine it Marie Kondo-style, “Does this stupid belt I bought on a whim three years ago bring me joy? Have I worn it in the last 12 months? Am I waiting for the perfect outfit to wear it?” Julie says if you haven’t worn a piece in your closet for 12 months and can’t bear to part with it for sentimental reasons or financial (you paid too much, dummy) pack it up in a suitcase you rarely use, put it in the top shelf of your closet and wait 6 months. If you haven’t brought it down and worn it, chuck it.
Step three: When returning a piece to your rack that passes muster, hang it on a GOOD wood hanger. Ditch all those ugly plastic ones that don’t match. Also, continuity is key in closet organizing, if your hangers don’t match you will notice that before seeing the clothes. I’m not even going to bother telling you to get rid of the wire hangers – you don’t have any of those holding clothes do you? Dear Lord no! And, we learned this from our blog post about Cheeky Vintage couture, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, store your clothes in plastic laundry bags. The bags will ruin your clothes.
Step four: Hang like items together: jeans, casual shirts, nicer shirts, dresses, etc. Some people hang by color and that’s great; but I am not that meticulous. Leave spaces between hangers, it makes it easier to see what you have. If your closet is so crammed your clothes are touching each other, you have kept too much.
Step five: Put away non-seasonal clothing in plastic bins and wardrobe covers away from your active seasonal clothing. Again, this is all for the ease of access so you can actually see what you have. Put aside clothing that must be repaired, altered or cleaned and set a deadline for actually getting it done. You will be so happy you did this – you will feel like you have gone shopping just because you will actually get to wear all your clothes again!
Step six: Tackle, really tackle your scarves, bags, belts and shoes. If you are a lazy weirdo like me and don’t regularly clean out your purses after you use them, prepare for a windfall of loose change, tampons, lipsticks, pens and receipts when you do. Next, ask yourself if you are really using those bags you paid too much for and are carefully saving in cloth bag covers. If you aren’t using them, why store them? Sell those bags on ebay, give them to a charity to sell in their thrift store (designer bags sell like hotcakes), or donate them. The point here is unless you have a Hermes Birkin bag that is appreciating faster than the gold market, why are you storing it?
Step seven: Bag up what you are giving away, selling or giving to friends and hide them from view until you actually load them in your car to get rid of them. I load mine in my backseat so they can silently judge me as I do errands and put off delivering them. It gets so annoying I ditch them as soon as I can and feel so much better. We gave the majority of this closet cleanup to Austin Pets Alive thrift store in Austin. They will take anything and enjoy a high turnover of shoppers so your rejects can enjoy a happy new life with someone else while helping shelter pets!
When you are finally finished you will be exhausted but so completely happy it is done. No, this is not a yearly task. A major closet shakeup like this should last for five years, unless you shop like a Kardashian. Now get out there and show off your new and improved closet!