As a stylist, you’d think I have a huge closet filled with a ton of clothes. Sadly, I don’t. The truth is that I have a small closet and have to be extremely organized and conscious of what I buy and keep. I’m usually pretty good, but every so often things get out of control and I find myself unable to take even the tiniest step in to retrieve my clothes. Which is exactly how it was a few days ago, when I finally decided that enough was enough and it was time to give my closet a good ol’ fashion cleaning. And the result? A fabulous closet that I love walking into.
Here are the steps I took to achieve it. Give them a try and you too can end up with a super organized, easy to navigate, clutter-free closet that will make getting dressed a breeze.
(Note: Before you clean out your closet, take a look at how it’s set up. Is there any way you could rearrange it to maximize the space or make it more user friendly? Could you add some rods or shelves for more storage space? Could you add bins, baskets or hooks for smaller items or accessories? If there are ways to better utilize your closet, purchase the required items before you clean out your closet so that they’re on hand when you do.)
Step 1: Empty out your closet.
That’s right. Take it all out – the clothes (on hangers), the shoes, handbags, accessories – everything that’s in there. This might seem counterproductive and slightly insane, but you’re starting fresh and it’ll be much easier if you have a blank canvas.
(Keep in mind you’ll need space to make 4 piles: Keep, Maintain, Donate and Discard.)
Step 2: Go through every single item (all your clothes, shoes, handbags, etc.) and answer the following questions:
(i) Have you worn it in the last year?
If you’ve worn it in the last year and it’s in good condition (colours haven’t faded, no tears, stains, pilling), put it in the Keep pile. If it’s not in good condition, is it repairable? If so, put in the Maintain pile to take to the tailor, cleaner, etc. If it’s not repairable, put it in the Discard pile. If you discard it and it’s an integral part of your wardrobe, take note of it and start a list of items you need to purchase.
If you haven’t worn it in the last year, do you see yourself wearing it in the near future? If it’s an event-specific piece and you haven’t been to that type of event in the last year, cut yourself some slack. Otherwise, be ruthless. Chances are, if you haven’t worn it in the last year, you probably won’t and it’s taking up valuable space in your closet. Do yourself a favour and put it in the Donate pile.
If you haven’t worn it because it’s too small and you’re hanging onto it because you plan to lose weight, donate it. When you do lose finally lose the weight, celebrate by buying yourself something new. If it’s too big, either put it in the Maintain pile to get altered or donate it. Unless, of course, you plan to grow.
If you haven’t worn it because you have nothing to go with it, keep it but write down the item(s) you need to purchase to create an outfit.
(ii) Do you love it or is it functional?
Every piece in your closet should have a purpose. You need to either love it, love the way it looks on you or it needs to serve some sort of function – be a layering piece, hold up your pants, etc. If you don’t love it, it doesn’t flatter you or it has no purpose, get rid of it. Stick it in the Donate pile. The goal here is to have a fabulous closet – not a mediocre one.
(iii) Is it you?
Is the item a reflection of the person you are now or want to be or is it a reflection of the person you used to be (and no longer are)? If it’s not reflective of the present or future you, donate it. No point in hanging onto the past.
Step 3: Put your closet back together.
Now that you’ve sorted all the items, it’s time put the Keep pile back into your closet. Before you do, if there are any changes that need to be made to your closet system (as noted above), now’s the time to do it. Add the extra shelves, rods, hooks, etc. or bring out the baskets or bins to have on hand.
If you have a specific work wardrobe, organize your closet first by work wear and weekend wear. Then separate it into tops, bottoms, dresses and jackets. In the tops sections, organize by sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve and sweaters. In the bottoms sections organize by skirts, shorts and long pants. These bottoms can be further divided into denim, casual and dressy. Dresses can be sorted by length, season or event (depending on what you own). Once that’s all sorted, group similar colours in each section together.
Organize shoes by heel height and purpose – flats, wedges, day heels, evening heels, booties and boots – and then by colour. Bags can be sorted into purpose and colour as well – work, day use, evening, beach, etc., and accessories should be grouped by function and colour.
Once everything is put away in its new spot, take your piles to their respective destinations and you’re all done. Now you can sit back, take in your fabulous new closet and enjoy planning your next step – filling it up again.