Okay, okay, this is the last Marie Kondo-inspired post (maybe!); but recently my good friend, Tina, asked me to help with her closet and of course I jumped at the opportunity.
See, some people find pleasure in completing the daily crossword puzzle or deep cleaning the grout in their bathroom. My organizational therapy comes in the form of “closet clean-outs” or wardrobe makeovers. Few activities give me as much joy as seeing a closet go from messy and stuffed to neat and color-coordinated.
Not to toot my own horn, but I was reorganizing closets before Mrs. Kondo’s book was published. While we have very similar methods, I’m less into folding and more into arranging items in a way that makes sense and feels second nature. Unfortunately, I was so eager to begin with with Tina that I forgot to take a Before photo, but keep scrolling to get a glimpse of what we accomplished in a four-hour whirlwind!
Step 1: Remove Everything
Seriously, take everything out of your closet and put it on the bed (or clean floor). This step is crucial to gaining perspective of how much stuff you have versus how much you actually wear. Then go through piece by piece and determine what you want to keep. Since I work with Tina, I was able to recognize items that she wears regularly for quick approval.
Step 2: Keep or Release
Having trouble deciding what to keep? If I found an item I had never seen Tina wear I asked the well-known question, “does it bring you joy?” If she hesitated to answer I knew right away it didn’t belong in her closet. You either love an item or you don’t! It’s also important to try things on. Love an item but haven’t worn it in a while? Chances are it doesn’t fit (or fit properly). If something just needs tailoring, great, put it aside. Otherwise, get rid of it. This was true with a super cute pair of pink shorts Tina had bought but never worn. Being the gym enthusiast she is, they no longer fit in the bum. Other items we got rid of were just straight-up dated, like early 2000’s styles that didn’t make the cut into today’s “throwback” fashion trend.
With all the pieces that served you well (thank you, next) make piles based on condition: brand name clothing in good shape can be sold at your local consignment store ($$), where as older or more worn items are better taken to a donation center.
Step 3: Reorganize
Once approved, rehang garments to face the same direction, zip up zippers and button every other button (helps prevent wrinkles and isn’t as annoying as doing every single button), and return the item to your closet. But wait! Don’t just put it anywhere! Although you may end up shuffling things around as you go, try to keep like items grouped together. For Tina, I kept all of her work-appropriate shirts and blazers on the top rack (she’s taller, so it’s at eye-level) and her more casual/activewear tops on the bottom. Longer items will require more space; ideally, you would separate outerwear (jackets and cardigans) from dresses, but in Tina’s case we were working with a shared space. Still, by keeping categories separated, she has easy access to what she needs depending on the occasion. Organizing this way makes getting ready in the morning so breeze — you know exactly where to reach!
Now personally, I like to have all of my hangers match in material and color. This may be a slower transition for some, but at the very least get rid of wire hangers! They are tacky and I hate them.
If you have quite a collection of wire hangers, I suggest bringing them back to your trusted dry cleaners for reuse. We want to reorganize your closet, not create more waste.
Let’s talk about what’s on the higher shelves: things you don’t reach for often. In Tina’s case, if she’s not at work it’s likely she’s at the gym (or in athletic wear). We stacked her jeans (grouped by color) so they are visible, but not cluttering her go-to sections. What’s in the shoe boxes, you ask? Not shoes! In the past, Tina had kept almost all of her shoes in boxes, something I’m not a fan of. Not only does this habit take up more space, but you forget what you have when you can’t see it! More on that later. We reused boxes in good shape to store miscellaneous garments and accessories. One box contains sporty pants and shorts (neatly folded into thirds) while two others house her scarf collection (lightweight VS heavy). We made use of matching shoe boxes for His & Hers glove and hat storage in the main coat closet.
Over her dresses we displayed her fancier footwear. Makes sense, right? If she’s donning on a dress, she’s more likely to reach for one of these than a pair of flats. In the far corner, tucked away, are her situational shoes, i.e. cycling shoes and hiking boots. These are not regular activities, so the shoes don’t need to be easily accessible.
What about all those boxes I was talking about? Check out the Before & After of Tina’s every-day shoe collection! Sneakers are stashed at the bottom (same level as her casual clothes), while her most often worn are front and center.
Yes, we purged a lot of dated and worn shoes. Getting rid of the boxes also helped create space and a more visually appealing display. Shoes so often get tossed around and abused, but they are one of the most functional pieces of fashion. Give your shoes the respect they deserve and display them with pride!
Step 4: Replenish
While going through Tina’s expansive clothing collection, we came across several items that are wardrobe staples, but were too worn to keep. We began making a list of purged items that needed replacing. Some items she had multiples of, like white camisoles: I had her keep two that were her favorite and ditch the rest. Now, when she needs to get a new version, she knows exactly what brand and style she likes best.
Organizing by color also lets you better see your shopping trends. If you have way more black shirts than white it’ll become quite clear. Similarly, if you gravitate towards a certain color you’ll notice it more. In Tina’s case, she had two hot pink items that just didn’t seem to suit her (she’s more of an Autumn). I pointed out that literally nothing else in her closet was the same color and she agreed. Tina can now recognize her color palette and add to her wardrobe accordingly.
Since making over Tina’s wardrobe, she’s been keeping up with the practice and actually enjoys going into her closet! She has added a few pieces, but with intent and understanding of her personal style. She even talked her boyfriend into getting rid of superfluous denim and adopting the Thirds folding technique. Treating your closet like a boutique really does make getting dressed in the morning a pleasurable experience. Fashion should make you feel good and it all starts there!
Have questions about how to organize your own wardrobe?
Want to schedule a one-on-one consultation? Let me know!