Category Archives: style

the closet cleanse

I love clothes and all the accessories that go with, but I have a small closet (think coat closet here).  Its a problem.  When I first tried to fit all my stuff in my current closet, I would catch myself daydreaming of the walk-in I had in my Chicago studio apartment (it was almost the biggest room!)  Back in reality, I scored one of the hall closets all to myself and use it for my dresses, skirts, sweaters and heels, which helps a lot.  I employed perfect sized drawers, crates and baskets to help me fit everything else in the closet in my room, but over time I noticed only about half my clothes were in the closet at any given time.  I had clothes in the bedroom closet, in the hall closet, all over my floor, in bins and baskets, in the laundry and in the garage.  Finally, one day, while trying not to drown in a sea of scarves, I threw out a lifeline to myself…”I have too many clothes!  Time to take control.

And so I began the process of really owning what I own.  I feel that being in the right frame of mind to do this is really important.  I was ready to simplify my wardrobe.  A few months before, I may not have been able to part with things or organize as well.


1. SORT
I started by making three different bins, one for stuff I wanted to keep for sure, one for things I could give up and the very important third bin that I could figure out later.  I made myself get rid of at least one of everything…one coat, one sweater, one dress, one t-shirt, etc. ,etc.  After going through everything, I bagged up the ‘give’ clothes right away.   Then, I focused on the ‘not sure’ collection.  I laid everything out and picked out one favorite to go back into ‘keep’.  Feeling good.  Next, I looked through the pile for things that I would wear if it was ‘improved’.  For example, there was a pair of jeans I love but never wear because of a missing button and a light blue puffy vest that I want to wear, but don’t because of the color.  A new button and some dye will hopefully fix those problems, so they get set aside in a new pile.   From there, I picked my least favorite thing and throw it in the ‘give’ bag.  The rest goes through individual decisions and quite a bit goes back to ‘keep’ so that I don’t stress myself out.    Then I repeat the process with all my accessories (hats, tights, shoes, scarves, etc…).

2. ORGANIZE
As I looked at the size of the bag of stuff that I would no longer have to fit in my closet, I felt energized and relieved and rode that clothing cleanse high straight into organization.
I put everything from the ‘keep’ bin in piles…shirts, pants, socks, bags, workout clothing, etc.  Then I pulled out all my baskets, crates, hangers and bins and got to work.  I love using baskets and small fabric bins for hats, socks and tights and purses.  For scarves and belts, I love a multitude of hooks that hang over doors and stay out of the way of everything else.  My favorite thing is a fabric bin with a lid, which I store things in, but also use as a chair, a computer stand or to reach the baskets up top in the closet.  I was so excited when everything I had kept fit in my closet(s) with a tiny bit of room to breathe.  Sigh of relief.

3. DEAL WITH THE FIXERS
Once all my keepers were happily put away, I still had a ‘give’ bag and a ‘fix’ pile to deal with.  I looked through the fixers and made a list of things I might need to fix them.  I actually got rid of one more thing in doing this.  Then I put them all in a box and made a deadline.  If I don’t deal with these by the end of the year, I never will and we will then say our goodbyes.

4. GIVE, SELL AND DONATE
One of the best parts of this whole process was finally giving the clothes away.  If something I dont need anymore will make somebody else happy, I’m happy.  The first thing I did was let some friends go through my pile of stuff.  Then I looked through one more time to see if there was anything I might be able to sell and actually picked out a few things.  There are lots of ways to sell, such as garage sales or ebay and for me this time around it was a consignment store.  I took in seven items, they took four and gave me $19.  Deal.  That money went to a savings for something special.  Finally, I took what was left and donated it.  There are lots of options here as well and I like doing a little research because I like to give to a womens shelter or local project if possible.  This time around, I was able to donate to a rummage sale to benefit a local outdoor school that one of the kids I watch attends.

5. A FEW EXTRA IDEAS
Don’t forget to do the laundry! 
This process will be easiest if everything is clean and available to sort.

Do some detailed sorting.  I found that I had more trouble getting rid of any skirts and dresses, so I went a little more intense in the sorting.  I laid everything out and arranged by color and/or category.  There was a gray skirt I had been contemplating that was then easier to get rid of because I saw that I had two other gray skirts.  It also became more easy to see that I didn’t need five floral spaghetti strap summer dresses!

Prepare for the next round.  I had seen a great idea on pinterest for hanging clothes and decided to use it.  Basically, you hang up all your hangers backwards and then after something is worn, they get turned around.  After a year or so, you can see easily if anything wasn’t used.  And if you dont wear something over the course of a year, do you really need it!?

Try stuff on.  For me, trying things on helped to make the keep or give decision.  If something was far too tight, it went away.  On the other hand, I found some things that were far cuter than I remembered and made sure they were easy for me to find in the future.  Also, I know it is easy to think that something will fit once you lose those 10 pounds, but be careful about hanging on to things that aren’t being used.  I kept a few of my favorite ‘tight’ things as a fun reward, but tossed the rest.  If you lose enough weight to fit into things you can’t come close to fitting now, I say you deserve a shopping trip for new stuff! 🙂

Make a shopping list.  Once I had a fuller grasp of what was in my closet, I made a list of a few things that might help my wardrobe out.  For me, this included a colorful cardigan, a versatile black skirt and a neutral lacy top among a couple other things.  That way, when I’m shopping I can buy what I need and can build more outfits with instead of dropping money on something I already have!

It took time and made a mess for a little while, but it was worth the clean closet (and mind) in the end and I wish you the happiest of sorting, organizing and giving!

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