Thursday, June 17, 2010

Clean Your Closet, Reclaim Your Sanity

There are a few things I can already tell you about the next house I move to (someday in the who knows how distant future).  It may not have huge rooms or a fancy kitchen…it probably won’t have exotic hardwood floors or four-headed showers… but by George, I can promise you it will have one heck of a closet.  The way I see it, your closet is one of the first places you go in the morning and thus has the opportunity to make or break your day before almost anything else does.  For example…before cleaning out my closet I typically spent the first 15 minutes of my morning fighting to part a red sea of outfits, dodging rouge hangers, deciding I didn’t own one wearable item and ultimately wishing I could break and/or punch something.  Not so fun.  Since I can’t make this particular closet any bigger, I’ve managed to limit it’s contents to just the essentials and find a new space (other furniture, storage, goodwill or the trash) for the other items.  If your closet is painfully small like mine, here are a few steps you can take to avoid the daily spike in blood pressure you may currently be experiencing.

Empty It

Take everything out of the closet….seriously, everything.  Go through it item by item and start dividing things up into five piles; keep, toss, store, donate and not sure.  Tackle your not sure pile first and determine why you’re tempted to hold on to the items there.  If you come across something you don’t wear that has sentimental value it doesn’t mean you should automatically add it to the donate pile, but by all means don’t put it back in your packed closet.  The smaller the closet, the more valuable the space and I’m afraid your homemade “Mrs. Michael Buble” shirt is occupying some real estate it can’t afford.  Put these items in the storage pile as a matter of urgency.  If you’re simply holding on to something because you feel it may come back in style, my inclination is to tell you to say your goodbyes.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but by the time the trend in question does come back around, you will more than likely be too old to wear it.  It’s tough love, but it’s the truth.  If you haven’t worn it in over a year, it gets the boot…same goes for items that don’t fit you.  Once you’re done with the sorting process take your worn, torn and tattered items to the dumpster, box up your “storage” pile for it’s new home under your bed, in the attic, garage or spare room, and gather your “donate” pile to take to a friend in need, The Salvation ArmyGoodwill, or a specialty clothing charity likeDress for Success (for professional attire), The Glass Slipper Project (for prom dresses) or Brides against Breast Cancer(for wedding gowns and accessories). 

Stock Up

If you have wire hangers, go ahead and add them to the toss pile before you throw it out.  Protect your clothes by using the right type of hangers- thick plastic ones will work just fine for most items in your closet and they’re only about $1 for every ten you buy.  For items that need extra structure, splurge on a few wooden hangers.  Make sure you have all the containers you need for socks, undergarments, shoes, or anything else you may be storing in the closet.  The easier the container is to access/open, the more likely you’ll be to upkeep your organizational system. 


By this point, you should have seriously decreased your closet’s load (if not, you need to start re-sorting and re-piling).  Take what’s left and determine how you want to organize it.  Despite your constant feeling that you have nothing to wear (and believe me, I sympathize), you do have clothes.  You just went shopping like…yesterday.  How can you lay them out in a way that maximizes your ability to put together great outfits with them?  The most popular options are by color, clothing type or both.  It’s really your call (though I must say my cousin Natalie converted me to “both” group many years ago and I’ll never go back) but if at all possible, try to put the items you wear most closest to front and center.  This may mean re-arranging your rainbow just a bit, but it’s sure to simplify the process of getting dressed.  


Take note of what is most bothersome about your closet so you have a shot at not getting stuck with the same types of issues next time around.  Sure, a great closet isn’t a reason to choose a house but a really awful one should at least warrant a spot on the “con” list.  I gathered a few pictures of the most beautiful closets I could find.  A girl can dream, can’t she?


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