Forget about all those nifty organizing ideas until you get your closet under control with the right items that work for you. Forgive me for saying it, but it’s a waste of time to organize things when you really should just get rid of them.
These 5 tried and true professional clothing evaluation tips will help you decide which of your clothes you should keep and which things you really need to get rid of. Why? Let’s just face this fact of life.
You’ll just keep pushing it further and further back every time you go digging for something to wear. And there’s no crime in freeing up space for those things you do use regularly. That means all your best choices are front and center which lets you get on with your best life. We both know that it’s how we feel in our clothes that make or break us when it comes to self-confidence, self-assurance and feeling good about ourselves when we’re outside our comfort zones, at the workplace, or in social gatherings.
I remember one time as a child in a family conversation, my aunt quoted an Asian proverb that she had read somewhere which has always stuck with me to this very day.
I’ve since considered how much truth there is in that and find myself more and more obsessive about organization over the years. When your surroundings are disorganized, you lack focus and clarity of mind. And those are two things that are of utmost importance in anything you want to succeed in. When your desk is cleared and orderly, you can think with presence of mind. There are no distractions or nagging interruptions in your thought process, not to mention that you just have more room to work.
When things aren’t ordered well, it’s hard to dress efficiently and quickly when getting ready for work. It’s frustrating to put together that perfect outfit for a special event you’re getting ready for. And it’s annoying to have to rummage around looking for that one “thing” you need to pull it altogether. When you do, you discover that it’s not going to work after all because it just doesn’t fit right any more. Or the condition of it is now questionable. Your frustrated because you didn’t realize or remember that because you haven’t seen it in SO long.
So you inevitably end up with the same go-to outfits that you wear over and over because they’re quick, easy, and reduce all that time and stress day after day when it comes time to get dressed. What’s that doing to your confidence level?
Sure you have a certain amount of self-assurance because you’re comfortable in that same old thing day after day, week after week. I suspect if you gave yourself a good, long, hard look in the mirror, you’d see a dread and boredom written all over your face. That certainly isn’t giving you the full self-confidence you need to have your best day. Confidence in your clothing choices and confidence in your body will ultimately produce greater confidence in yourself. And that will lead to a great day – every day.
The benefits of a well organized and clutter-free closet will sustain you through both good times and more trying periods in your life. Once you have it it properly ordered and free of non-useful items, it’s just a matter of regular maintenance right along with your house cleaning to keep it that way. So plan a day, you can spend preparing it and just periodically expect quick touch-ups after that.
You’ll save time because you can find things easily and be able to dress quickly and efficiently
You’ll have more outfit options when you can see everything at once
You’re clothing will hold it’s shape better and last longer because it’s properly cared for
You’ll free yourself of negative buyer’s remorse by removing those things you regret after all
You’ll have personal satisfaction when dressing because a well organized closet makes it easy
Quick and easy dressing starts you off each day feeling better about yourself and your appearance which boosts your self-confidence
Here’s a few tips to ensure you have a successful closet cleaning:
Plan a block of time and be prepared to spend the whole day finishing the job.
You don’t want to leave things incomplete and never get back to it.
If there are any organizers you want to use like special hangers, drawers, or shelves, acquire them before you start.
You want to be completely prepared to finish the entire task.
Have a staging area, such as your bed and areas of the floor. You need room to organize items into groups and sub-groups.
This will also help you reduce any unnecessary volume by seeing how many things you’re trying to keep vs. how much you should be letting go.
If you have things you plan to keep but need repairs or attention, be sure to have a place to stack those items.
They are not going back into your closet until that work has been done.
Remove any distractions such as silencing your phone or sending children to the babysitter.
You don’t want anything pulling you away from the task at hand or sabotaging your focus. You want to complete the job within a reasonable time frame, whether that’s a few hours or the whole day.
The time it takes depends on the volume of items you’re sorting out.
Get objective. I mean Judge Judy Objectivity and completely honest about your choices.
If you haven’t worn or used something in your closet in more than a year, then ask yourself, “Why?”
Did you forget it because it was so deeply buried or something you would rarely wear like formal occasions. If so then maybe, just maybe, you might consider longer but only if it still fits all criteria.
Honestly, if you haven’t worn it in ages, then you probably never will again, especially if it no longer fits your lifestyle.
Only keep the items that mix with your ongoing lifestyle.
If you changed careers and haven’t worn those ten business suits in ten years, then only keeping one or two for dressy events makes sense. But only if you actually do wear them on dressy occasions.
When sorting piles, you’ll want boxes or plastic bags for things that are in poor condition. These should probably go to the garbage rather than donating.
You’ll also need boxes or bags for things you plan to donate or give away.
Don’t deviate from the five key questions that must all be answered YES!
Okay. You CAN have some leeway here. You’ll probably have some things you wear all the time repeated. These things serve you well, and, you clearly like them even if they don’t fit ALL the criteria completely.
I know. I can already hear you thinking it right now.
You can wear that when you loose a few pounds.
This piece is in such great condition, what if it comes back in style?
You don’t think you can give it up because it’s such a special piece but you never have an occasion for it.
What if you get a different job that you’ll need this type of outfit?
So you do have a few options. You’re asking yourself those questions and still ALSO answered yes to each criteria. You may have a good case in convincing Judge Judy to let you keep it.
A Friendly Note: If it stays in that storage space for several years, then the whole container gets repurposed to a good cause outside your own possession. In ten or twenty years, something in your life could change and you MIGHT have needed that sort of thing. Even if it might still fit, you’re going to want a new one anyway. I know from personal experience. At that point, space becomes more precious than the old clothes. And besides, who wants to be a hoarder? Especially if there’s no heirloom value attached.
For all those extra nice things you spent good money on and can’t bear to donate them, there is a healthy after-market for great used items in excellent condition. Explore garage sales, local re-sale and consignment shops, as well as online venues to turn those things into cash. Donate to locally sponsored charitable organizations such as the DAR, Junior League, Center for the Blind. These are better outlets and a rewarding way to ensure your items go to the most beneficial channels.
As you remove each item from your closet and evaluate it with the checklist, simply place it in the proper pile – keepers, donations, or trash.
After everything is out of your closet and sorted, now it’s time for a second review.
Any category that has an over-abundance of items will definitely need paring down. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, then you won’t need all twelve pairs of those dress slacks unless of course you have dressy social outings three to five days a week.
On the other hand, you may have a category that doesn’t have enough items to take you through your laundry cycle. That means you can add that to your shopping list. For example, your daily routine typically calls for jeans. But, you only have two pairs that really fit, are flattering, and that you actually like wearing because they’re comfortable. In this case, it might make more sense if you had a couple more pairs to better carry you through to laundry day.
The key to replacing what you’re tossing out:
Remember, you don’t want another item that didn’t seem to work out. So don’t buy in haste or desperation. Take your time to find just the right piece with just the right fit. Your closet will thank you and you’ll feel better about your purchase in the end.
I like to organize my closet by category because it makes it easier to get dressed or to put away laundry. I also like to group colors in each category so decisions can be made quickly and easily when coordinating pieces. You can also consider hanging them from most casual to escalating dressiness or formality.
So decide where you’d like to put each category in your closet and how you’d like to sort it. If it’s summer when you’re organizing, put seasonal items like sweaters in the back area. Then swap them out with warm weather garments in the autumn or vice versa. Work on one category at a time until everything is in it’s place.
Regarding those items in your “Needs Work” pile, take a long, hard look one more time. Is it going to sit in a pile indefinitely until the repairs or attention it needs gets done?
If you’re not going to handle it within the next week or two, then you’ll be doing yourself a favor by moving it to a pile of things you’re not keeping. There’s no need to keep beating yourself up for months every time you get a glimpse of it and it’s still not done.
For those items you’re keeping for “keepsake” because of some sentimental value, place them in your new storage container to put away with all your other keepsake items.
If it’s a very special piece, consider framing it or setting it out as a decor item. I once had a vintage 1900s gold silk blouse that was “shadow box framed” and it became a stunning wall piece. I also have a beautiful pair of decorative satin platform heels that make a gorgeous sculptural display on my living room shelf.
Now that your closet is clean, neatly organized, and easy to work with, it’ll be a breeze to start creating new outfit combinations you probably never considered before. You now have everything in plain view, nicely sorted and ready for coordinating. Your only task beyond that is to maintain the organization by making sure you put each piece back where it belongs every time laundry is done.
Then each season, quickly thumb through each piece while you’re swapping out seasonal items and touching up your organization. If you do this regularly each season, clearing out garments that are no longer serving you will only take a few minutes. And it keeps your closet from becoming overly full if you’ve been shopping. A cram packed closet is what caused all those repetitive and boring outfit issues in the first place. So now’s the perfect time to break that cycle by keeping unused items cleared out on a regular basis.
One trick to help you cycle through wearing more of your clothes when you have a habit of constantly grabbing the same pieces is to place a marker at the back of each category.
This helps you wear your clothes more evenly and also helps identify those garments that you’re still avoiding against your best intentions on keeping them. Let’s face it. Now that your closet is under control, anytime you clear something out that’s not serving you, you have an opportunity to replace it with something that you’ll love better later on.
If you’re having trouble finding time to do a proper closet clean out, using a section divider will help you sort out your clothes over time.
Sometimes a little at a time is more manageable than all at once. Before you know it, you’ll have gone through everything in your closet and any final organization will be easy as pie.
Join the Club and download this printable guide to use while organizing your closet. We’ll even give you a discount code to use on your first new item after you’re all organized. Follow the link in your confirmation email to download the guide.