The Cluttered Closet

Dear Bneato,

I have a closet that is filled to the max! I don’t have much space to hang clothes because the shelves I put in for folded clothes occupies half of my closet space. I am at a place now where I’m ready to clean out my closet. I was folding laundry the other day and noticed that I was folding a shirt that is in the wash almost every week… When I looked at the rest of the clothes in the pile I realized that these are the same clothes I wash almost every week. Then I went to my closet…which was full of all the clothes I hardly ever wear! Not to mention, I have no space to store seasonal clothing. So what to keep and what to toss? As a frequent exerciser, I’ve been shedding the pounds recently, and am still losing weight–so I know the bigger clothes that don’t fit can go out (I never want to fit into those again)! Are there any tips or tricks that can help me tackle the closet clutter?

• Have a time sensitive goal before you start. Most folks tend to just start organizing without planning first. In order to avoid frustration and running out of time, it’s best to round up supplies, clear a space and have a vision for how you want your space to function.
• Once you have marked out a time to start, you’ll want to round-up supplies and clear a space. We like to have sorting bins on hand (the Container Store makes easy to use collapsable bins). But feel free to keep it simple and use paper grocery bags or cardboard boxes for sorting. You’ll want to label your boxes with post-it notes. When we organize a closet, we typically use the bed as a place to sort clothes. You could also take a sheet and lay-out extra sorting space on the floor.
• Label your sorting bins according to your clothes categories. Some categories you’ll most likely have are SWEATERS/JEANS/PANTS/DRESSES/SKIRTS/SHOES, etc.
• Start with the items on the floor first and make your way through your closet. Once you’re done pulling everything out of the closet, it’s time to process your first category of clothes. (If you’re tackling your closet in smaller chunks of time, instead of pulling out everything at once, focus on only one category at a time).
• Let’s pretend you’re processing the blouse category first. I like to further sort items by color. That way, if you realize you have 10 black blouses, you’ll feel less guilty about letting a few go.
It’s also smart to have a limit of how many you’ll keep. You might set a rule of only 3-5 items per color category (4 black blouses max) or 10-15 items total per category (14 blouses max). Make the rule realistic for you.
• For each blouse you pick up, ask yourself–When did you wear it last? If it’s been over six months to a year, you can safely (and without guilt) let it go. Do you love it? Does it have holes? Does it fit (here’s your chance to try it on). If it doesn’t fit properly–let it go!
• Continue with processing each category until you’ve gone through your entire closet.
• Since your closet is clear, now is your chance to vacuum, dust, paint, alter shelving or add shelving depending on what clothes you’re hanging on to.
• If you notice that you need extra bins for belts or new hangers for a more streamlined look–now is the time to pick up those items.
• Put clothes back into the closet by function. Whatever you wear the most, make sure it’s the easiest to access. I like to color coordinate items by category (but make sure to use a system that will work for you)!

Maintenance is a must to keep your closet organized.

• Set up rules for shopping. Each time you buy a new item–donate an item.
• Attend clothing swaps with friends in order to keep your clothes current and it will give you the opportunity to go through your clothes and know exactly what you own.
• Hang your hangers facing the door. Each time you put an item back, face the hanger in the opposite direction (towards the wall). At the end of a 3 month period, you’ll know exactly what you never wear (and feel less guilty about donating those items).

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