Cleaning out your closet sucks. It especially sucks if you’re a borderline shopaholic with frenetic, eclectic taste like me. I mean, you name it, I’ve probably got it. I’ve got a full ball skirt with a train, several fur coats, overalls, three pairs of cowboy boots, a pair of Viktor & Rolf ruby red slippers … I know it sounds a little like a costume shop in my closet, and to be honest, occasionally it feels that way too.
I just deeply love clothes and the way I can change myself depending upon my outfit. I worked retail for several years and got an amazing discount, and I always find inspiration at the thrift store or my favorite resale shops. So yeah, I have a lot of clothes.
That being said, I’m very good about cycling through my clothing and keeping my closet as efficient as possible. So if you’re drowning in clothes like me, here are a few ways to clean your closet with as little pain as possible. I know it can be hard getting rid of clothes that have become your friends! But the seasons are changing, so now is a good time to spring into action.
1. Do it regularly. I like to do it with the seasons. When summer comes, I take all my cashmere and dry-clean only winter items to the dry cleaner and then neatly fold and pack them away in a large Rubbermaid until cooler weather comes again. This frees up space in my closet and keeps them safe from moths, who have totally attacked one of my favorite sweaters in the past. I toss a bar of scented soap in the Rubbermaid to keep them smelling fresh. Same goes for summer clothes.
2. Make a rule. If you haven’t worn it in ___ months, it goes. Some smart person once told me she faces the hanger of “iffy” items the opposite direction, and if the hanger doesn’t move in six months, the item is sold/donated/given away to a friend. This is genius.
3. Anything that doesn’t fit has to go! I know this is hard. But if the jeans are too tight, you’re not wearing them, and if you’re not wearing them, they gotta go. Dress for the body you have, not the body you WANT to have.
4. If it doesn’t fit but you’re attached, store it. I had a weird boob growth spurt this past year and some of my beloved dresses no longer zip past my ribcage. I’ve had a lot of really good times in these dresses, so I boxed them up and saved them for a future daughter or niece. I can’t possibly give them away because I love them so.
5. Does it need tailoring? If so, DO IT. If you never ever will, then get rid of it. Please don’t be me and buy a lot of adorable vintage dresses that need a little tailoring, then never take them in until you do it all at once and come out with a $200 tailoring bill. The same goes for dry cleaning!
6. Bring in a helpful friend. Sometimes you need an outside opinion. Bring in a friend who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth and will force you to get rid of stuff that’s collecting dust. I am this friend for several people.
7. If it’s ratty, dingy or full of pills, toss it. Sometimes you have to say goodbye. I know, I know. But that Target dress you wore all summer that is full of pills and has a frayed hem? Toss it, or use it as a dust rag. The problem with a lot (not all!) fast-fashion items is that their shelf life is short. Try to avoid buying all cheap items.
8. Make piles. I always do a “Buffalo Exchange” pile, a “Goodwill” pile and a “Send to Friends” pile. After I’ve sold what I can at Buffalo Exchange, I take the rest to Goodwill or throw a garage sale with my friends. Easy peasy.
9. Put items you wear most frequently near the front. Some people find this to be the most efficient organization for them. It’s not for me, but it works.
10. Organize! I organize my closet by item: camis and tanks in front, then dresses, long-sleeved tops, sweaters and then skirts. I organize each section by color.
11. Save space. Velvet hangers are thin and keep your clothes from sliding off onto the floor. I’m obsessed. Plus, they look pretty!
12. Line up your shoes, dammit. I have a walk-in closet (it’s dark and the ceiling slopes, so don’t be too jealous!) so I keep my heels on a small shelf, but if you don’t have that, at least line your shoes up nicely and don’t throw them in a heap. I organize them by style and then color, because I’m crazy.
13. Attack your dresser too. Organize drawers by clothing style: underwear/socks/tights, pajamas, T-shirts/tanks, jeans, sweaters. (Sweaters should usually be folded, FYI.) The same rules apply to your dresser. Get rid of anything ratty and stained or unworn. A clean, organized dresser is like heaven to me. I like to put perfume sample cards in each drawer so my clothes smell good.
Now you’re done! Don’t you feel so much better?