Monday, February 13, 2012

Playing Dress Up, Step #2: Clean Your Closet, Young Lady!

The next step in having a pulled together wardrobe is to clean your closet! I love cleaning and organizing (I know, I know), and I hope a little of that love will rub off on you today.

Does your closet look like this?


Or (maybe worse?), like this?

Let's fix that.

You will need:

*Your style notebook/inspiration board; a pen.
*Three trash bags or boxes & a sharpie. Mark these: Trash, Give Away, Repair.
*Some inspiring music & a cup of coffee.
*Your resolve.

In my mind, there are two camps when it comes to getting rid of clothes:

1. My mom's camp. She owns a small amount of clothes and could toss out a sweater she's had for 10 years without batting an eye.
2. My camp. I have more clothes and have trouble throwing away a ratty old t-shirt because, well, it's been in my closet for so long, and it's made friends with the other t-shirts.

Whichever camp you are in, it will be helpful to have a bit of inspiration for cleaning out your closet. Keep your inspiration board/ Pinterest close by and remember that you would like to have a closet full of clothes that reflect you and your style. And I'm just betting there are no old stained t-shirts on your inspiration board.

Before we get started, remember: this is not the time to clean out your husband's/kid's/roommates clothes, nor to finish that project hiding in the back of your closet or to sort through all your old pictures from highschool. So if your clothes share closet space with any of the above, ignore them and come back to organize those another day. Stick to your own clothes for now!


1. Pull all the clothes out of your closet and stack them on your bed.
2. Grab a spray bottle and a rag and quickly clean your shelves & sweep your closet floor. Later, you'll be glad you did!
3. Start sorting by category (t-shirts, sweaters, black pants, tennis shoes, socks, etc.)
4. Now this is the part where you need some resolve: try your clothes on. I suppose if you have a pair of jeans or a shirt that you wear every day and you know looks great on you, you can skip that. Otherwise: try it all on. Stand in front of a mirror and try to step back and see the item and how it looks on you. This is not the time to berate yourself (more on that topic when we go shopping), but just be honest!

*Is the sweater pilling? The t-shirt stained? Do the shoes smell? Does the dress just not look right?
*Pay attention to colour: do you look amazing in a black tank top but totally washed out in that beige sweater? Toss the sweater, keep the tank top. 
*This might seem obvious, but try not to keep things you don't like. It's easy to just keep something because you feel like you should: it was expensive, it was a gift, you should wear it. But if you don't ever wear it and/or you don't like it, then it is just taking up space.


5. Next, sort your clothes into categories: 
*Rubbish: these are the obviously-this-should-be-in-the-garbage-items. If it is stained, ripped and irreparable, makes you feel awful when you wear it: throw it in the box/bag marked Trash. 

Tip: I would like to lobby that any item that makes you feel sad should not be in your closet. What do you mean? How could my clothes make me feel sad? Do you have an old boyfriend's sweatshirt, but every time you see it it makes you want to cry/seethe with anger? Maybe a deceased relative's old clothes and you have to sift through them every morning when you get dressed? Old college t-shirts that make you miss the good ol' days when you didn't have to dress to go to an office? There's memorabilia and there is torturing yourself. Either box it up, move it to a different closet, find another way to use it (ex: make a t-shirt quilt with all those college shirts) or if you are feeling full of gumption, throw it away. Example: I love sleeping in my grandma's old UCLA sweatshirt and it is maybe one of the first things I would grab in a fire. But I felt much better about myself when I finally got rid of the t-shirts that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend.


*Give away: this is for the nice items in your closet that you no longer want: if it's the wrong colour, shape, or size, put it in this box. Either give these clothes to your best friend or sister or take them to Goodwill. 

Tip: Because I have trouble actually getting rid of clothes, I keep this bag/box for a short amount of time. By the time I look through them again, my emotional attachment has lessened. After about a month, I go back through the box and pull out the clothes. It is usually immediately obvious to me: I either think: I was going to throw this away? or What was I thinking buying this in the first place? So if you can't throw away half your clothes in one afternoon, give yourself a little grace. 

*Repair. First: ask yourself if you will honestly repair it. If you will, do it within the week. If you won't, just save yourself the guilt and toss it now!

*Keep. We will come back to this pile later!


6. As you go, jot down things you need to buy/replace. Need a new pair of work shoes that aren't falling apart? Did you finally throw away that ratty sweater but now you're freezing? Do you have only 2 pairs of socks without holes left? Realize that the blouse you love won't look right without a camisole? Write it down!

7. While you are at it, jot down any items that repeatedly  show up on your inspiration board but aren't in your closet. If you cut out 10 pictures of floral skirts and realize you don't own a single one, that might be a good thing to go shopping for. Or if you love striped shirts or anything in blue and don't own either of those things, make a note of it.


7. Now, go back to the pile of clothes on your bed that you have decided to keep. Go through them and nicely fold each t-shirt, sweater and hang each dress and coat up. Put these items back into your (already cleaned!) closet. You can arrange by item- t-shirts together, pajamas together, etc. or by type- casual vs. work. I like organizing the things on shelves/in my dresser by item and the hanging things by colour (I told you I like organizing!)


At this point, you either will not have much left in your closet (in which case it is time to go shopping) or you can just enjoy having all the clothes you love neatly organized. Either way, hopefully what you have left are things you like that fit you and your style!

Come back soon for tips on creating a shopping list.


Blondie's Journal said... Reply To This Comment

My problem is not wanting to toss clothes I think I will fit into when I lose weight! It works as inspiration a lot of times, but doesn't give me more room in the closet!

Very helpful post, Jenny!


Adrianne said... Reply To This Comment

I have been meaning to do this for so long! Thanks for the specific suggestions and the inspiration. I shall clean my closet and organize my clothes!

GLENDA CHILDERS said... Reply To This Comment

Boy of boy ... do I feel like organizing my clothes and ALL my cupboards.

GLENDA CHILDERS said... Reply To This Comment

Remember all the hours and hours we spent cleaning your closet when you were little?

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