Secrets to an Organized Closet

Does your closet scare you? How long does it take you to find what you are looking for? Are your clothes crammed in tight or is there space between your hangers?
How would I organize my closet, as a professional organizer? Well, I just did my closet last week, so I’ll share my secrets with you.
First, a little advice. These are the 2 magic questions to ask yourself as you go through, or purge, your closet.

Do I use it?
Do I love it?

Anything else needs to go in one of the discard piles.
Materials needed: 1 black trash bag and a white bag, Post-its or paper, a Sharpie, a labeler or plain-old Scotch tape.
Once you gather the materials, you are ready to get started! Here are the steps:

One:  Decide where you will donate or sell the clothes you discard. I like to give clothing to my favorite thrift store. Think about a women’s crisis center, a community closet or a resale shop close by. Now get 2 different colored trash bags, or even boxes, a sharpie, and some Post-its.

TWO: Take everything from one section of your closet—like all of your blouses–and pile them in a larger space like the bed or the bedroom floor. This gives you space to move and think. I’m a bit claustrophobic, so I prefer the larger room to work in.

THREE: Use the Post-its or some notebook paper to make categories where you will pile clothes.
Categories: Keep * Try on* Donate * Sell * Repair* Trash

FOUR: Sort your clothes by taking each item and making a quick decision about which pile it goes in. Do not think about it too much. Remember to ask yourself the use it/ love it questions if you get stuck.
One of my early clients, about 7 years ago, had an inordinate number of bras. This was inexplicable to me. She had between 20 and 30 bras. They took up an entire drawer in her bureau! I asked her to pick a reasonable number of bras, and then we whittled them down to that number. Then they only took up half of a drawer.

FIVE: Get together with a trusted friend, sister or daughter and give them a fashion show of the things you aren’t sure flatter you. If it doesn’t fit now, release it.
For example, don’t keep boxes full of the size 8 clothes you plan to fit into “someday;” by the time you fit into them they will be out of style and you will want to celebrate by getting new clothes.
Saying goodbye is so hard to do! I have a few skirts I need to take in, which I’ve been meaning to do for about 6 months. I wore them a lot when they fit me, so it’s worth it. I decided to put a Post-it with an expiration date on the hanger. If I don’t alter the skirts by Thanksgiving this year, I have to get rid of them.

SIX: Bag up or box the Give, Sell and Trash clothes. Use black bags for trash and label white bags ‘Donate’ and ‘Sell’ with a Sharpie. Put the ‘Donate’ and ‘Sell’ bags in your vehicle immediately.

SEVEN: Repeat with a section of your closet every day or every weekend until you’ve finished!

EIGHT: Once the whole closet is purged of clothing you don’t use or love, organize it. Divide up pants, blouses, T-shirts, dresses, bags, PJ’s, etc. into categories. If you think you have way too much of a type of item, like blouses, you need to do another purge. A good rule of thumb is 3x more tops than pants. Now place the clothing in their zones.

Some of the zones I use: workout, casual, professional, dresses, purses/bags, travel
Of course, we are all different. You may need to add or take away a zone depending on your activities.

NINE: Enjoy your handiwork; you just accomplished a major organizing project! Take a picture of your awesome, organized closet and post it on FB or Pinterest, and please share it with me too!
Related links:
Real Simple June 2016 article: Solutions for every closet.
Real Simple January 2015 “Clothes” purging tips p. 101.