organizing your closet

I have nothing to wear

We’ve all had that feeling before. You open up the closet doors and look at the jumble. The despair comes creeping in. Even though the closet is full, you feel like there is nothing to choose from that will work – much less make you feel great – when you put it on.

A big part of the issue may be organization – you can’t actually SEE what the options are! As I said in my last post on my methods for clothing care, multiple clients have been asking about how best to organize their closets. Knowing what’s in your closet, purging the items that no longer work, and organizing it in a way that works for you is essential to a more functional wardrobe.

organizing 101

ndwc_wardrobe organization flow chart

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I organize my wardrobe in the hierarchy illustrated above. It’s not rocket science, which is why it works for me. I’m able to find pieces easily in each category, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

season

Even if your closet is big enough to hold all seasons of clothing (lucky!), it is still helpful to separate them. Some will be transition items that can either migrate or have their own section.

Organizing by season allows you to interact with your whole wardrobe at least two times a year, which helps you to remember what you have, think about what you are and are not wearing, and make decisions accordingly. This is a great time to purge pieces that you aren’t wearing, for whatever reason.

category

Some folks like to organize by work wardrobe and personal life wardrobe. I feel like pieces can be forgotten this way, and it’s easier for things to become disorganized. Organizing by category after season helps you to see regularly what pieces are there.

level of dress

This part of the flow chart is one that can make all the difference in the world. Many workplaces are becoming more casual, so pieces often cross over between work and personal life. Putting the pieces that can be worn both for work and casual between the two will make sure you see them when choosing outfits. These pieces can be used to dress more casually at work when appropriate and to dress up an outfit for going out or when you want to look more polished in your personal life.

color

I choose not to organize by color because my wardrobe isn’t that large, but some people find it to be really helpful. This way you know what all your choices are for the color you are selecting.

PRO TIPS:
  • Make sure you can see everything
  • Find a system that works for YOU
  • Organize by season, then use your system within that season
  • Engage with your whole wardrobe two times a year

you can do it!

The key to success is sticking with your system. Once you’ve got a system set, it’s easy to maintain, and the relief of not having to face the jumble every day is SO WORTH IT. And your wardrobe will be more functional, making daily dressing easier. And who doesn’t want that?

 

 

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my wardrobe consult

“Ugh! I need a wardrobe consultant!” I whined to my husband.

Recently, I made the switch in my closet from warm weather wear to fall and winter clothing. As I dug in, it quickly grew into much more than a switch. It ended up being a full-blown assessment of my wardrobe, which is what I do with clients in a Wardrobe Consult.

As discussed in my last post, my style has evolved some this past year. Partly because of the change in my hair color, and also inspiration from French fashion during our extended stay in Lyon last fall (nostalgic sigh). Things were piling up – I had added new-to-me pieces to reflect my new style, but hadn’t done a closet purge in several years.

My closet is on the smaller side, so I store off-season clothing in a closet in the hallway. This is actually good, because it forces me to directly interact with all of my clothes twice a year as I make the swap.

Notice I said “good.” Not “fun.”

Sound familiar?

I LOVE helping others to organize their wardrobes and to make them more functional and enjoyable. I can do that every. single. day. My own stuff? Not so much.

When it’s your own things, your emotions, and – let’s face it – baggage, become a part of the story. Facing stuff that has been lurking in your closet for years, if not decades, can bring up all kinds of internal stuff too.

why it can be hard to assess and purge

It takes precious time – before you begin, it feels like it will take FOREVER to accomplish anything.

So many decisions have to be made, which is overwhelming, and sometimes even paralyzing.

A lot of memories come up – some good, some bad.

Experiencing guilt of purchases you made that haven’t worked out.

Finding clothes that fit at one time and don’t anymore (too small or too big), or never actually fit, can trigger negative body image messages.

Finding unworn items you like the idea of, but never really were you, nor will be, can also trigger purchase guilt.

Items are outdated or just plain worn out, but have sentimental meaning.

Items are outdated, but aren’t worn out, so it seems wasteful to purge them, even though you aren’t actually wearing them.

Managing gifts from people you love that just don’t work for you, and you don’t want to hurt their feelings by purging them.

When it’s my closet I’m addressing, I quickly get overwhelmed by decision-making. I also can get caught up in self-scolding – this time around I pulled out a bridesmaid dress from a friend’s wedding that occurred EIGHTEEN years ago (or was it 19?) and several other dresses that were 15+ years old and too big, but I had saved them anyway. Why??

I also have the “it’s not worn out” guilt around things that are still in good shape but are no longer my style. Do I keep them, just to have as options? (No. Consign them!)

See, I needed my own wardrobe consultant. Because organizing and purging, especially your clothes, is actually grappling with your sense of self and your personal history.

Having someone who is objective and who can give you support throughout the process with encouragement and gentle, honest feedback can make the process much less overwhelming and much more effective. I help my clients keep a positive perspective, avoid getting bogged down, and have fun in seeing the potential in the items that do work in their wardrobes.

It took me 6-8 hours over two days to completely go through my clothing, which was more than double the time it usually takes when I work with a client. This reminded me how helpful – and efficient – it can be to have a supportive presence to help you along! Working together, we usually get through most if not all of a typically-sized wardrobe in three hours, not only purging, but also creating new outfits with the keepers.

I had a lot of conversations with myself while I was doing my wardrobe consult. The exact conversations I have with my clients. “When did you last wear this?” “Do you actually LIKE it?” “Does it make you happy to wear it?” “Why do you feel like you need to keep this?”

And I tried to treat myself as I do my clients – with encouragement, support, humor, permission to purge, and permission to keep certain items that just can’t be let go – yet. The bridesmaid dress and other late-90s delights did go. Again, why???

I took three garbage bags of clothes for donation, and I consigned 15 items. I feel much lighter to have cleared out clothing that was doing nothing but cluttering my closet. Others will benefit from my purge, and my wardrobe is ultimately more functional without those items. I also now know what I have and what needs to be added or replaced, which makes shopping more focused and fruitful.

Ready to take the plunge into your closet in a faster, less painful, more productive (and FUN) way? Contact me today to set up YOUR Wardrobe Consult.