The first step in my new fashion adventure was to purge my closet and get rid of the clothes that don't fit, are worn out, and just don't look flattering on me. In my mind, this was an easy task but once I got down to it, I realized how Herculean this idea really was. I thought it would take about an hour and a half to go through all of the clothes I own but it ended up being about four hours before I was finished. I thought it would be helpful to give some tips to anyone who might be thinking about doing the same thing in the future.
1. Start by designating areas.
I decided to go with four areas labeled with signs: 1. KEEP 2.TOSS 3.DONATE 4. TRY ON, THEN DECIDE. The fourth category is basically a maybe pile. Trying on helps me to decide if I should keep it or donate it. The idea of these four piles is to help you to do an initial quick sort of your clothes. You should spend less than five seconds per item during this round of sorting. If you aren't sure, just put it in the try on pile. You may find that after trying on lots of clothes, it becomes easier to part with something that you already know isn't going to look good.
2. Pull out every item of clothing you own and begin your initial sort.
I'll be honest, I don't even have enough space in my bedroom to pull out every item of clothing I had when I started this process so I began with the giant pile above, which consisted just of my clothes in my dressers and storage boxes. Since these are not my primary wardrobe items, they were the easiest for me to part with and therefore sort. Then I moved on to shoes and the largest portion of my wardrobe, my hanging clothes.
3. Begin your secondary sort and tackle the items that you put in your "try on" pile.
Be sure you have access to a full length mirror with good lighting to carefully examine each piece, as this is probably the most time consuming and difficult part of the purge. The most important thing to ask yourself is "Is this item flattering on my body, even on my fat days?". This might seem silly but my general rule is that if I have to be having a "skinny" day to wear an item, I'll probably never wear it. Below, I have some other questions to think about when sorting.
- Are you keeping this item for sentimental value? (Wedding dress) If so, are you storing it in a way that treats the item with the respect it deserves?
- Do you absolutely love the piece?
- Is it a wardrobe staple?
- Does it need repaired? If so, will you repair it in the next 24 to 48 hours? I had two items that I loved but desperately needed shaving with a sweater shaver. The very next day I did it so that I would be able to wear the items again immediately.
One strategy that I use is to get my sweet husband involved. During this secondary sort, I added another sort pile, "Ask Hubby". Now this is an area where you may need to be careful. Remember that your asking your husband's opinion on your clothes, not on your body. Don't grill him about why he thinks you shouldn't keep an item, just ask him to say "keep" or "toss". If you're feeling self conscious or don't have the comfort level with your hubby to have him scrutinize items of your clothing, then don't ask him. It's not fair to get mad at your hubby for trying to help you. The point of the activity is to purge your clothes, not punish your husband for being honest with you.
4. Organize your keep pile.
Yea! You've done it! You sorted through every item of clothing you own and narrowed your wardrobe down to just that pieces that flatter you and which you love and can easily pair with other items. Congrats! Now it's time to organize your keep items into three categories: 1. primary storage 2. secondary storage and 3. tertiary storage. Once you've decided the best place to store an item, put it away.
1. primary storage - my closet. These are items that I wear the most and which will be the most easily visible. I hang jeans and dress pants, cardigans and sweaters, and button up tops.
2. secondary storage - my dresser. This is where I store basics and necessary items. Socks, underwear, bras, and my basics like weekend T-shirts and cotton T-shirts and tank tops.
3. tertiary storage - under bed boxes. I store out of season clothes here. For me, that includes bathing suits and super thick winter clothes. Since I live in Florida, I only wear these few sweaters once or twice a year. On the rare occasions that it gets really cold here, or if I'm going to Pittsburgh for Christmas, I can pull those sweaters out.
5. Organize each storage category.
Before my great closet purge, I used to organize my hanging clothes by color. When sorting yesterday, I realized that this was kind of pointless. I don't wake up in the morning and think "Today I want to wear something blue. I'll look in the blue section". I think "Today is going to be 75 degrees. I would be comfortable in a 3/4 length cardigan. I'll also need a button down sleeveless or short sleeve shirt to wear under the cardigan." So I decided that for me, it might make more sense to organize like items together. Now all of my short sleeved cardigans are together, 3/4 sleeve together and long sleeve together. All of my button downs are now together and all of my outerwear pieces. I feel like this will make it easier for me to create outfits. I kept with the same idea of like with like when sorting my dresser clothes and under bed boxes.
With four full garbage bags to donate and one full bag to toss, I feel like I have a lot more items in my wardrobe that I really love. I've rediscovered loved things that I own which I had forgotten about and made room for some pieces that will be wardrobe staples. I still feel like I have more than what I need but I've decided to wait another month and purge my closet again. In the meantime, I've placed all of the items in my closet on a hanger facing backwards. If I wear the item, I'll turn the hanger around so a month from now I'll know what I have and haven't worn. Additionally, I set a reminder on the calendar in my cell phone for about a month from now to clean my closet again. This is an ongoing process, not a problem that is solved in one day so I'll revisit it after some time has gone by. For now, I'm going to enjoy my new, organized closet and window shop for some fashion staples on Pinterest. =)