The Closet Monster

Posted by Brette in Home and Decorating | Life | Organizing

Photo credit: ZeRo`SKiLL / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I’d been ignoring it all summer. The closet. It was totally out of control.  My daughter wedged in there with me recently and I showed her blouses and suits from when I practiced law (15 years ago) and a dress from before she was born (20 years ago). I was shocked that I still had all this stuff AND that it was so friggin’ old. So I took an afternoon and purged. It was painful, but I did it and filled two garbage bags to donate. Here are my tips for how to get yours under control.

1. Count. How many t-shirts do you have? How many sweat pants? How many pairs of black pants? I was shocked to realize I had enough t-shirts to wear one a day without doing laundry for more than a month. Counting how many I had of each item made me feel more comfortable about giving some away because I would never ever need the 15 t-shirts I ditched, not when there were 20 more at the ready.

2. Fight stains. How many digging in the garden, painting, stripping wallpaper outfits do you need? I kept one. The rest were just taking up space I needed.

3. If it doesn’t fit, you must donate. You know those things you buy and they seem like a good idea in the dressing room, but then they look not quite right at home, and you never wear them? Why are you saving them? They aren’t going to magically become suitable. Yes, you wasted some cash on them, but you’re wasting space by keeping them. Donate and know they’ve clothed someone else.

4. No pain. Shoes, bras, waistbands that cut in, anything that makes you uncomfortable is bad closet karma. You feel miserable when you wear it. So just stop the insanity and let it go. It’s never going to feel any better on your body.

5. Stragglers. Somehow I had managed to keep a sleeveless shell from a sweater set from which I no longer had the actual sweater. I kept it thinking it might someday match something else. 10 years later, I can say I was wrong! Out it went. Don’t keep halves of sets like this.

6. Too big to fail. We all have those “just in case I gain it all back clothes.” And I can admit in the past I’ve ditched them and then gained the weight back and regretted it. My solution is to keep the really good pieces but take them out of the closet and store them somewhere else (under the bed, in the attic, etc.) until you are certain your weight loss is not temporary.

7. Out of synch. I will never take a job that requires me to wear a suit every day, so why am I keeping my lawyer suits? If you have clothes from a job, hobby, type of exercise or other lifestyle you aren’t going back to, get rid of them. I kept 2 suits that I could wear to a funeral, but the rest went out the door.

Other ways to make sense of the closet madness:

– Rotate. Put seasonal clothes in front and out of season things in back. This makes your space more functional.

– Fold and stack. If you have shelves in your closet, you might have the tendency I do to just stuff things on them. If you take a few minutes and neatly fold and stack everything you will fit more on the shelf and you’ll be able to easily see and access what you have there.

– Put extra hangers elsewhere. I keep all of my extra hangers hanging from the edge of a shelf up high. This leaves more room for clothes. When I take clothes out, I put the hanger up there. When I hang clothes up, I take a hanger.

– Hang shoes. Buy a shoe organizer and put it on the back of your closet door.

– Assess non-clothing items. My closet has extra blankets, tote bags, and old throw pillows lurking in the nether regions. Purge! Put the ones you really want in plastic zipped bags and get rid of the rest.

– Keep the “I’m going to fit into that someday” clothes, but separate them out so that you aren’t grabbing them, putting them on and then chucking them across the room in a fury. Stuff them in a bag and put them in the back of the closet. If you lose the weight, they will be there.

– If donating doesn’t make you feel excited enough, take your stuff to a resale or consignment shop. My kids LOVE taking old clothes to Plato’s Closet and it is a huge motivator to get them to get rid of things that no longer fit.

Now it is time for confessions. I kept the 20 year old dress because it is beautiful. I doubt it will ever fit but I’m allowed one non-functional item. I also kept a few of the lawyer blouses because they are classic and will work with the funeral outfits.

When was the last time you cleaned your closet?


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