One thing we messies are good at is having too many things. Too many papers, too many books, too many shoes, and too many clothes! Organization experts recommend purging your closet every six months or so, but if you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t purged your closet in years. If that’s your situation, you’ll need to do a major purge. You can choose to do this in one long day, or you can spend 20 minutes on your closet every couple of days or so.
Take a good, honest look at your closet, if you can get in there. How many things do you have hanging in there that you would wear right now? Get a box. Set your timer for 15 minutes and start at the front of the closet. Take the first article of clothing off the rod. Does it fit? Do you like it? Do you wear it? If not, why not?
If it doesn’t fit, get it out of there. Store sentimental favorites in another closet, an old suitcase, a rubbermaid bin, but NOT in your main closet. You should only have clothes that fit in your main closet. (We’ll talk about sentimental favorites another time.)
If you don’t like it, get it out of there. You don’t need to have clothes you don’t like in your closet. If you have to keep them for financial reasons, try to replace them as soon as possible with clothes you DO like. Of course, once you’ve cleaned out and organized your closet, it might turn out that you have plenty of clothes.
If it fits and you like it, but you don’t wear it, why not? I don’t wear some of my shirts because they need to be pressed. I wear wash and wear a lot more than I wear clothes that need to be steamed or pressed. I never wear or buy clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. However, if you add a 15-20 minute ironing session once a week, you might open up a whole new aspect of your wardrobe. (Fabric softener helps prevent wrinkles and a light sizing helps keep clothes crisp.)
Now, you should have only clothes that fit and that you like in your closet. You can choose to keep your closet like that, or you can go further and divide your clothes into sets or “capsules.” Each article of clothing in a set should go with the others. My closet can be divided into a brown set and a black set.
The brown set contains khakis, brown pants, a brown houndstooth jacket, and gold, green, and orange shirts. It goes with the brown belt and the brown slides. In the winter, I have two pairs of brown boots I can wear with this set.
The black set contains my black pants, black print skirts, gray jacket, and blue and purple tops. It goes with the black slides and the black boots.
In theory, I could grab any bottom and top from the set and have it work. There are exceptions. I have two blue blouses that don’t work with any of my current black pants, but they look good with my khaki pants. They would go into the brown set. Likewise, I have a green shirt that looks better with black pants, so it goes into the black set. Be flexible with your division.
Once you’ve divided your clothing into sets, then you can arrange them by type within their set. For example, in my brown set, I would have jackets, long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, skirts, and pants. I would do the same in my black set.
To get even more detailed, you can arrange each type of clothing in color order. (I would follow the rainbow- red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple-black-white.) This way, you could tell at a glance what you have and what you might need. Looking at my closet, I can tell I need a solid jacket that works with khaki pants. If I happened to find one in a sale, it would be a good purchase. Once you’ve arranged your closet, it’ll be easier to see the holes in your wardrobe as well.
Once you’ve done your own closet, you can do your spouse’s and your kids’ closets. I arranged my husband’s clothes in color order this way and discovered that he absolutely doesn’t need any more blue polo shirts.
For kids, it’s often easier to keep one capsule. For my older son, we’re just going to have a khaki capsule, to keep things simple. He has to wear polo shirts and khakis to school, with a belt and dress shoes. His khaki capsule will contain only clothes that are acceptable under the dress code.
Our younger son goes to a school that allows jeans and t-shirts, so he won’t officially have a capsule. Capsules work really well for girls, who tend to have more colorful separates.
As for casual clothes… jeans, shorts, and t-shirts… those can be folded in your dresser or hung up in all the new space you found in your closet when you cleaned out the clothes that don’t fit. Try to keep them separate from your dressier clothes.
Even if you never leave the house and only wear casual clothes, this would be a good process for you. It will help set apart your church clothes and if you have a last-minute function to attend (or a surprise job interview), you’ll have clothes ready. I do recommend that stay-at-home moms try to acquire and maintain at least one suit-set that would be appropriate for a job interview. You never know when life circumstances could force you to get a job, and during a family crisis is not the best time to try to put together a good interview look. Even if you are employed and intend to stay with your company forever, still make sure you have at least one interview outfit. You never know when you might have to interview within or without the company.
Managing your clothes will help you find weaknesses and figure out what you need to have on hand for a functional wardrobe.
Later, we will tackle dresser organization and SHOES!