How to: Organize Your Wardrobe For the Last Time
Updated: Jan 9
Every spring I used to clean out my closet. It was like clockwork. I was always amazed at how much I could purge each and every year. Had my style changed? How did I even have that many pieces of clothing and STILL a full closet?
January 2019 marked the last time I would ever “clean out” my closet. Do you know why? I changed my organization process entirely. I made a few simple changes and added a few organization tools so that I could maintain my wardrobe on a regular basis without adding any additional time to my schedule.
Sounds easy, right? And probably unrealistic. I’m here to tell you, it’s totally achievable. While clients normally pay me to create this perfect closet for them, I’m going to give you the information totally free! I know, awesome, right?!
How to Organize Your Wardrobe for the Last Time
First: How to Clean Out
Be Honest (and Somewhat Ruthless)
First, let’s start with the purging process. It’s important that you’re totally honest with yourself, and decisive. As a professional organizer, this is where I’d work closely with my clients to really help them sift through what they truly love and plan to wear in the next 6 months. My favorite question to ask comes from author Gretchen Rubin “If I ran into my ex on the street, would I be happy if I were wearing this?” Seriously, get your head into that space when working through your closet. Beth Roy, a wardrobe stylist and owner of B.Styled by Beth, says that we actually wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Think about that! So, when you’re cleaning ask yourself whether you really need the 80% of what you have in your closet and drawers. Also, if you’re wondering what to keep, look at both what makes you feel awesome and what’s practical. Here’s a quick list of Beth’s Top 10 Wardrobe Essentials.
Plan for It
When you start the process, plan for it — have energy and a full stomach. If you’re a morning person start in the morning with plenty of time to spare. If you’re a night owl, start then. Either way be sure you’ve eaten and have something to drink by you.
Establish a Purge System
Before tackling the closet grab 3 bins or boxes, plus trash bags. Label them Keep, Donate, Trash. When you triage your closet, sort accordingly, and bag as the items start to fill.
Work Through Succinctly
Work through your closet and drawers methodically. I recommend starting with the hanging clothes, work to folded clothes (jeans, t-shirts, shorts), small items like (socks, undergarments), shoes, and finally accessories (purses, scarves, belts, hats).
Second: How to Organize
If you’ve done the purge correctly, everything should be out of your closet. And you’re probably feeling like it’s a total mess. Trust the process — it gets messy before it gets neat. Don’t give up! In fact, take a 15 minute break, have a snack, and then tackle the organization.
When organizing your drawers and closets, it’s important you have the right organization tools. In most cases, you don’t need to install a new closet system, you just need to have the right tools! It’s much cheaper too! I’ve included The Lighter Home’s Top 5 Organization Tools. These are tested and true, and have been essential in maintaining my own and my clients closets. I’ve included links and recommend purchasing them in advance of your closet organization project.
1. Hang Your Clothes - Slim Velvet Hangers
When you’re ready to return your clothing to the closet, rehang them on the same type of hanger. I recommend slim velvet hangers. You can purchase them in bulk on Amazon. They even come in fun colors, like pink! These slim velvet hangers not only keep the clothing shape, but they are space efficient. Having uniform hangers is both neat and space efficient, so ditch those wire hangers from the dry cleaners now and forever!
2. File Fold Your Shorts and T-shirts— Y-Weave Baskets
File folding is one of the organization hacks that I highly recommend, especially with t-shirts, shorts and leggings. It allows you to easily see everything that you have.
3. Neatly Stack Sweaters - Shelf Dividers
I recommend folding sweaters, especially thick sweaters or delicate sweaters. To keep you folded sweaters from flopping over, try using shelf dividers. If you have wire shelves, use wire shelf dividers, and for solid shelves I recommend these clear acrylic dividers. These dividers are also great for filing small purses and clutches on a shelf.
4. Box and Stack Your Shoes - Shoe Boxes
Ah, shoe boxes, my favorite. This has been a personal upgrade in our home. For years we’ve tried shoe racks or baskets in our closets. Ultimately, we ended up with either a mess of shoes all over the floor or shoes that never saw the light of day. By using stackable clear shoe boxes, you can clearly see all of your shoes and preserve them in the process. The Container Store has some great options — if you have the space, I like the drop front shoe boxes. Or, if you need something smaller and don’t mind lids, The Container Store’s clear shoe boxes are a great tool and economical!
5. Get Socks & Underwear Under Control - Adjustable Drawer Dividers
While socks seem low on the organization priority list, once you organize them, you’ll be happy you did. After tossing the socks with holes and the knee highs from 1996, add these iDesign adjustable acrylic drawer dividers. Once you implement this system for both socks and underwear, you’ll be happy you did. No more digging for socks!
Lastly: How to Maintain
It’s pretty simple to maintain. Ridiculously simple. Here’s what you do: discard as you go. Add a donation bin to the bottom of your closet — I use this one in the picture, along with a stacked dry cleaning bin. It allows me to discard clothes from my closet when I no longer need them. At the end of each month, I bag what I have in the bin and donate it.
In addition, to make sure my closet remains organized, I make it a point to tidy up each time I put away my laundry. By staying on top of the system as more of a ritual, it never gets out of control, and really doesn’t add any incremental time to my days.
If you’ve read this and are thinking — I don’t know where to even start? Or, my closet is an odd space — I need some specialty tools. Contact me. I offer virtual consultations, and happy to help so you can get.it.done! Good luck, my friends!