Picture your closet and what's in it.
Is it packed with clothes that you don't wear? Is it so full you have to remove a pile of them to get to the stuff at the bottom? Is it hard to pick what to wear in the morning?
I was right where you are, my friend.
Yep, I said was.
I cleaned it up just in time for No Mess Monday, the series I'm posting every last Monday of the month on killing my hoarding habit.
I'll walk you through what worked for me step by step so you can cut the fluff from your closet too.
How I Gave My Closet A Facelift (& How You Can Too!)
1. MAKE A ROUGH ESTIMATE OF HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME EACH WEEK.
“What does my time have to do with my closet, Daisy?”
Well, this step helps you find what’s in your ideal closet before we start building it. Let me show you how it’s done:
A. DOWNLOAD YOUR WHAT'S IN MY IDEAL CLOSET? WORKSHEETS AND GET READY TO FILL THEM OUT.
You can fill it out in Google Drive or export it to your spreadsheet program. Click on the button below to download the worksheets for free!
B. WHAT DO YOU GENERALLY DO ALL WEEK?
Write them down here, including stuff you may not do every week but still happens now and then (like attending a wedding).
C. WHAT TYPE OF CLOTHES DO YOU WEAR WHILE DOING THESE THINGS?
You describe what you wear throughout your day (shirts, pants, etc.).
D. FILL IN THE WORKSHEET AND TADA! AUTOMATICALLY SEE WHAT YOU WEAR MOST OFTEN.
I’ve done the math for you ahead, so just plug in the numbers and instantly get a summary showing you what you wear a lot.
This is super-important because it gives you a goal to aim at while cleaning your closet. You need to know what your ideal closet is made of so you can work towards it, am I right?
For example, here’s how mine turned out:
Since I work at least 60 hours a week and rarely attend formal parties, you’ll notice I wear a lot of work clothes and very little evening wear. This tells me I should have more clothes in my closet for going to work and less evening gowns.
Your chart will turn out differently depending on your life, and this step makes sure you know what your ideal closet should be filled with before we start.
We’re making sure your closet supports your life.
Think about it, friend: why do we wear clothes? To keep us covered, to regulate our body heat, to feel confident and beautiful while living life. They support us with an extra zing when we wear clothes that are right for the situation we’re in.
Have you tried wearing a swimsuit that fits well while you’re at the beach? How about one that bunches up or doesn’t feel like it’s “you”? Did it affect your day at the beach?
That’s what clothes can do for you, and we’re angling for closets that support you and me in the different parts of our lives.
Now that we’ve got the foundation down…
2. PUT ALL YOUR CLOTHES ON THE BED.
When I say all, I mean all your clothes from everywhere in the house.
I used to clean by drawer like other people I know do. But when I read Marie Kondo’s tip about tidying by type of item (clothes, books, etc.) instead of location (like bedroom and living room), I thought I’d try it out.
I found this actually made sense, because it gave me a better idea of what I had.
I mean, I didn’t know I had so many clothes! Some of them still had tags on, for crying out loud.
Seeing them all piled the height of a small child made me both grateful and ashamed. I was grateful because I could afford to have so much when others couldn’t. The shame came because I didn’t use most of it.
Another effect of doing this was I piled up pressure on myself to finish this. If I didn’t go through the pile, where would I sleep tonight? Finishing the chore so I could sleep properly was a big motivation to get to work.
Putting my clothes all together also meant I knew which ones were similar pretty quickly. For example, I found I had a sweater in another room that looked like one I had in my bedroom. I knew I had sweaters in both rooms but until they were side-by-side, I hadn’t remembered they looked the same. This helped me not to buy similar stuff the next time I went shopping.
And speaking of shopping, seeing that ginormous pile made my shopping non-existent. Every time I found something I liked, my mind would run like so:
90% of the time, I never bought anything. Who knew piling stuff on my bed would affect my spending?
Put all your clothes on the bed before you start and get the same benefits too!
2A. BONUS TIP: PILE THEM BY TYPE OF ITEM.
Get extra juice out of this step by dividing your stuff by type of item. A pile of shirts, a pile of pants, and so on. You can count them too (eek!) so you know exactly how much you have to wear.
3. HAVE A THINK ABOUT EACH ITEM.
Make space to sort your stuff into piles with boxes and trash bags for what you’re letting go of. Then look over your clothes and ask yourself:
DO THE MIX OF STUFF I OWN MATCH MY WHAT'S IN MY IDEAL CLOSET? CHART?
Compare your chart to what’s in your closet. Is your closet now a match with your ideal closet?
Going with my example chart in the last step, I looked between my chart and my mountain of clothes, and realized ideas I’d had about my wardrobe weren’t actually true.
Like I thought I never have enough dresses.. I thought this because I never seemed to have the right dress to wear. So I bought more dresses to fix that. Instead, I found dresses made up the biggest part of my closet, but I didn’t wear most of them.
If your ideas about your clothes also get shot down in this way, raise a red flag over the clothes that don’t belong. These are probably the ones to let go of.
DO I WEAR IT A LOT?
Do you want it back from the wash less than a week after you’ve worn it? Saying yes to this means you need this item. You might not like it as much as, say, your outfits for hanging out, but you wear it so often you’d be lost without it. Put this in the ‘keep’ pile.
Does it put a smile on your face? Do you feel great when you wear it? Does it fit just right? This is probably one of the clothes that support you; stick it in the ‘keep’ pile.
WHY DO I NOT WEAR IT?
Does it need to be fixed? Maybe there’s a stain that needs special cleaning, a button missing, or a seam loose. Put this in a ‘fix’ pile.
Is it too loose or too tight? If you love it enough to have it altered, add it to the ‘fix’ pile.
Do you wear it only on special occasions? If you love it but don’t get much chance to wear it, would you wear it in a heartbeat when that next special event comes up? If you have too many items of this type, you might think of giving up some of them.
Or did someone special give it to you even if you don’t like it? This question was the hardest for me to answer. I felt guilt about not wearing clothes gifted by people I love but I knew they didn’t fit my style (or even my size!) at all. This guilt creeped up on me every time I saw those items in my closet.
This time, I decided the guilt I’d experienced over the years was enough. I was thankful my friends and family thought of me fondly enough to give me gifts. But I could still be thankful while letting someone else wear said gift and love it more than I do. Clothes were made to be worn, after all.
I let go of these stuff, and felt good. So can you.
3A. BONUS TIP: NO MAYBE PILES.
Those of you who’ve heard other closet-cleaning tips might notice I don’t do maybe piles. It was a deliberate choice because every time I cleaned up, I often procrastinated on deciding on something by putting it in that pile.
This time, I decided not to have a maybe pile at all and just stick to keep and let go.
So you finished all that! Yay, you! *bringing out my hypothetical party horn and tooting until my annoyed neighbor takes it away*
4. NOW, TAKEA BREAK.
Seriously, make sure the piles are in a spot where no one will touch them and go do something else for a couple of hours, an afternoon, or even a whole day.
Have you noticed how taking breaks when doing a big work project helps you work better when you get back to it? You’re doing the same thing here.
Relax until you’re recharged and can look at your stuff with fresh eyes.
5. PUT YOUR KEEP PILE IN THE HOT SEAT AGAIN.
Take another look at just your keep pile this time. Hold each item up in the mirror in front of you like you’re looking at something new at the store.
Do you really want to keep it? Put it on and think about it. Does wearing it make you feel good?
When I did this, I found about 20% of the stuff I was keeping didn’t make the cut. I thought I liked them but not as much as other clothes I’d decided to keep. They quickly went in the let go pile & what was left was a better match to my What’s In My Ideal Closet? chart.
6. IT'S TIME TO PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK IN YOUR CLOSET.
I recommend that you…
SEPARATE YOUR STUFF BY TYPE (SLEEPWEAR, TOPS, BOTTOMS...).
This is a matter of preference — I have some friends who do it by occasion or color — but I’ve found you get confused with the sorting if you have items that can be worn to more than one occasion or seem to be two colors (blue? green? blue-green?).
HANG UP CLOTHES THAT WRINKLE AND FOLD THE REST.
If anything needs to be ironed after you fold it, you’re better off hanging it up.
DON'T STACK CLOTHES IN YOUR CLOSET.
The problem with stacking is that you can’t see all your stuff without taking out the clothes on the top of the stack. What’s out of sight is out of mind, and you’ll use what’s at the bottom less.
Find a way to fold it so you’ll get an idea of what’s in your closet at one glance. I took a page from Marie Kondo and tried standing them up vertically. So far, it’s working well for me.
Just one more step…
7. FOLLOW THROUGH ON YOUR OTHER PILES.
YOUR LET GO PILE
Cart your let go pile to
- your neighborhood charity.
- friends and family who might want it. I have a cousin who enjoys getting some of my stuff; you might know someone who loved something you’re letting go of too.
- a consignment shop or thrift store.
- a garage sale (or sell stuff online).
YOUR FIX PILE
Put the clothes to be fixed and altered into a bag, and place the bag by the door or in your car (if you have one) so you’ll remember to bring it when you next go out. If you find those items sitting where you left them for a month, consider getting rid of them too.
You’re all done, woo-hoo!
It’s time to celebrate!
Look in your closet and bask in how it is now full of stuff you love and use.
And did you rediscover something that used to be at the bottom of the pile before the big clean-up? Wear it the next time you go out and feel good about conquering your closet!
Again, here’s that What’s In My Ideal Closet? worksheet bundle to help you clean up your own act.
Just click the button below to get it for free!