Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Do you ever find yourself uttering that classic phrase “I have nothing to wear!” when you stare into your jumbled closet? Perhaps the real problem is that you can’t FIND what you have and love amongst the chaos. Since I’ve probably read just about every column/ article/ book I’ve ever come across on the topic, let me share the top tips here and save you some time. Hopefully this will inspire you to get over your fear of the time commitment and effort to finally tackle the project. Remember the final reward: happiness when you look in your closest and drawers!
Have a good objective friend come over to help you in the purging decision making process.
We all make excuses why that top from 2006 could come back in style or will fit again after a more dedicated exercise routine. You need someone who can look you in the eye and objectively tell you to let it go because it will never come back in style in the exact same design. If it doesn’t fit NOW, why take up valuable real estate with wishes?
Divide clothes into these piles: Donate, Repair/Rework, Trash, and Makes Me Look Fabulous So It Stays.
Because really, why hold onto ANY clothes that don’t make us look fabulous?! My husband always preaches the value of a first impression as the reason you should always look put together because you never know who you are about to meet/ run into. (Though somehow trips to the hardware store on Saturdays seems to be the exemption to this rule in his mind.) I’m not the greatest at following through on this as “comfy” seems to be my first instinct when putting together an outfit, but I’m always trying to keep it in mind.
There will be some pieces that need a little tailoring repair or could fairly easily be reworked into a current and appropriate piece. Having a good tailor in your list of resources is key for this. I love NE Tailor on 22nd St & Johnson St in Northeast Minneapolis. I trusted him to tweak a Herve Leger dress, need I say more?
Oh, and get those Trash and Donation piles out of the house ASAP to prevent any second guessing.
Organize clothes and accessories by type and then by color.
Here you can see how a random assortment of clothing and accessories topples out of control on the left without structure. On the right, all clutch purses are grouped together (by type) then by color (wow, she has a whole shelf of gold clutches!). I like this solution for the always growing stacks of tote bags. Stacking them folded flat so that part of the design is easily visible and by stacking them this way you don’t have to try to keep them from flopping over as they would if stacked upright.
This is the key tip/rule as you start putting your clothes and accessories back into your closet after the big purge. It will make it easier to look at all your blouses and pick ONE and then look at your skirts all together and pick ONE. Now go to the Shapeware box or drawer and pick the appropriate piece for this outfit. Go to your jewelry area and pick a bracelet or two (depending on the look) and then earrings and a necklace from their zones. See how this sounds much less stressful?
But how do you organize all those pieces? Here are a few favorite organization examples for accessories to inspire you.
Let’s start with handbags. Here you can see how handbags that can stand on their own can sit on a shelf. Clutches are best stacked together since they are slim and when one is removed the rest won’t fall over much.
The larger handbags with unstructured bottoms do well hung from hooks. Don’t try to double up on hooks. It gets clunky when you try to grab one and inevitably both sets of handles won’t fit comfortably on the hook.
For my clutches I use a Real Simple Purse Organizer to take advantage of hanging space in my closet.
Since they are narrower than handbags they don’t get smooshed under the elastic bands and I can group a few similar clutches together in one section.
Depending upon the size of your jewelry collection and your organizational style (do you like to have everything out and visible at a glance or do you prefer it tucked away with easy access?) there are a number of different solutions.
You could hang necklaces from hooks on the wall and keep earrings and bracelets in an assortment of small bowls and dishes on the top of your dresser (top image). If you tend to wear a few pieces day after day, keeping them out with a few beautiful items might be sufficient (middle image). Or you could create a system of organized compartments in your drawers for each type of jewelry so they are organized and still accessible without sitting out and looking cluttered (which is how the first arrangement style would look to some people).
Here is an example of a vanity with clear organizers in the drawers to separate jewelry by type and style.
You can also see this style of organization in Gayle’s revamped closet design above. Notice that all her workout gear is grouped together (top right image) apart from general t-shirts and pants.
What do I use?
I like a mix of organization style 1 & 3. Key items out and visible, less frequently pieces organized in a closed drawer.
My favorite necklaces are out and visible (and organized by type) on this jewelry stand by Umbra.
My earrings are organized by type (studs, fancy long earrings for parties, hoops, blue earrings, brown earrings, etc.) in small bowls on top of my dresser for quick access in the morning. If I put the fancier items in a drawer I’d probably wear them less frequently. Seeing them out reminds me to wear something a little more punchy day to day.
The rest of my jewelry is either hanging on hooks on the inside of a door or in an assortment of small boxes and cutlery trays in a dresser drawer that was suddenly empty after a purge when we moved into our new house last year. I could eventually upgrade to prettier organization pieces, but they are pricey, and these work just fine. I like having the 2 cutlery trays stacked because I get more function out of the drawer depth.
Above: the drawer of necklaces, bracelets, pins and rings. Very special occasion pieces are kept in closed boxes.
Above: the lower cutlery tray of necklaces and bracelets.
If you collect shoes as works of art, perhaps displaying them in a case like this would allow you to appreciate their beauty even when you aren’t wearing them.
Is space limited? Utilize wall space by hanging them on the wall.
Is your collection substantial? Organize them by type in standardized boxes with photos on the front.
Do you store your shoes by the front door so you aren’t tracking dirt into the house? I loved this tradition in Japan, and since space is at a premium there, I frequently saw this style of shoe storage there. You can find these at the Container Store.
There are a million different styles of organization tools out there to suit your habits. The key is to purge to what you love and looks good on you first. Don’t buy any organization bins, etc until you’ve completed the purge and know what you REALLY have left. Be creative with what you already have and live with those solutions for a bit to see how they work before investing in more.
I hope this has helped demystify the process for you! And if you need help, don’t be afraid to email or call me!
1 & 2 & 7 – Oprah 3-12,
3, 5, 12 & 13 – Lucky 3-12
4 – Bed, Bath & Beyond
6 – Unknown
9, 10 & 11 – Fox Interiors
8 & 14 – Container Store