Friday, August 12, 2016

free for all friday: how to clean out your closet (once and for all)!

One of the questions I get asked by friends and blog readers in person the MOST is: "can you help me clean out my closet?"  I usually beg off or tell people that it's not really one of my strong suits.  And that's the truth.  I can clean out my closet like a champ.  But when it comes to cleaning out other people's closets - I steer way clear.  Why you may wonder?


In my opinion, cleaning out your closet is a super personal thing.  It's is really between YOU and your clothes to decide what works for you and what doesn't. You need to decide what style you are going for, if the pieces you own are pointed in that direction also and then ask yourselves the hard questions about what fits, what doesn't, what you love and what you don't love. I think all those questions are (again) very personal and having someone in the room with you may skew your answers.

About two or three years ago I seriously (and I mean seriously) pared down my closet in a crazy ruthless way.  When I did that I was incredibly surprised at what I learned about my style and myself and how easy it made getting dressed with way less clothes.  I learned I was holding on to things I didn't love or wear "just in case" which made getting dressed quite difficult. When I got honest with myself about what I wear and how I wear it, my own personal style suddenly snapped into place.


So today I will lay out the steps I use to effectively (and ruthlessly!) clean out my closet and in the end to find your personal style (if you are having trouble nailing it down).  There are so many "rules" of cleaning out your closet... some I adhere to and some I totally break.  But this is what has worked for me.

1) Start with a vision of what you want your personal style to be... either with a Pinterest board or a dream board or with the inspiration of a favorite blogger or celebrity (Jess Lively used to ask herself "What Would Jennifer Aniston Do?").  This will be your new road map.  I personally did this with a Pinterest board.  I pinned 25 - 50 of my favorite outfits and then quickly found a few themes and stuck with that.

2) Weed out any pieces that don't fit or need mending... right off the bat these are not pieces you need in your closet.  If they don't fit ,give them away or sell them and if they need mending, fix them or pass them on.  Honesty is going to be the most important aspect of your closet clean out.  Be HONEST with yourself about what fits and what doesn't.  It can be too big or too small - whatever the case may be, it's time to send it on it's merry way.  It's doing nothing for you in your wardrobe right now.

3)  Ask yourself the really tough questions about EACH and EVERY piece... This is where the rubber meets the road friends.  This is where we again get ruthless and honest with our clothes.   These questions will help you weed through what works and what doesn't.  Some of the questions won't click for you and some of them will.  Go through these questions and see which ones equal a "lightbulb" moment for you and then use them to evaluate each piece you own. As you evaluate each piece, make one pile for "keep" and one for "get rid of."
-  Do you wear this piece? (yes: keep! no: get rid of!)
- Would you buy this pieces again? (yes: keep! no: get rid of!)
- Does this piece fit my desired personal style? (yes: keep! no: get rid of!)
- Have you worn this piece in the last year? (yes: keep! no: get rid of!)
- When you wear this piece do you feel good about yourself? (yes: keep! no: get rid of!)


If you are long overdue for a closet clean out, don't be surprised if you get rid of half or MORE of your clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories.  It's going to be completely shocking at first.  But as you start to load the "yes" pieces back in your closet or dresser drawers you should be absolutely giddy with excitement.

You will begin to notice patterns and themes with the items you chose.  The pieces that remain will be your "favorites" and seeing them all together without the hubris will be super exciting.  Chances are your mind will already be buzzing with new outfit combinations and you will be excited to pick out a new outfit tomorrow.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't worry.  That is totally normal too.  Sometimes I clean out my closet and I feel so FREE and inspired that I head straight to Goodwill with all my donations and never look back.  BUT sometimes I don't.  And that is fine too.  If you are wondering if you are going to regret it tomorrow or next week - this is my secret:  grab a box, a plastic bin, some empty shopping bags, etc and pack up the "get rid of" pieces nicely.  Then find a hiding spot for them in an unused closet, the basement, storage room, under your bed or just any where that is out of sight.   Leave them there for a few weeks... if after a month or so you have completely forgotten about them and moved on, then you are good to go! If not, that is fine too.  Maybe choose a few pieces to keep from them and then donate the rest.  That is up to you.  It's better to try and know than to not try at all!


Now it's time for the fun part!  Filling your closet back up with things that you ABSOLUTELY love this time... right!?!? Take note of the types of items that you just got rid of... is there a theme there as well? Too many sale rack impulse buys? Too much color when you love black? Too much black when you love color? Too many t-shirts when you what you really love is blouses? Too many blouses when you really are just a t-shirt gal? You get the idea.  You can learn just as much from your mistakes in your closet as in your successes.  

You don't have to fill the closet up right away... take some time to get familiar with your favorites again and then shop wisely!  

On a related note, I will be kicking off my wardrobe consultation services again in preparation for fall.  It's been a few years since I have offered them here on the blog but I have so many requests - so I am going to bring them back! I will only be taking a few clients at a time.  Email me if you are interested in getting on the list and learning more.

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