Monday, January 9, 2023

my tips for cleaning out your closet!


I did a HUGE closet clean out during the week between Christmas and New Years and it felt SO good. I usually do big clean outs about 2 times a year and smaller clean outs maybe 3-4 times a year. My closet is decent sized but it's not huge so space is at a premium and also when my closet gets messy or unorganized I tend to forget the items I own and love and just pull for the same things over and over or feel like I need new clothes when I really don't. For me, cleaning out my closet is an activity I really enjoy. Mostly because I know the end product will make me feel more creative when I choose outfits and remind me that I have plenty to wear and that I do really love my closet. It brings creativity and contentedness to the forefront.

I posted this photo of my sweaters organized by color (or by neutral hue, you might say) and lots of you had questions on how to start the process of cleaning out your closet and how to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. It can be a daunting process and I while I do enjoy it, I always have to be in a certain mood for it too (mostly my mood is: fed up with the mess and disorganization).

Deciding what to keep and what to either give away to friends, donate or sell is a personal decision. I can't tell you what to keep and what not to keep and I would never say "this style is OUT - throw it all away!" Style is so personal and it's all about what makes you feel your best and your most confident. So in the end you will have to decide for yourself. But these are some of the "rules" I go by...

How to decide what items to get rid of in my closet:
- Items that don't fit, if you are in a life transition like pregnancy or weight loss or gain (both are TOTALLY natural during a woman's life, even just a few pounds can drastically change how clothes fit) and you need/want to keep items that don't fit then I suggest storing them elsewhere so you can see what fits NOW in your closet. It makes getting dressed so much easier. If you are still thinking you might fit in those jeans from high school or the like, they should go. I think looking to the future with clothes is better than looking back. Focus on the items that fit you now, that you love now.
- Items that I haven't worn from previous seasons, if you are looking at a pile of summer stuff you didn't wear at all last summer... it's time for them to go! (again barring any type of major life change like pregnancy, etc) If I didn't love it last summer, it's unlikely I will grow fond of it between now and the next warm weather season. Same goes for cold weather season... if I didn't love it last winter, then its unlikely it will become a piece I run to this winter.
- Items that I don't look forward to wearing for the upcoming season, spring and summer are up next and some of my warm weather pieces from previous seasons I am either sick of or they just got worn to death and are looking rough from a lot of wash cycles. In addition, there are always the pesky items I "thought" I would wear but didn't. Sometimes I feel a little shameful about it, but in the end, those items are out for me... I want to focus on places I need to fill in for the new season and items I am excited to repeat this coming spring/summer.
- Items that don't feel like "me", this one might be more difficult to describe but there may be a sweater that is just gorgeous but I never really wear it because it just doesn't "feel" right. It's okay to say, this isn't for me and move on. It's easy to get attached to items because we paid money for them or because they mean something more than just their physical properties. But if it's taking up space, it needs to be something I love.

As far as organization goes, this is generally how I organize my closet:
- sweaters folded, as shown above.
- tops are all on hangers long sleeve on one side, organized by color and short sleeve/sleeveless on the other side also organized by color. 
- lightweight jackets and sweatshirts also share a hanging rod, also organized by type and color
- jeans I hang from s hooks on hanging rod too (you can see that in this post!)

How I handle off season items in my closet:
- Seasonless items like jeans, tops, shoes stay out all year.
- Some items like jackets/blazers and some seasonless sweaters (cotton and some lightweight cashmere) also stay out all year.
- Items that are super season-specific like boots, sandals, shorts, etc get packed away in fabric storage boxes and put on the top shelf of my closet depending on the season. Underbed storage or even big plastic tubs put in the basement work for this too. We happen to have tall ceilings so I use the vertical space since I can't reach it easily to access daily.

Let's get to some of your questions about organizing your closet...

Q. What to fold/hang, by color or type of item?
A. I like to fold sweaters (and sometimes jeans too) and hang tops and blazers and sweatshirts and jackets. I organized tops by style, then by color. So button up tops are together by color and tank tops are together by color, for example. It depends on how your own closet is laid out, but this is how I prefer it. 

Q. Where to sell or donate?
A. I usually donate to Goodwill, give/sell to friends and sell on ThredUp. Keep in mind reselling clothes is NOT lucrative, you will make a very small amount on reselling clothes so to avoid disappointment, don't get your hopes up.

Q. No shelves, how to store sweaters?
A. Search it up on Pinterest! There are some cool tricks for using hangers to hang sweaters without getting bumps in the shoulders. I will say that I LOVE a shelf for sweaters... I've been known to rip out hanging bars in past closets and buy a free standing shelf to put in a closet before!

Q. Do you keep sweaters out all year or pack some away?
A. Super season specific sweaters get packed away in the off season. So for example I have a few very light cotton or linen sweaters that are packed away until spring. Come spring, all the heavier wool and cashmere sweaters get packed away in their place. Some cotton and light cashmere sweaters stay out all year.

Q. How to not feel overwhelmed and know what to get rid of?
A. I clean out my closet a lot so I have a pretty good confidence in my ability to do it. But if you are new at it or haven't done it in a long time it can be SUPER overwhelming! I get it! I think it's most overwhelming because people worry they will "regret" getting rid of something. This is a trick I've used before and I find it very helpful... if you are feeling worried that you might get rid of something and regret it then just store it somewhere else for now. So do your big closet clean out and take everything you are going to give away and just put it in a big storage tub out of sight (make it very out of sight, like the depths of your storage room). Then wait. Wait 3 months or even a year - then go through it again and see if you missed anything in there. If not... send it on to friends or donate it.

Q. Do you wash sweaters or dry clean?
A. I follow the instructions on the tags. Anything with wool or cashmere can NOT be washed, even hand wash can be tricky, with a very few minor exceptions. Those items go to the dry cleaner. I also love products like this to refresh sweaters between wears. Or wear a cami or t-shirt underneath to keep them cleaner longer. I don't think sweaters need to be washed after every wear unless there is a spill. Sweaters that are cotton or other washable materials get washed in the washer on delicate and hung or laid flat to dry.

Q. Parting with something that cost money (or still has tags on) but you know you will never wear it again?
A. This can be very difficult and here is my take on it, I'll speak to my own goals for my closet here. Keeping in mind that I want my closet to inspire easy outfits the second I step in - it can be difficult to make outfits when there is a lot of "noise" or unused, unliked items in there. I want to step in and know that everything fits and everything is something I love. There is a phrase my husband uses that I love and it's "addition by subtraction" - sometimes taking things out of your closet make the closet a better place. For instance, we had these half dead plants in our landscaping and I couldn't think for the life of me what to replace them with, so I left them there. One day my husband dug them up and threw them in the woods. Addition by subtraction. Sure the landscaping had a small open spot now, but at least it wasn't filled with half dead plants. It actually looked so much better - and it wasn't at all the gaping hole I thought it would be.
Wish the item well in it's next life and move on... :)

I hope this post was helpful for you! The New Year is a GREAT time to clean out your closet and start fresh for 2023. It can be difficult to feel inspired by my closet in the dead of winter, so I hope this will help making getting dressed a little easier and more fun for these dark cold days!


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