Does your closet look like the last scene of Goodwill Wars? Are your shoes stacked on top of each other in piles, ready to fall on top of you when you open the door? If so, then it’s time to declutter your closet. To help get you started, here are 10 simple ways to declutter your closet and organize your clothes.
1) Analyze why you haven’t worn an item in 6 months
When you open your closet, what do you see? While I like to think that my fashion sense is pretty strong, there are a few pieces of clothing in my closet that I’ve had for years—and haven’t worn in ages. Maybe it’s an old pair of jeans from college, or a blouse from high school. Whatever it is, there are a few key questions you can ask yourself when trying to decide if an item is worth keeping: Have I worn it in 6 months? Will I wear it in 6 months? If not, why should I keep it around? To declutter your closet safely and quickly, ask yourself these three questions every time you come across an item.
2) Embrace black & white
If you have any clothing in your closet that’s not black or white, get rid of it. It’s clutter—it’s distracting, and at its most basic level, it just doesn’t go with anything else you own. If your favorite shirt doesn’t match a pair of pants perfectly, that means you don’t love it—you’re just used to wearing it all the time. Take that shirt out of your closet and give it away. It can be hard when something has sentimental value or if you’ve had a piece for a long time—but remember, if it hasn’t made its way into rotation yet (or even if it has), then no one is going to miss what you donate.
3) Empty the shoe boxes
Not only will you have a lot more space in your closet, but you’ll be able to see everything and won’t buy duplicates. You can also see what clothes fit best, what’s in style and what color combinations look best on you. Donate or sell unwanted clothing: Once you’ve gotten rid of everything that doesn’t suit your current lifestyle or goals, decide which items still hold value for someone else and take them to Goodwill or another donation center. Whatever is left over can be sold online (Ebay, Craigslist, etc.). Alternatively, simply keep it—if it doesn’t fit in your closet or if you don’t like how it looks on you anymore.
4) Repair the holes & tears
No matter how careful you are, your clothes will sustain some damage. A small tear can quickly become a gaping hole if you don’t repair it promptly. Look for loose threads and run a needle through them in both directions so they can’t be pulled any further. To repair larger holes, cut out a patch of fabric from an old garment that has roughly similar dimensions to your new one and sew it onto your favorite shirt. You should also reattach dangling zippers with a matching color of thread (be sure not to twist or use knots) in order to fix broken ones as well; take extra care when sewing around metal parts since they may rust over time.
5) Create outfits for each style of clothing
Mixing-and-matching clothing items is a skill, but it’s one that can be improved with time and practice. Start by taking an inventory of your wardrobe and determine how many items you have for each category: pants, shirts, dresses, jackets/coats. Then think about what each item could pair well with (or mix-and-match with) in your closet. Maybe a black blazer goes great with jeans or slacks. Maybe a white dress shirt looks great under just about any type of jacket. Or maybe you have tops that look great layered under vests and blazers – whatever! Once you have some basic principles figured out, try mixing and matching those pieces in different combinations to get different looks.
6) Create outfits for daily use
We often underestimate how much time it takes to get dressed in the morning, even if we have an efficient system for picking out outfits. By organizing your closet and creating a few different options for day-to-day wear, you can shave off time from your morning routine. Now that’s something worth getting out of bed for! Here are 10 ways to create effective outfits by using just one item of clothing.
7) Get rid of unnecessary items in your closet
Before you can clean up your closet, you first need to get rid of all unnecessary items. Review your wardrobe and remove everything that you haven’t worn in over a year. Ask yourself if each item makes you feel good when you wear it. If not, then it’s time for it to go. Consider re-gifting or donating any unwanted clothing that is still in good condition. No amount of organizing will make a dent in a messy closet filled with too many clothes, so do your future self a favor and remove what isn’t needed before moving on to step two!
8) Never buy something you already have in your wardrobe
The more clothes you own, it seems, the more difficult it is to find something you want to wear. That’s because we’re not very good at decision-making: Research shows that when we own a lot of options for any one thing (say, t-shirts or backpacks), our decisions are clouded by preference and overconfidence. There’s no easy way around it: If you’re going to have an amazing closet, you need to eliminate items that don’t work with your body type or your wardrobe staples and focus on a small number of pieces that will stand out.
9) Separate items into different piles (keep, donate, sell, etc.)
Separating your clothing into piles helps you start getting a visual idea of what clothes you don’t wear anymore. If a piece of clothing doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it! Donate it or sell it (if you can find someone who will buy something off of your closet purge pile). In general, if you haven’t worn something in a year, don’t keep it. When moving clothes from one pile to another make sure you note what category they fall under (i.e. sell or donate) so that once your initial purge is complete, you can easily bring in an expert organizer who can help with any follow-up categories that need to be addressed.
10) Take it one step at a time
If you need to declutter your closet, break it down into smaller tasks. Whether you’re doing a full-on purge or just getting rid of old clothes and shoes, focus on one category at a time. Maybe start with coats and jackets, then move on to sweaters and shirts, then pants and skirts. Just don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle your entire closet in one fell swoop; that will only end in failure. If you do run out of time before you finish, at least everything is hanging up neatly so that when you get back from vacation or your next shopping trip (or maybe even tomorrow), you can continue where you left off with minimal effort. Before long, your closet will be organized…and maybe even stress-free!
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