Do you have a hard time finding something to wear? Is it taking you way too long to get dressed in the morning? If so, it’s time to organize. Closet cleaning is definitely a dreaded task that is easily moved down the chore list (frequently dropping off the list altogether).
But it doesn’t need to be painful, and can even be fun. Plus, once you’ve completed the project, you will save money (you won’t buy items you don’t need if you can actually see all of your clothes), time (get dressed in a snap) and stress (say goodbye to emergency ironing because your favorite blouse is wrinkled from being stuffed in the closet). Convinced? We asked a local pro for her top tips to getting organized.
Schedule it. In writing.
Michele Panzer, professional organizer and owner of Let’s Get Organized, advises clients to make closet cleaning a priority by putting it on the calendar.
“It’s like my oven. Every time I open it I say I need to clean it, and then forget about it until next time,” Panzer said. “Write it down — make an appointment — so you can’t avoid it.”
Purge and sort.
The next step is to take everything out of the closet and place each item into one of four piles — “Donate,” “Discard,” “Consign” or “Keep.” Panzer’s rule of thumb for keeping an item? “If you haven’t worn it in one year, get rid of it.”
If you’re having trouble deciding how to categorize an item, ask yourself, “Do I wear it, do I love it?” If you can’t answer yes, it shouldn’t be in your daily living space, Panzer said. Donate items that are worn but do not have any stains or tears, and discard the rest. Consider consigning high quality items like special occasion dresses, coats and dress shoes. Exceptions to the one-year rule include interview outfits or special occasion clothes (that fit!). And even with these exceptions, move them out of the day-to-day closet and into storage or a second unused closet in the house.
Let it go.
But how? When it comes to parting with apparel that has sentimental or (at one time) monetary value, it can be hard to say goodbye. Whether it’s a beloved prom dress or pricey, decades-old Gucci loafers, these are the items that are often needlessly held on to, taking up space in your closet.
Panzer said many of her clients assume because they paid a lot for a piece at one time, it’s still worth something. “Very rarely is it still worth much,” she said. If a client is passionate that an item still has high value, though, Michele will help them “rehome” items by selling them online or at consignment shops, or donating them to a special cause organization like Gowns for Prom, where gowns are cleaned and given to high school students for free.
Parents can also find it particularly challenging to part with children’s baby clothes. Panzer recommends saving items only worn for special occasions – like a baptism gown – and storing them (after being professionally cleaned) in an airtight bin. If you think your future grandchildren are going to be interested in infant pajamas worn 30 years prior, think again. New parents want new clothes for their baby.
Give it some order.
Once the purging, sorting, discarding, donating, consigning and storing is completed, it’s time to organize what you are left with — the “Keep” pile. Panzner recommends sorting by season, then by clothing type. For example, sweaters are grouped with sweaters — and chances are you have an extensive sweater collection, so you can then group by color.
Invest in a few tools.
As for closet organization pieces, Panzer doesn’t see a need to purchase anything elaborate, but does recommend a few key items:
1. Uniform hangers, facing the same way. While it may seem trivial, Panzer says this is the key to keeping an organized closet. Discard wire hangers from the dry cleaner and invest in a single hanger type so your clothing is all stored at a uniform sight line, making it easier to locate what you’re looking for and reducing visual chaos.
2. Shoe organizers — not just for shoes. Shoe organizers with clear plastic pockets that hang on the back of a closet door are inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of space, and can be used for storing anything from shoes to jewelry, scarves, belts and more.
3. A secondary rod to double your space. Secondary rods that hang from an existing closet rod are inexpensive and effective; you can essentially double your storage space.
The key to staying organized, according to Panzer, is purging once or twice each year. Once you have a system, Panzer recommends retiring something for every new purchase. “One in, one out,” she explained.
Grab a friend.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional organizer, grab a friend to help tackle the project — and be sure to reciprocate. Turn on the music, pour a glass of wine and lean into organizing. Not only does enlisting a friend make it fun, it’s helpful to have a second opinion to assist with difficult decisions, like getting rid of jeans from ten years ago that probably won’t fit again or ever be back in style.
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