Do you have “lemons” hiding or piling up in your closet? We’re talking about those lonesome clothes out of sight, out of mind, and those that have so many duplicates you could have your own boutique!
Well, in this detailed step-by-step guide, we will focus on how to organize and prep your closet to best fit your lifestyle. We encourage you to try the following exercises and let us know how the Wardrobe Style Guide worked for you!
To begin this organizing exercise, you will want the following on hand :
- Roll of large garbage bags, reusable totes or boxes
2. A clean area in your bedroom (or other room) to pile and sort clothes
4. Full length mirror
5. An open heart and mind
Your closet is on FIRE! *
(What?! Now, now, calm down. We know it’s an awful thought, and we hope this NEVER happens, but for the sake of your future stylized and organized self and wardrobe, we’re going to pretend.)
Your beloved clothing collection is ON FIRE and you only have 30 seconds to save your clothes. What articles are you going to rescue?
In just 30 seconds, grab all your clothes you just cannot live without and pile them on your bed (or an empty area somewhere out of the way). GO!…
How did you do? Did you freak out and just start grabbing everything you could? It’s hard to choose what clothes you love and just cannot live without, isn’t it? (Especially if you found yourself racing through your wardrobe and rediscovering items from months or years ago you forgot you had…some with price tags still attached…oops!)
Now, walkaway from the “rescued” pile of clothes (we’ll get back to those later), and head back to your closet full of clothes “ravaged by the fire”. Grab one section of clothes at a time and thoughtfully try on each article in front of your full length mirror. (This may be a quick try-on session or a lengthy process depending on the size of your wardrobe.)
TIP: Give yourself about 15-20 articles to work with at a time, so you don’t get too overwhelmed. Heck, you made it this far in the exercise, so let’s not get “burnt” out yet!
Be sure to ask yourself the following questions while trying on EACH article of clothing:
• Does this make me look and feel my best?
• Do I have other pieces I can wear with this to create multiple outfit combos?
• Have I worn this in the last month? (Take into consideration seasonal clothes.)
If you answered “YES” to all three questions, it’s a keeper! Create a separate pile for these clothes. (You should now have a total of two clothing piles.)
If you answered “NO” to all three questions, it’s time to purge! Create another pile for these clothes, or better yet, box/bag them up and get ready to donate/consign them!
If you answered with a combination of “YES”and “NO” to the questions, add these clothes to the “saved from the fire” pile. (We’ll go through all of these clothes again, once we go through the remaining clothes in your wardrobe.)
Once you have thoughtfully emptied out your wardrobe and tried on all clothing articles, give yourself a pat on the back! Whew! Great job! It can be a draining, mental journey, as well as, a physical journey, but I knew you could do it! Take a deep breath and bask in the beauty and glory of your new, blank-slate closet. You did it, my friend. Be sure to document this moment by taking a photo of your empty closet–you’ll always have proof of the progress you made in your wardrobe and the “fire” that once raged!
If you still have the energy and momentum, it is now time to revisit the mountains of clothes formed from the fire escapade. (NOTE: If this seems too overwhelming to start re-trying on clothes, I get it. Please take a mental and physical break to regroup—but don’t wait to long! We still need you to maintain your focus and motivation to successfully complete the task at hand. You’ve got this!)
Now, as you begin to try on the clothes (again) from the “saved from the fire” pile, really stop and ask yourself: “Will I actually wear this and does it add value to my new wardrobe?”
• If you can’t imagine wearing each article (i.e. tops and bottoms) with two or more outfits, PURGE it. Everyone should have a versatile wardrobe and to accomplish that you need articles that can be worn with multiple outfits!
• If you are iffy on an item, or the price tags are still attached after several months of purchasing it, PURGE it. (NOTE: Try not to focus on the amount of money spent on clothes, as it can deter you from making a clear gut decision on whether to keep or purge. Heck, we ALL make buying mistakes!)
• If you don’t see yourself wearing it soon (like in the next few weeks), you most likely won’t in a few months, so you better just PURGE it. (NOTE: This does not include formal or semi-formal wear, or out-of-season clothing. Judge at your discretion.)
We are re-building your wardrobe, so it only houses clothes that make you FEEL LIKE THE ROCKSTAR YOU ARE and gives you the most outfit combos possible!
After ALL the remaining clothes have been tried on, you should just be left with an all “YES” pile!
Now, if there are a few clothes (note the word “few”) you just cannot part with and probably will never wear, we get it, and it’s okay. This is where you can create a separate storage box for all of your clothing memorabilia. Don’t forget to label the box (i.e. clothing memorabilia) and store it out of the way in a guest closet, attic or basement. Hopefully, someday you’ll go through it and decide it’s time to let those clothes go!
Reverse your hangers.
Alrighty! Finally, it’s time to HANG your clothes and fill your empty closet! Yay! (And yes, we recommend a certain way to hang your clothes now that your wardrobe is refreshed.)
Grab the felt-lined hangers and begin to re-hang all your clothes. We like using matching hangers because they look super clean and orderly in a freshly organized closet. Felt-lined hangers are recommended because they help prevent slippage of clothes and shoulder creases.
Now, here’s the twist: hang your clothes reverse on the clothing rod, so the hanger hook is facing you. (Refer to photo below.)
This extra step for hanging your clothes is such an effective visual aide because now you can actually SEE what clothes you are wearing and what articles are purely “hanging out” yearning to be loved.
At this point, you just might be wondering “ok, so how should I organize and sort my newly hung clothes?” Our favorite way to organize clothes (especially tops) is by style and color.
First, organize by style: (1) tanks (sleeveless), (2) T-shirts, (3) blouses, (4) buttoned shirts, (5) jackets/blazers, (6) pants/skirts, (7) dresses.
Next, within each style category, organize by color using the acronym R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Place whites and warm neutrals in front of R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. and blacks and cool neutrals at the end of R.O.Y.G.B.I.V.
Once all of your clothes are hung and sorted, take a photo or two of your newly organized and stylized wardrobe. You conquered your unruly closet and turned those lemons into “lemon-aide”! Bravo!
Hopefully, you will now find it easier to pick out and style your O.O.T.D. (outfit of the day)! If styling daily outfit combinations is something you struggle with, no worries, we will tackle that in a separate blog, on a different day. Hang tight!
Once you have worn your O.O.T.D. or after completing some laundry, you are now ready to hang clothes back up the correct direction in your closet. Be sure to keep the style and color in mind when putting back your clothes!
In a few weeks, you should start to see a pattern in your wardrobe of the clothes you repeatedly wear and the items that continually get ignored (because they are still hung reverse). If you find you are not wearing certain articles for about a span of 3 months, we advise to PURGE them!
Shopping and adding value.
Finally, let’s talk shopping and adding value to your newly refreshed wardrobe. Maybe you love to shop, or maybe it’s your worst nightmare. Whatever the case, we advise to keep your current, stylized wardrobe in mind. (TIP: Before you go on a shopping spree, take photos of the clothes in your closet, especially the articles that need a new outfit combo. This will help you stay on track with what you really need or really want–and hopefully, deter you from the regretted impulse buys.)
Also, try to remember and ask yourself the following questions when you are out shopping, as well as, the questions in the “fire” exercise:
• What am I MISSING in my wardrobe? (i.e. denim shirt, a graphic t-shirt, white jeans, kimono, etc.)
• Do I need to add certain COLORS or some PATTERNS to my wardrobe?
• What DON’T I need? What do I already have plenty of?
• Will this item add VALUE to my current wardrobe? Does it make me feel and look my best?
• If I purchase this, is there an article in my wardrobe that can be PURGED?
After your shopping escapade, we urge you to go directly to your closet and integrate the new articles into your wardrobe. Hold yourself accountable. And remember: hang the new clothes reverse on the hangers!
As you are hanging your new clothes, locate the items you told yourself you were going to purge and PURGE them. Do it and be at peace with it because now you have a new article in its place that makes you happier.
Lastly, you should never have a FULL closet. Overflowing, jam-packed wardrobes are anxiety ridden and overwhelming to the senses. Also, where is there room for growth? Hence, the importance of purging clothes from your wardrobe as you are adding to it, or even changing up your style.
And there you have it, folks!
Now, it’s up to YOU to continue to nurture your wardrobe and turn those lemons into “lemon-aide”, so you don’t have to experience another scary “fire” escapade…
(* We adapted the “fire” organizing exercise from an article a few years ago in REALSIMPLE magazine.)