Here they are:
1. Create five piles: Donate, Sell, Alter, Store, and Maybe. Here’s what they should contain:
- The Maybe pile should be tiny, and contain things that you might like to wear but for some reason never get around to wearing. Hang these few items in the front of your closet. If, after one month, you still haven’t worn them, they should go into the Donate or Sell Piles.
- Donate: Items that are still in good condition but do not have a lot of resale value.
- Sell: Items that are worth selling on Ebay or through consignment shops so that you can use the money to start filling in the gaps in your wardrobe.
- Alter: If you would love it/wear it/live in it, but it needs a little nip here or a tuck there, then it is worth spending the money to have it altered. Sometimes the slightest alteration can make all the difference between frumpy and flattering.
- Store: If it’s special to you, or something that you might consider passing along to your daughter someday, it should go in a safe bin, preferably an acid free one, in a climate controlled closet. Delicate items should be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper.
2. Bring in Outside Help: Call a friend or, better yet, a professional, for a consultation. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh set of eyes to show you how you could make that one piece in your wardrobe work for you, or what to wear with that adorable cardigan. For example, today we found what I thought was a gorgeous dress. It turns out it was meant to be a skirt, but since I saw it as a dress, it gave Dee a new way to look at and wear something that she might have considered tossing.
3. Be Ruthless: If you hesitate, toss it. If it doesn’t make you feel good, toss it. If it reminds you of a less-than-flattering time in your life (like Dee’s maternity stragglers), toss it. If the color doesn’t complement your skin tone, toss it. Your clothes, even your lounging around the house clothes, should make you feel lovely. If they don’t, then they don’t deserve to take up precious space in your closet. If you’re worried about getting rid of so many old favorites at the same time, stash them in a box in your garage. If you don’t miss them, then you made the right decision to get rid of them!
4. Make a shopping list. Dee’s list included solid camisoles, a wide brown belt, a pair of skinny black ponte pants, stretch jeans and cords, and some new hangers. (We tossed all the wire ones!).
5. Accessorize! Don’t forget the critical role that accessories can play in your wardrobe. While we just skimmed the surface today, I plan to go back to sift through Dee’s shoes, bags, and other accessories. I also convinced her (I think!) to splurge and treat herself to one amazing bag that she can carry all the time (it will become her trademark) and gorgeous shoes. They instantly upgrade everything you are wearing! Factor in the cost-per-use, and even the priciest bag becomes a relative bargain. (Notice my innate talent for justifying any purchase?)
Now that Dee is looking at her closet with a fresh perspective, I’d love to hear how life-changing it has been, or not. Just seeing a closet cleared of clutter, with only the things in it that she actually wears, should feel like a breath of fresh air. I also encouraged her to photograph herself in outfits that she loves and keep them in her closet so that putting together looks is quick and easy, essential with her busy lifestyle. Maybe she’ll let me post pics of her here in the future. Next project: My own closet (it’s so much easier for me to tackle someone else’s!), when my friend and stylist Yvonne Van Wie comes to my house for a much-needed session on October 19. Check back for details and before and after pictures! And while I know that closet-clearing isn’t exactly a holiday topic, when the mood to clean or purge your closet strikes, you have to go with it! There is never a good time!