Do You Have A Frankencloset? Stop The Madness!

In addition to at least 100 hangers, the floor of my closet is COVERED in shoes, petticoats, bags, hula-hoops, light-bulbs (?!), and a trillion other things I don't need.
Publish date:
October 30, 2012
organize, closet

Hello from blustery New York City! I'm hunkered down in my apartment with my husband and our two dogs, who make for excellent (and warm) company, but I'm totally over watching Netflix and getting constant updates from Bloomberg about how no one should go outside. I get it, I get it. I don't have appropriate footwear for this kind of thing ANYWAY! Yawn!

So in addition to writing up a storm -- weather, lol! -- I decided to spend the next two days cleaning out my closet. It's time, you guys.

I love and simultaneously hate cleaning out my wardrobe. You cannot even imagine the hideousness. In addition to at least 100 hangers, the floor of my closet is COVERED in shoes, petticoats, bags, hula-hoops, light-bulbs (?!), and a trillion other things I don't need. But wait, that's not all! The shelf above the rail is also packed with stuff, like shoeboxes, more dresses, and -- I don't even know. I don't even KNOW. I am nervous when I open the door. It is truly a FRANKENCLOSET!

If you're in the same situation as me, don't you think it's time to do a little clean out? I keep telling myself it is the right thing to do, because I don't even know what I own, which makes getting dressed seriously difficult. It's better to clear it out and only keep things you love and wear.

Want to join me? Okay: steel yourself. Get ready. It is SERIOUS. After an hour, you will be exhausted. You might be dusty. You'll possibly be covered in sequins and stray threads. You might be wearing a hat. You'll be sneezing and your arms will be tired from flicking through hangers and holding dresses up to the light.

The fact is that you've gotta COMMIT to this! It is not for the lily-livered. If you can get through it, though, the benefits are enormous: a gloriously clean closet, full of things you'll actually wear, organized beautifully. I mean, for a Virgo, it doesn't get much better than that. So here are my tips for embarking on Closetgeddon.

1. You will need…

  • A cocktail or two
  • Some great music (I recommend any 90s R&B mix, especially this one)
  • Maybe a snack.

I'd also recommend wearing something simple, like a slip, because a) this is hot, hard, sweaty work and b) you're probably going to be trying on a LOT of items. Make it easy for yourself!

2. Get rid of anything that you don't believe to be useful or know to be beautiful.

Hollywood tape, for example, is not beautiful, but it's certainly useful. A pair of glitter shoes may not be entirely practical, but they are at least beautiful, and even if you are in tremendous pain while wearing them, you can look down at them and smile. But what about those unflattering jeans or that skirt that is just the wrong length? They've gotta GO!

Do not keep things because you're feeling sentimental. If you haven't worn it in a year, it's time to heave-ho. I know that this is a tricky thing to do. Sometimes our clothing feels precious, like children we need to protect from the harsh elements. But unless you have closet space to rival Princess Grace of Monaco, you can't just hang on to every dress you've ever worn. There is nowhere to put it.

I subscribe to the feng shui idea that clutter makes us stagnant. I quote:

"Clutter is low, stagnant, and confusing energy that constantly drains energy from you. Depending on the feng shui area of your home where your clutter is located, it can also negatively influence, or even completely block, the flow of events in many areas of your life. The reason most people avoid clearing the clutter is not because it takes effort and it can be time consuming. The real reason is the fact that clutter clearing is a very emotional process that feels like therapy, and it takes emotional stamina to go through it." (Source)

Look, it makes sense to me. If you're still finding it hard to let go of things, realize that getting rid of the old can only ever make space for the new. A lot of times, we justify owning something because it's pretty or cute, but if it just doesn't work on you, then it's time to move on. Take your slightly-too-short or just-barely-the-wrong-color dresses to Buffalo Exchange, and go get yourself something you really love!

3. Separate your clothing into two piles: yes and no.

Obviously, "yes" items are things you want to keep, and "no" items are things you're going to sell or donate. Once you've made these two piles, split each pile in half: "yes" items you're going to wear this winter, "yes" items that need to be stored for the summer, "no" items you're going to sell and "no" items you're going to donate.

If you have a bunch of fancy things that you've barely worn, you can get an almost-reasonable return on your investment at a designer consignment store. Otherwise, places like Buffalo Exchange offer store credit for items you trade in. Of course, churches and community centers can always use more donations, so please consider them when you're making your plans!

4. Figure out where you're going to put your leftover "yes" items.

If you, like me, live in a teeny-tiny apartment, you might have to move it offsite. I rent a 5x10 container at a storage place, which has a double clothing rack and about 500 shoeboxes in it. This sounds crazy, but if you have a serious clothing collection, it is the best option. You also, of course, have to get your clothing there in the first place. I usually fill suitcases and trundle them back and forth. Ridiculous, I know. It makes quite a sight. Oh, the things we do for fashion.

5. If you're really nervous about getting rid of something, don't.

Put it into a kind of clothing purgatory, where you can give it a little time to prove itself to you. Set a deadline on this, too -- say a month. If your sweater is a weird shape or you can't figure out what to wear those shoes with, start dreaming up some outfits that might make it work. Give it a trial, then make your executive decision. Ultimately, you will feel better when you make a decision about getting rid of the damn thing.

6. Organize your remaining items into somekind of system!

Sometimes I look at the size of my closet and despair. But then I remember that when the closets were built in this building, most people only owned, like, five dresses. Regardless, even if you have a walk-in closet, you need a system of some kind. Min has written about this extensively so don't punk out on me now!

I have my own weird systems. I keep my makeup in a vintage suitcase, I pile hair accessories into a big round hatbox, and I display (some of) my shoes in two side-by-side Billy bookcases. I also bought two hot pink steamer trunks from The Container Store (see above!), and they hold my scarves, hats, and random bulky items (curlers, rollerskates, etc.). I have hooks that hang over the doors of my closet and the door to my office which I load up with handbags.

I organize my closet by type of clothing, too. Coats are grouped together, as are dresses and skirts. I try to fold my sweaters and pants, and they have their own drawers. It just keeps things a little more manageable. Having said that, I do use the hanging hooks over the door of my closet to plan outfits. I draw potential outfits on index cards sometimes, too.

My system isn't perfect, but when my clothing is regularly culled, it works. One day, I'll live somewhere with a real closet.

Oh, by the way, once you've devised a system, do your best to stick to it.

So, are you going to join me in doing a massive closet purge while the storm rages outside? What would persuade you to take the plunge? I promise you, it's worth it.