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  • Cheryl Libutti

Ask the Organizer: Clothing


Here is the second in a series about the most common questions I get asked when working with clients. This week's post tackles the tough issue of clothing , closets and laundry.

Question: My closet is full of clothing that I don’t like to wear. I hate the way it looks and I never get all my laundry put away. How can I be more at peace with my clothes closet?

Answer: Clothing can be an emotional category to organize because people associate their clothes with special events, feelings, experiences and life stages.

My favorite way to organize clothing is to think about it like a person- is this item of clothing a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger?

Stranger clothing consists of items we haven’t worn in over a year, doesn’t fit or doesn’t give us a good feeling when we wear it. Get rid of or donate those pieces.

Friend clothing consists of items we love and wear over and over again. They fit well and we like how we feel when we wear them. These are items (generally) to keep, though look to make sure they are not worn, faded or stretched out.

Acquaintance clothing consists of items we sometimes wear but are never thrilled with. Maybe we spent a lot of money on that blazer but it turned out to be kind of uncomfortable and scratchy. We wear acquaintance clothing when we are short on clean clothes but they are never our first choice.

This is the toughest category and needs careful assessment of each piece. One trick people use is to ask themselves, "If I were in a dressing room right now trying this on, would I buy this piece of clothing or put it back?"

A professional organizer can help you assess each piece of acquaintance clothing and guide you through the decision to keep or donate it. Generally people feel more relief and feel lighter when they get rid of more acquaintance clothing.

Many people keep clothing in their closet that used to fit, but they have gained some weight and it no longer feels or looks right. Please, please, please take those pieces out and place them under your bed in a flat plastic or soft-sided storage bin, with a sticky note of the date when you took them out. Put a reminder in your phone to look at those clothes in a year. If they still don't fit the next year, donate them. If you lose the weight, you'll want to buy new clothes to celebrate your accomplishment!

Some people subconsciously keep clothing they've grown out of in their closet as a form of self-shame and self-punishment. Take those clothes out... you do not need them taunting you in your head every time you go to pick out an outfit.

Sometimes we struggle with putting laundry away after it is washed, dried and folded. Pay attention to the logistics and environment of putting away your clothes: are you always short on hangers? Are your drawers overflowing with items and hard to open and close? Do you have to shove pieces down in order to make room for more on top? Do you have enough light to see where you are hanging up items? Is your closet, cramped, dusty, and cluttered with non-clothing items?

Often times culling out old pieces makes our closets and dressers seem more spacious and neater, and we then have an incentive to keep it that way. The easier and more pleasant it is to put clothing away, the more likely we are to actually do it.

A hard purge of the closet is a tough project to take on (and one that I and my hubby are planning to do this spring), but it leads to a closet that sings and smiles at you each time you approach it. How good would it feel to have a closet only filled with items that fit, are in good condition, and you feel great in?

Pretty fabulous!!


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