The Great Closet Purge of 2011

This just makes me happy. 
Photo courtesy of Real Simple.

On a Sunday about two weeks ago, I undertook The Great Closet Purge of 2011. It was just over a year since I last re-organized my closets, and it was definitely time to get it done.

I made a career change earlier this year to start Urban Simplicity, and I was still holding onto clothes from my political days – mainly suits, work tops and dress shoes – which I luckily no longer wear.
It’s very common when making a major life change, like weight loss or a career shift, to hold onto clothes. People think they might one day wear them again. But that’s usually not the case, and the clothes take up valuable real estate in our limited New York City closets.
So, to get you motivated to tackle your own closet organization this summer, check-out these twelve tips. 
1. Tips to Make It Happen
  • Pick the perfect day. Maybe it’s rainy outside or your husband or kids are otherwise distracted.
  • Schedule time on your calendar to complete the project. Depending on the state of your closet, block out four to six hours. Putting it on your schedule will make you commit to getting it done.

2. Tips to Organize 
  • Set aside plenty of space to spread out. Because when organizing, the mess is always going to get worse before it gets better.
  • Do a little prep before diving in. Label five large boxes or bags – Repair, Toss, Donate, Keep, Giveaway (to family or friends) – so you immediately know where to put an item when you remove it from your closet.
  • Sort the keepers before putting them back into your closet. For example, during The Great Closet Purge of 2011, I realized I had four black sweaters. Now that I’m not working in an office, I rarely wear the sweaters that used to be my go-to item.
  • Come up with a system to categorize your clothing. This is definitely a personal preference sort of thing. For example, I keep all skirts and pants together sorted as suits, dress pants, and casual. I also keep them sorted by season. I classify shirts as dressy tops, day-to-day tops, t-shirts, button downs, and beachwear. (I hit the beach often!) I also keep my blazers and sweaters together. Finally, I group dresses together – from dressy to casual and sorted by season. 

3. Tips to Purge
  • If you haven’t worn an item in six months or a year, get rid of it.  Figure out what time frame works for you, set the rule, and stick to it.
  • Get rid of any clothes that are uncomfortable or just plain unflattering. Have your most honest (yet lovable) friend come over to give you an opinion as you try on questionable items.
  • For one month, put shoes you wear on a separate shelf. This is the best way to figure out which shoes you actually wear. At the end of the month, get rid of what you don’t wear.

4. Tips to Keep It Up
  • Schedule time on your calendar either once a year or every six months to re-organize your closets. Depending on how often you shop, once a year might be enough.
  • Keep a box or bag in your closet. As you come across items you no longer like, put them in the box to be donated at a later date.
  • Use the one in, one out rule. For each new item you buy, make a decision to let one item go. It will keep you from over stuffing your space.

So, what’s the real incentive to getting your closet organized this summer? First, you’ll save time, as you’ll get dressed much faster in the morning when you know what you have and can grab it quickly. Second, you’ll save money. In addition to the tax write off for any donation you make, you’ll know what you need to buy and can make smart decisions when shopping.