Creating The Perfect Closet

by Ramona Creel

What's In Your Closet?

The road to organization begins with an honest evaluation of your wardrobe. Is your closet filled with clothes that haven't been worn in the years? Your favorites shouldn't be hidden in a sea of neglected outfits. Yank everything that's too small and imagine the day that you shrink back down to the size you were in college — are those outfits still going to be your style? Do you have clothes you don't wear because they make aren't flattering? If you don't love it and it doesn't make you feel beautiful, lose it! And if you're you guilty of owning a garment that doesn't go with a single thing in your closet, either find something to match that cool paisley shirt or get rid of it.

Now take a look at what's left (accessories, shoes, hats, purses, and jewelry included). I'll bet that your closet still contains some outfits that simply never see the light of day. When it's time to answer the burning question of “what am I going to wear today?” you tend to pass these skirts and pants and blouses over again and again. Why? Well, there's obviously something about them that just doesn't click with you Maybe you hate the color of that lime green jacket, or that skirt is annoying because it always rides up when you sit down, or those shoes pinch after you've had them on for more than an hour, or that pleated pair of pants just makes you feel fat. That's fine — lose them. Life is too short to wear clothes you hate. Everything you own should be flattering, comfortable, and make you feel fabulous. If not, why keep it in your closet? And if you want to keep your closet under control, plan to purge your wardrobe every few months, letting go of those items that no longer fit or suit you. Another trick is to use the “one-in/one-out” rule — every time you bring home a new outfit, you have to clean out something else to make room for it.

Finally, separate out any pieces that need to be mended or cleaned. You might have a pair of pants that needs hemmed or a blouse whose seamhas come undone or a pair of shoes whose heels have come loose — setup a “repair/alteration” basket for these injured souls. If you haveclothes that need to be professionally cleaned (especially those withstains that require special treatment — like that favorite suit thatgot a spill on it at a networking lunch, and you haven't been able towear it since), set up a basket for “dry cleaning”. Then before theweek is through, tote your baskets to ONE location that offers bothservices — get everything taken care of at the same time, and startoff next week fresh with a closet full of functional clothes. Try not to hang anything in your closet that is not currently wearable.

Organizing Options

Now that you have pared down, let's set up your closet so that you know where everything is. Start by separating your clothes into “fall/winter” and “spring/summer” items. How does your wardrobe balance out? Do you have a closet full of warm-weather clothes, but only three outfits that you can wear once the thermometer drops below 50 degrees? Swap a few shorts for some long pants. If you moved to Florida five years ago but still have 12 winter jackets, now's a good time to clean out. Make sure your ensemble is seasonally appropriate for where you live. If you find that you are short on space, consider storing the off-season in another part of the house. A spare bedroom closet or portable armoire in the attic might be the perfect answer. Just be aware of heat and moisture, and guard against insect infestations.

Sort through the current season's clothes, creating logical categories based on the way that you normally think about your wardrobe. You can arrange your clothes according to purpose, breaking out formal, work, and casual outfits. Or, you could organize by type — grouping jackets separate from blouses separate from pants. And in either situation, it's always good to create different categories for each style of clothing — such as storing short-sleeve shirts in one place and long-sleeve in another. Whichever method you choose, clearly delineate your categories — either put labeled divider discs on your rod (like the ones used in department stores) or assign each section to a different part of the closet.

When I was in college, I didn't want to spend time deciding what blouse went with which pants, so I hung entire outfits together. What a time-saver! Of course, if you like to mix and match, this system may not be the best choice. If you do go this route, consider labeling each hanger with a list of accessories that accompany that particular garment. Feel free to include any small items, such as scarves or belts, right on the hanger with the outfit. One client of mine (who loves hanging her clothes in outfits) came up with a creative organizing idea — she has a pair of earrings that she only ever wears with her navy suit, so she clips them right on the lapel!

The final step is to organize each section of clothing by color. Going from light to dark, group items of the same hue together. You don't have to create a scientifically accurate color spectrum — just generally group reds and pinks in one place, blues all together, etc. Now, when you need a black blouse, they will all be hanging in the same place. This will also allow you to see excesses and deficiencies in your wardrobe. One woman I worked with told me that organizing by color was the dumbest thing she had ever heard of — until she tried it! She never knew she owned 12 different red T-shirts until re-arranging her closet. She also swears this technique saves her 20 minutes getting ready each morning!

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.