What if your closet was a clothing store? Would it be the type of store that you walk into where everything is perfectly color-coordinated, outfits are displayed for inspiration, clothes are neatly folded, accessories have their own area? Or, would it be more like the fitting rooms that you dodge with clothing left halfway on hangers, hangers scattered across the floor, clothing turned inside out, and a put-back rack overflowing with clothes? Is it the type of closet where you have the perfect outfits to wear? Or, do you feel like you never have anything to wear?
It’s so easy to look at Instagram and see fashion being thrown at us in every direction. We scroll through our feeds, and sometimes we even catch ourselves wishing that we could be like the people we idolize who have the dream wardrobe with new outfits to wear every day of the week. That is the moment when you start to feel it; the comparison trap. We look at our own closets, sift through our clothes, and feel like we’re listening to the same broken record playing to the tune of, “There can’t possibly be any more ways to wear them!” We feel like we need to go out and buy something new.
It’s a funny feeling, because there was once a time in your life when you were excited about every single one of the clothes you had bought. There was something special that had drawn you to that mock neck shirt, or that midi dress, that cami, that t-shirt, that cardigan, that jacket … Then there came a time when the magic of that newness started to fade away. How can you get some of that magic back?
A month ago, I opened my own closet with the intention of not spending money on any closet organizers, or new furniture, and working with what I had on hand. This is what I learned along the way…
Lesson #1: Overflowing Closet
If your closet looks like it’s overflowing and you know you have clothes in there that don’t fit or are no longer your style, don’t keep them, donate them.
- This may be hard because …
- A. You’re emotionally attached to the memories of them. Maybe it was something you wore to a party, was a lucky shirt you got hired for a job in, or even something you wore on a date.
- B. You feel like you spent way too much money on them and can’t bring yourself to donate them.
- C. You’ve somehow convinced yourself that if you ever have kids one day, you’re going to be the cool Mom/Dad who has all of the coolest clothes that you can pass down to your cool kid.
So… What’s a girl/guy to do?
If you fall under A.) Emotional Attachment, one of the things I’ve learned to do is to donate the clothes that are hanging in my closet that I no longer wear. Most likely, you already have pictures wearing these clothes during special times in your life, and pictures last forever. Also, when you donate clothes, someone else might come across them and love them just as much as you did when you first bought them.
If you can relate to B.) Expensive Clothes that you feel like you can’t bring yourself to donate without knowing if the clothing or accessories will be well-cared for, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your friends if they would like to have some of your clothes or accessories.
If you’ve gotten to the point where your friends have passed over certain items, look into the donation route in a different way. Some universities, or colleges, like the one I went to, have fashion programs that have an archive of clothing collected through donations from different decades that are preserved and handled with the utmost care.
You can think of the collection as a large walk-in closet tagged by different decades. Fashion History students are able to learn about clothing preservation techniques, observe, and research articles of clothing, but only by abiding to a strict set of rules such as using a sign in/sign out sheet, wearing gloves at all times, wearing no jewelry so as not to snag preserved articles of clothing, picking up the garment from under first, rather than from the top with the help of another person if the garment is heavy to avoid strain on the seams, and using pencils to take notes to prevent accidental permanent markings.
If C.) Future Kids’ Clothes is you, I feel that accessories like jewelry, watches, and handbags would be really fun to pass down. However, clothing trends change all of the time, even though they have variations of past trends every year. If you’re going to keep something to pass down to your kids, make sure it’s a timeless piece that you could picture still being in style many years from now. Everything else that you can’t fit into anymore, or was a passing fad that you can’t picture yourself being into again, should be donated or sold
Lesson #2: Organize by Season
This year, you made the same promise to yourself like you had every year that you were going to tackle organizing your wardrobe. You’ve watched everything from HGTV, seen closet tours on YouTube, and wished that your room could look that amazing … Not everyone has a walk-in closet, or a whole room dedicated to handbags, or shoes, but there are ways to get creative about the placement of clothing and accessories that can give everything a fresh look whether you have limited space and are on a budget or even if you have all of the space in the world.
- Some of the concerns, or thoughts that you may have…
- A. I have a mix of clothing that ranges from winter to summer in my closet, dresser drawer, or on my clothing rack. I can’t possibly pack clothes away in boxes to organize by season due to limited space!
- B. “But what if I need that hoodie in the middle of summer? You know, cold summer nights and all of that?”
- C. “This is too much work, guys! I’m calling it a day! I’ll get around to it next week … No, the day after next week … Next month! Er … 3:35 PM the last week of September! Look, I put it on the calendar! Oh, snap! I forgot! Maybe five years from now?”
If you can relate to one, two, or even all three of these, don’t worry I’ve been there before, too!
If you’ve found A.) A Mix of Seasons to be relatable, what I’ve found to be helpful is to start with organizing based on sleeve length or lack there of, the length of clothing, material type according to season, and creating a division between tops, sweaters, jackets, dresses/rompers, skirts, and pants. My preference is to start with camis and tank tops at the very front of the closet and start from lightest color to darkest. Next, I organize my t-shirts or short-sleeved shirts in the same way.
After that, I repeat the same steps with kimonos, 3/4″ length sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, shorts, mini and knee length skirts, jeans, dress pants, midi and maxi skirts, and dresses. This way, everything kind of naturally divides itself into seasons, and it’s a lot easier to find what you want to wear. The same closet organization can be applied with a dresser drawer starting with putting camisoles and lightweight scarves in the top drawers, heavier knit scarves and sweaters towards the middle, or bottom, and so on.
If you strongly resonate with B. Hoodies on a summer Night, and you’ve followed method A.) A Mix of Seasons, then you should either have a closet with a designated hoodie section or a drawer for hoodies that you can easily access when you need it without having to worry about it being put away in a storage box in the basement or garage.
If C.) Later Gator is you, don’t worry, reorganizing your wardrobe doesn’t have to happen in one day. What helped me was to set aside a little bit of time every day and focus on one thing at a time. Days 1 & 2: I dedicated these days to making donation piles for Goodwill and set aside any clothes that my friends might be interested in keeping. Day 3: I made a floor plan detailing how I would reorganize the furniture in my room to better suit my clothes and accessories. Day 4: I took everything out of my closet and dresser drawers and piled it on my bed. From there, I started organizing based on A.) A Mix of Seasons.
Lesson #3: Make Your Closet Feel Like a Clothing Store
Two of the major things that made my wardrobe feel new again were to reorganize my furniture to accommodate my clothing and accessories and repurpose some of the things that I already had to give it a makeover. My room is small, so it was definitely a challenge to figure out how to move my extremely long dresser drawer and also fit my bed with space in between. At this point, you may be wondering, “What’s going on? And what does this have to do with making my closet feel like a clothing store?”
- If you have a dresser drawer, bookshelf, and closet, be sure to read on…
- I’ve always put my favorite handbags on top of my dresser drawer which was placed against a side wall. However, being inspired by Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner’s handbag closets, I decided to move my dresser drawer to the center of my room (with the difference of one end being against the wall near the door which not only created a unique entrance but also made the handbags the main focus like a boutique). You could easily do the same furniture arrangement to display baseball hats, sunglasses, or jewelry, or place folded scarves on top. I used a faux fur wrap that I wore to my friend’s wedding as a throw to set my handbags on top of. Similarly, you could do the same with a scarf, or table runner.
- Bookshelf. “Did you say bookshelf?” Yes, a bookshelf can be your new best fashion friend! I have a lot of shoes, and some of them don’t really have a place to be stored other than in their respective shoe boxes under my bed. That changed when I donated some of my books and reorganized my bookshelf so that the bottom half was able to fit my fashion textbooks and fiction novels, the middle shelf I put all of my jewelry boxes, and the first shelf I was able to find room to line up a few of my heels and wedge shoes that I wasn’t able to fit into my hanging shoe shelf in my closet. Side note: The bottoms of the shoes were all cleaned before placing on the shelf. You can also place a paper or plastic liner on the shelf for added protection. Since my bookshelf isn’t very tall, I was also able to place a ring dish, some jewelry, and other little decor items on top.
- Put outfits together for each week. What I love to do to save some time during the week, is to coordinate at least 5-7 outfits. Think of it as being your own clothing stylist! Sometimes you have those days where you just can’t figure out what to wear. You get frustrated because you pick up a shirt, but wait … “Gosh darn! The pants that I wanted to wear with it are still in the laundry!” When you force yourself to get creative and prepare ahead of time, you’ll have everything that you want to wear when you want to wear it. One of the things that I’ve done to pair outfits together is to use rubber bands, or those tiny elastic hair ties around the top part of the hanger (a trick I learned in my retail days when bagging outfits together), or I layer clothes on one hanger which helps create more space in your closet, and serves as a complete outfit visual.
I hope that some of these tips were able to help inspire those who want to bring some newness back to their wardrobe, and show that you can still live life to its best just working with what you already have!
Comment below: What are some of your favorite ways to get organized?
FTC: Not sponsored.