Changing Seasons: Clothes Closet Declutter
It's the time of the season: Winter's winding down and Spring is on the horizon. Are you ready to dress for warmer weather?
A closet clean-out clears the decks for the new season and gives even the most frazzled home manager a feeling of accomplishment.
Whether in the children's closets or in your own, follow these principles for efficient, organized clothing storage:
Pare It Down
In closets, as in life, less is more. Specifically, the venerable 80-20 rule applies: we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, while the remaining 80% represent the freeloaders of the wardrobe clan. Impulse purchases, orphaned blouses, and the one-size-too-small brigade choke rods, hooks and drawers, squeezing the life from the wearer-friendly 20%.
Resolve to pare it down! Does each garment in your closet pull its own weight? Only current-season clothing that both fits and flatters should be assigned that valuable closet real estate.
How do you make the division? Classic organizational thinking involves removing all clothing from the closet, trying on every single item with every other single item, culling the unacceptable, mending the ragged and tattered, and hanging the lucky survivors in descending order according to color. Oh. For good measure, you're supposed to hang new light fixtures and paint the closet, too.
Yeah, right. We all know what happens on this plan --- you pull everything out of the closet, try on your prom dress from 1998, and the baby wakes up, spits up, and demands attention. Then you get to sleep in a bedroom filled with tulle and sequins for the next three weeks. And mending? What's that?
No, savvy home managers have a few more effective tricks up their sleeves. The simplest is the most drastic: take every single clothing item you own, and store it in another room. Each morning, go to that room, select your clothing and get dressed. Only items that have been worn and laundered are allowed back in your closet.
Over the course of the season, this separates the sheep from the goats quite handily--the valuable 20% enjoy their roomy surroundings, while the 80% crowd are out of sight, out of mind. At season's end, take the rejects to consignment, or box them up for the next yard sale!
Too drastic? No spare closets? The same principle can be put to use in your existing closet. When you wear a garment, say, a T-shirt, put it away on the top of the T-shirt pile. Over a few weeks, the good 20% will be the top 20% of the pile --- so remove the bottom ranks to boxes for storage, sale or consignment.
For hanging clothes, tie a bright red ribbon in the center of the closet rod. As you wear an item, hang it in front of the ribbon--and weed the rejects, weeks later, from the other side!
The hanger flip method works, too. To try it, reverse the direction of every hanging garment in the closet, placing the hanger on the rod backwards. When you wear an item, replace it in the closet hung in the conventional way. At season's end, you'll know at a glance which clothing is destined for donation or the consignment store!
You've weeded your closet of the freeloaders, the ill-fitting, the orphans, the ugly. Time to think about the remaining clothing, and the word is cluster.
A "cluster" is a core group of five to eight clothing pieces that work together. A typical cluster might contain a plaid wool blazer with tones of camel, red and navy, a coordinating navy skirt, navy dress slacks, overdyed navy jeans, a red T-shirt, and a camel blouse.
Dress it up and you have a suit-look with blazer, skirt and blouse. Dress it down with T-shirt and jeans, and toss the blazer over your shoulders for a casual Friday outfit. Layer the blouse over the T-shirt and add the slacks for a committee meeting --- you've mastered the art of the cluster!
Look at your culled closet with an eye to forming several clusters from your existing bits and pieces. Main organizing principle is color, not "season" or "style".
Group similar colored garments together, and think, "What could I add to this group to form a cluster?" A stay-at-home mom might cluster her acid-wash denim jeans and white T-shirts with a pieced jean jacket, a coordinating tapestry vest, and a long red tunic/sweater.
Thinking "cluster" simplifies the process of buying clothes. No longer will you buy in terms of "outfit" --- that's how you get in the position of having a closet stuffed with clothes and nothing to wear. Adding a piece to a cluster means you can wear the garment several different ways, using the clothing already in the closet.
Once again, less is more!