Annie Vihtelic

Fall cleaning

By - Sep 18th, 2010 04:00 am
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email

Photo by Banjo Brown via Flickr

This is the time of year when I’m absolutely in the mood to buy new things. New boots, tights, coats, dresses – I want it all. But I always seem to jump the gun without taking stock of my wardrobe to see what I have and end up with things I don’t really need. And trust me, this season I’m not in the financial position to buy anything I don’t need.

So this fall I’ve decided to do things a little differently. Instead of just going out and buying whatever looks good I’m taking a new approach — to get organized, be responsible and take time to see what I do have – then figure out what I need…if anything at all.

The best way to organize a wardrobe is with a full-on closet purge. Even though this is a task I’m not crazy about, I feel that I have some background on the issue. Not long ago I worked at a store that offered closet consultations — a service where we would go to a customer’s home, go through their wardrobe with them, and figure out what is worth keeping and what should be eliminated.

It may sound like a job that people should be able to handle on their own without the help of anyone else, but you’d be surprised how much more you get rid of when there’s a second opinion. From my experience closet cleaning doesn’t result in much progress if you go at it alone. It’s difficult to get rid of things, especially if you’re emotionally attached to every piece. It doesn’t hurt to have an outside opinion for that voice of reason or better yet, brutal honesty.

If your closet looks like this, it might be time for a consultation.

The first step is to look at what you’ve got and do some editing. Go through and decide what you have no problem parting with and make a pile of things to give to Goodwill or sell for consignment. This process just shrinks the amount of clothes you’re working with.

After the edit, divide the remaining clothes in two piles – one for things you want to keep and another for things you’re on the fence about. Once you’ve separated everything, it’s time to bring in a second opinion. Go through every piece and get a friend’s input. Listen when they tell you “I never see you wear this” or “you already own two tops that look just like that.” It’s surprising how much more willing you’ll be to let go of things when you’re getting suggestions from someone else and not just listening to yourself.

After a good sweep, your closet could be this immaculate. Photo by Cushing Memorial Library via Flickr

Now you should be left with the pieces that made the cut and will go through another season in your wardrobe and the ones you will say goodbye to. At this point you’ll also be able to get a good idea of what needs to be replaced or key pieces you may be missing, saving yourself a significant amount of money in the long run.

And when it comes to storing your clothes, I suggest giving velvet hangers a try – they have completely transformed my closet. They save so much room and keep everything from sliding off. I don’t know what I’d do without them. And they’re cheap! Some people swear by cedar hangers, but not me. Velvet is the way to go.

I used to think that more clothes meant a better wardrobe, but that’s not true at all. More clothes might give you more options, but that also means more decisions and more time when it comes to deciding what to wear. An efficient, streamlined wardrobe is what to strive for.

Purging your closet is not only good for making room got new things – if you need them – but it feels good to live with less clutter.

I once saw the closet of a successful boutique owner. It was meticulous and surprisingly minimal. I expected her to have a separate room for the massive wardrobe I imagined she owned, and I admit I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as flashy and huge as I hoped. But now it makes sense.

I believe it’s true that if you’re trying to straighten out the more important aspects of your life, starting with something as basic as an organized closet may help you see things a little more clearly. It’s probably not the solution, but it’s a pretty good start.

Categories: Fashion, Threads

0 thoughts on “Threads: Fall cleaning”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Annie, I just found some amazing hangers by Real Simple when I was browsing Bed Bath & Beyond, and I can’t wait to get them! I love that they have multiple colors, and they are velvety. I just moved into a new apartment and I started the clothes purging process. This has given me the motivation continue and to organize our new closet right away. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *