Closet Organization (Without Tears)

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Oh boy, it’s January of 2019 and, yet again, we are inundated with videos, Facebook challenges, and Instagram feeds that shame us into organizing our lives.

Well, how do you begin? We've all heard of the KonMari method and the Swedish Death Cleaning method. Although each has its merits, you can use a combination of both, and get great results. Let me tell you how.

A word of warning: this is probably going to be a Saturday project. Pick a day when you don’t have a lot on your chore list!

The Before

Before undertaking this venture, I recommend you go out and buy about 30 to 40 velvet hangers. Buy the shirt hanger and the skirt hanger types.

If you have heavy suits, you may want to also add some wooden suit hangers, as the velvet ones don’t really hold up to heavy items. This will ensure that your hangers will be uniform in size, and not take up a whole bunch of room.

Invest in a couple of baskets for the top shelf of your closet (measure the space first), so that you can contain things like purses, scarves, or other items that you use infrequently.

Also, purchase a couple of under-bed organizers. These are bins that slide right under your bed, and some even have wheels on them. This is a great spot to put out-of-season clothing.

Now, get out your phone, and take a picture of your closet. Don't make it pretty; show it as it really is. This will give you your own accountability method. Now have at it!

Finally, get a couple of large boxes or trash bags for things to donate and/or give away. (If you have a consignment shop nearby, consider this another option for gently used or higher-end clothing.)

The During

how to organize a messy closet

If you share a closet with a spouse or a partner, this is a great time to get him or her involved. If not, just concentrate on your side of the closet. You will feel successful no matter how much or how little help you get.

Remove everything from the closet — everything that is hung up, shoes, scarves, and everything on the top shelf. Put everything on your bed.

Delight in your empty closet! Take a picture if you want to see how it looks completely naked!

One by one, pick up each item of clothing. You can use the KonMari method for keeping items (does it “spark joy?) Does it fit and look great on you? When is the last time you wore it? Does it need mending, or a button that gaps in the wrong place? Be honest.

Make a decision—keep, or donate. If you keep it, hang it in the closet on your brand new hanger.

Continue the process for all of your clothing, until there are no clothes left on the bed. Next, sort your closet by type—all shirts and blouses together, jackets, cardigans, suits, skirts, dresses, slacks. Like with like. If you are feeling particularly fussy, group by short and long sleeves, color with color, etc. Did you discover you have too many grey cardigans?

After having done this, you can now make some decisions about your shoes. Keep the best and donate the rest. You should have at least a pair to wear with a suit, a pair of sneakers or running shoes, casual shoes that match most of your slacks and jeans, work shoes, and perhaps a pair of boots. Put these in your closet.

Keep handbags, ties, scarves, and other accessories that will go with most of what you already own. Donate the rest.

If you have things you don’t use often, like luggage or beach hats, store them under your bed or on the top shelf of your closet. Your prime real estate is from eye level to the floor, for things you use the most.

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The After

how to organize a closet

Take your bags/boxes of donations and put them in your car. Right now. Then you’ll have no excuse when you drive past the thrift store for not having the bags in your car for donation.

There! That was not so painful, and now you have only things you love in your closet, and perhaps a plan to replace the things that have worn out or one or two new accessories.

Now You're Ready for Your Close-Up

This is actually a 3-step process, and very easy if you focus on what you love and want to KEEP. Be brutally honest with yourself and you will be rewarded with a closet full of things you will actually wear!

Get out your camera and take another picture. Be sure to compare it to the “Before” photo. What the heck—post it on your Facebook page or Instagram feed and make everyone else feel inadequate. Aren’t you proud that you completed this project?

Imagine how easy it will be to get dressed in the morning tomorrow! (You get bonus points if you hang up your clothes tonight for tomorrow!)