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How to Keep Your Closet Clean, Current, and Organized

Yesterday I gave you a peek into my closet, and today I am sharing my tips for organizing your closet and maintaining a clean, edited, up-to-date, and, most importantly, a functional wardrobe. I find most people have way too many articles of clothing stuffed away in every closet crevasse, which means most of what they have is under utilized. What’s the point of investing in great clothes if you can’t find them?
Think Before you Buy
Maintaining your closet begins when you are shopping. Before purchasing any item of clothing, shoes, or bag I force myself to think of at least three different and complete looks I can create with the new item and my existing wardrobe. If an item doesn’t fit into your current wardrobe, then you should really rethink purchasing it.
Avoid Buying Things Just Because They Are on Sale
This is a tough one. When something is on sale we are all tempted to buy, but if you wouldn’t buy the item at its full price, you should not buy it on sale… period! I am not advocating that you shouldn’t shop great sales, but if the color, pattern, fit, and shape don’t work, it won’t magically work just because it’s cheap!
Have a One-In, One-Out System
For every item I add to my closet, I try to take one away. This seems scary for many people. But letting go of something you have worn for a couple of seasons (or even wore a ton for one season) is practical, since you have utilized the value of that garment, and it keeps your style looking fresh and professional. Obviously some pieces have a longer shelf-life than others. That’s why I like to keep a mix of higher- and lower-end pieces. The lower-end pieces are a bit trendier and have a higher closet turnover rate, while my nicer investment pieces are higher quality classic styles, and as such need to be replaced less often (you can read how I decide what is splurge-worthy here). When all else fails, maintain a certain number of coat hangers. When you run out, it is time to purge!

If you have reservations about getting rid of items, you can always work your way up to it. I have become ruthless over the years, but sometimes I too struggle to let go. When I find myself wavering about an item I like, but realize I barely wear anymore (or never really wore), I will remove the item from my closet and hide it. If I forget about it and don’t look for it over the next month or so, I know I can live without it. If I regret losing the item, then I can just grab it from its hiding place and I know it’s worth keeping.

Only Keep Items That Fit (Now)
We are all guilty of keeping skinny jeans in the hopes we will one day get back into them. But trust, if you do ever lose those five pounds, you will want to treat yourself to a new pair. I also avoid keeping “fat jeans.” It is a safety net that if I have, I will use!
Purge Every Season
As a Florida girl, I pretty much have one wardrobe, so I don’t have to pull out or put away seasonal items (my sweaters, vests, and coats are limited and there is enough room for them to stay in my closet year round). But if you do have seasonal wardrobes, it is important to revisit those items at the beginning of each season. Fresh eyes are great for purging.
Reflect on What You Actually Wear
Listen, I would love to dress like Atlantic Pacific everyday. But the reality is that I spend at least two days a week in pjs and/or workout wear. Buying a lot of styles or items that you rarely wear is just silly. If you don’t have the need to wear business suits, your closet doesn’t need more than one, so pick your favorite and purge the rest! Repeat will all infrequently-worn items.
Make Sure You Can See What You Have
A smaller and edited wardrobe means you can actually see every item in your closet, and that makes a huge difference when it comes to maximizing what you have and utilizing every item in your closet. I hang as much as possible! Seeing everything means you will wear everything. The only items I fold are heavy sweaters (stored in one of the striped bins), casual pants and jeans (folded above my jewelry), and basic knit tees and sweatshirts (folded above the pants). I apply this same rule to shoes, bags, and accessories – display them like the beautiful art they are!
Make a Place for Everything and Keep Everything in its Place
This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. Designate a place for every type of item and know what you need space wise for each. If you are feeling really motivated to overhaul your closet, remove everything, purge ruthlessly, and then carve out a functional space for what you have left. And by functional I mean not stuffed away and piled so high you have to destroy your closet every time you are looking for something. Trust, having room for everything means you will save a ton of time deciding what to wear every morning.
Remember, A Great Wardrobe is About Quality, Not Quantity
Bottom line – no matter your price-point, you will get the most value out of your clothes if you are always aware of what you have, what you wear regularly, and what you can let go of. Fashion, no matter your level of interest, reflects you and where you are in life. Your closet should evolve with you. Getting rid of older clothes, even if you loved them, allows your style to keep pace with your life. For example, my friend Brittany over the past three years has transitioned from a graduate student to a professor. Her closet, however, has not. She’s a pack rat who was afraid to get rid of clothing she had spent “good money” on. But that clothing was bell bottom jeans and old graphic tees that she never wore and reflected who Brittany was 8-10 years ago. A couple of days ago we ruthlessly purged the last fifteen years of out-dated, worn out, and ill fitting clothes from Brittany’s life. For her it was both scary and liberating. But what she has realized is how much she enjoys the items she kept. She also has a better idea of not only the clothing items she needs to invest in, but what she likes and actually wears!
What are your secrets for managing and organizing your closet?