It’s almost summer, which means there’s probably a pile of clothing bursting forth from your closet door: a jumbled mess of sweaters and tights well past their best-before date amidst fragments of your warm-weather wardrobe. It was all organized once upon a time, but now? Not so much.
But you can get it back in shape. And you will. This weekend. Hold on, don’t panic and start sweating. We got you. Take deep breaths and follow our lead to get yourself organized and keep everything clean, neat and tidy from here on in. It won’t hurt (much) and you’ll have it all done by sundown. (We promise.)
Step 1: Create a let’s get it sorted mix
You’re going to be spending hours digging through your stuff, so it might as well be fun. Here’s a sample playlist to help you get started before you get sorted.
- “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross
- “Let’s Get It Started” by Black Eyed Peas
- “Come Clean” by Hilary Duff
- “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister
- “OMG” by Usher
- “Material Girl” by Madonna
Step 2: Buy wine
If it isn’t fun, you won’t do it. You know it, we know it. Ask a friend (a good friend will say yes!) to help out and promise them karaoke sing-a-longs and good wine while you work through it together. Have snacks on hand for noshing and give yourselves a dance break or two.
Step 3: Sort your stuff
Purging sucks. And, as we’ve established, you have a lot of things. You can call them “mementos” all you want, but really, it’s all just accumulated clutter. Set out three containers – Keep, Toss and Donate – and be ruthless. Employ a one-year rule: If it has been a year or more since you’ve worn an item, ask yourself, “Am I really ever going to wear this again?” If you answer no, and it’s still wearable: Donate it. Otherwise, if it’s in a pretty bad state, toss it. You can even try the clothes on to ensure whether or not you still really need ’em. Again, if you invite friends over, this part could be really fun.
Step 4: Package up what’s going
If it’s destined for the trash, think about recycling the fabrics. You can either cut up the textiles for rags or you can donate items to places like American Eagle Outfitters or H&M, which take in old textiles for reuse. (You’ll get a voucher for your good deed, too!) As for the ready-to-wear pieces you’re parting with, pick a local donation hub (like a Value Village community store) and then bag or box the items for delivery. Set those aside, and you’re ready for the next step.
Step 5: Put everything away neatly
At this point, you are left with the things you want, so now, it’s time to restock everything. Invest in good hangers if you’re still using the ones from the dry cleaner, because a good hanger will actually maintain the shape of your clothes, not distort it. That means hangers with notches for tank tops and camisoles, covered hangers for delicate suits and clip hangers for pants and skirts. At the very least, get some nice, wooden hangers (cedar hangers kill moth larvae) and then try some of these folding techniques to keep everything else orderly:
Step 6: Get yourself a shoe system
A shoe rack is totally fine, but if you’ve got a lot of shoes like we do, you need some kind of backup plan. Despite what Carrie Bradshaw might say, your oven is not a place for your shoes. Instead, keep the most-used shoes out in the open, i.e. outside of your closet, either in a mud room, hallway or foyer. For lesser-used shoes, have a small shoe rack inside your closet. And for everything else, stack them neatly in clear, long and low tubs that sit stacked on the floor either in the closet or under your bed. If you’ve got a lot of extra shoes, and you’re particularly interested in knowing exactly where everything is (anal retentive, much?), you can take Polaroids of your shoes and tuck them inside uniform white boxes. That way, you’ll always know where your old faves are.
Step 7: Clear your house of unwanted bags and boxes
You’re not done yet. Sure, your closet is so neat it looks like a Pinterest board just exploded in your house, but those Toss and Donate bins aren’t going to show themselves the door. Now’s the time get to drop off your donations and recyclable materials. Believe us, doing this all in a 24-hour period will make you feel really good.
Step 8: Finish the wine and snacks, and marvel at your beautiful new closet
This is probably just for you. Your friend is not going to be entertained by just sitting and looking at your well-organized closet. (But you had fun, and they had wine, so, don’t feel too bad.) Kick up your feet, and just look. You did this, and it’s going to stay like this. Right?