Posted by: Sound Organizing | December 13, 2010


 Nine times out of ten, when I hear those words, I immediately know the problem is not lack of closet space but rather too many clothes. Why? Well, there is a little something called the 80/20 rule. What does that mean? It means that most of us only wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time.  It’s the other 80% of mostly unworn clothing that makes us feel as if we need extra closet space.

 I will admit that most of my clients do not want to be told they have too many clothes but the reality is they do. The first step is to sort and clear the entire wardrobe not to increase the closet space. Make sure all laundry has been done and you start with clean clothes.

I have outlined a simple, quick strategy to help get started. 

Stop shopping during the organizing process. Yes, you heard correctly. Stop shopping.

Sort and clear: Do a quick once over of your wardrobe with these rules in mind. Donate/discard any items that
-you have not worn in the last year or in the last season.  Exempt is evening wear for special/rare events.
-are outdated, not current, or are not “classic” or timeless styles.
-do not fit. Think you might one day fit into those skinny jeans?  When was the last time you wore them? Be honest.
-that you do not like. Why are those paisley hip huggers clogging your closet if you hate them?
-were gifts.  It’s okay to donate that holiday cat sweater your in-law gave you.  Don’t be guilty because it was a gift.
-are beyond repair or too worn to look good.
-still have the tags on them and you haven’t worn in a month or two.

Start piles for mending, dry cleaning, donate/sell, try-ons, questionable, return to owner (if borrowed), etc. Give yourself a time limit for getting the mending and dry cleaning done. Put donations immediately into your car or enlist the help of a friend or family member to take them away for you.

Group the remaining clothes/accessories according to your preference. The best is to sort by category (pants, dresses, sweaters) so you can easily see what you have. Think about where to store the off-season clothing too but be sure to include them in this process.

Flag your clothes. Return to the 20/80 rule. You may have whittled it down at this point but that 80% is still clogging your closest. Your clothes need to be flagged and marked for possible elimination.  Turn the hangers around, group them together in a different closet, or mark them in a way to identity them.  Once you have worn something, removed the mark and incorporate back into your regular rotation. If, after, say six months, you have not worn an item, it goes to donation.

Take inventory of those piles.  Look at the number of bags you are donating, taking to be mended, etc.  One client donated 14 bags of clothes from a modest size walk-in closet and she still had a huge wardrobe that carried over into another closet. Seeing what she easily gave away made her realize just how much clutter she had and how much money she had been throwing away (most of the clothes she never even wore).

Evaluate as you shop in the future. As you think about purchasing a new piece of clothing ask yourself, is there room for it? Do I have another article like it? Do I LOVE it? Does it fit and flatter me? Does it go with anything else I have? If you do buy it, the golden rule is that you must let something else go to make room for the new purchase.


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