Spring cleaning for your wardrobe

After several recent closet-induced meltdowns where I’m embarrassed to admit that I literally threw my hands up in the air like a 3-year-old because I didn’t know what to wear, I decided it was time to clean out my closet.

You’d think that having more clothes would mean you have more to wear, but it’s actually the opposite case! The more clothes you have, the more stressful it is to get dressed. Because if you’re like me, you have a lot of clothes in your closet that you like, but don’t wear on a regular basis because of one reason or another. Maybe there’s a hole in it or it’s missing a button and you’ve been meaning to repair it for a while. Maybe it’s got sentimental value. Maybe it’s because it’s something you like the idea of having in your wardrobe but you never wear it because it’s really not all that practical in the end.

Cleaning out your closet is always a daunting task, and it requires some honest, sometimes painful decision-making. I may or may not have shed a tear when I realized my Paris boxer shorts I bought during my year studying abroad in France didn’t fit anymore. I wore them as pajama bottoms for the longest time, but now they don’t fit anymore and I hadn’t worn them in over a year. Time to let them go.

So when I decided to tackle my closet, I first turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I found these two posts particularly helpful to get my butt into gear: “How to Clean Out Your Closet for Fashion Greatness” by The It Girl Project, and A Guide to Organizing and Cleaning Out Your Closet by Sophie at The Forge (who’s German! extra awesome points!).

Here are my personal tips for getting your closet into shape:

1. Make your bed. Seriously, this is the biggest help! (This is one of those practical tips my mom told me when I was a kid, and it’s stuck.) That way, you’ve got a flat workspace ready to lay out your clothes on.

2. Take everything out of your closet / off the racks. Put them in piles according to type. I put all my skirts together, long-sleeved shirts in another pile, t-shirts in another, scarves in a pile, etc. Take all the clothes off the hangers and put your hangers in a pile of their own.

3. Clean your closet. My closet isn’t really a closet, per se; it’s more of a clothes rack. So mine didn’t need any extra cleaning, but the hangers did need a dust-off.

4. Work through your pile and make decisions on what to keep! This is the hard part, obviously. (That’s where this infografic over on Modern Eve will come in handy for analyzing the pieces of clothing you’re on the fence about!) Try everything onSeriously. Like Lynnette from The It Girl Project said, shop your closet. Make it your dressing room. Would you buy this item if you were in a shop today? If so, then keep it. If not? Let it go!

5. Make a donation pile. If there are some clothes that are still in good shape, make a pile for donations later. I’m thinking about organizing a clothes swap with some friends, so I put two different bags together – one for the swap, one to give away.

6. Get it fixed or get it out! It helps if you do it right now. I pulled out a seam ripper, a needle, and thread and got to work repairing holes, removing itchy tags, and sewing on buttons. This is all stuff I’ve had in a bag for at least a year and a half, waiting to be repaired. I knew that if I didn’t take care of it right away, I wouldn’t get to it. Because who wants to spend their free time mending clothes? (Not me!) Does that shirt have stains? Treat it now, or put it in your giveaway or trash pile. Keeping that white shirt with the yellowed armpit stains is more depressing than not having any white shirt to wear. Because then you have a white shirt but can’t wear it because of the stains. No need  to keep it in your closet!

7. Restock your closet. The last step is to put everything you chose to keep back into your closet. It also helps to have all the same type of hanger. I have two different types – thinner ones from H&M that I’ve collected over time, and larger wooden ones from IKEA. I put all my sweaters on the wooden hangers and all the other shirts on the H&M ones, which I fitted with rubber bands to keep the shirts from falling off. Some people like to organize by color, some like to do it by type – find a system that makes you smile. I arranged mine by type – dresses on the left, followed by long-sleeved shirts, t-shirts, and tank tops. Sweaters on the right with the bigger hangers.

Now my closet is filled with pieces I actually like and wear, and I can breathe a big sigh of relief. And I ended up with a big pile of stuff to donate.

Now I know what Gretchen Rubin was talking about when she described the ecstasy of a clean closet. It’s nice to go into spring (almost summer!) with a fresh new wardrobe full of clothes I actually like.

Next step? Tobi’s closet!

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