Each new season is the best time to declutter and organize your wardrobe. As we head into the summer season, you'll be pulling out your summer clothes anyway, so why not take this time to do a complete declutter and organize your clothes so that it's much easier and quicker to find what to wear every morning. It will add time to your day and peace to your emotional state.
That's exactly what I'm doing now for a friend who's been paralyzed to do this on her own. She has 20 years worth of clothes stuffed into her bedroom closet and drawers, and it frustrates her every morning when she tries to put together an outfit. It's true that having too much stuff, especially stuff that's cluttered and disorganized, can take a toll on your emotions and mental well-being. It can be overwhelming to stand in front of so many things that you have spent your money on and not be able to find what you want or decide on what would look best. Beginning each morning feeling overwhelmed and anxious can carry through into your whole day, messing with your focus and peace, not to mention your valuable time.
So my friend and I have been working on evaluating every single piece that she owns, donating and tossing a lot of it, and organizing what she is keeping so that it's efficient for her. It's what I've started doing with all my clients who want to simplify their lives and make their bedroom suite a peaceful oasis.
Here are the 15 steps that have been proven to effectively declutter and organize your bedroom wardrobe closet and drawers, and give you back some peace.
1. Set up bins: Donate, Toss, Maybe, Mend, Store. You may even want two separate 'donate' bins - one for donations and one for nicer things that could go to a local consignment store or be sold online.
2. Get in the right mindset. It may be difficult to part with your clothes - you did invest in them after all. But you need to get practical and look at the ROI on your investment. Does it still have the tags on it or have you gotten loads of wear from it? Get into an objective frame of mind and make sure that the opportunity cost of keeping an item is worth it. For example, how much space does it take up that could be used for better pieces? How much time will it cost you each day to decide what to wear if this is a choice? Invite a friend over to help if needed. When evaluating your pieces, ask these questions:
Do I absolutely love this item?
Does it fit me?
Have I worn it in the past year?
Is it stained, worn or damaged?
Does it make me look and feel good?
Does it make me feel uncomfortable or self-concious?
Is it me? Is it my style and does it go with the rest of my closet?
Would I spend money on it again today?
Is it truly important for sentimental reasons?
Will it make someone else happier?
3. Start with your tops. Bring out every top that you own and separate them by blouses, t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters and blazers. Make sure you've got everything - check spare room closets and the laundry room. Go through each and every piece in each category. Try them on if needed, and put any that just aren't right or that you haven't worn in the last year in the 'Donate' bin. Toss any that are damaged or worn. Any that you want to keep but that need repair put in the 'Mend' bin. Put any off-season clothes that you are keeping neatly into the 'Storage' bin and label them with the season they belong to. If you really can't decide, put the piece into the 'Maybe' bin to come back to later. Then, put all tops that you are keeping back on hangers or folded on shelves in your closet.
4. Then your bottoms. Repeat the process above with all jeans, comfy pants, shorts, dress pants and skirts.
5. Next up are dresses and suits. Yep, go through the process again.
6. Finally, your workout clothing. You may have these pieces in the closet or in drawers, but the process is the same.
7. Tackle your dresser drawers. Pull everything out and start clean. Then go through all lingerie, camisoles, socks, pj's, etc. using the process above. Add dividers to your drawers - simply make your own using cardboard or old shoe boxes - and arrange everything that goes back in by category. You might want to use the roll method (roll each piece like you would when packing a suitcase) or just stack like with like - whichever works best for you.
8. Organize what's left. Now go back to your closet and sort hanging clothes by type and then by colour, so that all of your blouses, tanks, dresses, pants, etc. are together and all the whites, blues, reds, blacks, etc. within each category type are together as well. Do the same for your folded clothes, and don't pile too high. Invest in or make shelf dividers to go between folded stacks if you want to get really neat.
9. Go back to your 'Maybe' pile and give your closet a final look. Do you still have five little black dresses? Will you really wear them all could you live with only three? Compare the 'maybes' to what you've now got in your closet. Are they really worth hanging on to? Try to let them go and feel a little more weight come off your shoulders. Then evaluate if there is anything essential that's missing. Do you need a classic crisp white collared shirt? OK, then put it on your shopping list and feel good knowing that it really is a need, not a want or a duplicate of something you've already got.
10. On to the shoes. Yep, this one might be tough for some, but buck up! Immediately get rid of any that are too old and worn. Then go through and make sure that each pair you keep go with an outfit that's in your closet. Donate any that you really don't have occasion to wear - they get in the way, and you'll be happier when you have more space and fewer choices. Find a system that works for you for organizing your shoes, and if possible, keep them off the floor. A clean floor visually makes for a cleaner and more organized space that will stay that way longer. If you have wall space, hang a piece of trim moulding to keep all of your heels in one pretty spot!
11. Sort out your bags and clutches. Find a storage spot where they can be all together so you can easily spot the one that would look best with your outfit. Try adding a small shoe cubby unit to the shelf above your hanging clothes. Magazine file boxes are also handy for bags, or hang them on hooks if you've got wall space. And when you're organizing your purses, consider this trick that saves me time - I put my essentials into every one of my bags, including a pen, lip balm, hand sanitizer, breath mints, ibuprofen, a bandage and business cards. That way all I have to do is change my wallet, phone and glasses from bag to bag when I'm switching.
12. Hang all accessories. Use hooks for scarves & belts so you can see them and choose quickly. Make sure you don't keep more than you really use or need. Use the back of doors for added hook space.
13. Get what you're not keeping out of the house. Make sure to take all 'donate' bags to the car and get them to the consignment and/or goodwill shops right away. Trash what can't be used by someone else. Return anything borrowed to its rightful owner.
14. Make it pretty. Hang a beautiful curtain if you don't have a closet door. A round mirror or artwork would be a nice surprise in a walk-in closet. Put a soft rug at your feet. Add a pretty drawer liner to your lingerie drawer. Keeping your closet and dresser neat and organized will be easier when it's nice to look at in the first place.
15. Set a schedule to stay organized. Go to your personal calendar and schedule time once every quarter to do this again. It won't take nearly as long if you regularly go through this purging and organizing process.
BONUS: Download and print this free checklist to keep you on track with your wardrobe declutter.
Phew! I know it can be a lot to handle, and you may want to break this process down into two or three sessions. But in the end, you'll have a space that's organized and efficient. so that your day-day life can take that route as well. It's time well spent. For lots of inspiring photos and DIY ideas for organizing your closet and dressers, check out this post.