Organizing Your Closet/Panic Room was originally featured in the April/May 2013 issue of Macon Magazine.
Organizing Your Closet with My Friend, Katherine
I am not a doomsday prepper, but my home actually has a panic room where we can take sanctuary if the weather gets menacing or the world gets scary. As a professional organizer for the past 17 years, I have discovered that the majority of my clients have a panic room of a different nature. This room induces panic rather than prevents it. The panic room I refer to here is the clothes closet.
Have you ever felt insulted when you walk into your closet? The clothes hanging from their perch like birds taunting you. If only you were 5 pounds thinner, 10 years younger, 6” taller, the clothes mocking you to give it up… nothing in here is going to make you look good. Does each day start with a desperate search for something to wear that doesn’t leave you feeling defeated? If it does, know that you are not alone. I have been in the trenches with scores of men and women in their own closets, and I have had to face my own demons as well.
The name of my organizing business is “My Friend, Katherine”. After years of self-loathing, I finally realized I was a friend to everyone except myself. I committed to granting myself the space of compassion and tranquility that I was creating for everyone else. Rather than criticizing my body for what it wasn’t, I accepted my body for what it is: a vehicle for accomplishing my higher purpose in life. My closet is no longer filled with tons of clothes. It is a well-weeded garden that abounds with clothes that celebrate the essence of who I am.
Most of us wear only 20 percent of the clothes hanging in our closets. To help my clients determine which clothes to keep, I play the “yes, no, maybe game” which you can do on your own or with a friend. Give yourself approximately 10 seconds with each piece of clothing and ask yourself, “Do I love this…Would I buy this item again?” Go with your gut feeling. If you immediately say yes, put it back on the rack. If you don’t, put it in a pile to donate. If you’re not sure, then take the item out and add it to a “maybe” pile. I recommend looking in a full-length mirror at your reflection or at a friend to gauge your initial facial reaction, which can be very revealing.
When you are finished sorting, address the “yes” items first. Do you have a complete outfit for each “yes” item? If something is missing like a belt or shoes, decide if the item is worth purchasing what is missing. Start a shopping list of items needed to round out your wardrobe. Aim for easy care (no dry cleaning or ironing) clothes that mix and match well with the other pieces on your “yes” rack. This helps cut down on decision time in the morning and increases your wardrobe options. Put these clothes in the most accessible location in your closet or what I like to call the prime real estate section.
The “maybe” pile is where things can get tricky. Many of us have “investment pieces” we no longer wear but are loath to shed. These items tend to be too small, too big, too expensive, or too sentimental. In regards to clothes that currently do not fit, I recommend removing them from the prime real estate area as well as paring them down considerably. Do you really want to be faced with clothes that remind you of a time when you were smaller or larger than you are now? If your weight fluctuates, consider hanging on to just the classic and most flattering pieces. If you lose weight, you are sure to buy new clothing as a reward. If you gain weight, a limited wardrobe may keep you from getting comfortable and motivate you to work harder to get back to your ideal weight.
Guilt is another factor that keeps people from getting rid of clothes they don’t love. Many of my clients have remarked that someone, be it a spouse or parent, would be upset if they were to let a certain piece of clothing go. Question the validity of this idea. Do you really think this person wants you to feel bad or guilty over letting something go that doesn’t serve you? If you feel compelled to keep sentimental items, like bridesmaids’ dresses, for example, consider keeping a picture of yourself in it. Save the memory, not the item.
Another hard to let go of item is the one you spent way too much money on but no longer wear. Keeping this type of item in your closet is a negative reminder of a bad purchasing decision. Donate it and decide to make better decisions in the future.
Having a hard time getting started? Consider spending a few minutes turning all your clothes hangers in the opposite direction. Every time you wear an item, place it back on the clothes rack in the normal direction. At the end of the season, you can easily see what you are wearing and what you are not. Season changes are an excellent time to cull your wardrobe. Only keep your very favorite out-of-season clothes. Be ruthless as you most likely will buy the latest styles next year. Editing your wardrobe is an ongoing process. When you bring in something new, consider letting something go.
What are you waiting for? According to an IKEA survey, 31% of those polled claim they feel more satisfied after reorganizing their closet than after having sex. I don’t know if this says something about their sex life or their closet, but it seems like a good enough reason as any to give it a go.