Do you have an overstuffed, bulging closet (or two) full of clothes, and yet wear the same three or four outfits repeatedly? Do you have few clothes and despair every time you put something on because you know it just does not look quite right? Would you like to be able to wear EVERYTHING you have in your closet? And know that you look good every time you do?
Renu Dalal-Jain, a certified image consultant and the owner of Flair Consulting in Philadelphia, PA, works with men and women to help them put their best personal face forward in social or corporate settings. Renu teaches her clients how to organize their closets and shop smart so that they always have the right clothes to wear for the right occasion.
Renu teaches five easy steps that you can follow today to organize your closet so that you can understand what you have and what you need to purchase to complete your wardrobe!
FIRST – Prepare! Set aside at least three to four hours for the task, and make sure you have access to a full-length mirror. Wear neutral undergarments, as you will be trying on everything you own. All hangers should be of the same size and type (all plastic, or all wooden) and made for specific clothing items – top/dress hanger, pant hanger, etc. This will save you precious space in your closet. Hangers.com is a wonderful website (www.hangers.com) that sells all types of hangers at less than one dollar apiece.
SECOND – get organized! Dump your entire closet out onto the floor of your bedroom and be brutal with yourself. Those bell-bottoms from 1973 – get rid of them! The shoe with the broken heel that you never got around to fixing… gone! You will be surprised at how much you can get rid of, and how little you really need it. One rule of thumb that Renu always use is that if you haven’t used it in at least one year, YOU DON’T NEED IT. Some of you might think, “Well, it’s got sentimental value – I have to keep that old sweater that I got in fifth-grade band camp!” Well everyone understands sentimental value but it doesn’t belong in your closet. Put it in a box with your scrapbooks and old photos and put it in the attic. Now you will have room for the key things that you are always going to wear, and always going to feel good about. Wear clothes that make you feel radiant, not reasonable!
THIRD – Divide what you have kept of your wardrobe, into business, casual and evening wear. And if you are one of the lucky ones who actually got that long-promised Caribbean vacation, make a section for vacation/resort wear. By organizing your clothes this way, you will know what section to turn to in a snap. When you are dividing your wardrobe, pay attention to your “comfort zones”… do you wear only black slacks and sweaters to the office? Do you have sixteen white button-down shirts? Make notes for yourself so that when you next go shopping, you are aware of what your comfort zone is, and resist purchases within that zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you expand your wardrobe and experiment with other styles.
FOURTH – Try on each item… this is the most important step! Make sure it still fits well, with no pulls, tears, or unseemly tucks or threads. If it’s too tight, too bright, or just plain outdated, even if it’s in mint condition, get rid of it! Make notes of what you no longer have in your wardrobe and need to purchase. For example, if you’ve gotten rid of every old pair of chinos you had, put it on your list of new purchases. If you had one black sweater (a staple item that goes with everything) that was completely worn out, make sure you replace it. Put aside the items you want to keep that need to be mended or cleaned, and make an agreement with yourself to have that done within one week of your personal closet overhaul.
FIFTH – put everything back in your closet and dresser. Renu’s rule of thumb is to hang pants, skirts, shirts, thicker sweaters and jackets. Fold very heavy items like jeans, and very delicate items like undergarments and cashmere or other loose knits, which will lose their shape if hung. Hang your clothes according to business, casual and evening wear. Within those categories, you can further hang all pants together, all shirts together, all skirts together, etc. Hang pants and skirts on clip hangers; folding them over a wire hanger will cause them to wrinkle and become prone to tearing at the bend.
Don’t worry if your closet suddenly looks empty to you. You are just creating the space to build the type of wardrobe you’ve always dreamed of having. Now you can make knowledgeable purchases by understanding what you already have, what your comfort zones are, and what items you really need.