Saturday, January 2, 2010

How To Reorganize Your Closet So You Wear More

What % of  your clothes do you wear?

I estimate a pathetic number -- 10%!!

What's more pathetic -- there's about 20 feet of crammed rack space in my closet. The clothes I actually wear are hanging on a mobile clothesrack, taking up space on our bedroom floor, which I stub my toe on frequently. And the clothes catch cat hair. This picture is so wrong!

These unworn clothes cost money. I buy clothes often. I certainly buy fabric frequently. Yet I feel like I wear the same 5 things every week. In fact, I pretty much do. There's something very wrong with that.

Are you in a similar situation???

Clean the closet. Take stock. Be conscious of the patterns developing as you clean, and analyze what those patterns mean. Here are the steps I took:
  1. Made 6 signs and placed them on the empty guest room floor:
    1. KEEP - FITS NOW
    5. SELL
    6. DONATE
  2. I started to take all clothes out of my closet and stack them neatly in piles on the floor by the appropriate sign. I didn't worry about wrinkling the clothes because I was careful and they won't stay there long.
  3. However I stopped piling clothes when I realized a huge amount was going under KEEP - TOO SMALL and I'd build a mountain. So instead, I moved all those clothes to one area of the closet. Ordinarily I'd recommend to be realistic and sell or donate the too-small clothes. However I purchased most of these clothes only 3-5 years ago after I lost weight and got back to the size I wanted to be. I stayed there for a few years. Then we vacationed in Italy and I ate and ate and ate and never stopped eating after we got back home. I love good food. I won't be shy about it. But it's time to get motivated to fit in all these clothes again. About 15 pounds should do it. Seeing this enormous amount of clothes, some still with tags on them, and thinking of what I paid, it makes me feel sick. I won't make a resolution because I don't believe New Year's resolutions motivate me. I am just finding my natural motivation.
  4. Nearly all the KEEP - FITS NOW still fit on the mobile clothesrack. That's why they wound up there in the first place. Those are going back in the closet in the easiest section to access. The mobile clothesrack is moving out of the bedroom!
  5. The KEEP - SMALL REPAIRS and KEEP - REFASHION (SEW) are going down to the basement sewing room. What's the difference? Small repairs are holes to fix, pants and sleeves to shorten. Waistbands to take in. Refashion are more creative projects. There's a big pile of sweaters that could be reshaped from boxy to curvy. Or cut apart and pieced together in different combinations. We'll see. If I decide not to refashion any items here, they should go into DONATE or SELL.
  6. DONATE - Because most of my clothes are pretty new and I made huge donations in past years before two separate inter-state moves, this pile is smaller this time. Also many DONATE items are Target or Walmart purchases. No Eileen Fisher here. Usually I would consider the more advantageous tax deduction of donating expensive brands, but right now I'd rather have cash than think about the tax bill in 2011. That's a conscious decision.
  7. SELL - These are the too-small clothes that I honestly won't wear again even as I do lose weight. It's disheartening to see this pile become so big. As I said above, be conscious of patterns as you assign clothes to categories. There are definite patterns here. Most are purchase mistakes.
Patterns in The Sell Pile
  1. Clothes not appropriate for my body shape. In particular, I put the jackets that just haven't felt right when I wore them in this pile. I didn't feel good in them. I fidgeted, adjusted, worried, shot dirty looks at myself when I caught my view in the restroom mirror at work. Ugh. They aren't cut to flatter a figure-8 shape. Many of them create bunches of wrinkles above my butt, and don't fit close enough around my waist. They make me look like a wide straight box. Not good. On someone else though, they may be just right.
  2. Beige and white jackets and blouses. As I'm now above 40 and I think my skin tone is changing, it's harder to wear beige and white next to my face. While I once looked more rosy in these colors, now I look tired. So out they go. I am keeping light pants, and light t's and tanks with lower-cut necklines that I wear under a jacket or sweater.
  3. Black pants. My wardrobe has been shifting more toward brown as a base color than black. I am keeping my favorite "too small" black pants for now, to wear as I lose weight.
  4. Cotton and lined linen pants. I definitely don't like brushed cotton pants, I now see. I don't like the cotton that crunches and swishes when you walk. Structured linen that's lined, like a few Talbot's pairs now in this pile, don't give enough. They fit OK when I stand but don't have enough ease when I sit. I think they may work for people with less curvy figures.
  5. Wide leg pants. This was a trend that didn't work for me. I'm too petite.
  6. Polyester clothes. I made some quick inexpensive polyester purchases when I quickly needed a number of new work clothes. Nearly all these things are now in this pile. I wore many of them only a few times.
  7. Colorful handbags. I tried to branch out into colors as accents. But bottom line, I like my handbags in browns and blacks and that's not going to change.
Patterns in the Keep Pile
  1. Browns and colors that go well with browns. I love mixing colors with various browns.
  2. Wool. I like wool pants and wool jackets -- crepe, flannel, worsted. Most are three season. Some are light enough for summer. I love wool. It always feels comfortable, and it gives enough to sit in it. I live in Chicago, so there's certainly a very long season when it can be worn.
  3. Colors. Blues. Reds. Olives. Other greens. I like to wear a brighter color with a basic pant in brown, black or gray.
  4. Simple shapes. Many of the structured, complex things with numerous pockets, etc. wound up in the sell pile. I'm 5'0" so simple seems to work better on me.
How to Wear More
Easy steps:
  1. Getting rid of the SELL and DONATE items clears space in my closet and helps me more clearly see what I do wear.
  2. Seeing the enormous KEEP-TOO SMALL section will motivate me and hopefully these items will soon be moving into the FIT section.
  3. Getting the FIT clothes back in my closet and all together in one spot helps me see new ways to combine them so I don't feel like I'm wearing the same 5 things every week. It also exposes obvious holes that I can easily fill by sewing fabrics from my stash. No new clothing purchases needed!!
  4. Because I thought very carefully about assigning clothes to piles, and noticed patterns as I assigned them, I now am aware of the patterns of what works for me and what doesn't. Buying and making only what works will help increase the percentage of clothes I actually reach for again and again.
I share these tips in hopes that they help you too!

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