Here are the steps I use with clients, but you can do this by yourself. If you have a rolling rack it will be easier, but the bed will do if not.
Remove items from your closet one category at a time – I like starting with the bottoms. Put the clothes on the rack or the bed. Try on all your slacks, jeans and skirts. Make piles for alterations, give away and keep. Be hard on yourself. If the piece is tight and you have not worn it for a long time, put it in the give away pile. If it is torn and cannot be repaired but you loved it, out it goes. If it’s pretty good and you forgot about it, you can keep it and try it again when the edit is finished.
If you have sentimental feelings for a dress or a suit you wore to your wedding or your daughter’s bat mitzvah and can’t bear to let it go but it is dated, put it in a remote location. You can visit it now and then, but get it out of the closet.
If you paid a lot of money for something and you loved it but it is out of style, get rid of it. I know it is a shame if you hardly wore it, but you will be smarter the next time. Think of it in terms of cost per wearing.
Do the same thing now with all the categories – tops, dresses and jackets. Don’t forget shoes and handbags, ties and scarves.
I like putting the pieces back in the closet by color and category. Hang all the dark slacks, for example, then medium, and then light-colored slacks. Hang all of your jeans together. For women I usually separate the suit pants and skirts from their jackets so the pieces can be worn separately. For men I keep the suiting together.
After you have everything nicely organized in the closet, try making some new combinations. Put those dark slacks with a top you forgot you had and the jacket you never wore. Think about why you never wore the jacket – maybe you did not have the right piece to go under it? Or maybe you forgot about the great slacks because they were too long for all your shoes. Don’t forget to use your accessories. Sometimes a scarf or a belt makes the outfit come alive and look much more current. When you have outfits you like, take pictures or write them down.
MAKING A LIST
As you create the outfits, start a list of what is missing to complete the newly recombined outfits. The top for the jacket or the higher heels for the pants would go on your list. Maybe a new, more updated black leather jacket will finish off all your fall outfits.
Now let yourself feel the pleasure of opening the closet and seeing all your clothing hanging in a well-organized fashion. Your clothing should start to inspire you to mix and match in new ways.
Have fun shopping in your closet!
Micki Turner is a Bay Area image consultant and can be reached through www.mickiturner.com.