Cleaning Out Your Closet

As mentioned in this month’s From My Sewing Table, August is a time when I take on the dreaded task of organizing my closet.  On the whole, I keep a very clean house, but I have had this belief since I child that if it has a door, what is behind it doesn’t matter.  This goes for my linen closet, pantry, cupboards, and most definitely clothes closets.  It has become a such a problem that I may have been known to open the door really fast, throw the stuff in, and then shut it immediately so nothing falls on me.  I have become better as I have gotten older, however, there comes a time, at least twice a year, that something must be done.  Around April I  I simply organize, but in August, I go through everything!  A daunting, but much needed process.

When I began to take the job more seriously, I remember it was after reading a 1950’s section on the seven steps to a tidy and functioning wardrobe along with tips on shopping.  While I still have a hard time with step one, these guidelines always ensure, if properly followed, that my closet will be organized and my wardrobe will be functioning by the time the weather changes.  I hope it helps you too!

A General Guide to Organizing Your Wardrobe

1.Compress Your Wardrobe

Be relentless.  If it’s out of style – makes you itch or squirm with discomfort – it turns your skin sallow – get rid of it fast!

Unless you have a cedar-lined attic or more closet space than I’ve ever seen in the biggest household, don’t hang onto things that: may someday come back into style – you think might look okay if you change your hairstyle or bought a complete new set of accessories – has sentimental value and the teardrop stain to remind you – or that’s good enough for rain or wearing around the house.

Fashion is for today.  Don’t look back.  Don’t buy something at the end of season to wear the following year.  End-of-season bargains can boomerang.

With the dross and fool’s gold cleared away, the real nuggets shine.  An uncluttered wardrobe gives you a warming knowledge of what you have and full control over selections.  Complete costume planning is possible only with an intimate awareness of all your clothes.


2.  Weeding is a money-saver.

Collect your discards, and if you don’t have favorite people such as a sister, or cousin, or niece who can wear them, do one of two things.  Sell them to a dealer in used clothing, or have them evaluated and donate them to a social organization.  Their value may be deducted as a charity contribution on your tax return.  


3.  Old shoes must go.

Old solids may fade away; old Garbo movies may make you cry – but old shoes are only good for hanging on the back of a bridal car or giving to the children for dress-up play.  Nothing spoils an outfit more than time -worn shoes and shoes which are obviously out of style.  

Old shoes should not be worn as house shoes or bedroom slippers.  They lack both the proper support and good looks.  You will feel better and look better in appropriate footwear.  

As for expense, my feeling about shoes is the same I have about other clothes.  If you feel guilty about spending lots on shoes, spend a little less on each pair but replenish frequently.  Fashion is a living, changing part of your life.


4.  The skeletal jewel box. 

It may be pleasant to dig your hands into an overstuffed jewel box while visions of pirate treasures pass through your mind.  It is an idle fantasy.  Not being able to tell the forest for the trees is the chief woe of the overstuffed jewel cask.  You won’t be able to find what you want.  The chain of one bracelet will be snarled in some earrings.  In your haste or annoyance you may break something valuable or wear the wrong jewelry.  

The reason is simple.  Why panic over making a choice among twelve pairs of gold earrings, some of which are scratch or dulled?  One or two fresh pairs is enough.  


5.  Excess accessories.

Another case of the Confusion of Profusion is too many scarves, belts, gloves, and handbags, and by “too many” I mean relics of former years which keep getting in the way of the accessories currently in use.  Admittedly, most accessories can be worn indefinitely because classic styles change very little.  If an accessory hasn’t been worn for a year, if it’s shabby, if the color is faded or doesn’t go with anything you have, if you simply can’t stand to wear it – that’s right, out it goes.  And you’d be surprised how much fresher and easier to use your remaining accessories will seem with all the deadwood cleared away.


6.  Shop in a shopping mood.

The worst mistake you can make is to force yourself to shop.  The most important part of shopping is your frame of mind.  How can you make a proper choice if you feel like the mistreated heroine of a soap opera?  One thing that makes me really bristle is the subject of dressing to go shopping.  How can you possible see what a dress will do for you if your hair is in pins under a kerchief, your face devoid of makeup, your girdle left home in the drawer?  

And….that explains why so many clothes are such a big disappointment when they are finally worn.


7.  Dress for everything.

From early morning to late at night, dress actively for whatever you are doing.  Don’t wear an aging cocktail dress to the office or a “beat-up” wood for housework.  Their original design was for something quite different and they will be uncomfortable as well as unattractive.  Study your clothing needs as carefully as you furnish your home.  If you live in a cold climate, have a collection of boots in various colors and heel heights so that you can be warm all winter and still not look like a lumberjack.  For working around the office, wear understated, simple clothes in comfortable fabrics and styles that retina their lines after a full day’s activity.


Know who you are, and what you stand for – your enthusiasm, your ambitions, your hopes, your responsibilities.


Good luck and happy organizing!


Source: Wife Dressing – The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty

Cleaning Out Your Closet tutorial

6 thoughts on “Cleaning Out Your Closet

  1. Patricia Cash

    This was so funny. My Mom got tried of telling me to clean my room and just closed my door. She said, she thought that would want me to clean it up and keep it neat. Well, it taught me to close my door. She and I would laugh about this as we watched my girls grow up. Thank you for bring the memories.

  2. The comment about “if you live in a cold climate, wear boots that are cute” is something I’ve had to admit to myself. I kept wanting to look cute, no matter the weather, and refused to wear boots unless it was absolutely necessary. (As I type this, I’m leaning against the giant box of clothes for Goodwill — it needs to leave my house!)

    And the accessories! I need to go through my scarves, not just keep adding to them. Ugh that’s going to be hard! But I refuse to touch the jewelry box. That’s full of memories and doesn’t take up too much space.

    I also think the kind of people who write these articles have a regular “clothes budget” as opposed to a lot of us. I have enough clothes that anything new is ALWAYS a splurge on my budget, as it’s the only way to keep me in check!

    What a delightful article — and it’s always useful to have someone firmly reminding you to get rid of things. 😛

    • I completely agree! I have spent the past few days going through my clothes that I haven’t worn in years so I can donate the extra, and I have to say it has been very therapeutic. While I too don’t have the finances to go on a spending spree all that often, I will definitely have a clearer idea of what I do and do not need whenever I can afford to go. I am so glad that you enjoy the article as much as I do!
      Have a wonderful Friday,

  3. Cyndi

    What a fun article that really made me think not only about how I’ll go about unpacking….starting tomorrow as the movers arrive at our new house…but also how I might take a fresh approach to acquiring new things, for myself and for my home. Being purposeful and intentful.

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