THE SHOPAHOLIC'S GUIDE TO CLOSET CLEANING

Closet organization is no joke. Here, I'm sorting my wardrobe by season. Not pictured are the piles of clothes on the bed/floor!

Closet organization is no joke. Here, I'm sorting my wardrobe by season. Not pictured are the piles of clothes on the bed/floor!

Okay, this is serious; in the last year, my closet and I have been on a crazy fashion journey! If you follow the blog, you know that I had the pleasure of working with a celebrity wardrobe Stylist last November thanks to one of my clients, and the result was a collection of nearly forty pieces from Zara and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Prior to the big client-assisted shopping session, I had spent several months curating a capsule wardrobe as a way to cut the clutter and simplify my style.  As you can imagine, adding forty Fall and Winter pieces to the mix did not make for a less cluttered closet.

Obviously, this is a champagne problem, but I had clothes coming out of my ears, and I didn't know how to marry the old with the new to make a cohesive wardrobe. I also underwent a bit of a fashion identity crisis, second guessing the wearing of my perfectly great "before-Stylist" items.

In addition, there were pieces that weren't purchased, but were advised, and I ended up investing in the new image myself.  It was exciting to get dressed in the morning because I felt as though I was shopping in my own closet (nearly everything had tags!), but I often found myself stressed out AF when trying to put outfits together because I couldn't remember how the pieces were supposed to mesh.

Since then, several things have happened... First, the client that generously provided the overhaul shifted their brand messaging away from the chic, polished image that my wardrobe had been tailored to (uh, now what?). Second, I became a #girlboss, and decided that I know what my style is. This transition, the transition of seasons, along with editing a Fashion/Lifestyle blog, caused me to collect even more amazing pieces to add to my bursting-at-the-seams closet. Did I mention that I have clothes coming out of my ears?!

I don't know about you, but I get VERY stressed out when I'm not organized, and too much clutter is my recipe for disaster.  It is now time to take control of the closet (and the piles of clothing, and garment bags under the bed) and curate a wardrobe that is concise and that I actually want to wear. Can you totally relate to this?

Whether you were fortunate to have a Stylist (or Fairy Godmother, Sugar Daddy/Mama, etc) purchase you a new wardrobe, or you just like to shop a lot (so guilty), you may find yourself with the urge to purge. Let me help! Here's how I turned my closet from mess to masterpiece.

So. Many. Hangers.

So. Many. Hangers.

Disclaimer: You will need wine, patience, and possibly Kleenex. Here we go... How to curate and organize your closet in 5 STEPS:

STEP 1: Take all of your clothing out of the closet (and any other hiding places) and stack it on your bed- on the hangers, folded, or however it was stored. If you want to get super anal, you can group items by category (tops, bottoms, coats, etc), but if not, the mess will work itself out.

STEP 2: Make 4 dividers on your closet bar: Summer, Spring, Winter, and Fall. I made mine out of paper, but you can use a ribbon, hanger, or anything else that will make sense to you. The idea is that you'll be grouping your wardrobe by season.

But wait, Rachel; some pieces are worn in multiple seasons. You are absolutely correct! You'll put the item in the section for the nearest season in which it is worn (i.e. it's Summer and you wear this piece in Fall and Winter, it goes in Fall). The goal is to store unseasonable clothing out of sight (and mind) when not in use, but these multi-season items may stay in rotation.

STEP 3: You'll now begin to sort, curate, and question your life choices. One by one, you'll add pieces back into the closet by season. The goal is to have approximately 30-40 items of various type in each season, creating a mix that can be worn together in various ways. If you're thinking, 'Wow, this is so easy,' hold your horses; shit is about to get real.

The best tip for this step is not to go item by item and make a decision, but to go by favorite/can't live without it items first. You'll discover very quickly that you know what you love (and what you really don't- make a pile for these, too), but you're not so sure of a ton of other pieces. It may take forever to make the final call (three days later, I still have a little pile in the corner of my room), but the following steps should help you make up your mind.

It seems like a no-brainer, but immediately get rid of anything that looks worn, never fit quite right, or has a stain/hole (you can start a donate pile for these). Keep this in mind: if it doesn't make you feel amazing, you don't need it in your life!

Yes, I make Pinterest boards of my seasonal wardrobes, and I love to look at them.

Yes, I make Pinterest boards of my seasonal wardrobes, and I love to look at them.

If you are insane for clothes/organization like I am, see STEP 3A.  If you are a functioning sane person, move on to STEP 4.

STEP 3A: Hi, apparently we're both crazy! I am obsessed with Pinterest, but not in the way normal people use it; I make Pinterest boards for each season and pin the items in my closet as I curate.

I have several reasons for doing this, but the main motivation is that it helps me weed out items that I don't love, as well as visualize what I have to work with. If something bugs me on the board, it probably bugs me in real life. The other benefit to doing this is that when it comes time to sell your unwanted items for cold, hard, cash money, these images and style names, etc. will come in handy (more on that later).

Shop my closet (and list your own gently-used pieces) on Tradesy.com.

Shop my closet (and list your own gently-used pieces) on Tradesy.com.

If you'd like to check out my Pinterest boards, click here.

STEP 4: Are you miserable yet? If you found it totally easy to add your favorites to the closet but are struggling with the lukewarm items, you are not alone! I find a million reasons to hesitate over pieces that I know I don't love: everything from the initial cost, to the circumstances around acquiring it, to how cute it looked on in 2008.

Let me tell you, girl, if you don't love it by now, you will probably never love it, but there are exceptions! Keepsake and special occasion items are exempt, as are uniforms.  

Buffalo Exchange is a great place to sell gently-used mainstream items. I've even had success selling my workout clothes!

Buffalo Exchange is a great place to sell gently-used mainstream items. I've even had success selling my workout clothes!

Also exempt, a reasonable amount of items you want to save to decide upon for a rainy day; however, I will all but guarantee that you will not pull those items out at a later date and decide that you love them. Tip: under-bed garment bas are perfect for storing such pieces.

STEP 5: Now that you've sorted and stored everything, and you're left with a pile of items you don't want/need, it's time to get rid of them (and hopefully make some money while doing it).

Now is also a great time to take a look at your basics: underwear, workout wear, pajamas, and sweats.  While these items don't fall into your capsule wardrobe (thankfully!), they are just as subject to creating clutter.  

Gather the yoga pants that give you camel toe, the faded cotton pjs with pills all over them and the ratty old underwear you've been hanging on to for absolutely no reason and get rid of them!

I have three go-to solutions:

For the nice pieces: I've posted before about my success selling items on Tradesy, a site that connects buyers and sellers. To date, I've sold sixteen items for a total of almost $1,000, which is an added bonus to having a clean and organized closet. It's super easy to post items from your smartphone, and they clean up the images so that it looks like you're running an online boutique (now you can add 'Fashion Buyer' to your resume). They predict a selling price based on the original price, send you a free pre-paid shipping kit, and only take a 9% commission.

For the mainstream pieces: Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, Beacon's Closet, etc. will all purchase your items on-the-spot for cash or trade. I've taken things that were on the brink of donation-status, and they've paid me for them (like workout clothes, designer bras, and t-shirts). It never hurts to try, and they'll usually volunteer to donate the pieces they won't take, too.

For items not suitable for sale: Make a donation bag and drop the items ar your local donation center. Now you feel good, look good, and have done something good for someone else!

Good luck, and happy organizing!  I'd love to hear about your closet cleaning experience; comment below.