Recently I heard a celeb on TV saying they did not have a wardrobe. They had a floordrobe. After 18 years of professional organizing, I could easily envision this. The hanging part of the closet is packed. With nowhere else to go, the overflow clothing is on the floor. When an item is needed, the owner selects an outfit from the heap on the floor of the closet. In my experience, often the hanging clothes are pretty much unused. They are the old, out-of-style, sized-out, never-felt-right garments that get the prime real estate. The favorites, wear-all-the-time and new stuff gets the floor.
There are other variations of this that I have seen:
The doordrobe – This can be hooks attached to the back of the door or the fancier over-the-door rack that extends out 12 inches or so. The latter holds dozens of items and can often get quite heavy. Sometimes the weight can unhinge the door, or make it crooked and hard to close.
The chairdrobe – Chairs are dangerous when organizing. It is tempting, even to the most organized person, to just throw the day’s outfit onto the chair at the end of a long one. “I’ll put it away later,” we say. This could mean later in the evening (are you less tired by then?), the end of the workweek (if you do this every day, now there are five days’ worth of clothes on the chair), or possibly, they just live there.
The still-in-the-bagdrobe – You go shopping and buy some fabulous new stuff. You get home and want to put it away, but the closet and drawers are full. So, you leave it in the bag, usually on the floor. When you are ready to wear the hot new buy, you dig it out of the bag. Or maybe not. It might be forgotten and get buried under other bags. You stumble upon it at some point – when it might be a wonderful surprise, or the wrong season, or its usefulness has timed out.
The plastic boxdrobe – Recently someone told me that a lot of her clothes were kept in plastic boxes. “I like to layer,” she said. That means summer sleeveless tops can be used year-round and are never put away with the off-season wardrobe. Since the dresser and the closet are full, the clothes’ permanent home is a plastic box on the floor.
The closet pole – I am a big fan of the closet pole. If ironing is not your thing but you don’t like the wrinkled look, then the closet pole is your new best friend. Plus, for visual folks, like most people are including me, it is a great eye-level experience. If it is in a drawer, I don’t’ see it. I only wear what I can see in my closet. The only thing in my drawers are undergarments. Everything else in on a hanger.
How do you get your clothes organized if you want to utilize the all-important closet? Here are some guidelines:
First, go through your closet and take out all the empty hangers. It is amazing how much room they take up.
Next, start from one end of the closet pole and work your way to the other end. Always organize / declutter in one direction. Purge anything that:
Does not fit – This is hard for women, like myself, with the fluctuating size syndrome. Keep one size smaller and one size larger but not in the closet you dress from every day. If it fits you today, it belongs in your today closet. Other sizes can be packed away (by size) or placed in a spare closet.
Is out of style – It will come back someday certainly, but it won’t be exactly the same. Besides, unless you are in your 20’s or 30’s, dressing retro makes you look like you saved it for 20 years. Which you did. But don’t wear it. When older folks dress retro, we look old and out of style. Sorry.
It is faded and worn and not wearable in public – Do remember Rit dye? Me either. No one dyes their faded clothes anymore to get more life out of them. Keep it and wear it around the house if it’s your favorite.
Needs alterations, frayed, damaged beyond repair – They can be repaired, of course, either by you or a tailor. Decide today to do it or get rid of them, but don’t let those clothes take up precious closet space one more minute. Some items may be too far gone. Let them go.
Never fit right in the first place – But you paid good money for it and never got your money’s worth. And you never will. Having it hang in the closet longer does not change this fact. The sooner you get rid of it, the sooner someone else can use it. Donate, consign, or give it to someone who will love it and use it.
After you’ve decluttered, it is time to organize. Here are some tips:
Keep like things together. Pants, skirts, dresses, tops, camisoles, etc. Once this is done, you may be surprised to learn just how many pairs of black pants you own.
Organize by outfit. If you are one who does not like to mix and match in the moment, set up your closet so this is done in advance. When you pull from the closet to get dressed, an outfit will be all ready for you. Combine the pants, top, and jacket you would wear together and hang them together in the closet.
Invest in some good hangers. This can be costly, so you can do this slowly over time. Or do what I do: I ask the store if I can keep the hanger if I like it. Many stores use the same type of hangers, so I don’t end up with a hodgepodge. I use a combination of those hard-plastic hangers for sweaters and clear plastic for blouses, and I fold pants over hangers from the dry cleaner. My least favorite are the wire hangers (not the best for keeping clothes in good shape, especially sweaters); wood hangers (they take up too much room for everyday clothes but are great for heavy coats); and the new velvet-coated hangers (a struggle to get your clothes off them. Who wants to fight with their hanger? I do like them for pants and hanging large scarfs, ponchos, and the like though.)
Hang up your clothes every day. How long does this take? Seconds! Blouse, pants, jacket. Invest seconds every day and save hours later. Plus, there is the instant gratification aspect. It is an immediate organizing accomplishment.
How long will it take to complete this project, you ask? Depends on how many clothes you have and if you are a fast or slow decision maker. Keep in mind that the more decisions you make, the faster a decision maker you become. You will pick up speed as you go along. You can work on this project 15 minutes a day or block out a 3-hour window and really dig in and make big progress. Experience tells me that three hours is usually enough to purge the closest pole and hang up the clothes on the floor. Start today and you will feel better today!
Note: If you are looking for inspiration on how to get let go of clothes, read the story in my new book Happily Organized Little Stories About My Mom, the Most Organized Person in the World, entitled “The Puppy Skirt.” Learn how my mom taught me this important lesson when I was a little girl. It has served me well as an adult. Purchase on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com