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January is a terrific time to get organized! With the holidays behind us, it’s a great time to purge your closet. Let me show you How to Declutter Your Closet so you can love all the stuff left after the clean-up. This is a project that takes a fair amount of time, like much of a weekend, so that you don’t run out of steam midway through.

Once I’ve put away the Christmas decorations, most of my house looks bare. At least until I replace the holiday decorations with my early spring stuff.

This bareness, however, is not true of my clothes closet.

How to Declutter Your Closet

Part 1: Getting Ready to Purge as well as Declutter Your Closet.

Here is a photo of my messy closet in Chicago right before I packed much of this stuff up for my California closet.  Things are all over the place!  I will show you how to declutter your closet.
Here is my messy Chicago closet right before I was getting ready to pack up for five months in California

As a fashion blogger, I LOVE SHOPPING. So I have way too many clothes at any one time. But, I think most women have too many items in their closets. I think this happens for a number of reasons. I think we tend to keep items around “in case” we need them for the future. Or we think we spent “good money” on an item, that we never reach for. Or we think we should keep that item for when we lose those 10 pounds. Or we remember that item from a particularly happy event and therefore can’t part with it.

I bring up these reasons to help you understand why you might be hanging onto items that would better serve you by being given away.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard of Marie Kondo’s organizing book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. With Marie’s techniques, you learn how to go through your stuff thoughtfully, removing all items that don’t “spark joy”. What I think Marie means is to touch EVERY item in your closet and see if you LOVE IT and ACTUALLY WANT TO WEAR IT!

Here are the actual steps to take to get ready to Purge Your Closet (Closet Cleaning Tips) as well as Declutter Your Closet:

1. Before cleaning the closet, I take the time to fix my hair and make-up I put on a good bra, and nude cami, so that when I go to try on an item that I haven’t worn recently, I give it a better chance of making it back into my closet as something I now love.

2. Remove EVERYTHING from the closet. This step is CRITICAL. You need to get a fresh start in the space. I take all the clothes, shoes, boots, and accessories, and move them all to my adjacent bedroom. Now I know I am committed to the task.

Here are all the clothes from my closet piled up on my bed..
Here is a bunch of the clothes that were in my closet and now need to be decluttered, purged, and organized.
Here is an open suitcase, hats, belts, an exercise roller, purses, and totes all from the messy closet.  There's even an extra pillow!
Here’s more of the stuff that was in my closet before I organized it.
Here's that same messy closet all emptied out.  It's been vacuumed, and all the shelves and walls are wiped clean.
Here is my closet with all the shelves and racks empty. The shelves have been wiped clean and the scuff marks are gone from the closet walls.
Here's a close-up of the various tie racks I use to organize my jewelry and belts.
Here are some of the tie racks I use to organize my jewelry and belts.
Here are the racks that I use to sort my shoes in my Chicago closet.
Here are the racks o which I put my shoe. My boots go below this rack on the floor standing against the wall.

3. Quickly clean the shelves, racks, and cubbies with Windex and paper towels so that putting things away will be easier and the end result will be better. I vacuum the carpet and even wipe the shoe smudges off the walls with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

4. Turn off my phone so I don’t get interrupted, and I then put on some uplifting music with my Air Pods. This keeps me focused and uplifted.

5. Get a pad of paper and a pen so that as you clean and come up with a cute outfit, you can write it down. And as you think about items you need for your future shopping, make that list now.

Here is the legal pad I use to record the various outfits I love or want to wear in the upcoming days.
This is the legal pad on which I write out outfits that I have liked and worn and wish to wear again as well as outfits that I get inspired to create when I clean my closet!
Herr's a shopping list of items I want to shop for soon.
Here’s a shopping list of items to get to complete some outfits.

Part 2: Declutter Your Closet by Sorting the Clothes and How to Purge Your Closet Stuff

Here are the steps to sort and declutter all the items in your closet as well as how to purge your closet stuff.

1. Now you’re ready to sort your clothes into piles. The quickest way to do this is to go over to the big pile of clothes on your bed and pull out anything that you currently love and wear. You know these items fit as you routinely wear them. Take all these items and quickly hang them back in your closet. (You will organize all this in a bit). Any favorite well-fitting shoes, handbags, boots, booties, belts, etc. should also be returned to your empty closet at this time.

2. Try on everything else that you haven’t worn in the past few months as you need to determine if the item fits, is your current style, or is something you love. If you try it on and decide it’s something you love, put it back in your closet. If not see step 3 below.

3. Get four garbage bags and label them “to toss”, “to repair”, “to give away” and “not sure”. As you try each item on, sort each piece into one of these categories.

Here are the four bags I sort all the clothes I don't "love" into.

The “to toss” pile is anything that is too damaged to be worn; either irreparably stained, torn, or otherwise damaged. This bag will go in the trash.

The “to repair” pile includes items that need alteration, dry cleaning, button replacement, etc. This bag needs to be dealt with by dropping the items off at the dry cleaners or tailors.

The “giveaway” pile is everything you know in your heart would be better shared with someone else. Items to include here are any items that don’t feel comfortable when you put them on. Things that are too tight or unflattering to your current figure. The reality is that our bodies change over the years and we should embrace that as fashion stylist Stacy London would say, “Dress the body you have, not the body you wish you had”.

Give away anything that still has its tag on it as you really don’t love it. Give away shoes that hurt, sweaters that itch, and anything that isn’t a flattering color for you now. And if you’ve retired, strongly consider giving away all those work clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle.

The “not sure” pile consists of things you like but don’t know how to style. Ask a stylish friend (or DM a favorite blogger, ahem) for suggestions so they can become items you love. Also in this pile are things that you like but rarely reach for. Don’t keep giving them valuable real estate in your closet. Put this “giveaway” bag in the basement or another slightly out-of-the-way spot. If you find yourself missing an item, go retrieve it. After a few months, give the rest of the “not sure” bag to someone who will appreciate it.

4. The last pile is out-of-season clothes. It is so helpful to keep the current season’s clothes as the only items in your closet. If you have another closet somewhere else in your home, put the out-of-season stuff there. If not, put the items under the bed or on the very top shelf of your closet in these types of storage bags or these. This way you can concentrate and create outfits just from the current season’s items.

I find that some items are used all year round such as tank tops, camis, some tee shirts, belts, etc. So those items stay in my closet all the time.

Part 3: How to Color Organize Your Closet

Once I have culled through all my items and am left with just things I love to wear, it is really fun to organize the items. I find it best to group like items together. I will show you some photos of how I color organize my closet. I have sections for jeans, pants, button-down shirts, dresses, skirts, tee shirts (I group these with camis and tank tops), shoes, boots, purses, belts, scarves, hats, and jewelry.

Hangers: I like velvet hangers for many items in my closet. I like the fact that they are uniform and that they keep most clothes from sliding off. I also like and routinely use clear plastic hangers. I like them for heavier items as the velvet hangers are a bit flimsy. I also like the clear plastic hangers with clips on them for my pants and jeans as I like to hang them from their waist. So buy all three types of hangers and I keep an assortment in my guest closets as well.

Here are my pashminas arranged on hangers and hung by color.
Here are my scarves and pashmina hanging on velvet hangers and arranged by color.

Purses: I LOVE these acrylic dividers that I use to separate my purses. This helps the bags stay upright and not get creased. Here is another type of purse organizer that you might like.

Here is a close-up of my purses with acrylic dividers that keep them upright.
Here are some of my purses arranged on a shelf with acrylic dividers separating them.

Hats: Here is a hanging clothes organizer that I use for my hats. Sweaters could fit here too. Here is another type of organizer got baseball and golf hats.

Here are my hats in a hanging organizer.
Here are my hats in a hanging organizer.
Here are some totes hanging on wooden tie racks in my California closet.
Here are my totes hanging on tie racks.

Belts: For my belts, I use tie racks. They really help to keep the belts untangled.

Here are my belts hanging on the same type of tie racks.
Here are my belts hanging on tie racks.

Jewelry: I also use the same tie racks for my necklaces.

And here are my necklaces hanging on tie racks.  They are arranged by type of necklace as well as by color.
Here are my necklaces sorted on tie racks.

Bracelets, Earrings, and Rings: For bracelets, I use these brass candle holders. For my earrings, I use these tiered stands (similar, here). For rings, I use Waterford ring dishes.

Here are my bracelets, rings, and earrings in my Chicago closet.  I used Waterford ring dishes as well as brass candle holders to hold everything.
Here are my bracelets, rings, and earrings in my Chicago closet. I used Waterford ring dishes as well as brass candle holders to hold everything.
Here are my bracelets and earrings arranged on tiered dishes in California.
Here are my earrings and bracelets arranged on tiered stands. This is the jewelry system in my California closet.
Here are my pants arranged by color.
Here are my pants sorted by color.
Here are my jeans arranged by color.
Here are my jeans arranged by color.
Here are my shirts arranged by color.
Here are my shirts arranged by color.
Here are my camis, tees, and tank tops arranged by style and color.
Here are my camis, tees, and tank tops arranged by style and color.
In my California closet the shoes are arranged on the floor by style of shoe and by color.
Here are my shoes in my California closet where I have arranged them on the floor by color and style of shoe.

Pro-tip: Here is how to color organize your closet. Once I have the items in their appropriate section of the closet, I go back through each section and arrange the items by color. This is especially helpful for solid-colored items such as tanks, tees, camis, and scarves. Then when I go to put together an outfit, I can go right to the spot where the item is located and can quickly get dressed.

Pro-tip: Whenever I take an item out of the closet, I move its hanger to the “empty hanger” section of my closet. This way I always have hangers for doing laundry, and I don’t have lost empty hangers taking up space in my pretty closet.

Here are the hangers I use and where I keep them when they aren't holding an item.
Here are the hangers I use and where I keep them when they aren’t holding an item.

Conclusion to How to Declutter Your Closet:

So are you motivated now to take on the project of cleaning your closet and purging it of stuff you don’t want? I hope so! Let me know YOUR thoughts as well as your tips and tricks for organizing.

XO,

Dr. Julie

PS Here are a few more fun posts to kick off the new year:

Organizing My Messy Closet Using A Hallmark Movie!

How to Shop Your Closet, Really!

Delicious Italian Wedding Soup!

Delicious Squash SoupSpectacular Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

Dr. Julie’s Fun Friday Finds – Guest Room Essentials

Some Cool Closet Organizers:

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