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In this blog I will show you multiple tips on how to clean your messy closet. As I mentioned on an earlier blog I recently returned from spending the winter in California.  I’m now officially considered to be a snowbird.  That means since retiring in December my hubby and I  spend the cold winter months in a warm spot.  

Messy closet clean-up

It’s very fun but from a practical perspective this makes for a LOT of packing, unpacking and organizing closets in TWO homes.  And to complicate matters even more right after we returned from the west I promptly got really sick for a whole week!!  So be kind when you look below and see my “before” photo of my very messy closet.  Remember I retired on December 13 (which meant I brought home all my 35 year dermatology career supplies), celebrated Christmas, packed up everything for California and headed out on December 26!  So when we returned to Chicago on May 10 this is what  my closet looked like.  

How to get inspired to clean your messy closet

When I finally was well I decided to get inspired to organize this space.  I think that to organize one’s closet you need to first imagine what you want the space to look like upon completion of the task.  I believe a closet overhaul is a big weekend project.  Here are the steps:

Take a few moments to look online at various closets on Pinterest.  This will help you to have visual ideas and possible desired endpoints.  Also, turn on some happy music and make yourself a nice cup of tea or glass of wine.  The goal here is to make this process as fun as possible.

Get the closet ready   

Then take a good look at your space.  Although I have a lifelong habit of organizing my closet twice yearly (once for spring/summer and once for fall/winter) I never really looked hard enough at my closet to realize how dark it was.  

My husband came to the rescue recently by checking both overhead light fixtures.  Sure enough we had several burned out bulbs.  He replaced these with brighter LED lights and voilà the space was much more inviting.  

If your space can’t readily accommodate a brighter overhead fixture consider bringing in a bright inexpensive floor lamp that can be plugged in.  Trust me bright lighting will be inspiring as it will allow you to see into all those pesky corners as well as improve how items look when you try them on.

Get yourself ready for the task    

The next step I believe to be critical to the creative process of closet organizing.   This step may seem unnecessary and counterintuitive.  That said I recommend you now take the time to put on a great fitting bra, a nice fitting nude cami, leggings and light makeup.  

I suggest all this because  I then recommend trying on anything you’re not absolutely sure how it fits currently.  By making yourself up a bit pre-closet cleaning you will give yourself the best shot at evaluating whether an item still works for you or should be moved out of your closet all together. 

Divide your stuff into fall/winter and spring/summer  

Move all the fall/winter clothing including scarves/ purses/gloves, etc. that you only use then to a different closet.  That way you can just concentrate on spring/ summer looks. 

Sorting tools    

Gather three large white garbage bags.  Label them: “throw out”, “give away”, and “repair”.  This is important because if you get interrupted you want to know what’s where to decrease your stress.

How to sort your stuff   

 Take every item out of your closet and pile them on your bed.  Sort everything into the three piles or if they are clear “keeper items”  put them back in your closet now.  

How to organize what’s left   

As you put these pieces of clothing away sort them by categories.  I have a section for exercise wear, blouses, tunics, dresses, skirts, pants, camis, tanks, fun casual tops, jackets, and sweaters.

 Throw away pile

 The “throw-away” pile is the easiest as it’s anything stained or torn or too worn out for anyone else. 

The give away pile  

The “give away” pile is trickier.  Here’s where you need to be firm with yourself and decide if you haven’t worn it in the past year it’s probably time to go in that bag.  Also if you did wear it but always felt uncomfortable or unattractive in it, give it away.  I know this seems harsh but try and just learn from the experience.  Figure out what you didn’t like about it so you won’t repeat this mistake.  Also as I try on all these items while deciding their fates I look critically at the length and fit.  If something has potential but needs to be altered I put it in the “repair” pile.

The repair pile

The “repair” pile consists of items that need a button sewn on, a loose hem fixed, or possibly shortened, etc.  It also includes anything that needs to be dry cleaned.  

My Favorite Tip 

Keep a pen and pad of paper handy.  Label it “Spring/Summer 2019.” During the sorting process I frequently come up with new ideas for outfits especially when I’m trying various items on. I write all these outfits down on this  pad.  I also write down outfits that I remembered wearing previously but may have forgotten.  I keep this list of outfits in my closet in a folder to use whenever I feel like I have “nothing to wear”.  I also pull this list out when I’m planning clothing for a trip.  And when I see an outfit on-line or at the mall that I love I write down the look using items I know I have in my closet.

 Great Job!

 Now sit back and relax!  Give yourself a huge pat on the back for getting all your clothes sorted and organized.

  And now what?   

Stay tuned for “Messy Closet Cleanup Part Two.”  That’s where I’ll show you how to sort, straighten and organize your purses, shoes, boots, scarves, and jewelry.

Thanks for reading!


Dr. Julie

PS Please follow me on Instagram @drjuliemarshall.

PPS Some of my readers have asked me the significance of items that have been typed with pink ink.  These are “magical links” because when you click on them, you will be brought right to the site where you can purchase that item if you so choose.  They are officially called “affiliate links” which means when you shop through them, you help support my blog (all at absolutely no additional cost to you) so thank you!  

PPPS If you want more closet ideas for your messy closet check out this blog on organizing while watching Hallmark!. I love organizing! or this one on how to shop your closet.

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