Archive for ‘Closet Love’

July 31, 2011

Tune Up! Part 2

Closet Love

In my last article I shared my three-step approach to a seasonal closet tune up.  I love how great I feel when I have fine-tuned my wardrobe and re-focused on the stuff that I like and that likes me.  But sometimes I find that my closet itself needs a little boost, too. All these lovely garments, shoes and accessories need to be happy in their homes. 

I am a big believer in investing, as the budget allows, in good hangers, bins, garment covers and other closet organizing items.  These tools will pay for themselves in the long run as they help you take care of your clothes so they last longer, they make it easier for you to use what you have, and an organized closet that looks nice, feels simply wonderful. 

Here are my go-to tips for keeping my favorites happily housed:

  • Avoid over crowding – this prevents clothes from getting squashed or lost – I love the flocked, slim hangers, they take up less space, are very strong and hold shape, and best of all things don’t slide off the hangers and onto the floor.    
  • Sweaters and delicate knits should NOT be on hangers – they stretch and get odd bagging at the shoulders from hangers.  Shelves or drawers are a much better place for these guys to live. 
  • Use shaped hangers for jackets and coats, especially those in softer fabrics and leather – it will help them keep their shape.   
  • Hang pants and skirts using proper hangers designed for the purpose so they won’t be bunched and creased. If the hanger sags or buckles its not the right hanger for the job!
  • Shoes and handbags are happiest on shelves – if they are on the floor they can end up getting scuffed and they collect dust bunnies.
  • If your snazzy shoes or bag came in a protective bag, use it!
  • Use boot-trees in your boots – they help them keep their shape and prevent the leather from creasing and cracking.
  • Keep hanging items that aren’t worn often, such as evening gowns or off-season suits and coats, in garment bags – I prefer the breathable cotton canvas ones.
  • If you have a dusty closet (mine is mysteriously so) – shoulder covers are a must-have for your darker colored hanging garments. 
  • Store accessories for ease of use – if you have them in a tangled jumble in a box or drawer you won’t use them as much and may miss some great looks.  There are some great hanging solutions for belts and scarves – I found “hangers” that have hooks for belts and loops for scarves.  You can also fold scarves into stacking divided trays. 

Lastly, at the risk of sounding like a crazed, aging actress, lose the wire hangers!  These puppies are not meant to hold clothing long-term, they start to buckle under the weight and all that money you spent on pressing will go out the window.  Many dry cleaners provide nifty hanger boxes to store the wire hangers, so you can move your clothes to their proper hangers and then recycle the wire monsters back to the dry cleaners – a much better solution all around.

Now is a terrific time to upgrade closet essentials as the back to college sales events are in full swing with closet related goodies like hangers and bins are ON SALE!   One of my favorite non-fashion retailers, The Container Store – a sort ofMeccafor us OCD-types, is having their Organized Home Sale right now.  The Container Store has essential closet items such as Huggable Hangers (my favorite), shoe racks, and other great clothing, accessory and jewelry storage options on sale.  Several clever solutions I found on sale: a hanging jewelry organizer called “The Little Black Dress”, an adjustable “adder” rod that you can use to add double hang space where you need it, and a rolling shoe rack.   

Needless to say, the marriage of my fashion and my organization obsessions cheerfully occupies a few of my hours on a regular basis.  And not everyone enjoys this like I do.  However, the results are sooooo worth it!  During the week, when I am tearing through my morning getting ready for the office everything is where I can see it and ready to roll with me.  You don’t have to be as super-organized as I am, but try a few of these ideas and see how they work for you, you may be pleasantly surprised!

July 28, 2011

Tuning Up! Part 1

While we patiently, or…well…not so patiently, wait for the summer heat to pass and fall fashion to really rev up, it is a great time to soak up a little AC and cast an eye to our closets and do a little tidying up – run through the wardrobe, determine what is needed, what needs to go and show everything a little love.

I do a closet tune-up before each new season – yes darlings that means I do this four times a year (at least!).  The tune-up helps me focus on what I am wearing and needing so I can create a plan before I am lured into a new fashion season and start shopping.    Here are some easy steps I use when I do my seasonal closet tune-up:

Step 1: The First Pass

Go through closets and drawers item by item identifying those items that no longer fit, require repair, are well past their prime, or that I just don’t wear.  I have a one-closet/all seasons approach so the don’t wear rules apply seasonally. 

I don’t spend a bunch of time debating on the first pass, just assess, decide and move on.   I also try to exercise a little tough self-love when I do the first pass.  Closet space and mindshare are valuable so the goal is to focus on what I really can wear and what I really like and feel good in.  So when a first pass is done that is what should be left on the shelves and hangers, these items can stay put for the moment, we will get back to them.

I create three piles for the stuff that isn’t staying:

  • Goodbye – Items I no longer wear, don’t really love, no longer fit or are well past their prime and MUST go.
  • Repair – Tailor, cobbler or DIY, this can’t be put off, clothes you can’t wear don’t do you any good.  Shoes and bags need love too so get them to the cobbler for new heel caps, innersoles, replaced buttons or broken straps.
  • I Like It But Don’t Wear It – you like them, they fit, but for whatever reason you aren’t wearing them.  These wardrobe orphans aren’t done yet so stay tuned.

Like many folks, I have a hard time parting with stuff so sometimes I create a fourth pile “I Can’t Say Goodbye, Yet”.   Here is where I put the clothes I am not really wearing but for whatever reason think I may later on.  These items aren’t doing me any good hanging in my closet and distracting me from what I can wear so they go into storage boxes.  Then, during tune-up I go through the boxes and I again ask myself if it is time to wear them or give them away.  I find that this holding time helps me let go…of my size 12 fantasies, of my size 26 back up plans, and all those pieces that I will never really wear again.  I have also given myself a limit of only two boxes so I am not storing tons of old stuff.

Step 2: Take Note

I take notes as I bag up the Goodbye items, listing things I need to replace or things that were mistakes I should learn from.  If white basic tees and shirts are stained or go-to shoes are looking unintentionally distressed they have to go, but definitely need to be replaced.  Heavy wear is also a sign that something was a winner and may be worth replacing.  Same goes for garments that are key pieces for other garments – you don’t want to create new orphans.  As for mistakes, well we all make them, but it’s better if we try not to repeat them!

Now that we have cleared the field, the real fun can begin. 

Step 3: The Edit

Now it’s time to go fashion editor on the “I Don’t Wear It” pile.  For each piece, I ask “Why am I not wearing this?”  Generally I find these are my wardrobe orphans, those items that I haven’t built into the right outfits or that somehow miss the mark.  I try things on, play with different pieces and generally see what I can do with them – belt the baggy sweater, layer something with something else, cuff something.  If I hit upon a great outfit I write it down and refer back to it when I need wardrobe inspiration.  If I am not getting any where with what I have, I imagine what the perfect outfit would be and jot down what I need to make that outfit.  If they aren’t quite right, can they be reinvented?  Altered to improve fit, perhaps the buttons changed or cuffs removed?  If I am still stumped, or the need list is going to be huge, then it is Goodbye time.    

So, now with items on their way to Goodwill, the tailor, the cobbler and the attic, and my lists freshly updated I can focus my attention on the good stuff.  A closet full of clothes that fit, I really like, and want to wear.  Time to show them some love.  More on those in my next article!

January 13, 2011

Resolution Solution #3 – Freshen Up Your Closet…Here’s Where to Start!

Freshen up your closet – Now while it would be cool if we could all take this to mean “go buy some new clothes”, what I was really thinking was about organizing what I already have and freshening up the overall closet itself.  Apparently I am not the only one with sprucing up closets on my mind, as I recently got the following query:

I have been trying to organize my closet, but I don’t know the best way to do it. I have heard that people organize by color, but does that mean you mix winter long sleeves with summer clothes and casual with dressy?  What about sweaters?  And what about work out clothes (some are nice ones that are intended for lounging and others are meant to sweat in).  I would appreciate any tips that you have.  My closet is driving me crazy. 

OOOOOoooohhhhh what a GREAT question!!!!   Being ever-so-slightly OCD and someone who LOVES organizing all things, most especially clothes, I could write a complete book on this subject.  But let’s start with overall organization of your closet. 

My approach is to set up your closet for total ease of use.  When you go into your closet you need to be able to quickly get what you are looking for and also see everything you forget you have and should get out.  You want to let your clothes have maximum utilization and you want them to talk to you and inspire you – if you can see them, you can wear them!

Organize your closet the way you think about dressing – you are usually looking for a specific type of item such as a pair of shoes, or you are getting dressed and are assembling an outfit.  When you are getting dressed you will be thinking….  I am doing X, the weather is Y, so… I want to start with this piece…now a bottom with it (type, color) or a top to go with it (type, color), shoes – type, color, accessories.  With that thought process in mind I organize closets by type of clothing, and then sub-categorize as needed to make the whole getting dressed activity easier.

An easy place to start is with the obvious focused-use categories.  Suggested categories you may have in this area:

  • Evening wear – garments that are ONLY appropriate for going out, like formal gowns and cocktail dresses
  • Serious Working Out – this is the stuff you mean to sweat in
  • Fancy Lounging – this is where nice lounging stuff lives (more on why this should have its own section in later posts!)
  • Coats and other outerwear that isn’t fitness related
  • Beach – Bathing suits and cover ups
  • Other special categories: In my friends’ closets this may include ski wear, sailing clothes, golf togs, and I even have a friend who is a professional musician and her orchestra clothes have their own section.

Put the items you use least in the areas of your closet that you get to least or is least accessible. 

Once the broad categories are organized then focus on the “for everything” clothes.  Sort these by type and then color.  I use big categories such as Tops and then sort them by sub category – l/s tees s/s tees, blouses, etc and THEN by color.  For folks who live in climates with definite seasons it works best to segregate the definitely cold weather items from the definitely warm weather pieces and put the off-season items in the less accessible section of your closet or store them elsewhere. The items that are used year-round stay put through the seasons.  

There is a whole art and approach to a really great closet set up, but establishing a good working system is the key.  An organized closet makes getting dressed so much easier and it feels simply terrific to open those doors and see everything neatly where it needs to be.  

More on Closet Love in future posts.

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