Why is it I have an overflowing closet but end up wearing the same things week-to-week? Perhaps it is because I have an overflowing closet. To help solve this issue, I sat down with top local stylist Natasha Crowley who talked me through the process of doing a closet clear-out, a service she offers to clients near her headquarters in Cork, Ireland. You may remember Natasha from last autumn when she took me on a personal shopping and styling adventure (I highly recommend her personal shopping service!). She recommends setting aside several hours to go through this process and, if you’re sentimental, recruit friend to help.
- The first thing she does is evaluate the client’s body shape and coloring. The styles and colors a person wears that flatter vary depending on these two factors.
- She empties the closet of all pieces. All storage that isn’t clothing MUST go someplace else. That includes boxes of CDs or stacks of books.
- Go through each item and try it on. For this, it’s easiest to wear nude or flesh-tone undergarments like you’d wear normally so you don’t need to change bras with each different item. Awareness of body type comes in here because things like wild print skirts should be limited for pear shapes. Neutrals, such as blacks, beiges and navy, are always good so long as they fit.
- Make three piles:
- KEEP: Fits perfectly. Put these back in the closet. No metal hangers because the thin metal distorts the fabric as it hangs. Fold knitwear. Organize items by type with all blouses going together and so on. Then within that, organize by colors (light to dark is what Natasha does with her clothing).
- GO: Doesn’t fit or suit your shape or is in tatters. If it is in good condition, consider donating it to charity or selling it on eBay. To sell it on eBay, you’ll need to set aside a bit of time to properly photograph it and enter the details into the eBay post. If it is vintage, you can also use Etsy.
- MEND: If it doesn’t fit or has a mending need, set it aside separately to bring to a seamstress or mend it yourself. Don’t put it back in the closet or you’ll forget it needs some TLC until you pull it out to try to wear it and the vicious cycle of not finding something to wear continues. Bring it to a seamstress as soon as possible so you can enjoy wearing the item again. I had a wonderful alterations specialist when I lived in California who was also budget-friendly. If budget is an issue, you can even choose one item a week or month to bring for alterations or mending so the expense is evenly spread out. For things like replacing a button, it is simple to do yourself. YouTube has lovely tutorials. Though if you are completely useless with a needle and thread, ask a friend who is gifted at such things and barter to bake a cake or babysit in exchange.
- You’re now left with two piles and a closet filled with useful clothing (photos below)! Take action on the piles so they’re not just blocking your hallway for a month (not that I speak from experience or anything). I’ve found that sorting the items to donate into smaller bags specific to the charity shop (books, baby clothes, shoes,…) makes it easier to carry them and less intimidating to just pick up on your way out the door each time. I often give the local library my unwanted books and DVDs, hand baby clothes down to a friend, and donate everything else to a charity shop in the city where I live. For items that may not get their value at a charity shop, I would use eBay or Etsy. A good example of this might be a couture dress or pair of barely-worn shoes.
I highly recommend reading Entré Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier (available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) for insight into quality over quantity approach that Natasha advocates.