Painless Closet Organizing – The Liberating Feeling of LESS

I moved into my current petite home after seriously downsizing three times before. In the beginning, everything fit beautifully, with plenty of room to spare. Five years and one pandemic later, I began to feel the crunch. Somewhere along the way, my normal routine of editing my wardrobe seasonally had stopped working. Drawers were a little harder to close, I had even purchased additional hangers. Twice. I found myself laying clothes over a chair rather than wedging them into my closet. Does this sound familiar?

I decided it was time to do something about it. I borrowed a sturdy folding clothes rack, put a gardening podcast on speaker and got to work. The results surprised me. Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Remove all clothes from the closet (and drawers)
  2. Clean the closet, make any necessary repairs and reconfigure if needed (I decided to remove a double hanging section and make it into a more convenient single rack. The double held more clothes, but it was harder to see everything.
  3. Decide how you want to organize your clothes. By season, occasion, type, color, etc. There is no right or wrong way to organize, and I often change things up. Below are the categories I used this time:
    • Summer tops
    • Spring/fall tops
    • Winter tops, including jackets and vests
    • Special occasion clothing
    • Summer pants/shorts
    • Fall/Winter/Spring pants
  4. For each clothing category, pick out the items you wore in the past 12 months and hang them together in the closet (or place them back in drawers). No decision-making is necessary, except to set aside any item that is stained, worn out, or that you are tired of.

After I completed these first steps, I was amazed to see what a small percentage of my clothes I actually wear. When I looked in my closet, I felt a huge sense of relief. All of my current favorites were present, and the closet had plenty of extra space. Even though there was still an overabundance of clothes on the portable rack that I had once worn and loved, they were not my “go-to” outfits any longer. They were just making my closet full.

My next step was to clean up the mess. I made a quick pass through the excess clothes and grabbed everything that was worn out. I added these to Monday’s Ridwell pickup to be recycled.

Next, I bundled up clothes that no longer fit me, or that I had purchased and worn only once or twice (or not at all in one or two cases) and don’t care for anymore. These are headed to consignment or donation.

There are still many beautiful and well-loved clothes on the portable rack, but I decided to go easy on myself and not make those harder decisions right now. I am fortunate to have space for projects, so I found a place to hang the remaining clothes in my garage. Over the next months, I plan to “shop” there first before adding anything new to my wardrobe. In order to make it back into my closet, I have to wear it. Period. At the end of each season, I will donate or consign the items I did not wear during that season.