Summer is a great time to do a big closet edit because it’s just before the mad back to school rush. Later in the year schedules will start to fill up as we move closer to the holidays. I’ve written many posts on wardrobe planning and of them it’s “The Six Piles of Closet Editing” that gets to the crux of the matter. I wrote that post three years ago, but it’s still EXACTLY the same procedure I follow when working with clients today so it bears repeating.
A few points upfront:
- Try to edit your closet in one session because keeping the momentum allows you to judge your closet contents as a whole. It can take up to ten hours to help my clients edit their closets, but four hours is a more realistic time. If you edit your closet very regularly, you’ll be done in an hour. If editing in one go is not an option – tackle one item category or closet area at a time.
- Edit ALL areas with wardrobe items. Don’t forget the stuff under the bed, in the spare room closet, in the coat closet, in all those drawers, in the garage, or in the basement.
- Re-fit all items before deciding their fate. Your opinion about how an item looks and feels has to be CURRENT. Do not base your opinion on a past memory. This is especially important if you have recently lost and gained weight, or are post pregnancy.
- Fix your hair and make-up before you re-fit wardrobe pieces because you’ll judge them differently if those parts of your outfit are off.
- Give your wardrobe size some thought. If your goal is to reduce its size, a more ruthless edit might be in order.
- Don’t worry too much about reviewing your closet during the editing process if you’re short on time. Focus on getting the contents down to the right items and revisit your wardrobe for an in-depth review another time.
- It’s unrealistic to think that we can create a perfect wardrobe over a set timeframe. It takes time, resources, patience, dedication and an interest in our current fashion era to create a fabulous wardrobe. But we can strive to achieve our wardrobe goals over a longer period of time. Like our style that is on a never-ending journey, our wardrobes are a permanent work in progress.
Once you’ve carved out some time to edit the contents of your wardrobe, keep the process structured by creating six piles. You might not need to create all six piles, but the options are there just in case.
These are the items that spark joy when you wear them. You love the way they look, feel and fit. They’re in good condition, in line with your current style aspirations and make you feel fabulous. It’s that simple.
IMPORTANT: Items that are orphaned for a while CAN fit into the keep category. You may have loved wearing certain pieces in the past, but they fell by the wayside when newer items took their place. Orphans do come out of hibernation and back into rotation. So if you still love a piece dearly — keep it.
These are the items that aren’t perfect but you need to hold on to them until they can be replaced. Or they don’t currently fit because of weight loss or gain. Although I firmly believe in dressing the body you’re in today, sometimes it’s worth keeping ill-fitting items if your weight fluctuates. This is especially true if the items were pricey and still in good condition. Either way, don’t let the items that currently don’t fit depress you either. Get them out of your wardrobe and stored somewhere else.
It’s amazing how a simple nip, tuck, hack, snap, button adjustment or hem lengthen can transform the fit of an item so that it’s fabulous. Shoes that need repairing and accessories that need to be fixed go into this pile too.
This is an interesting pile because it can be large, small or non-existent. These are the items that you’re not sure about, so instead of passing them on right away, you’ll keep them temporarily in an area that is out of sight. Give yourself a chance to miss them for about a year or so, and if you haven’t reached for them at all, pass them on right away.
Items that currently don’t fit because of weight gain or loss can also be held in the holding zone. You’ll get rid of them sooner if you place them in this pile though. Place them in the Temporary Keep pile if the intention is to keep them for longer.
These items are no longer wearable, but you keep them because they are memorable in some way. They tell a story, remind you of a loved one, celebrate an important past occasion or time in your life, or are a token of a great achievement like running a marathon.
Keep these items in your closet if you have the space because they make you smile when you see them. Or you can box them up so that they are out of the way. Or you can take photos of the pieces and pass on the items themselves.
These are the items that no longer work, or have never worked for your style. Items that are damaged, worn, dated or ruined go into this pile. Items that are ill-fitting, unflattering in some way, overly fussy, impractical, uncomfortable, or are no longer in line with your style goals go into this pile. Get to the heart about WHY the item does not make you feel fabulous and try not to make the same mistake again.
IMPORTANT: Be careful not to pass on orphans because they’re lacking the support act that completes the outfit. If the item sparks joy, give it a chance by styling it correctly first. There is time to pass it to Goodwill, the Salvation Army and non-profit organizations like Dress For Success later. Or consign the items, sell them on eBay, give them to family and friends, or have a clothing swap party.
The closet edit process is easier to describe than to execute. I fully understand that it can be an overwhelming and emotional process. If you find yourself losing momentum, there are ways to energize and feel supported during the closet editing process. As with most things, practice makes perfect. The more regularly you edit your closet, the less time-consuming and easier the subsequent edits become. Monthly closet edits are a beautiful thing.