5 Steps for Successful Closet Cleaning

happy woman sitting in closet


It’s that time of year again; time to give your closet a good cleaning now that the seasons appear to have officially changed (she says with her fingers and toes crossed.)

I have to make an aside before we go on…I think it’s funny that so many women refer to closet editing as closet cleaning. I mean, I do clean my closet as in vacuuming and dusting. But actually moving the clothes around and deciding what should stay or go I typically think of as a closet edit, organizing, swapping my closet out. So today I’m not going to give you cleaning tips (I so am not the one to do that,) rather I want to share my advice to get your wardrobe in tip top shape, so you can take the stress out of getting dressed each day, a.k.a get dressed easily!

I always recommend storing your spring/summer wardrobe separately from your fall/winter clothes. Not only does it allow you to wear everything that is in your main closet, but it also gives you more room making it easier to see everything and get dressed faster.

Without further adieu, I give you

5 Steps for a Successful Closet Cleaning:

1. Since you are physically moving most items, go through every single garment and accessory to make sure it belongs there, that it has a right to be there. I know this sounds elementary, but there’s no way to get dressed easily and make creative combinations if you’ve got all kinds of things in your closet that you don’t love or can’t wear.

I want you to be absolutely BRUTAL with every single item in your wardrobe!!!

You’ve first got to make sure:

Everything is in good repair. So if you find anything that needs a button, needs the zipper fixed, maybe needs a lining re-stitched, pull it out of your closet and get that done. (Or at least put it in a pile to get done.) While you’re at it, be looking for spots or stains. Lots of times the dry cleaners overlook them.

– Everything fits. (Yes, try everything on if you haven’t worn it recently.) So many women have “just in case clothes” in their closets. They’re simply not serving you!

To truly love your closet, you need to be able to open it every day

and be able to pull out any item and wear it at a moment’s notice.

Most of the time clothes that are a little bit big can be altered down if they’re still in style. And your clothes that are a little bit small—well, that’s usually not an alteration that can be made. But that is okay. Get them out! Here’s the thing, having clothes in your closet that are too small wreaks havoc with your psyche. It’s depressing! I want your closet to be a happy place.

And here’s another thing, if you’re losing weight, that’s great. Most of us have been there, but I believe that if you lose weight and go down in size, you deserve new clothes. Chances are really good that that size 4 or 8 or 12 or whatever size you’ve gotten down to is out of style. I believe you totally deserve to celebrate yourself in something new and stylish when you’ve reached your goal.

That brings me to the next thing you need to consider—

-Everything is current. Notice I didn’t say chic, stylish or the latest trend. What’s important is that you’ve got clothes in modern silhouettes. So often someone will say to me, “But that’s a classic; I can wear it forever.” Yes, many garments are classic, but what changes over time are the fabrics that are used and the silhouettes. Both need to be up to date. Appearing current is absolutely crucial in the professional world!

I’ll add a little caveat here; most of us have clothes that have some sentimental value to us. I have a client who worked in Europe and Asia for much of her career and has collected quite a few beautiful clothes that are simply out of date, so she has agreed to put them in what she calls “the museum.” It’s totally fine to have a clothing museum, but these clothes can’t live in your closet—the museum can be in another closet, the basement or even a box under your bed.

You only want clothes you’re going to wear to be in your closet.

2. The next part of your closet editing is determining whether you love everything or not. So as you’re going through each item, I encourage you to really give it a test.


How can you love your wardrobe and feel great every day if you don’t love everything in your closet?

Now then, you may not be gaga over all your basics. I mean, what’s to love about a pair of classic, black pants? What you SHOULD appreciate is the way they fit, how long they make your legs look, or how great they make your butt look.

But then again, who am I to say? Maybe you simply love basic, black pants, which is absolutely fine. My point is that you don’t want clothes in your closet that are simply ho-hum, that you’re lukewarm about.

You can tell by now that I want you to be picky, picky, picky about what stays in your closet. If you end up with a small amount of clothes—that’s okay. It’s better to have a small wardrobe that you love than a lot of things in your closet just taking up space and perhaps even creating bad “feng shui.”

Your ultimate goal with your closet is to be able to open the doors or walk in and be excited to wear anything and everything.

3. Determine if each item has at least one mate. Translation: do you have coordinating pieces for each item in your wardrobe?

If the answer is “Yes, I can make an outfit or two,” perfect!

If the answer is “um, no,” you have a couple of routes to take. Route A is to figure out what you need to complete the outfit. You really love that item, so commit to making sure you can wear it this season!

Route B is to let the item go. Chances are good you don’t really care much about the garment or you would have already worn it.

4. Organize your closet by garment type. Sort everything into categories, so all of your tops, skirts, pants, jeans, and jackets, etc. should hang together.

Perhaps your closet is already organized this way, but now I want you to go even further. For example, with your tops, you want to organize them by sleeve length, starting with camisoles and sleeveless tops and graduating to long sleeves. Then if you want, you can organize by color and if you’re uber-organized, you can organize by fabric.

You may also want to organize your closet by activity or formality. I separate out anything I would never wear for work or out socially and put it on a bottom hang bar, where it’s a little harder to see. (I have more time to get dressed when it’s “off hours.”)

5. Create a shopping list. Referring back to #4, you’ll definitely want to put items on your list that will help you make complete outfits.

You also want to jot down the clothes and accessories you need to replace. For example, if your favorite white blouse you wore on a weekly basis had a stain, you’ll want to replace it. Put it on your list! I keep my list in my notes on my phone so I always have it with me.

By now I’m sure you’re getting the gist of what I want for you from this editing and closet cleaning exercise is a closet full of wonderful clothes that are in good shape, in style, they fit you and you love them. On top of that, you can really see what’s there and you’re able to get dressed easily.

If you’re at the point where you know you’re ready to update your personal style and edit your closet, but you just can’t face it on your own, check out how I work and schedule a phone call with me, and together we can discuss what you really want your wardrobe to be like and talk about next steps of how to get you there. I look forward to talking to you.

Before You Go…

2 comments on “5 Steps for Successful Closet Cleaning

  1. Great article about “cleaning” out my closet. I’ll stick to the 5 things when I switch out my seasonal clothes! What great guidelines.

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