Thursday, June 21, 2007

What's In Your Closet?

What’s in my closet is…a mess.

So it’s that time of year when I clean it out, looking for the evening shoes I’ll need for the Romance Writers Conference next month, and in doing so I’m likely to find:

That pair of black wedge sandals I’d completely forgotten I bought at the end of last summer so I really have no need for the pair I bought at the beginning of this summer and have worn already…

The cute cropped jeans that I thought I left at the last hotel room I was in…I must not have packed them after all.

A shirt that belongs to Son 2. Surfer Guy (my husband) can’t seem to tell the difference between our clothes, which explains why the younger son keeps pulling pink athletic socks out of his drawer.

But I’m also likely to be faced with the big dilemma of what to save and what to give away. I have some really cute dresses that are no longer in style, but still really cute! Do I get rid of them?

How many pairs of athletic shoes do I need? I have the current pair, and then I need an older pair that I don’t mind gardening in or getting wet. And then maybe a third pair, in case the second pair…well, you see how my mind goes.

And when it comes to shoes, well, I have dozens and dozens and dozens. And dozens. But I really can’t give up the black sequined pumps, right? So what that I only wear them every three years or so. They’re classics. And that second pair (or is it the first?) of black wedge sandals. Do I get rid of one or keep both? (Because here’s the thing, one pair has a white sole, so they’re really not black black, right?)

Finally, um, here comes the really big decision. What about the +5 and the -5 clothes? You know, the ones that only fit when I’m 5 (okay, 7) pounds more than my usual weight and the ones that only fit when I’m at my ideal weight. Do I get rid of the “fat” clothes and pretend that some of the “skinny” clothes will become a regular staple of my wardrobe in the near future?

You’ll be glad to know that I cleaned out my sweater drawers this winter and also gave up some of my thousands of bathing suits. However, my closet is still a disaster. Please, help! What are you closet-cleaning tips?


Helen Brenna said...

This is such a tough one for me too, Christie. I wish I was like my kids when they were little. I would just give away everything from the previous year and buy new 'cause they'd grown so much.

Instead, I ignore my closet and hope it'll go away. Denial can sometimes be a good thing!

JoAnna said...

I move a lot and cannot stand to have anything that does not hold meaning or I can't use. If it is something i have not used in a year or so I get rid of it.
I do have clothes from high school becuase they have meaning to me.

But, if I am keeping something that I bought thinking I would like it, and never wore it again because it made me feel, look, or walk fat, I just have to get rid of it.

I also do not hold onto fat clothes, because then I find it is easier to grow into them again. If you have a pair of jeans that fit when you gain 5-10 lbs you can rationalize that "well my clothes still fit":)

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- Take everything, and I do mean everything, out of your closet. Get rid of the metal hangers from the cleaners. Use only hangers that actually give your clothes room to "hang" without being smashed together.

Only put back into your closet the things you can wear at a weight you can maintain. (Biggest mistake I made after losing all that weight years ago was buying that first pair of jeans to wear when I gained 5 lbs.) Remember our metabolisms never improve with age so be vigilant now.

If you haven't had it on your body in 12 months then it should not be in your closet. Toss it.

If your closet is big enough, separate the clothes you wear from the clothes you love and adore and can't bear to part with. (I have two sections in my closet.) If your closet isn't big enough, find away to pack up the clothes you can't part with. Get them out of your daily life until you have a burning need for them.

Then color code the clothes you wear. All pants together, sorted by color. All shirts together, sorted by color. I don't sort the t-shirts by color. Just hanging clothes.

Shoes (except for knock-arounds) in boxes with pictures and labeled. Most boxes these days have a line drawing of the shoe on the end of the box.

Once you've re-organized the new rule is that if something comes in...something has to go. Literally it's a count of +2 -2 when you're putting new things in the closet. Got 2 great new dresses? Then get rid of 2 ratty t-shirts. Or get rid of 1 t-shirt and a dress you know is sadly out of style or suddenly too...young for you. (g)

And yes I really do keep my closet this way. It's amazing how easy it is to pack and get dressed in this system. (new since the remodel) I'll post a pic if you want. (g) One of the reasons for the remodel was a closet. And I will admit to having two chests of drawers in my closet in addition to the nice run of hanging space.

Keri Ford said...

AH! Debra we could sooo be roomies. You basically just described my closet. Other than roasting weenies and marshmallows, wire hangers should not exist. Winter on the bottom. Summer hangs above. Each section is coordinated by color and light fades to dark. Jeans in one spot, dress-pants in another, same for stretch-pants. If I haven’t worn something in a year or two, then I get rid of it—whether it be clothes or shoes.

FIONA said...

I need to borrow one of you for my closet czar! LOL Mine is always a mess, as is my desk. I was not born with a tidy gene.

We are doing a major remodel next year, and top of my list is MORE CLOSETS that are ORGANIZED.

Can anyone suggest a brand/system?

Playground Monitor said...

Great advice -- especially the Joan Crawford edict on "no wire hangers!"

I always clean out closets when I'm in a really bad mood. I'm more likely to be ruthless and get rid of the junk I don't really need. I'm cleaning out right now (as I try to see what fits for RWA next month) and finally coming to grips with the fact I'll never be a size 8 again.


Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- I've often felt we were soul mates. (g) And yep, the pants are sorted by type and then color. :)

Fiona-- I finally decided on the do-it-yourself racking/shelving from the home improvement store. I bought a couple of the pre-set configurations and then more of the stuff by-the-piece/by-the-bracket. That way I could customize the amount of space for long wear, dress wear and pants/shirts according to my clothing pattern. So, sort first to see how much you have of what. Also I didn't want any closed shelving because I knew I was moving the two older chests of drawers into the new closet. If you or hubby/friend are handy with simple tools you can do this. :)

It's worth the time. I promise.

MsHellion said...

I'm sorry, but my idea of cleaning is "strike a match and start over". My future husband, should I find one so daring to try, will not be loving me for my ability to clean.

Christie Ridgway said...

You guys are so great. Really good advice.

Okay, on hangars. I just went out and bought those ones that are skinny like wire, but have that felt stuff over them. They're supposed to hold onto your blouses and such. Anyone tried those?

Oh, and that one-in, one-out rule. I get it now! I thought it was, one dress in, then one dress out, which seems way more difficult than one dress in, one =item= out.

Mshellion, I'm so laughing on the match thing. It's important to know yourself...and find a mate who isn't a complete opposite!

FIONA said...

Thanks, Debra.

I just moved the last of my winter stuff (after weeding) to the basement walk-in closet. We live in a 50's rambler, with TINY closets, so the organizers should help. It will also help to pull everything out for installation, and only put back what I really should. :-)

Christie Ridgway said...

BTW, Joanna, I love the phrase "walk fat." Look for that in an upcoming novel!

Betina Krahn said...

You organized guys. . . I am in awe. . . and I hate your very livers.

I cannot make myself get rid of shirts and shorts I can still wear. Ever. And I still have Mother-of-the-Groom dresses from two weddings. . . neither of which will I ever put on again. I considered selling them on E-Bay, but the thought of nobody bidding anything for them was just too traumatizing. Now I have photos (meant for E-Bay but never posted) of three ugly but expensive Mother-dresses on my computer. Maybe I should use them in a post sometime. . . hey, how about an ugliest thing in my closet contest? :)

I'd love to give stuff away if I could be sure somebody would USE the stuff. Before I moved to Florida, I gathered up all of my Pendleton blazers and wonderful professional wools and took them to a Women's Job Center Closet. I felt great and they seemed truly glad to get "larger size clothes" for the trainee gals to wear to job interviews. One of the few times in my life I was happy to be my size!

Michele Hauf said...

I'm a keeper, too. Have some really old stuff, probably from before I ever had kids. That's pitiful. But I rarely even look in my closet. Take most of my clothes from my drawers. I should clean. I could say this blog has inspired me, but I don't want to get carried away just yet. :-)


Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, I love the "Ugliest thing in my closet" idea!

I've been getting rid of clothes bit by bit and finally made a couple of major moves by giving away stuff--two huge batches. I'm a saver. I get sentimentally attached. But it's been a year of unloading--first the fat, then the clothes--and both efforts have taken time. It took me a while this spring to realize that I really looked bad in the fat clothes. I was getting too much of a kick out of feeling small in them. "Look how big this is on me!" But I just did my final giveaway and filled the space with summer stuff that fits. After they started taking seasonal markdowns, mind you.

As for organization, I envy Deb and Keri. I actually did get rid of all the wire hangers and line things up sort of the way you describe, but knowing me, it won't last.

I've been putting off the office purge, but this closet discussion inspires me. I do these things in layers. So here I go...first layer: gather up the books and re-shelve.

Thanks. I needed that.

Kaitlin said...

Oh, the closet. See, I must not be normal, because I really don't have a lot of clothes. I've got a pretty small closet & I've got all the clothes I wear all the time in there. It's the floor that's an issue. I've got my old comforter, a plastic 3-drawer rolling storage thingy, etc. etc. I can get rid of clothes with no's the other stuff that always throws me for a loop.

If you need help purging, I can offer my mom's services. LOL! She's the organizing queen. Sometimes it scares me how good she is at it. I sure wish I'd inherited that skill. :D

Christie Ridgway said...

I have a pair of knee socks (with Christmas trees on them) that my mom brought back to me from Europe when I was in the 8th grade. I think that's the oldest item I've held onto.

Surfer Guy (husband) has a shirt I sewed for him for his birthday, my sophomore year in college. But I also have a dress I wore to my best friend's wedding, the dress I wore as matron of honor when my mom remarried, and possibly every shoe I've ever owned.

Virginia Lady said...

I would love to keep things because it's fun to see them again and remember what you were doing in that outfit or where you went in this dress, but I live in a very small house with very small closets. Purging is a necessity.

I bought wooden hangers for mos tof the clothes and a few padded hangers for the silky things. That way you wan't overstuff your closet with too many hangers. And they all have a slight curve to them so it's easier to see the clothes.

I also have a set of narrow shelves that were built into the closet, they were horribly inadequate before I put clear bins on them. Now they hold folded shirts and those are sorted. One box is workout wear, shorts, shirts, bras, etc. Another is car t-shirts (we go to car shows and are enthusiasts), another holds camisoles and similar tank tops, and the last holds several of my hats, as I am always wearing some sort of hat.

I extended the use of these clear bins to the overhead shelf and one of them holds my handbags, another holds other misc t-shirts and the last one holds sweatshirts.

Don't be fooled into thinking my closet is clean though. It's not. The floor is a disaster and I regularly have piles of clothes on my dresser or nearby.

I just don't have the discipline to ALWAYS put away my clothes after I wear them. Maybe if I had a bigger closet...nah, probably not.