"Organize the closet" has been on my New Year's resolution list since, oh, 1998, usually falling somewhere below "Stop saying 'seriously'" and "Learn Photoshop." I wouldn't call myself a hoarder (though, as we've learned from the A&E series, denial is the first stage)—I'm simply a clothing optimist. What? Bell-bottom jeans should be coming back in style any decade now! And yes, I do plan to fit into my favorite little black dress from college again. Seriously.
At last, for all of us with the First World problem of too many clothes with nothing to wear, there's help. Nicole Longstreath of the Wardrobe Code is a Costa Mesa-based wardrobe coach (yes, there's such a thing) who's all about editing your closet so it's no longer a place of hair-pulling frustration, but rather a shrine for flattering outfits you love. She shares some closet-taming steps to tackle now.
BRING EVERYTHING INTO PLAIN VIEW
This might mean trading your old dresser for an open shelving unit. People often only wear a small portion of their wardrobe because many of their clothes are tucked deep into drawers. "It's tough to craft a look without knowing what you're working with," Longstreath says. "Anything you would wear out in the world should be in one space."
The Wardrobe Code can be found at www.thewardrobecode.com. The company offers a variety of wardrobe-coaching services.
Now that you can see your clothes, group them by garment type—dress pants, jeans, skirts, blouses, T-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, jackets, formal dresses, day dresses, and so on. With each group, Longstreath suggests arranging items from most to least formal.
How many skirts do you have? How many pairs of jeans do you have? Make note. "It sounds nerdy, but I get out a clipboard and take an inventory—red pants, seersucker pants, white pants. You want to see what you're missing and what patterns emerge."
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SHOW ME HOW
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This part is the toughest, as well as the most liberating. Pull out anything and everything you know you're not wearing. Then go through the pile. If something no longer fits, looks worn out and can't be altered, or is way out of style, toss or donate it. Longstreath says to "be ruthless" in this process, but if there are clothes you just can't let go of, put them in a box or bag and get them out of the daily rotation. "See if you can live without it," she says. "If you can, it means you didn't need it in the first place."
This column appeared in print as "Stop Being Closeted."