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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Do's and Don'ts of Cleaning Your Closet

Since the beginning of the new year, I've been meaning to clean out my closets to purge all of the things that I don't use in order to create more space for the things I love. Staying organized happens to be something I take great pride in, and my closet cleaning ritual, which helps me keep my closet contents fresh and orderly, typically takes place at least twice per year. For those of you who are looking to improve your organizational skills, I'll share a few do's and dont's that I've learned to help keep my closets organized:

Do: consider season, color, and style. Grouping your items by season, color, and style can save tremendous amounts of time when you're getting dressed. I tend to keep off-season items in a separate closet, and then I organize all of my jeans, dresses, skirts, tops, and so on by style and then by color. If I'm getting ready in a hurry and I'm looking for my sleeveless green A-line blouse, then there's no guesswork because I know exactly where to look to find it quickly.

Don't: keep unused items longer than 6 months. If there's something that's been hanging in your closet for six months or longer and you haven't worn it, then it's probably time to part with it. (This is especially true if the tags are still attached.) Consider selling it or donating it in order to give someone else the chance to enjoy it. (One exception to this would be heirloom items handed down from family members, such as a treasured fur coat, valuable jewelry, or a designer handbag.)

Do: know when to hang. I learned a very important tip in a fashion image consulting class that I took years ago - always hang your wovens and fold your knits. Why? Well knits tend to stretch and warp when they're placed on a hanger, so your favorite sweater may end up with those unattractive marks in the shoulder area where it was distorted by the hanger. Folding your knits will help them to retain their shape and last much longer, while hanging your wovens will help keep wrinkles at bay.

Don't: keep things that don't fit. We all have things in our closet that we keep in case we gain or lose a few pounds. If something doesn't fit, then it probably won't flatter you or get much wear. Consider having it tailored or giving it away.

Do: make room for quality basics. You know those go-to basics that you wear season after season? They deserve lots of closet space in a high priority area. For me, it's long-sleeved cotton crewneck shirts from J. Crew that are ideal for layering. I've dedicated a whole drawer to them inside my closet, where they're easy to reach. My less-often worn pieces tend to get placed in the harder-to-reach areas of my closet.

Don't: fall victim to closet envy. If your friends have fabulous style, and you always find yourself borrowing things from them (or vice versa), why not cure your closet envy by hosting or joining a clothing swap? They're a fun and eco-friendly way to get rid of things you don't use in exchange for things you'll love.

When you're done, there shouldn't be superfluous items wasting space in your closet - only things you wear and love, and that's a great feeling. In case I've overlooked something and you have some closet cleaning or organizational tips you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.