Ace of Space: How to Unclutter Your Closet

declutter closetWeeding through your wardrobe is one of the hardest parts of living lightly and creatively. Closets get crowded and cluttered quickly. Especially when you're late for work and are searching through a closet crammed with clothing and mismatched shoes flung in every direction. If you need help making space in your closet, you'll want to start by clearing it (and your mind) with these tips.

1. Make sure all of your clothes are in one location.

Before you start purging extra clothes, make sure all of your clothes are in one location. Many people have multiple closets full to the max. Seeing all of your clothes in one location is an eye-opener. It's amazing how much stuff we have but don't use. And having all of your clothes in one place will make sorting them a whole lot easier.

2. Clear your closet

Now that you have all your clothes in one place, create three separate piles; the "keep" pile, purge "pile" and a "maybe" pile.

In "Unclutter Your Life in One Week," Erin Rooney Donald suggests asking yourself three questions:
  • How do you feel about your clothes?
  • What types of clothes (work clothes, exercise clothes, formal wear) do you own?
  • Do you notice any patterns (repeated colors, styles, sizes, seasons) in your wardrobe?
As you separate your clothes into these piles ask yourself these questions. This will help you determine what to keep or donate.

3. Develop your own clothing guidelines

After you're done sorting through your clothes, think about developing some clothing guidelines. For example, I use the following rules to keep my closet in order.
  • One in, one out. For every item that comes into my closet, one items leaves. This helps me keep clutter at bay (and keeps you from buying clothes you don't need).
  • Constantly evaluate the type of clothing you'll wear. I won't wear neon colors, clothing that's too tight around the waist or anything that becomes uncomfortable over time. Our rules won't be identical, but I think identifying the type of clothing you'll wear or won't wear is important.

4. Create your own style statement

In the book "Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design", authors Danielle LaPorte and Carrie McCarthy talk about the importance of defining your style. This is a simple and fantastic idea. Creating your own style statement will help cut down on clutter in your closet.

For instance, my style statement dictates that all of my clothes must be comfortable. Life is too short to spend time in uncomfortable clothes or things you think are "fashionable" but hate wearing. Clothes that I didn't like ended up hanging in my closet for years. Why not give them to someone who will actually wear them?

If you want a really minimal wardrobe, wear a uniform. Consider following the example of Sheena, founder of the Uniform Project. Sheena grew up having to wear a school uniform and was inspired by the different ways teens expressed themselves. It gave her an idea: Purchase seven identical dresses, one for each day of the week, and use only recycled and donated accessories to complete a look. This is the perfect example of creating your own style and having minimal clothing.

5. Maintain order in your closet

There are a number of ways you can maintain order in your closet. For instance, you can cluster your clothing by type, color or activity. For instance, I group my clothes by activity. All of my workout, work, and leisure clothes are sorted in my closet. By grouping clothes into sections, you'll be able to see what you wear and use everyday.

6. Other tips to consider:

  • Be wary of jobs that require new clothes.
  • Purchase high quality items.
  • Less is more.
After following these steps, you'll have a beautiful, spacious, and well-organized closet. Then next time you're rushing to work or an event, you'll be able to put on an outfit you love.

Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.

The Ace of Space is a biweekly column that will provide you with the tips and tools to live lightly and creatively in a small space.

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