how to conquer your closet

As a way to reach the stream-lined, mix-and-match wardrobe that I am now craving, I've been doing some major de-cluttering and cleaning out of my closet, Eminem song not included. Today, I thought I'd share what I've learned along the way, for anyone else who is trying to conquer their mountains of clothes.

Disclaimer: I have no fashion authority This is just what's worked well for me in the past, and I am sharing my tips in the hopes that it might help other people who are struggling with overflowing closets.

Step 1: Take stock of what you have

Let's face it: closets can be black holes of random things, unworn clothes, and your broken dreams. Okay, so maybe not the last one, but pretty much everything else! So the first step is to pull out everything you own, and sort it into piles according to clothing categories (pants, shirts, winter things, etc.). Pretty easy so far, right?!


These are the questions I ask myself:

Can you wear this in more than one setting/for more than one occasion?

This is a pretty basic question: how versatile is this piece of clothing?

Consider your place of work, whether you have big corporate presentations, or need to meet customers. Think about social settings you're normally in: church, meeting friends, date nights, grocery shopping, etc.

Generally, your clothes should be usable in at least two different settings. Obviously, gym shorts and sweat pants aren't appropriate for the boardroom (sadly), nor are they the most mix-and-matchable things in the world - that doesn't mean they shouldn't have a place in your closet. Similarly, there are bound to be a few special occasion pieces that you wouldn't want to wear on an average weekday, but that doesn't mean they need to be tossed.

Use your judgement here, but don't be too lenient, either! Everything else should be able to pull some sort of double duty, allowing you to maximize your closet for multiple occasions.

Is it mix and matchable with anything else in your closet?

After you've decided whether or not a piece is versatile, the next question is whether it plays well with others. If you're not sure, starting your own 30x30 Challenge could be a good way to find out. If you don't feel like going quite that far, take a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon and try to make at least 3 different outfits with your not-sure-pieces - if they're not team players, byebyebye!

I used to buy so many trendy, cheap tops and dresses because I thought it would give me options - in reality, I just ended up with a closet stuffed full of things that didn't go with anything else.

Ideally, you will have basics that you're able to mix with more trendy pieces, giving you options but still staying within some sort of color palette/style range. Everything else should go, unless it's a special occasion piece left over from occasion one.

Do you feel like [insert woman you find to be the most fabulous thing in the world] when you wear this?

My rule of thumb is: would Gisele B√ľndchen wear this? If not, it gets the boot! Okay, so I'm kidding (kind of - I adore her), but in my opinion, the only "fashion rule" that matters is whether or not you feel confident, powerful, and attractive in what you're wearing. If the answer is "yes", then (almost) nothing else matters.

Identify your one "Stunner Piece" - the outfit or piece of clothing that makes you feel invincible. This can be ANYTHING: ripped jeans, an expensive dress, a cozy sweater.. whatever it is, the way you feel in that outfit should be the way you feel in all of your clothes.

If something doesn't make you feel like you can move comfortably, you're always tugging it back in place, or you feel really self-conscious in it, you should probably get rid of it.

Would you want to be wearing it if the police came to your house?

Alternatively, this question could be "would you want to go visit your Mom in this?" - it's a question of appropriateness, and obviously, everyone's answer as to where to draw that line is completely different.

For example, I would happily run around in leggings all day at home, but for going outside, I don't think they actually count as pants. Clearly, a lot of of people disagree with me on this! So again, consider where and when you'll be wearing an item, and then decide whethere or not you find it appropriate for that setting.

If you're unsure about an item, it normally means it can go. There's only one item I've ever regretted donating, and that was an army-style jacket that I gave away because I was moving to Texas and figured I didn't need it. I still miss that jacket!

But other than that, I've had no regrets, because honestly? These things were already forgotten, just taking up space in my closet without being worn. And as with most other things, "out of sight, out of mind" applies here as well.

Step 3: Re-organize & re-stock

After you're done purging, put everything back into your closet. Try to implement a system that

  • makes sense for your needs and preferences
  • encourages you to put things (back) where they belong
  • allows you to see & easily access everything
  • is pretty to look at
For me, this means that I hang my dresses, blouses, blazers and button-ups, and then layer everything else in as needs be. And this isn't an exact science: I tend to change my arrangement every time I purge. There's new things coming in, old things going out, seasons change, etc. So don't worry if it's not perfect!

Step 4: Revel in your newly organized, streamlined closet!

Throughout this entire process, remember this: fashion is simply a means to an end. What really matters is that while your clothes should make you look nice, it's more important that they make you feel really good about yourself. Life might not be a runway, but your body is definitely your canvas: use your clothes to showcase the masterpiece that you truly are. And/or your incredible butt.

Go get 'em, tiger.