How To Edit Your Closet | 10 Tips For Hoarders From A Hoarder

So I’m not really an organized person, yet there’s something about the idea of a perfect, OCD-approved closet that is truly illusive. And yes, I too have been taken by the closet/pantry/attic/you-name-it organization trend. But in my defense this isn’t a new phase as a result of Netflix’s “Home Edit” show. For me this started last fall when I began SLOWLY whittling my closet down to what I had hoped would one day be a capsule wardrobe. A perfectly curated collection composed of great basics that could mix and match over and over, focused around only the pieces I ACTUALLY WEAR. But alas, it sortof failed. Why?

First, I’m a bit of a collector. I like to find vintage garments that aren’t for daily wear but are important and add to the investment value of my closet.
Second, my style varies dramatically from one day to the next. Sometimes I’m wearing an entirely repurposed mens look, and others I’m out and about in a draped silk top and striking leather pants.
Third, I LOVE clothes that make me feel *special.* One of my favorite pieces I ever put on my body was this Alberta Ferretti teal oversized jacket with a giant bow in the back. And while I looked a bit like a butterfly, all I could say was, “I feel like a fairy princess!” I loved the AF limited edition bow jackets (long and short), but where would they fit into a streamlined, minimalist closet?

Thus I’ve moved away from the idea of a capsule wardrobe in favor of editing my closet to keep pieces that I love but maybe don’t all mix and match perfectly. I’ve adopted the idea of curating a closet that will age with me, has value (monetary or sentimental), and can flex whatever vibe I’m feeling: all black Matrix, tomboy, or even fairy princess.

With this in mind I began my closet cleanse again, a year after my failed capsule wardrobe attempt. Last week I went down the rabbit hole and started with the YouTube videos on editing your closet and how to color code every piece (you know how this goes). Through the process of editing my own closet I’ve actually learned a lot that I think will help the “I-can’t-possibly-part-with-it” among us. It’s an ongoing process but I’m happy to report I’ve made progress! While my closet is far from perfect, it’s feeling fresher, more organized, easier to navigate, and even “new.”

From one disorganized clothing hoarder to another, here are 10 closet editing tips to create a clean, organized, and curated closet.

*For the purpose of this exercise let’s focus on the hanging closet items and shoes; doing too much in one day will lead to certain failure and wanting to repurchase ASAP to fill the gaping void in your wardrobe.*

  1. Grab a Garment Rack
    Start by pulling all the pieces you wear on the reg and put them on the rack (sub bed is fine). This will give you an idea of the staples that MUST stay because they’re your anchors, leaving you with the rest to pick through, mix and match, etc.

  2. Designate 3 Floor Piles
    – Pile 1: Absolutely getting rid of it (going to donation)
    – Pile 2: Absolutely getting rid of it (resell)
    – Pile 3: Probably get rid of it but on the fence (for later review)
    Take items off the hangers as you toss them into each pile so you are “committed” to the direction you’re heading and aren’t tempted to second guess items, resulting in a net loss of valuable closet real estate and cleansing time.
    Be ready to immediately donate pile one and post pics of pile 2 asap! Pile 3 will be addressed later in this post.

  3. Understanding What’s Left
    What’s left in the closet after you’ve pulled your rack items and floor piles should be the stuff you love, used to love, like, used to like, don’t wear but can’t part with, don’t wear but might part with maybe…the list goes on. This is where the tough editing happens.

  4. Fit First
    As you start to parse through items, and there isn’t a specific place you need to begin but I started with trousers since they seemed less sentimental, prioritize size. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. I don’t think it’s worth keeping a bunch of pieces you hope to fit into again some day. Rather reward yourself with something new when you reach the special size!

  5. Examine Condition
    Are there stains, tears, rips? If so, it can go. And most likely into the donations pile.
    Really, don’t hang onto items that are damaged because you won’t be able to salvage a look once you’ve got torn under arm or coffee stain on white blouse staring you in the face.

  6. Work Clothes
    Ah, work clothes. Yes, I used to have a work clothing section too, but since the dawn of recent WFH it’s gotten little use. Might I make a suggestion: take your work clothes that you aren’t wearing for work (suits, stiff blouses, uncomfortable skirts, polyester everything) and store it in the attic. Create space by moving these pieces out. They won’t be far, and likely these aren’t precious items that will get damaged by attic temps. So store them, maybe leave a blazer and a couple white shirts for good measure, but put the rest away until you need it again. THIS MADE ME A TON OF ROOM.

  7. Triple Test
    I had an issue with getting rid of things I had double of because when I love something, I usually do end up with about two versions (a practice I intend to stick to). But triples? If you have three of the exact same looking things, odds are one can be edited out. No one needs three bubble gum pink <insert anything here>.

  8. Stays
    Silks, linens, classics. If you’re choosing between a bunch of silk blouses and poly, always keep the silk. EVEN IF YOU LIKE THE POLY MORE, pick the silk. If you liked the poly that much it should be on your rack.
    Choose garments that are high in quality with fabrication that never goes out of style. For me this means silk black blouses, cashmere, and white linen shirts.

  9. Negative Sentiment
    Are you holding on to it because it has sentimental value or brings you joy? Great. BUT if the item is attached to a negative feeling or memory (yep, there will be some of this) then it can go. Goodbye! Perhaps the perfect piece for your resell pile. 😉

  10. The “I just don’t know” Items
    Okay for these, and I am willing to bet there will be a good many, take them out, off the hanger, designate to Pile 3 (on the fence) and put to the side for a week (corner, other room, box). Try how you do without seeing them. Do you even miss them? Of course I am not talking about the vintage Valentino you have lying around, that should never be in this category and yes, you should and will miss it. But these are the pieces you really like, maybe even love, but aren’t entirely necessary or *special*. A week from now, review these items along with the rest of Pile 3 and if you still aren’t sure, put them back in your closet. We will tackle them next go around.


IMPORTANT: Do not try to edit your entire closet in one day.
As I mentioned earlier, TOO much instant editing can lead to regret (not good). You’ll be left with these mega holes that’ll have you shopping TheRealReal and Poshmark for a replacement to every item you just edited within hours. Rather, give yourself some time, maybe even an entire season, then return to this project to edit again. In the meantime tackle the items you weren’t sure about from Pile 3 and work on some basic organizing that doesn’t involve a massive purge.

A couple additional thoughts to close:
A. Would you wear it on vacation? I love this question as I like to shop for my next trip. But when you end up with a ton of safari clothes, maybe some of that can go to storage.
B. It’s precious. Don’t keep it stuffed with all the rest. Find a good spot in your house to keep safe the items that are not for daily wear but you will never let go. Call it your archive and be instantly made more chic. You have a freaking archive!
C. Consider if there’s something you want more than what you’ve got? What you’ve been pining for! If you have your eye on something new, perhaps make a rule to get rid of three old things to create space for your shiny new toy. This buying behavior (which we’ve all heard a thousand times before) will help keep your editing efforts intact.
D. Not necessarily a must-have to get started, but help yourself a bit by ordering bins and dividers to help organize and store once you’ve edited. Also add to your cart matching hangers (they create a nice aesthetic; I prefer wood) and garment bags (for storage and archive items).

Happy closet cleansing!

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