How To De-Clutter & Organize Your Closet

Sometimes I wish I was a fashionista; keeping up with the latest trends and looking stylish every time I walked out the door. I enjoy looking up outfit ideas on Pinterest and like to shop to inspire myself . But . . . most of what I buy ends up staying on a hanger and slowly makes its way to the back of the closet for the rest of eternity, never to be seen again.

The problem is: My closet keeps get more stuffed with an unhealthy ‘diet’ of shopping without clarity. I’m that person with a closet full of ‘cute’ clothes, and end up saying every morning, “I have nothing to wear.” I end up wearing the same black leggings on the floor from yesterday along with my favorite slouchy (and worn out) tee.

Most days, when I walk into my closet, this little voice starts in: “Nothing is going to look good, why bother! You’re just going to wear the same thing you always do.” This inner chatter goes on for a minute, and I inevitably go for the same black leggings and slouchy tee.

I want to wear outfits I won’t question with total confidence. I don’t want to be out midday have an insecure “I just wanna go home and change” moment. So, I don’t risk it. Yet, back at home, there are all of these clothes just sitting there, collecting dust.

Behind every stylish, successful, confident woman is a well-organized closet. Presentation is key  – the outfit choices we make in the morning can definitely factor into how confident we feel in the office later on. And a curated wardrobe needs a closet to match. But if our heads fill up with negative chatter every time we open our closet, how could we possibly love ourselves?

Today, I challenge you to dedicate a few hours to your closet space so that it perfectly houses your amazing style.

Self-Love Challenge | Declutter and Reorganize Your Closet

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If you’ve ever attempted to reorganize your closet before, you’ve probably felt that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start. My closet is a place of constant evolution, in that I’m always changing it up, re-organizing and editing what I wear. In doing so, there’s a few things I’ve noticed over the years that help to keep my closet tidy.

There’s something special about a neat and beautiful closet that just makes you feel good every time you get ready. Whether you have a sliver of a space, an open closet or the luxury of a walk-in dressing room, these steps are ideas that can help make your space more user-friendly and full of love!

Define Your Goal

According to The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying-Up author, Marie Kondo, “to start discarding without thinking ahead at all would be like casting yourself into the negative spiral of clutter. Instead, begin by identifying you goal.” Before you start getting rid of anything, take the time to visualize the ideal lifestyle you dream of. “Think in concrete terms so that you can visually picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.” (This will help with tomorrow’s challenge, too!)

For example, I defined my dream as a more bohemian/feminine lifestyle. I envisioned coming home to a floor free of clutter (like the 10 pieces of clothing I threw on the floor that morning deciding what to wear). And my closet to look like the inside of an Urban Outfitters & Free People store all rolled into one beautiful space. I imagined every item having a home, organized neatly in perfect order. Something like . . .

Before you do anything, look at the sort of lifestyle you aspire to. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to to tidy up?” When you come up with a concrete vision, you’re ready for the next step.

Take Everything Out

Yes. Everything. Because it’s impossible to go through what you want to keep when it’s all jumbled together. It’s been in the same spot for who knows how long. You need to take the time to see each piece of clothing in a new light. Not just clothing, but also all the accessories, random books, photographs, and whatever the heck else. Everything. Gather each item into the same place so it gives you an accurate grasp of how much your truly have.

How To Declutter & Organize Your Closet | Original Caroline

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Go Through Each Item

Too much stuff is the enemy of a well-organized closet. And things that have been out of sight make it hard to decide whether they are worth keeping or not. Since the content of your closet will determine your style, this is a good opportunity to be a little more intentional of how you want to present yourself. Just because that skirt cost a lot of money or that dress looks good on someone else doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for you. 

Once you’ve taken everything out, Kondo recommends you grab each item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Review the entire contents of your closet and do your best to keep only what you actually use, need and love. If you get stuck, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does this item fit and flatter my current shape and body? (Beware of the aspirational pieces that make you feel bad about yourself!)
  • Does this piece reflect my authentic personal style?
  • Would it impact my daily life not to have this item?
  • Is this item adding value to my life right now?
  • Is this item worth the space it’s taking up in my closet?

If you have a good amount of clothing, maybe start with tops first, then cardigans, jeans and so on.

Make 4 Piles

As you are going through each item, split everything into 4 piles: What are you going to donate, what can you sell, what will you keep, and what needs ta go? Grab a few cardboard boxes for items you want to donate/sell and trash bags for the things you want to get rid of. All the ‘once in a blue moon’ or ‘I’ll wear it someday’ duds need to go! What are you going to donate, what can you sell, what will you keep, and what just needs ta go?

*Side Note: A good way to get a little cash or credit is to take some of your nicer pieces to consignment boutiques. But, more importantly, you can also take some of your clothes down to local charities. This way, you know where everything is going and put your unwanted clothes in a more meaningful place.*

How to Declutter & Organize Your Closet | Original Caroline

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Take Inventory

Think capsule wardrobe. Try getting down to a zen palette of wearable clothes – wearable for you. For me, that meant getting rid of kooky prints that were a little crazy and loud colors that didn’t go with my skin tone or style. Now I actually enjoy a minimalist curation that doesn’t overwhelm me. When you go to shop for new clothes, ask yourself if that skirt fits in with the rest of your wardrobe. Start thinking of your clothing as one. Items should be interchangeable and, more importantly, good quality pieces. Invest in fabric that won’t pill and shoes that are durable. Buy pieces new thoughtfully.

Map Out Your Closet

Now that you’ve gone through each item, start mapping out your closet and designating different areas for different occasions, seasons and categories. Take a moment to reflect on the size of your closet and your current lifestyle. Think back to your end goal and the vision you have for you new closet. Jot down what’s required of your typical week as well as what you need for nights out on the town and weekly hobbies.

Also think about how you want to organize each piece of clothing. For example, I color-coordinated my clothes which helps to keep my closet visually clean. I also put like with like; dresses with dresses and cardigans with cardigans. Categorizing everything together really helps me find the garment I need without wasting time trying to find a tank top in a row of sweaters and skirts. With any closet, the ultimate goal is to be able to see everything and make the dressing process as easy as possible. If you can’t see all of your clothing and accessories, you won’t wear them. Start organizing your closet with purpose!

How To Declutter & Organize Your Closet | Original Caroline

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Go Vertical

“If you’re running out of space, you might assume it’s time to get rid of excess or outdated items, but that actually might not be the case,” Nairi Najarian wrote on a post over at Who What Wear. Of course, there is a chance you may need to downsize, but if you have the space (and the height) use patterned bins or wicker baskets to store away off-season clothing, luggage or accessories for special occasions.

If you’re closet doesn’t come with adequate storage for things like long coats or maxi dresses, you can build your own clothing rack!

Declutter & Reorganize Your Closet

Grab some water, cleaning supplies and crank up the tunes to get going. Once you’ve revamped your closet, post a pic on Instagram with the hashtag #OCSelfLoveChallenge.

How do you solve your closet hang-ups? Tell me in the comments below!