Become Friends with your Wardrobe: Anatomy of a closet audit

On a previous trip to Portland, a dear friend needed my help. Lisa had her first child Carson, changed jobs, moved into a new house, and didn’t have anything to wear. Before we could go shopping we needed to know what she had and what was missing.

Having a plan for what you need and filling in the gaps can be one of the most helpful things I do for my clients. Here I break down my closet clean / audit process.

Lisa’s closet BEFORE

Lisa’s style is organized, clean, and pretty. So there was no reason her closet had to be a cluttered mess. She has less time now that she has Carson, so we needed to make her closet work harder for her. Plastic makes me cringe, and I recommended hangers that are slim and felt lined. More space in any closet is a good thing, so replacing your old hangers actually makes a bigger difference than you might expect. After our session Lisa replaced her hangers.

Step 1: Remove Everything. 

The only way to really see what you have is to remove it from the dark corners of your wardrobe. A rolling rack makes sorting easier. Like so many of us Lisa was holding on to outfits from her previous life: those college days. Crop tops, short mini skirts, and bias cut polyester skirts. Yes you can get rid of the 90s in your closet.

Step 2: Decide What to Toss vs. What to Keep.

So how do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?

  1. Is it stained? Have holes? Pilling obscenely? If yes, toss.
  2. Does it fit? If no, toss. If yes, move on to #3.
  3. Is it in fashion? If no toss. If yes, move on to #4.
  4. Do you even like it? Do you feel good wearing it? If no, toss. If yes, move on to #5.
  5. Does it flatter your figure/shape? If no, toss. If yes, keep.

Of course when I say toss, I mean donate unless it’s truly rag worthy. Also why not turn your castaways into cash? Check out a Buffalo ExchangeCrossroads or a consignment store near you. Not quite sure how you feel about something? Put it aside (outside of your closet) and reevaluate it in 6 mos. Just don’t forget about it, so put it in your calendar as a to do.

Step 3: Organize. Hang according to type and color.

You really want to make it appealing to get dressed each day. Think of it as visual merchandising your closet. How much more fun is getting dressed each day? I find the best system for organizing a wardrobe is first by type, occasion, and then by color. For instance, just because a sports hoodie is red, doesn’t mean it should hang next to a red silk top you’d only wear out to dinner. Depending on your closet layout space, I hang everything left to right. First tanks, tees, blouses, sweaters, jackets, skirts, pants, then dresses.  Actually sweaters should really be folded, but you get the idea. Coats should have their own hanging space, closer to your front door. Then colorize within each group. White, cream, gray, yellow, red, blue, purple, black you get the idea. If you own 5 aqua tops, you’ll realize with this system that you may not need to buy any more blouses in that color.

Step 4: Shop your closet for new outfits. Discover what you already have.

Once we made more space to see all that Lisa had, we found some great pieces. She needed help creating outfits with some of her patterned dresses and skirts, so that’s what we took pictures of. And I find color coding a closet also helps you “see” what colors work together. That way you can grab a tank then sweater then pant that all works together.

Step 5: Decide what’s missing and fill in the gaps. 

It’s easy to get distracted by flash sales then often end up with a closet full of mismatched items. That’s why we make a list. There were some obvious holes in her wardrobe. She needed some pieces with more of an edge as well. Versatility in what we were going to shop for was key. Her list included black & brown booties with a midsize heel, tunics she could layer over leggings, mid-rise skinny jeans, silk tops to layer over, sweater coats, and a great leather jacket. Never diligent enough to shop at a place like Buffalo Exchange alone, it’s my favorite go-to for great basics and one-of-kind wardrobe go-tos. Her outcasts get a new life, and she got credit to shop. It’s a win-win.

Start 2014 off right with a closet audit. Contact me to schedule an appointment today.

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