Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Annual Closet Clean Out Day

Every year in early autumn I purge my closet to remove the items I no longer wear. I started this system several years ago when I read about a method that helps you keep track of which items you actually wear, and which ones you don’t touch at all. I did refine the system slightly from its original version, and I believe I’ve been successful in reducing closet (and dresser) clutter.
The original system is quite simple. It works best to start at the beginning of a season – I picked Fall because that’s when I first learned about the system, but you can start at any time.
  • For each item hung on a coat hanger, reverse the hanger so that the hook points out instead of into the closet.
  • Switch the hanger back to normal (with hook pointing into closet) as you wear (and launder) each item. This way, in a very short time, you will clearly see which items are your favorites – they’re the first to have the hangers turned – and which are items you tend to avoid.
  • At the end of a year cycle, any items still hanging on a reversed hanger are candidates for purging.
Since I have a fair amount of clothing folded on shelves and in my dresser, I added a method for tracking the use of those folded items –  a safety pin stuck through the washing instructions tag – which is easily removed just before wearing the item.
At the end of each season, I evaluate the items marked for potential purging by checking which ones still have safety pins in their tags or hang on reversed hangers. I then evaluate the purge candidates using a few simple rules:
  • If the item is clearly one that is specific to a different season (I’m certainly NOT going to wear a turtleneck sweater in summer), it is not considered for purging – yet.
  • Specialty items such as interview jackets, formal gowns and the like are evaluated as to whether or not they are still considered stylish and worth hanging onto.
  • For the rest of the purge candidates, I ask myself why I didn’t wear it. Was the weather this past season ever appropriate for it? Does it actually fit? Do I like it? And finally,can it be restyled into something that I would wear?
This past weekend, I purged about a dozen tops and dresses that I refused to wear because I didn’t like the color, styling or fit. Four other items that were marked for purging escaped this season’s purge because I recognized that I could alter them to make them work for me – two dresses were shortened to knee length (they originally fell to an unflattering length in the middle of my calf), a too-short mini-dress was shortened to t-shirt length and taken in at the sides to provide some shaping, and a t-shirt was chopped down from oversized XXL to a nice baby-doll style.

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