HOW TO CLEAN AND ORGANIZE YOUR CLOSET

As most of you know, we recently bought a house, and it is time to start moving my things a little at a time. It is crazy how much “stuff” you accumulate during 34 years of marriage. Joe and I have been living mostly in the Abingdon house lately, and he asked me, “are you even missing the things we’ve left behind?” I don’t think that I’m missing most of the things until I go back to Grundy and look around. Then, I see so much that I still want, and I get overwhelmed with the decisions.

So, I decided to start with my clothing. I have a TON of clothing, but not a ton of clothing that I wear all the time. Because I try to take photos of clothing that is still available online, I don’t show very many pieces of my clothing that I’ve had for years and still wear quite often. I decided to be ruthless as I start to pack up my clothing, you can do this too, even if you’re not moving.

If you prefer visual over reading, you can check out my YouTube video on this subject.

YouTube video

How long has it been since you gave your closet a once over?

Over 40 Fashion Blogger, Tania Stephens is organizing her closet

Here is how you start the clean and organize your closet process. To do this correctly, you need to start by taking it all out and starting over with only things that you truly love. I don’t mean just removing a few things you haven’t worn in a few seasons; I mean to really be ruthless.

If you’ve ever watched any Marie Kondo videos, then you probably will understand where this is going. I always thought I should move things out at the end of every season and keep my closet up to date. But, according to Marie Kondo, I was doing it all wrong.

Removing anything that is damaged, out of style, or didn’t fit well, is a good start but I found that I was overlooking or saving things for “just in case.”

Marie Kondo’s method is a game-changer. I did her methods a couple of years ago for my drawers, and they are still in great shape. She has you take everything out of your closet and drawers — every single thing. And then go through them one by one, and ask yourself if each piece sparks joy. If not, it goes in the giveaway, donate, or sell pile.

Once you go through all your clothes and get rid of all the stuff you don’t wear and that doesn’t spark joy, you can start to rebuild your wardrobe into one you will love to wear.

Since this can be a loooong process, depending on the amount of clothing that you own, I recommend doing this when you have a good bit of time to spend. You don’t want to be rushed. The doldrums of winter is a great time to start this project, and once spring weather hits, you’ll be glad that you did.

How to Clean And Organize Your Closets

Step 1: Empty out your closet

Marie Kondo recommends that you take everything out, down to the bare walls. But, if time is an issue, don’t let that keep you from going through your closet. Break it down into sections, and do each section a day at a time. But, Do NOT skip taking everything out, even if it is only a section. The goal is to go through ALL of your clothing, including coats, jackets, and whatever is hanging in the laundry room or bathroom.

Step 2: Try it all on

Try on anything you haven’t worn recently. I have lots of jeans that I haven’t worn in a while, clothing that are for events, and items that I love and am keeping just in case I lose weight. Try everything on, and if it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t need to go back in the closet. That is a huge waste of closet space!

Step 3: Sort each item into four piles

It can be hard to decide what to do with all of the clothes, so I suggest putting them in 4 piles.

  • LOVE IT: If it fits and you love it and could see yourself wearing it right now, then hang it back in your closet.
  • MAYBE: These are all the items that might be off for a lot of reasons. Maybe it is the fit, the color washes you out, or someone gave it to you and you hate to get rid of it. Put it in a box and store it. If you don’t find yourself wanting it before the end of the season, it’s time to donate it and let someone else enjoy it.
  • HATE IT: These are the Donate or sell items. If it makes you feel better, you can use the proceeds to fund a new wardrobe.
  • SEASONAL: If it’s not in season, but you LOVE IT and it fits, then put it in a box and store it so you can add it to your wardrobe when the proper season rolls around.

I realize not everyone has seasonal wardrobes, and that is fine. If you prefer to keep all of your clothes in your closet all year round, go for it. I do like to keep my summer tanks and some summer tops in my closet all year round since I can wear them under sweaters and cardigans. However, I recommend putting away things that are not in season and that you won’t be wearing for several months. It’s so much easier to get dressed when you’ve reduced your closet to only truly viable options.

It may seem wasteful to give away perfectly good clothing, and some people have a hard time with the purging process, but I look at it this way. It’s not a waste if it blesses someone who needs it.

Step 4: Assess what’s left in your closet

After the initial purge, you may want to live with your clothes for a little while before shopping for new pieces. You will want to see what works and what items you are missing before you start to rebuild your new wardrobe.

Shop for any items you need to complete your wardrobe. Make a list and shop intentionally.

Many of our lifestyles have changed since COVID, and you may now work from home rather than the office, you retired, or you watch the grandchildren for your children. If so, you may not need so much workwear, and instead need more casual clothing. Be sure to take that into account.

Items I’ve ordered to organize my closet

While I was going through my clothing, I also took the time to access my hangers. Some were broken, some were plastic, and some were the ones that came from the store when I purchased the item. I decided to buy new hangers so everything looked neater, and I love the velvet kind since they don’t make pucker marks on your clothing. I bought hangers for tops and dresses, and hangers with clips for pants, shorts, and skirts.

Over 40 Fashion Blogger, Tania Stephens is organizing her armoire

My new house doesn’t have the same closet space, but it has shelves. So, I’m learning to fold sweaters, sweatshirts, etc., and put them on the shelves instead of hanging them in my closet. But, I’ve run across the issue of the shelves starting to look disheveled once the clothing is pulled in and out. I just ordered these clear shelf dividers to keep everything in its place, and I am also going to use these in my armoire.

Over 40 Fashion Blogger, Tania Stephens is organizing her shoes

The other issue that I have with my new house, is a space for my shoes. We had a built-in shoe rack that Joe built in our laundry room that held a LOT of shoes. I am really going to miss that rack, and I am trying to figure out how to get more shoes in my closet. I’ve ordered these shoe stacker space savers that are supposed to allow you to fit more shoes in a limited amount of space.

Let me know if you are going to clean and organize your closet this year.

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To God Goes The Glory!

Verse of the day

Colossians 3:1

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

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28 Comments

  1. Love your posts and all of the wardrobe suggestions. I’m 72 years old but want to still be stylish. Since I started following you, I have updated my wardrobe and also found many things in my closet that I have either forgotten about or wasn’t sure how to wear. I have three daughters and they all complement me on what I wear and how nice I look. I feel good about myself. My youngest daughter even borrows some of my clothes when she comes home for a visit. Thanks for all you do to help us older women look good.

  2. Oh my yes!! I love cleaning out. It makes my outlook feel so much lighter! Our church donates lightly used clothes to a great homeless ministry. Win/win!

  3. Paige, it’s the SAME here! We are just south of Dallas, Texas and Christmas Day we had the A/C on and 4 of us were taking breaks from the kitchen standing in front of the down vent in the living room lol! I passed out hair clips to my 3 dil’s because we were all pulling our hair up! Crazy weather but I keep everything in my closet just have a section at the back where I rotate Christmas stuff and pool weather stuff!

  4. Hi Tania,
    I ordered the space savers for shoes and got them today. Im underwhelmed and wondering how you like them. I find that one side is easy to snap into place and the other side isnt. I may send mine back. How is your experience?

  5. OH my word! We got married in 1984 and are just starting our move for the very first time since so you have my complete sympathy. One good thing is my SIL is moving out of the house we are moving to and she made the master closet awesome and its big. Currently the Goodwill store I like to take my stuff to is limiting to one bag. I rather coyly asked how big a big. Guy said doesn’t matter. So, okay, get ready. I bought GINORMOUS contractor bags and started in with shoes. I figured that shoes were easier than clothes, since the ones I never wear kill my feet and just glancing at them brings memory of pain. The first bag weighed so much I had to have my DH put in the the car and go with me. So because it weighed about 50 pounds of course he asked me what the dickens was in it. I said shoes. Raised eyebrows. Shoes? I had to say something so I said yes. He asked if they were armor, like for jousting. I nearly wet my pants laughing and the Goodwill guy looked at me like I was NUTS.Tomorrow I am trying a different drop off the next town over. But so far, the shoes are pretty much done. I hate moving!

  6. The only seasonal clothes here are sweaters. Shorts and short sleeves don’t dare be put away. It was 75 on Christmas day and I had the air down to 72 so I could cook (wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt!)
    I probably should also put away my long-sleeved shirts in the summer now that I don’t go in to the office. I’m still waiting to see how that all shakes out before I purge.

  7. You read my mind Tania! Yes, first I have multiple closets and so many clothes that I never ever wear, just for all the reasons you mentioned. This one one of my 2022 projects. Along with a few other small areas in the house and to eat better and move more, 25 lbs need to go. I’m turning 60 the end of this year and I want to be organized and looking and feeling good! One step at a time and day by day! 🙂

  8. I ordered the same shoe space savers. Didn’t help me much, I am still struggling with how to best organize my shoes. It would be interesting to see how your shoes look once you are done with your organization. Your post has motivated me to purge my clothing.

  9. I began organizing my closet during Covid. I have a lot of clothing due to size changes during sickness and finally health…Honestly I’m overwhelmed because I have seasonal clothing as well. I retired this year so my clothing needs have changed. Right now my closet is a monumental task and I truly don’t know where to begin. Changing dressy clothing to day to day casual is a challenge for me.

  10. I found a long piece of crown moulding at our ReStore and had my husband hang it on the wall inside/above my closet doors. I have my heels hanging there and freed up a tremendous amount of space!

  11. Tania – I am also in the process of moving from one house to another, smaller house. I’m also loosing weight and have a ways to go, there. So, as we went from Fall to Winter, I got rid of clothes that were too big. Looking forward to doing the same thing when we start getting Spring weather. Then a grand clearing when I’ve maintained my new weight for a few months. Procrastination can pay off. I’ve turned up coats that were favorites but too small and now they fit again. Yippee.

  12. Wonderful post, Tania! Like yourself I’m also moving, from eastern Long Island where I was born and raised to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York to our retirement cabin. A lot of downsizing going on! An immensely helpful post!

  13. In preparation for having new carpet installed, last Saturday, in our whole house, we removed everything from every closet and the whole house with the exception of 3 pieces of furniture. So, I took advantage of doing that and went through my clothes, piece by piece, before hanging it back up. Along with what you shared, I included whether or not the tops are in one of my signature &/or neutral colors. If not, away it went. I spent a good bit of time on the jeans, sorting them on the empty floor by wash, length, and cut. I discovered that I have a pair of Talbots jeggings that I had completely forgotten about. While I only got rid of 4 pair, I now know what I have, and I am committed to wearing them more often. If I don’t like a pair for whatever reason, after wearing them, I will not hang them back in my closet. I store my shoes in plastic shoe boxes, that I ordered from Amazon, that help with space constraints, keeps them organized & protected, and makes it easy to change out my closet when the seasons change.

  14. I did this process gradually during the Covid shutdown. I have now retired and wardrobe needs have changed. I was able to gift many of my professional clothes to a friend and now I LOVE stepping into my closet.

    1. I give a lot of my items to my mom and sister. Then, I donate clothing to those in need, and I sell a few things also.

  15. I am off, in-between jobs right now. I will be working mostly from home. I was planning on starting my closet today. Great timing! I loved Marie Kondo’s first book. It helped so much once my children had all moved out and we emptied my parent’s condo into my home in a hurry. How about a post on what to wear for working from home? Especially when you have zoom/team meryings?

    1. That’s a great idea, Chris! Even if you don’t work from home, most of us get FaceTime calls, and you don’t want to be in your PJs with no bra on. Lol!

  16. I fold my pants, sweat shirts and sweaters on a long upper shelf running from one end of my closet to the other. It’s worth lowering the closet rod to get that shelf for me. There’s a lot of space under the hanging clothes that’s not necessary.

    1. I’m going to use the top shelf that runs the length of the closet for my handbags. That’s another reason that I bought the shelf dividers.

  17. Thank you for taking time each day to cheer us and help us on our clothes journey! Thanks also for adding that verse each time to help us center our minds on things above! BTW, I would LOVE to come to your house and get dressed one day! Lol Everything in your closet is what I love!

  18. Thanks for bringing up this process. As I’ve retired I need lots less work/teacher clothes and more babysit, tutor at home, and travel items. I’ve worked on this for about 2/years during COVID and am approaching a closet filled with things that spark joy! I do still have some cruise wear in the just in case category, but that’s a hard no for now. I also found a young friend starting a professional career to share things with. Have a great day.

    1. Maryjane, our lives change from year to year, and our wardrobe needs do also. Going through your closet periodically keeps you from having clothing that you no longer need.