Clothing, Clothing Everywhere, But Not a Thing to Wear

You can rid yourself of closet clutter now and forever by following these simple steps .

This month is the perfect time to tackle that closet cleaning project you've been meaning to start. It can be a daunting task, to say the least.

Why? Because the truth is, most of us have way too many clothes to deal with. We tend to add new things and not get rid of anything. You'd also agree that organizing and cleaning are not exactly at the top of a list of fun ways to spend our time. So, what happens? We procrastinate and ultimately end up giving in to the clutter—lots and lots of clutter. It's not fun and it's not helping us in our efforts to always look and feel our best.

Enough! Turn up the volume on some favorite tunes (preferably music that makes you want to dance), turn on all the lights, throw open the curtains and just do it! 


  • Designate dresser drawers for exercise clothes, only around the house clothes, lingerie/underwear and finally, sweaters. Period. Everything else should be on hangers. Oh, and not those wire hangers from the cleaners. No siree. Instead, use some good hangers that are material covered. They can be purchased at places like Costco and Sam's Club for a song: 50 hangers for $15.
  • Separate hanging clothes into categories that work for you. Some do it by color, some by occasion—office, weekend, evening, holiday, etc. I prefer just by function—tops, bottoms, suits, dresses. It really doesn't matter how you do it. What does matter is that it's a system that's easy for you to maintain. In other words, keep it simple.


This is the hard part, I know. It's this step that my clients get all tripped up by.  Try this approach: 

  • Be decisive.
  • Be practical.
  • Be honest.
  • Be unemotional.

When in doubt, it goes out. Unless you have only five or so holiday season pounds to lose, do not keep things that fit you 10 or more pounds ago. Those jeans that you loved back then? By the time you are able to wear them again, if you are able to wear them again, they will likely be out of style. If they are in good condition, place them in a bag marked "Donate." Someone will be thrilled to wear them and will look good doing so!

And what about those cool things we categorize as "keepsakes," like that Chicago Bulls championship commemorative t-shirt? Try this. Look for a nice box, mark it keepsake clothing, and then store it in a place other than your closet. No need to say goodbye... just abiento (see you later). 

And finally, when you come across something that makes you think you might need it again someday, or that it might come in handy if the styles change, resist the urge to keep it just in case. 

A Zen parable beautifully and wisely illustrates the wisdom of such a mindset:

A wanderer on a lonely road came upon a torrential river that washed out the bridge. So, he built a solid heavy raft which carried him safely to the other bank. This is a good raft, he thought. If there is another river ahead, I can use it. And he carried that solid heavy raft for the rest of his life.


Sue Becker January 08, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Great parable, Nancy. There's no need to hang onto things for "someday" if they get in the way of today.
Kathleen Neville January 08, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Hi Nancy! I agree about the hangers...."NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!!!!!" (from movie "Mommy Dearest") Such a pet peeve of mine too! Love your tips, thanks, as they will make a boring chore a little more interesting!
Becky Nemchock January 08, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Excellent way to start the new year! Let's expound, a bit, on where to "donate". I know that the United Methodist Church on York Road has a clothing center, but isn't there an organization which accepts work clothes to help women who are getting back into the work force? Becky Nemchock
Jen January 08, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Prom & Homecoming dresses from your teen who has been in college for two years? Bridesmaid dresses that "aren't so bad, I could wear this again"; Cinderella's Closet will take them! They work with underprivileged teens so everyone looks their best for those special occasions!
Karen Chadra (Editor) January 08, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Thanks, Becky. This place is in Lombard: http://poisedforsuccess.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=27 but I'm sure that's not the only one.
Patti Conway January 09, 2012 at 04:25 AM
There is a place in the city The Bridge to Success that wardrobes the underprivileged for employment they are located on Halstead St. south of Roosevelt. They run a wonderful resale shop as well. 1236 S. Halstead St. 312 733 9742 website is www.thebridgetosuccess.org. The Community Nurse Association in LaGrange, also has a resale shop that benefits the many programs they provide the community, The Hope Chest, in La Grange, resale shop benefits the Constance Morris House, shelter. An easy way to contribute and support some wonderful organizations. Try keeping a giveaway container near where you do the laundry, when folding if you are tired of it or it does not fit as well as it used to, put it in and when it is full donate it to a charitable organization.
Nancy Pipal January 10, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Thanks so much to you all for such timely and comprehensive information. We all appreciate it!
I Did It Magazine January 13, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Claudia's Closet in Saint Charles works with Many charities locally, you can consign your items and make money as well as look into our donation program. Unique Boutique, highend, formal wear, wedding dresses, prom, home coming, vintage and much much more! Claudiasboutiquecloset.com


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