I try to do a "full on" job of this twice a year -- once prior to winter, and once prior to summer. (So, usually sometime around September/October and sometime around March/April.) By "full on," I mean I take everything out of my closet, pick up each item, look at it or try it on, and decide if it gets to go back in the closet. I've found that doing it like this is much more effective than going through the items while they are still hanging in the closet. When they are hanging there, they look too much like they belong, and I can convince myself that they are still in style, still fit, etc. It is only by coming out that I can truly determine which items deserve a spot, because not all items deserve a spot. I need to clear out space in order to buy new things for fall/winter/spring/summer.
So, the winter cleaning time window is fast approaching. I don't particularly mind doing it, but I have to be in the right mood. Meaning: I have to be in the mood to truly get rid of things that (1) I will not wear again; and (2) do not fit me correctly anymore. This requires preparation, stamina, and determination. It's too easy to just keep everything. Getting rid of things is the difficult part of the process. (Ha, I just realized I wrote a post about Hoarders before I wrote this post. God, that show makes me want to clean everything in my house.) I force myself to get into that mood by telling myself that I can only buy new items when there is room for them. That room will only occur when the closet has been purged.
I have a huge closet. It's not a walk in, but it is two full sized closets side by side that essentially take up an entire wall of my bedroom, which is a good sized room. The closets are both organized with those elfa shelving from The Container Store, so it is very organized with racks for pants, bins and shelves for sweaters, high up racks for dresses and suits, lower racks for skirts. Needless to say, it fits a lot of clothing. The problem is that I have so many different "looks" that I have to cover. (Have to...ha.) Here is the general breakdown of the main two closets:
1. 1/8 -- skirts, majority for work
2. 1/16 -- blazers, majority for work
3. 1/8 -- work dresses, but some can work as going out dresses
4. 1/8 -- summer dresses generally not for work, but a few can pass for work with a blazer
5. 1/16 -- jeans and pants
6. 1/8 -- turtlenecks and other long sleeved shirts, majority for work
7. 1/8 -- sweaters for work or going out
8. 1/16 -- sleeveless tops for going out or wearing under blazers for work
9. 1/16 -- short sleeved shirts (including t-shirts) to wear under blazers or going out
10. 1/8 -- suits, for work
11.* Shoes and purses are also in here, on the floor, upper shelves, or anywhere else they will fit. Other shoes line the center two feet or so wall space that divides these two closets, on one of those cheapo tall racks from Bed Bath and Beyond. I really need to figure out a long term solution for my shoe storage. Oh, and I have two of those shoe under the bed things that contain more shoes. They aren't bad. Oh, crap and an over the bedroom door shoe holder. Ugh. Ridiculous.
I obviously wear a lot of skirts/blazers, dresses/blazers, and suits. I hate pants, other than jeans, but I can't wear jeans to work generally. Also, the vast majority of my clothing can be worn to work. I hate buying clothes that I can't wear to work, because most of the time when I go out, I am going directly from work. So, the clothes have to do double duty. Work + cute enough to go out in. Saturday nights are obviously the exception, but how many "Saturday night going out" outfits do I really need? Three or four? And during the day on the weekends, forget about it. Unless I have somewhere nice to go, I'm wearing jeans and a sweater or sweatshirt, or shorts and a t-shirt. I've long ago abandoned the days where I have to be dressed to the nines to go anywhere. Hell, in the winter I will sometimes run up to CVS in my pajamas with a big North Face coat thrown over them. I mean, who cares? Who notices? No one. (Although, to be clear, I'm not talking about Hello Kitty printed flannel pajamas or anything goofy like that.)
Which leads me to closet #3 in my bedroom. It's about three feet wide, maybe three feet deep, and consists solely of shelving. (Can you believe I didn't even know about this closet until I took the final inspection of my place before closing? It's hidden away behind the door, so the door has to be shut to access it. But who cares? Closet space!) This closet contains the following:
1. All of my boots, and the remainder of my shoes.
2. All of my sweatshirts, sweatpants, workout clothes, shorts, pajamas, comfy t-shirts, etc.
3. Extra sheets, pillowcases, and bedding.
4. Pants that don't fit me anymore. (Note to self: get rid of all of these. I put them there when I moved in last summer and they are still there. Gone as of the Winter 2010 Purge.)
There is also a closet in the basement that contains my vintage clothes, and a closet on my main floor that has all my coats, but for now those are going to get ignored. I need to deal with the bedroom closets first. And for sake of thoroughness, I have a dresser that contains some other pajamas and my underwear, tights, pantyhose, etc. I cleaned out the dresser a couple of months ago, so that one should be pretty good, although I also need to inventory my tights to determine if I need to pick up any new colors. (I love tights and live in them in the winter!)
So, bring it on. I will report back the number of garbage bags of things I purge. Last year when I moved I got rid of sixteen garbage bags of clothes and shoes. It was unbelievable. (And still my movers couldn't believe how many clothes I had. I was like "Dude, I got rid of sixteen bags of stuff, so if you think this is bad, it's nothing compared to what it could have been." Men just don't understand.) So, I won't get close to that, but I think I can get rid of two or three bags of stuff easy. Luckily there is a Salvation Army drop off fairly close to me, although, if I get rid of any suits I will touch base with my friends first to see if they need any, or drop them off at that suits for welfare women interviewing for jobs charity. (Can't think of the name of it right now, but it might be Dress for Success. I hate giving suits away to thrift stores!)