Un-Clutter! Closet organizing & wardrobe editing in real life

The new year is a time for resolutions and for many of us organizing our closet has been on the list more than one Dec 31st. Will this be your year to do it? I want to support your emphatic yes with some preliminary considerations and tips, which I will expand upon in my next posts.

First a disclaimer: My considerations and tips do not follow the KonMari method (in case you were wondering). For those unfamiliar with it, the KonMari method is a strict approach to de-decluttering based on the following principles (my wording): keep only what you love, discard with no excuses, categorize, store methodically. It has been trending for a while and it has elicited an elation for minimalism, which is interesting in a society whose cultural sport/raison d'être (if I may put it this way) is consumerism. (Just think about the images around Black Friday.) I welcome the ethos of 'de-consumerizing' our lives but we may not want to fall prey to an extreme minimalism either.  

Don’t get me wrong. These images of pristine closets and perfectly folded clothing are no doubt attractive. Research shows that our brain responds positively to uncluttered situations and clear categories. Such images carry the promise that our life will also become uncluttered and flow easily, as easily as the ‘it gives me joy standard.’ Yet, we don’t need to be psychologists to know that this is far from most people's reality. While it is true that we will feel much better if our closet (and space in general) is organized, those pristine images most often do not align with the possibilities of our living spaces and the dynamics of our daily life.

The ‘keep only what you love' principle sounds great, but in the practical reality of our daily life (yes, this daily life again), it may not work. When organizing, we encounter things that we do not necessarily find joyful, but nonetheless need because they are practical, because they are required for work or by social conventions, or for other reasons. We are real people and we need an un-cluttering method (whatever the method) that helps us with the issues of our very real life.

A rigid ideal, whatever ideal, may be frustrating if we apply it strictly without understanding that in real life there may not be clear-cut choices but conflicting emotions and gray zones. That is a piece of wisdom I acquired in my academic years: "ideals will pose the questions, but reality will provide the answers." That is to say, humanity (and this is not an excuse).

This is a closet of a real person in real time, who is lucky to have such a space (I asked her to send a snap of her closet as was at that moment), Still, she claimed her bags are crowded! 

This is a closet of a real person in real time, who is lucky to have such a space (I asked her to send a snap of her closet as was at that moment), Still, she claimed her bags are crowded! 

Enough of a disclaimer! Let's move on to considerations and tips that will help you approach the un-cluttering of your closet in a low-stress, manageable, and real-life based way.

1st considerationCloset organizing and wardrobe (closet) editing are two distinct activities, even though they may take place at the same time.

When you stand in front of your closet, do you feel you can't find anything because it is cluttered and pants hang with shirts and skirts and sweaters? Or do you feel confused and frustrated because you do not know what to wear or don’t seem to have the right clothes? If the answer to the first question is yes, there is a problem with how your closet is organized. If your answer to the second question is yes, your wardrobe may not be reflecting your needs, preferences and lifestyle. 

Organizing your closet (the physical space where you have your wardrobe) is a different from editing your wardrobe (your clothes, shoes, accessories, and so forth). This means that your closet may be organized and you may still not have the wardrobe you need and that makes you feel good daily. In this case, you need to weed out items you don’t wear, items you wear but that don't reflect the current you, and unnecessary doubles. In short you need to “edit" your wardrobe and update it to match the current you. Or, conversely, you may have the wardrobe you want, but your closet may still be - let's say it - a mess. In this case, you need to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of  the closet space based on your dressing preferences and priorities. (You can always call experts if you need help to do it).

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you have a cluttered closet due to lack of space or organizing and an inadequate wardrobe due to the accumulation of items you rarely wear or don’t wear at all. You need to un-clutter!

2nd considerationWardrobe editing precedes closet organizing (that is, there is no real closet organizing without a wardrobe edit)

It is important to view closet organizing and wardrobe editing as two distinct activities. This prepares you mentally to engage in wardrobe editing first, in order to better organize your closet space. Otherwise, you may feel overwhelmed by the enterprise, and every item of clothing you encounter that you haven't worn in a while may push you further away from completing the task.

Tip Nº 1: Commit to each activity as a different project.

Committing to edit your wardrobe as a separate activity from organizing your closet lightens the process, makes it more manageable, and gives you the satisfaction of completion after each activity.

Tip Nº 2: Use the wardrobe editing process to take stock of what you have and care about, so that it can inform your closet organizing.

Going through your whole wardrobe is a great opportunity to know what you have and think about what needs to be most accessible, what needs hanging, and what can be folded, so you can start visualizing the type of organization that is a good fit for you. This will save you time and money because you will have a clear baseline of what you need.

Tip Nº 3: Complete your wardrobe edit before finalizing the partitions of your closet space

In pursuing your wardrobe edit, you may find that you need further help to complete the task. You may also realize (by yourself or with the help of an expert) that you have to significantly update your wardrobe to work for the you that you now are. As excited as you can be to organize your closet, don’t rush if your wardrobe edit is not properly completed. You may regret it later when the partitions that you put in place cannot accommodate new items and preferences. Complete each activity mindfully, and your satisfaction will multiply.

Tip Nº 4: Remember the feeling of how cluttered you felt and how satisfying it is to feel un-cluttered.

If you think it will help, write this down, together with vivid details about what made you feel good, and what you do not want to accumulate in the future. This will help you maintain the overall size of your new wardrobe and keep your closet satisfying organized!

In my next blog, I will talk about why it is difficult to edit your wardrobe and how to go about it. 

I would love to read your comments! Till next time, Mara

Mara Kolesas2 Comments