Blog | Is it time to let go?
In the middle of a season it’s very often difficult to let go of clothing items. If they are a bit worn or frayed we may simply view them as old friends who need to be cherished rather than tossed. Here’s a trick to make the process easier: do it in the off-season! We’re in the middle of summer in the U.S. I was just in Las Vegas where the day temperature on the strip was 105 degrees. If you asked me to check my cashmere sweaters I could have done so with ease. I am free to view them without attachment because all I want on my body right now are lightweight cottons. Let’s come up with a game plan for our winter wardrobe. You’ll have a jump on fall and you needn’t work in longer than 8-minute sprints.
Heart & Sole
Shoes can take over a closet and if you live in a four-season climate like New York City or Chicago you can easily be overwhelmed. From snow boots to beach thongs, what’s a fashionista to do? Perhaps the first thing is to decide if the shoe really has life for the next season or if you are holding on to it for sentimental reasons. Is it made of a material that can be washed or professionally cleaned? Are you willing to make that investment? What about the condition of the heels? Now might be a good time to pop in and visit your shoemaker. He’s pretty idle this time of year and will welcome the chance to bring a fresh look to your fall and winter shoes.
You know what they say: you never have a second chance to make a first impression. Spend a few minutes looking at your business attire. Is it tired? Or does it still make people stand up and take notice of you. Perhaps some items need to move on to a charity and you may wish to create a shopping list for the fall. There are lots of back to school sales around Labor Day and you can score a deal on some much-needed items.
On the other hand if your big ticket items like suits, slacks, blouses and dresses are all in pristine condition you might want to check some fashion magazines to see what the key fall accessories are going to be. When you change accessories like a scarf, handbag or piece of costume jewelry you can dramatically shift the appearance of an outfit. Your colleagues may think you splurged on a new wardrobe.
Everyone has classic pieces like a beautiful pashmina that go from season to season without a hitch. But it pays to look though your costume jewelry, shawls and scarves, hats and gloves to see if any are ready for donation or the ultimate retirement of the recycle bin. You don’t want to discover at the last minute that your woolen gloves are threadbare or your favorite broach has lost a stone. A few timely minutes now will save you emotional upset later on.
I don’t think there’s a more essential item when it comes to winter do you? It’s great to check for moth holes, missing buttons and stains before you need to wear these treasured garments. If you can wait to replace them remember that after Christmas the stores will have huge sales to move this inventory out and make way for spring. If you can’t wait be sure and shop with an understanding of exactly what you need: long sleeve or short? Which colors are needed? Do you have enough turtlenecks or are you in need of crews? If you packed items away without cleaning them first start leaving them at the cleaners now in groups. This way the expense will be spread out over time. Just so if you wish to hand wash them do one or two a week. You’re going to feel in control when the first snowflake hits the ground!
Keep it Organized!
I’ve prepared a closet-organizing guide that’s available here for you to download. I’ve also written extensively about closet organization in all of my books. Clothes are a passion of mine and I think they should be treated with respect. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
- Be sure your shoes are off the floor. Use expandable, stackable racks for everyday shoes; acrylic shoe drawers for dressy shoes and place your sport shoes and thongs in a canvas over the door shoe holder.
- Use uniform good quality hangars to preserve fabric and shape. The dry cleaner has sent you home with a cheap hangar that allows for wrinkle free transport only. Always remove the plastic from your dry cleaner to gain space in your closet.
- If you have items on a closet shelf separate them with shelf dividers. You’ll find it easier to preserve your categories that way.
- Sweaters can be stored safely in a number of ways: stacked on a shelf, in sweater bags, stacked in portable acrylic drawers or tucked away in a dresser. Try and avoid hanging them if you can and always use some form of moth protection. I prefer cedar or lavender.
- Organize your accessories so they are always easy to find. The Container Store has acrylic drawer organizers as well as jewelry organizers attractive enough to sit on your dresser top. You’ll find an array of containers for underwear as well.
The Magic Formula
No matter what project you need to tackle before the busy fall season arrives The Magic Formula will guide you to success. There are three steps:
- Eliminate: take out of the project or area whatever you no longer need. This is the most creative part of the formula. You may have items to donate, to recycle, to toss, to return to a friend or a store. You may also need to move some items to a different room in the home. Coffee cups in the bedroom, anyone?
- Categorize: when related items are kept together you have automatic inventory control. You may have 25 white long sleeve blouses but until they are in one area you may be ignorant of your treasure and waste money on a 26th!
- Organize: Items put away without any rhyme or reason are never going to be found easily. You want your finished projects to be beautiful to look at, be completely functional and they should be easy to maintain based on how you deal with physical space. You’ll find a wealth of suggestions here and in all of my books.
My mother gets the last word here because she raised me on the Golden Rule of Organizing: there is a place for everything and everything needs to be in its place so the next time you need it or want it you’ll be able to find it with ease. See? Mother knows best!