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You Are What You Wear! – Closet Organization

I want you to meet my colleague, author and friend Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, Ph.D.  If you’re considering a closet remodel but don’t know what to discard and what to keep, the book You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You may just be the answer to your prayer.  It helps you understand your relationship with clothing.  It can also help you release the mistakes as well as the once beloved pieces still sharing space with today’s reality.  Ultimately the closet should be a source of power not confusion. How would you describe yours?

Here are the 7 questions I asked:

1.     Which came first your interest in psychology or your love of fashion?

Love of fashion! I was completely and totally drawn to the creativity of it, the interactive quality between the wearer and the designer, and the idea that we can wear art on our backs! How do you think I justify purchases? I am building an art collection, of course!

2.     How did you first combine these interests?  Was it by design or serendipity?

It all started in my Grammy’s closet. I noticed that I could learn about her through her stories surrounding her wardrobe pieces Sifting through her closet became an archeological excavation of her life. This connection between the two was further enhanced when I worked in retail while in school to become a psychologist. The theories and treatments that I learned about in class were illustrated with my dressing room interactions with clients. It is never just about fabrics and stitching!

3.     What is the primary message for your new book? 

Using the wardrobe as a tool for self-analysis and self-enhancement. We can learn more about our internal world from our dress behaviors, we can influence our internal world from our dress behaviors, and we can alter the responses of others to us through these behaviors. Clothing can become an incredible therapeutic tool to add to the arsenal!

4.     When a person is stumped about what to save and what to toss, what are your tips to make a quick decision


Create an ideal look: We can’t decide what to toss and save if we haven’t identified what look works best for us. In order to decide this we must look at our style preferences, age, body type, coloring, budget, lifestyle, etc. Without knowing what our ideal is how can we take action? It’s comparable to going on a trip without a road map and hoping we get there! You must know who you are, what you want, and what looks best on you. This usually begins by creating a style file and undergoing an honest assessment of all things you!

Look at the bigger picture: When you know what your ideal look is you must examine if the pieces in your closet work to promote this goal. Looking at items on a piece by piece basis is often difficult for clients, so I have my clients throw all their items on the bed or in an empty room. They split the clothing up into two major categories, tops and bottoms. They must quickly decide the fate of the item based on initial inspection or trying on the item. I limit the time spent on this task, which forces the client to work efficiently. Anything that is left over, we put back in the closet until the next day when we repeat the process. Having the clothes laid out in one space usually eliminates getting stuck on the fate of one piece, and they can see what the wardrobe looks like from a 360 perspective

Examine utility: I also have clients assess the functionality, fit, appropriateness, etc of each item, and this is often based on wear. If the client isn’t wearing the item, something is wrong with the piece. We then assess how much an item is worn by hanging the clothing in another direction after each wear or storing it inside out. After a period of a week or month, these items are often removed. This is of course done on a seasonal basis.

5.     Do you have a closet-organizing secret you’d be willing to share?

Where there are fewer items there are greater options! This is the ultimate wardrobe paradox, and it has saved me from wasting time, money, energy, space, and a spot on the worst dressed list!

6.     In the best of all possible worlds would you like to write full time?  Is there a second book in the pipeline?

I am very much a people person, so although I love that I can write in my pjs until 3am to get the word out; I really crave that interpersonal interaction! My dream would be to speak publicly full time whether in talks, seminars, or on media shows. I am toying with a second book for teens.

7.     How can my readers learn more, keep in touch or get the book?

Follow me on Twitter: @drjennyb

Follow my Psychology Today blog: The Psychology of Dress Blog ( 

For more information about our Regina Leeds visit her The Zen Organizer information page.

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