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How to Clean Out Your Closet

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A cluttered closet full of clothes, shoes,accessories.
Amy Steigbigel/Moment/Getty Images

Yes, No, Maybe
Remember that scene in the Sex and the City movie where Carrie had the Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda over to help her decide which clothes to keep and which to toss? Throw your own closet cleaning party and invite a friend or two over to help you purge. Give each signs that says yes, no and maybe. Don’t forget the Champagne!

Ask your friends to help sort everything into one of three categories:

  • Clothes you love
  • Clothes you don’t wear (including those that don’t fit and likely never will)
  • Everything else

Once you’re done, figure out where to donate your old clothes or consider selling anything designer to a consignment shop or on eBay.

Look for Trends
With the clothes and accessories in your love pile, can you identify any common themes? Are all your favorite shoes strappy sandals? Your tops striped? Your skirts A-Line? Is there an underlying color palette? Have your pals weigh in, too.

This process serves three purposes: While you certainly don’t want to fall in a wardrobe rut, it will help you realize what clothes (and bags and shoes) you reach for the most and make you feel the most confident. So if you like a wrap dress, you’ll know to stay away from a babydoll style, no matter how much it is marked down on sale. Don’t worry too much about having clothes that are all the same style—there’s nothing wrong with developing a signature look.

The second purpose is the check the condition of all your favorites. Does anything need to go to the dry cleaner? Could your favorite nude pumps be revived with a good polish or is it time to invest in a new pair? Are your favorite pair of boyfriend jeans about to fall apart? Make note of items that may need to be repaired or even replaced.

The final purpose it serves it that it will help identify any gaping holes. Do you have all the basics covered, or could you use one great trench coat or wedge sandal? Write down the items of clothing you think you may need and keep the list in your wallet so it’s handy on your future shopping trips.

Check Out What’s Left
For the everything else pile, see how the pieces goes with those in your favorite pile. Maybe that polka dot blouse that was hidden in the back of your closet is a perfect match for your go-to navy blazer. Can you wear that cocktail dress to work if you tone it down with a cardigan or slip a v-neck sweater on top? You may surprise yourself and find new outfits you never even thought of. Friends are great for this process, too!

Organize by Type and Color
Most experts agree that the smartest way to organize your closet is first by type of clothing (pants, skirts, tops, dresses, jackets) and then by color. That way you can easily find what you’re looking for on even the most harried morning.

Invest in New Hangers
It may seem like a Martha-Stewart-type detail, but hanging your clothes in the same direction on the same type of hanger really does add a large dose of continuity to your closet. Everything will hang at the same height and there won’t be flashes of color to confuse you. A black velvet hanger is thin and won’t take up much room, plus your clothes won’t slip off of them.

Shoe Storage
The best way to store your shoes, really depends on how much room you have and the configuration of your closet. Read this for more information on the best way to store shoes.

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