HHC Week Three: The Closet

I have a love/hate relationship with closets. I mean - dedicated storage, awesome. But they're also these little rooms that end up being stuffed full of things and hiding behind a closed door. And not only that, but especially in our bedroom closets, we have such a complicated relationship with the things inside. It's so easy to hold on to things because we can find excuses for everything. So I'm going to walk you through the clothes closets today. Save the others for another week. But I'm talking about your master closet, the kids closets, even the dressers - anywhere you keep clothes, we're diving in.

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So I'm going to walk you through the clothes closets today. Save the others for another week. But I'm talking about your master closet, the kids closets, even the dressers - anywhere you keep clothes, we're diving in.

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Clean It Out

Like with every other area, the first step is to clean it out. And forewarning... it's going to get really messy before it gets clean because I want you to take every single thing out of that closet, besides the hanging rods, shelves, and drawers. Every sock, every shoe, every shirt, every box of random stuff you've kept. Take. it. out. 

First, wipe everything down. Dust it, vacuum, spray with a fresh linen spray in there. Our closets are always full so we never get the chance to really clean them and that can lead to musty clothes and even worse, bugs. So clean it all out!

Then grab a few laundry baskets and label them: sell, donate, and recycle. Anything you intend to keep, you can put in a separate pile to be sorted later. Then it's time to go through each item piece by piece and ask yourself these questions for every single one:

  1. Does this fit me well? Right now - in the size you're currently wearing. If you lose weight, you'll want to buy new clothes anyway. Don't keep what doesn't fit well!
  2. Do I love this? Does it make me feel like my best self? Am I confident when I wear this?
  3. Is this comfortable?
  4. Do I wear this at least once a month?
  5. Is this in good condition? No holes, fallen hems, or excessive pilling allowed.

If the answer to any one of those questions is no, it doesn't go back in your closet. Period. 

And that's when you decide to put it into one of the three baskets you set out before.

Sell: is it in good condition, high quality, desirable for buyers?

Donate: is it in good condition, but maybe not worth the hassle to sell?

Recycle: is it poor condition? Don't throw it away. Recycle it so that fabric can be reused. Tip: H&M will take back old clothing that needs to be recycled and will give you a discount to boot. There are lots of textile recycling kiosks around too, usually in grocery store parking lots. So look up a location near you and take it next time you're out. 

Do this for the kids' closets too and ask the same questions. If they're just not wearing something, or if they've outgrown it, get it out! Kids' closets should be done pretty frequently. I do big closet clean outs at least 3 times a year in my boys' room because they grow out of things so fast and things get worn out much quicker. That way I can keep a solid inventory of what they have and what I should be looking for as it comes on sale. 

Putting It Back

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So often I think we look at our disorganized spaces and think of The Container Store haul it's going to take to get it put back together so it's nice and orderly. But the thing is, the less stuff you have, the less you have to organize. And while I'm definitely on the bins and baskets train, they're not going to be what keeps your closet organized. I LOVE organizing tools and I love closet organizers. What I don't want you to do is think that a bin or basket is going to tame the beast when the beast is a too-full closet to begin with. So, I urge you to try these tips before going and spending hundreds of dollars to organize what's going back in your closet.

  • Fold according to the drawer size. There are 100 ways to fold a tshirt and it doesn't matter what you choose. If it doesn't fit nicely in your drawer, it doesn't matter. Kon Mari folding is amazing, and I follow it very loosely. I also like just plain fold in half a couple times and call it a day. 
  • Stack items front to back, not on top of each other. This helps items wrinkle less, and it allows you to see everything at once when you open the drawer.
  • Keep out of season items out of the way. I have a designated basket in my closet that's on a top shelf with warm weather clothes so I'm not doing unnecessary sifting when I plan my outfit for the day.
  • Velvet flocked hangers are the way to go. They're slim, keep items from falling off, and they're much prettier than plastic or wire. I get boxes of 100 at Costco.
  • Keep a bin in kids' closets too small, and one for too big. I will sell a big box of boys' clothes in a certain size range a couple times a year instead of trying to do it individually, and I buy clothes on sale off season. Having somewhere for those things to go helps a lot and helps keep from things just sitting in drawers making it harder to keep what they do wear in sight and folded. 
  • Be mindful of the limits of your space. Our master closet is a 6-feet wide reach in and our room doesn't have room for a dresser. That means Tomas and I share a 6-feet wide reach in for all of our clothes. And it's actually just fine for us. I don't want it spilling out with clothes so I don't try to have more clothes than I can store. I keep a pretty limited wardrobe, capsule-ish, and so does he and we make it work. Having clothes in the guest closet, in bins under the bed, stuffing a room full of dressers - it's just too much. Simplify. And make it easier to maintain. If you're like me, you reach for the same favorite jeans and same leggings all the time anyway.
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Make It Happy

The single best thing we can do to make our closets happy is to only keep things in it that make us feel our best. Things that fit well, things that flatter us, that make us feel ready and confident and comfortable. When in doubt, don't keep it. There is so much clothing available that a mediocre piece isn't worth keeping if it's not working for you, right now, at this size, in this season, for the way you want to live your life. That goes for shoes, undergarments, jewelry... hats, purses, old wallets. If you don't wear it at least once a month, you don't need it. 

But once you've gotten it loaded back up with what you love and what you actually wear, I have a couple ways of making my closet an extra happy place. 

First for me, is smells. I want my laundry to smell nice but most laundry or soap fragrances bother my skin and asthma, so I can't use them. Instead I made sweet little sachets that I keep dried lavender and eucalyptus in from my garden that keeps it smelling fresh and lovely all the time. 

And I know I said you don't need a ton of bins and baskets, and you don't, but some strategically placed drawer dividers and baskets help make sure everything is easy to find, and easy to put away, even in such small spaces. 

Other ways you could try to make your space happier:

  • A little cork board for outfit inspiration, or sweet notes that will make you smile when you get ready in the morning.
  • Create displays for your favorite items, if you have the room. The extra things you purge may leave some shelf space to display that Louis Vuitton or even color coordinate your sweaters in their own shelf. 
  • Make it well lit. Closets are rarely lit at all, but if they are, it's not well. Good lighting is crucial to getting ready and seeing your clothes, well, in their best light, so make sure you use bright, clear bulbs 
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Extra Resources

I have spoken about clothes and closets several times here on this blog, and others. Here are a other posts you might check out for my thoughts on capsule wardrobes, how we build ours, how we organize kids clothes and more. And don't forget to check the highlights on in my Instagram for a full tour of Jude and Wyatt's fully organized closet!

A Guide to Kids' Capsules (and a printable checklist!)

Cleaning Out My Closet (A Capsule Project)

Why You Need a Capsule Wardrobe

All the details on our Elfa Closet System (old house, same system we use here)

What I Keep in my Capsule Wardrobe

Okay, y'all! Go forth and conquer those closets! Can't wait to see your cleaned out closets! Happy homing!

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