A well-edited closet doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, emotional fortitude, and—if it's in the budget — expert advice. But, since not everyone can afford to pay a personal stylist to help determine what stays and what goes, we sat down with closet guru Nancy Klompus to get some DIY tips. Here are five easy tips for an organized closet:
STEP 1: GET ORGANIZED
Before you even begin to delve into the abyss that is your closet, you'll need to do some prep work. First, says Klompus, you'll want some straight pins and safety pins for playing around with length and alterations. Changing the length can alter the entire garment, turning a fashion don't into a do. Next, while new hangers aren't a necessity, they will keep your clothes looking the way they're supposed to (as opposed to stuffed into a drawer, or crumpled on the floor). And — you get the right ones — they can give you more closet space (which nearly every woman we know desperately needs, whether she has a walk-in or a tiny coat closet). Nancy recommends Slimline hangers (slimlinehangers.com; 10 for $9.90): "They're not cheap, but they are the best," she says of the skinny, felted hangers that work for shirts, pants, and dresses. Finally, you'll want to have some room to sort out your clothes. "The best is to have a clothes rack," says the fashion expert, but piles — one each for alter, archive, resale, donate, and toss — will suffice.
STEP 2: GET YOUR PANTIES SORTED
Before you try on the clothes in your closet, you need to have the right underwear, which includes an everyday, workhorse molded cup bra (not all that sexy, but great for coverage and support); a convertible strap bra that can go strapless, halter, or racer back; a date bra; and a suppression garment. Chantelle's Sensual Strapless Bra has removable straps and is one of the best all-in-ones out there. As for the suppression garments, Klompus recommends TC Fine Intimates because they don't leave a line. For summer, Wacoal makes a lightweight suppression brief. Last but not least, make sure your bras fit. If you're going out and buying new lingerie, enlist professional help. Most women buy bras that are too big in the band size and too small in the cup size. Getting the right size bra will instantly make you look slimmer.
STEP 3: FLY SOLO
Unless you've got a friend who's going to be brutally honest with you, you're going to want to do this alone. Give yourself a maximum of three hours at a time — the process is emotionally exhausting — and try everything on. If you have doubts about a garment, put it aside and revisit. In general, get rid of anything that is too small or too big. The exception is items you love, which need some basic alterations. Otherwise, toss it: Everything in your new closet should fit you now — not a skinnier or fatter version of you.
STEP 4: SORT OUT THE REJECTS
Certain garments look great in theory — just not on you. And almost every woman has at least a few barely (or never) worn items in her closet. These clothes are perfect candidates for resale or clothing swaps. You can do it yourself (eBay is the easiest, but local consignment stores are a good alternative), or hook up with professional resellers, like eBay power seller Ann Wood, or Michelle Fraser and Tonya Fraser of the Ultimate Exchange. As for the rest, gently used items are perfect for Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other charitable clothing organizations. Just make sure to exclude anything that's stained or falling apart. No one wants your natty, yellowed white t-shirts.
STEP 5: GO SHOPPING
Every woman should have certain items in her closet (check out Tim Gunn's 10 Essential Elements), so if you've cleaned out your closet and find you're missing some of the basics, make a list and go shopping. Other garments need to be replaced with some frequency — like underwear and white t-shirts. Add these to your list as well. Finally, in order to keep your clothes current, find this season's must have shoes and accessories — then source out similar styles in your price range.
For Spring 2010, Nancy says to look for ruffles and romantic prints, as well as big, bold colors like violet and turquoise. Steer clear of the 80s trend, which looks to be waning and for pants, go with what looks best on you.
Geraldine Campbell is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas, NV.