Gaining Control over your Wardrobe
By Mary Lou Andre
Mary Lou Andre, one of our expert columnists, offers tips and advice on organizing your clothes, accessories and jewelry. She is a wardrobe
consultant, speaker, author, and founder and president of Organization By Design, in Needham, Massachusetts, a wardrobe management and fashion
consulting firm that helps individuals understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.
It's true. We wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time. In fact, many people have thousands of dollars worth of clothes and still feel that they have nothing to wear. You can gain control over your closets once and for all by following a few simple strategies.
Organizing your closet
The first thing to do is clear out unwanted clothing. Consider consignment for items in good shape, or donate them to charity, a local theater group, or your children's dress-up trunk.
You know it's time for an item to go when:
* It hasn't been worn in over a season - exceptions are classic evening
wear, sentimental favorites and high quality classics.
* It is permanently stained.
* It is torn beyond repair.
* It was bought only because it was on sale-a bargain is only a bargain
when it is in style, fits, and works with what you already own.
Once you have weeded out unwanted items, it's time to organize.
* Use hangers that won't end up in a tangled mess in your closet. Sturdy, department store-style swivel hangers for both skirts and dresses really do the trick.
* Keep the wire hangers under control by setting up a recycling bin for them in or near your closet. When the bin is full, bring the wire hangers back to
the dry cleaner or give them to a local charity for
* Assemble complete outfits, including accessories, on one hanger. This will make daily dressing and packing for a trip a snap.
* Line up shirts on one side of the closet to free up space underneath for items such as a chest of drawers, shoe boxes or shoe stackers.
* Avoid tumbling sweaters by only stacking them two or three high on a shelf. Consider using shelf dividers in between stacks to keep them
* Move clothes that don't currently fit, but you're not ready to part with, to another closet or storage bin. Everything in your day to day closet
should fit, be in season, in good repair and flattering to your
figure and lifestyle.
Transitional and special occasion clothing storage tips
* Separate your clothing by season and type (professional, casual, special occasion) to make choosing your outfits easier and error free.
* Choose a date each spring to put away your winter clothes and bring out your warm weather wardrobe. Do the same in reverse in the fall.
* When switching your wardrobe, inventory your clothes. Make notes on what you want to replace or update.
* Store out-of-season clothing at your dry cleaner. Most dry cleaners will do this free of charge for the cost of the dry cleaning.
* If you choose to store out-of-season clothes at home, put them in a cedar closet, hanging garment bags, storage chests or in clear bins that fit under a bed or in other out of the way places.
* Make sure the clothes you are storing have been laundered or dry cleaned. Even if clothes appear clean, invisible stains can cause permanent spots and attract pests.
* Cedar products are handy moth repellents because they last a lifetime and don't produce the odor of old-fashioned mothballs. If your cedar loses its scent, simply sand it for a quick revival.
* If you have the room, devote a separate closet for your special occasion clothes or hang them in a zippered garment bag in the back of your main closet.
They will be better protected and easy to review when
an invitation comes your way.
* Store dressy shoes, evening bags, fancy hose and special jewelry together in a clear shoe box, so they too are protected and easy to locate when you need them.
Organizing drawers and accessories
* Categorize your drawers. Put undergarments, socks, panty hose, pants, T-shirts, turtlenecks, costume jewelry, and workout clothes in separate drawers. Weed out as you sort and organize.
* Save time by separating hosiery by color and storing each color in its own clear plastic bag. Keep panty hose with runs to wear under slacks. Cut a slit in the labels so you can easily identify them.
* Keep your scarves folded in a basket on a shelf in your closet for easy access and color matching. You can also hang scarves on the hanger with the outfits you wear them with.
* Wherever possible, install hooks on the inside of closet doors. Use them to hang umbrellas and favorite hats in the hall closet; belts and pocketbooks in the bedroom closet.
* If room permits, hang necklaces on hooks in the closet so you can easily see what you have.
* Store shoes in clear plastic boxes that stack easily.
About the author:
Mary Lou Andre is a wardrobe consultant, speaker and
author. She is founder and president of Organization By Design, a Needham, Massachusetts-based wardrobe management and fashion consulting firm that helps individuals understand the power of being appropriately dressed in a variety of situations.
Mary Lou is also the publisher of Dressing Well , Organization By Design's quarterly fashion newsletter and The Dressing Well Tip Booklet Fashion
Series. She is recognized by the media as a fashion and retail
expert and has been featured on CNN and in several national publications including Family Circle, Woman's Day and Working Mother.
"The Uncluttered Closet" was excerpted from "The Organized Wardrobe: Managing Your Clothing With Style and Confidence." To order the
complete 16 page closet organization, fashion and shopping tip booklet,
please send $5.00 plus $1.00 for shipping and handling to Organization By Design, P.O. Box 885, Needham, MA 02492. Or call 1-800-578-3770 to
order by credit card. For more information on Organization By Design, check out our website at: