The posts and Netflix series and gear (oh my!) targeting the organization of your home and closet are nearly as plentiful as those addressing your health and fitness this time of year. Amiright?! For the record, I am trying to drink way more water and have my eyes shut (read: not on a screen) by 10 pm every night to address my health. Just assuming I'll do better with actual fitness and diet when I'm hydrated and less exhausted. But let's get to my strength - and perhaps your nemesis - the closet!
There are myriad strategies for organizing your clothes, deciding what to keep or purge, and how to properly fold and store it all. Some need simplicity so creating a capsule wardrobe with a very limited number of pieces works. Others like a really self-aware approach where items are held, tried on, assessed for the way they make you feel, and sorted appropriately. Still others have strong emotional attachments to items because of the event they were worn to, the phase of life they represent, or a hope for one's future self so rubber tubs are filled and stored away. My particular flavor of closet challenge is that I have a lot of clothes and I like wearing a lot of clothes, but at some point it just literally does not fit. I've had a neatly folded stack of sweaters sitting on my closet floor for 6 weeks now because the two allotted sweater "cubbies" are overflowing. I've told myself, I love and would wear every single one of those sweaters. And it's true - if I didn't have all 38 (I counted) sweaters to choose from - if I wore one every day and couldn't repeat them for over a month, I'd be happy to do it. But that's not how it actually happens. So here is a a strategy for anyone looking to pare down their closet just a bit or for when you're stuck, but still need to part with a few items. I call it the 1 of 5 Rule. The idea is that on any given day you will have almost your entire wardrobe to choose from. (Assume you just did the laundry!) When you approach your sweaters, for example, there may be 10 out of 38 or even 20 that you will always reach for and a dozen or more that naturally fall to the bottom of the stack. The result is that you're never going to get around to wearing them. Even if you love them, they just won't be pulled off the shelf when so many others that you love more are available. Here's the 1 of 5 Rule: 1. Collect and organize all items in a wardrobe category. 2. Divide into sub-categories as needed based on the number of items you have and similar characteristics. 3. Look at groups of 5 items and ask yourself, "Which is the last one I'd pick to wear?"
Let's stick with the sweaters. Pull all of your sweaters and organize into sub-categories such as crew neck, cardigan, solid, printed, etc. - whatever makes sense for you. The more items you have in a category, the more sub-categories you can create. You can choose to pull 1 of 5 from each sub-category or maintain that same ratio for the whole category. For example, if you have 20 sweaters total with 10 pullovers and 10 cardigans, you would pull 4 sweaters. You could pull 2 from each sub-category, but if you love and wear cardigans more often, then it may make sense to pull 1 cardigan and 3 pullovers. Applying the 1 of 5 Rule to each category in your wardrobe will result in a slightly thinned closet and better access to the items you really, really love. Here are some before and afters with my hanging long sleeve tops and my jeans.
Before: My tops were primarily divided into blouses, chambrays, and plaids. I had 19 to start with and knew I wanted to pull at least one chambray and a couple of the plaids.
After: I kept all of my blouses but pulled 2 chambray shirts and 2 plaids.
Before: My jeans barely fit in my dresser drawer anymore so I knew there must be at least a couple of pairs I could part with. I started with 18.
After: I pulled 4 pairs from these piles and they were selected mainly because of fit. I even got rid of my one gray pair despite my love for the color and fabric - they are too long, the ankles are too tight, and they don't stay up on my (lack of) hips.
As you can see, the 1 of 5 Rule doesn't create a dramatic reduction in your wardrobe but it can be effective for freeing up a few hangers or drawer space.
Do you have a favorite or especially effective strategy for purging your closet? Share in the comments!