10 Easy Steps to Losing that Clothing Clutter – Without Losing Your Sanity!

1. Don’t try to do it all at once! Set aside 15 minute increments once or twice a day, and attack only ONE drawer, shelf, or section of closet during each 15 minute block. This will help avoid burn-out. Drink your coffee and eat your chocolate in between cleaning times. This will avoid stains on clothes that had been perfectly nice the day before.

2. Before you start your closet clean-up, determine an acceptable size range to stick within. For example, if you are a medium in tops and dresses, decide you will automatically toss anything that is an XS or an XL (unless they somehow manage to do something REALLY great for your bustlineâÂ?¦). Or, if you wear a size 7 in pants and skirts, decide you will keep down to a size 5 (assuming they stretch enough to cover your ass) or up to a size 9 (if they run tight enough to show off your ass). If you make this decision in advance, it will save you the “well, it might fit again someday” blues. Hopefully.

3. If you are going to try things on, bring a mirror to the closet rather than bringing the clothes to the mirror. A full-length mirror is preferable, a 3 way even better. Of course this may show you more than you actually wanted to seeâÂ?¦like those love handles you didn’t know your favorite jeans were creatingâÂ?¦

4. For simple, honest opinions on how you look in something, don’t ask your spouse or significant other. You know he’ll just say what he thinks you want to hear, rather than risk his sex life. Ask your children (or somebody else’s). They will be brutally honest. Just make sure you don’t punish them for their honesty.

5. To avoid clash factor: For trying on shirts, wear jeans or black pants depending on whether the shirt is casual or dressy. When trying on pants, wear a plain black or white t-shirt, turtleneck or button-up shirt. When trying on skirts or dresses, wear a pair of plain black pumps. Try on blazers, jackets, and coats over a simple outfit of jeans and a black turtleneck. For heavier coats, make sure to wear an extra layer such as a sweater to make sure the coat will still button properly over it. Do not wear accessories while doing this as they just might fool you into thinking that horrible skintight purple dress looks halfway presentable (no, it doesn’tâÂ?¦not even with diamondsâÂ?¦sorry).

6. If you have items you haven’t worn lately because you can’t find a matching outfit, now’s the time to play matchmaker. Once you have made the perfect match between two previously single items, marry them! In other words, hang them in the closet on the same hanger. This way you won’t have to go searching later to match them up again. If you can’t find a perfect match for a specific item, decide whether or not you like it enough to go out and buy a matching piece. If you don’t, toss it in the donation bag. See, this is easy. You just have to treat your clothes like ex-boyfriends!

7. Look carefully at every item for stains and damage. If you find either, sort the item into one of 3 categories: 1) It isn’t worth fixing (socks and underwear are a given here) – get rid of it. 2) I can fix it myself (buttons) – put it aside for repair at a later date, but don’t forget to do it. 3) I need to take it elsewhere for repairs (stains, zippers, fragile fabrics) – put it aside for your next trip to the drycleaners/alterations shop. And remember, if you haven’t bothered to have it fixed w/in a month or two, get rid of it as it obviously isn’t worth your time, money, or effort. Also applies to relationships.

8. Keep similar items together. Many people like to sort clothes by color, but I recommend sorting by type if you have the room to do so. I find it much simpler to locate things stored that way, especially if you don’t have a lot of storage space and have to use storage bins. Make sure you label the storage bins with appropriate labels. And no, I don’t mean “clothes I can wear next season if I lose 20 pounds,” either.

9. Rather than having your closet stuffed full of off-season clothing year round, keep your off-season clothing stored away in a separate closet from your in-season clothing, or buy plastic bins and store them in an out of the way place. At the end of every season, when you swap out the boxes, make sure to get rid of anything that no longer fits or has lost its appeal to you. Or is so painfully out of fashion it has made the “don’ts” page in Glamour magazine.

10. Once you have filled a box or bag with clothes, immediately put it in your car and take it to a thrift shop or charity as soon as possible. Alternately, post it on your local Freecycle group (for local groups, check out www.freecycle.org). This will make it easier to avoid changing your mind. But remember, if the piece is damaged, no one else is going to want it either. Dispose of items that are just plain trash in a responsible manner. In other words, give them to that catty co-worker in the next cubicle who you know is out for your job.

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