It happened earlier this year after a fitting on the newest additions to his wardrobe. Mike and I walked into the kitchen after a brief visit to his closet to get my opinion on his shirt collection. His wife, Shelley, who had just arrived home, was there in the kitchen and looked at us if we had been up to no good. “Where have you been?” she asked. “Oh, just back in the closet for a minute,” I said. Knowing that we had to walk through the bedroom to get to the closet, she replied, “Oh no you weren’t. Please say you’re just kidding.” It’s not that she didn’t know we were going to visit the closet that day, but she had intended to be home in time to supervise and guide the tour. Bedrooms and closets are particularly personal places. Well, she didn’t kick me out of the house and we remain friends, but next time I’ll receive full and explicit permission before entering “the closet.”
Because closets are such personal places, they don’t always get the same attention and scrutiny as the more public rooms in a home. Paradoxically, in my experience, and by the testimony of many others, few things more consistently and effectively impact a great start to each day than a well-stocked closet that is organized such that getting dressed is an easy pleasure instead of a frustrating chore.
What better time to make sense out of everything in your closet than at the beginning of a new year. And with our Time-tested Tips on how to do it, this will be one New Year’s resolution that you can check off the list. Ready? Here’s what to do:
- Examine the fit, condition, and fashion of everything in your wardrobe. Try-on anything that you haven’t worn in the past six months or aren’t completely sure about the fit. Set aside anything that doesn’t work for whatever reason (doesn’t fit, wrong color for you, doesn’t fit with your personal style or lifestyle, etc.) Be particularly ruthless with accessories (ties, belts, etc.)
- Divide your wardrobe into Four Categories:
- Items that you will never wear again.
- Clothing that might be worn again if properly altered, repaired or coordinated.
- Year-round Basics. Further divide these items as either dress or casual.
- Seasonal, special occasion, and collectible or vintage garments.
- Get rid of everything in the first category. Donate items that could still be useful to someone else (no obvious signs of wear, no stains, etc.)
- Items in the second category should be altered and/or repaired. You should also get some idea of how you will wear each item and what you need to add to your wardrobe to complete those looks. (Your TJ professional can help with all of that.)
Clothing in the third category should be placed up front or wherever most convenient in your closet because this is your go-to clothing. Consider your dressing habits and lifestyle as you organize this portion. (I.e. button-up shirts that you wear with a suit or sport coat should be separate from others that are more casual.)
Seasonal clothing should be divided into Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Keep the current season’s items near the front and properly store the rest. Special occasion clothing (tuxedo, etc.) should be properly cataloged and stored.
Additional Tips for a Functional Closet:
- Use identical hangers, all facing the same direction and properly spaced.
- Remove dry-cleaning plastic bags. (Use cloth bags that breathe if you need to store something that only gets occassional use.)
- Organize clothing (suits, sport coats, and dress slacks) from dark to light: black; navy and other shades of blue; charcoal and other shades of gray; earth tones; all others (orange, red, purple, etc.)
- Organize shirts from dark to light; from solid to more boldly patterned.
- Knits should all be folded (never on hangers.) Ideally not more than two or three in any one stack, whether they are in drawers or on shelving. An ideal way to store fine knitwear, whether sweaters or socks, are in cedar boxes. Aromatic cedar provides a natural repellent to moths and their larvae, some silverfish, and other pests that might otherwise decide to munch a hole in your favorite sweater or jacket.
- Organize shoes from formal to casual; by color, dark to light; and by style, lace-up or slip-on.
I like to store my shoes on stack-able cedar shoe racks, and whenever my feet aren’t in a pair of shoes, a set of unfinished cedar shoes trees are. Aromatic cedar draws out excess moisture and also deodorizes with a forest-fresh scent, providing added protection and longevity.
Now that you have everything in the closet organized to perfection, here is a favorite tip on how to care for that clothing to make sure that it lasts and always looks great: Whenever possible, use a steamer instead of an iron to remove wrinkles. Instead of crushing the fibers into submission with the hot pressure of an iron, steam removes wrinkles by relaxing the fibers. Regular use of a steamer, whether at home or when travelling, can dramatically reduce your dry-cleaning costs and keep your clothing looking great for longer.
During the month of January, your Tom James Clothier is offering a complimentary closet audit and organization. Your clothier will help you through a process similar to the one described above. To make it even easier, he or she will handle any donations, and help with alterations and repairs. Let us be your closet concierge this month, and get ready for your best year yet.
For great closest organization products, check out this month’s 12 Essentials.