I Can See Clearly Now…

Alan D. asks: My wife and I think we’re about ready to pull the trigger on a complete closet remodel, and we’ve met with a couple of those closet organizing companies. When they explained the process, both talked about making a list of what we’d be putting back in the new closet (like a complete wardrobe inventory). They mentioned that this would be a great opportunity to evaluate what clothes we really wear and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. I was hoping you could help me figure out what I should keep vs. toss, and give me some kind of blueprint so I can plan what I need to add to my wardrobe in the future. Can you help me?

Tom: We suggest a simple 3-part process for evaluating your wardrobe. First, separate the items you really enjoy wearing that look good on you and are in good condition. These will all end up back in your new closet. Second, separate the items that you would enjoy wearing again except that they need a repair or alteration. Things like replacing a missing button, repairing a pant hem, taking in or letting out the waist of a favorite trouser to make it comfortable again, or having the sleeve length adjusted on that jacket where your shirt cuffs don’t show. Most if not all of these will move back in to the new closet. And third, put aside those old favorites that you know should be retired and donated to charity – or possibly taken outside and burned in your driveway. Make a simple list to tally what you’re planning to give away and attach your list to the donation receipt from your favorite charitable organization. Your Tom James person will know the names of several local charities that could really use your discarded clothing, and he/she can arrange to pick the items up from your office or home to expedite your donation.

BTW: your donation pile should include any trousers or coats with “shiny” fabric (they’re worn out), shoes that are beyond resoling or have really square toes, and anything you’re not comfortable wearing any more .This pile should include any 4-button coats (2 button coats are now the norm) or those “Italian” jackets where the front of the coat buttons down where your zipper starts. Triple pleated pants or any pleated trouser with really baggy legs are all but extinct in fashion, and “shrunken” khakis or jeans that are way too short need to be moved out. Be sure to include “cracked” belts, denim shirts, and any sweat pants with elastic at the bottom. And if you want to be perceived as current, think about retiring your collection of those Tommy what’s-his-name silk “camp shirts”. If you have neckties wider than 4” at the large end, or ties that have a prominent food stain, let them go. In short, anything you’re tempted to wear that looks like you might have purchased it in a museum or thrift store should be part of this third group.

And if you’re thinking that we’ve just added another page to your Honey Do list, fear not. We do this for a living and would be happy to meet with you at home to work on this. It usually takes about 90 minutes for one of us to do the following:

  1. Call out any and all clothing items that have no future in your wardrobe – worn out clothing or “shrunken” old clothes should be discarded, not altered.
  2. Separate the items that only need a repair or alteration to put them back into the rotation – as long as they look reasonably current and the fabrics are in good shape.
  3. Re-assemble the outfits (“ensembles”) to help you remember what goes with what, and take digital pictures of your best combinations to help ensure that you wear what you already have.
  4. Suggest what is needed to fill in any holes in your wardrobe, especially items or pieces that will complete an outfit (an odd trouser, a new shirt or tie, maybe even a new pair of shoes), and help you update and replace any wardrobe “staples” that end up in your donation pile.

I hope this is useful. Walking into a neat organized closet is one of life’s little pleasures, and knowing that you actually wear all the clothes you own is empowering. Have at it….

Best Regards,


3 thoughts on “I Can See Clearly Now…

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