Messy Closet/Clean Closet: Step One-Trash and Treasure

This is the first in our new Adele Belle segment: Messy Closet/Clean Closet – Tips and Tricks for making maximum use of your closet space.

Every morning I stumble out of bed, desperate for a cup of java.  The annoying alarm on my phone keeps blaring and I wish I had another hour of sleep.  In the midst of this helter-skelter routine I get sucked into the tornado disaster of my closet.  What to wear – when I figure out what I want to wear I cannot find a shirt to match my sweater or the black pants I put on have a stain on them.  Face it – we’ve all been prisoners to the chaos of our closet.  Even if you have picture perfect California Closets – sized and matched by designer SKU and style number – closets get cluttered.  In the transitioning of seasons we often stuff our bulky winter clothes alongside spring clothes we dug out of storage bins.  This makes it even more exhausting to figure out what to wear and more importantly how to find the item you want to where.

Last time on Adele Belle we discussed the benefits of having a yard sale – or giving up your ghosts to consignment shops and reselling used items.  The hardest part of Spring Cleaning is the grime of getting down to the dirty business of sifting through personal belongings (clothes, mementos, decorative pieces) and deciding what is trash and what is treasure.  Humans are catastrophe-a-tune in many ways – we like to horde, we believe that every item we possess should be kept on the once in a billion meteorite forecast we might need the dancing hula tiki bar broken neon sign again (or whatever rarity is in question).

While it is good to have foresight to store potential useful items – there is a fine line between necessary provision and ten thousand pound burden.  We hoard items for a number of psychological reasons – sentimental attachment, to lazy habits, to phobias – we all have our quirks.  At the end of the day most of my hoarding is because the items are nice things I fear if I toss them out I will suddenly require their utility again – I also can get lazy about cleaning the no man’s land areas of my house – closets, boxes and other cramped corners perfect for dumping non-essential items.

It is essential that each year we take inventory of what we have – so we are aware of any necessary items we might need to purchase – you have a mixer and no mixing bowl sort of thing…you will not want to toss the mixer – just buy a mixing bowl.  The problem is we normally let the clutter pile up – things we need get lost in boxes and items we don’t need are usually broken on the floor.

The first step in spring cleaning is to take inventory of what you have. By inventory – you can literally make a list of what you own, but the first inventory is more of a sweep – getting a general idea of what items you own and the problem areas of your house. Simultaneously look at your current organizational system – is it functional?  How can it be improved?  Once you have a lay of the land you can set up an action plan for cleaning and organizing your space.

I think starting with the bedroom and hall closets is the most important because it is so vital to our day to day use of space.

Shopping can be fun, but how many times do you go home with loads of shopping bags full of great deals to realize you have way too many clothes in your closet – they are mish-mashed together with no synchronicity.  I have a lot of retail customers return items because they already owned the same shirt in their closet or a similar color and forgot they had it until they cleaned out their closet.

My golden rule for today is YOU NEED A DIVERSE WARDROBE, NOT A CLUTTERED CLOSET – if you remember this when you clean and shop it will help you have great style and an organized wardrobe.  I am all for having a lot of fun pieces of clothing – when you have too much – make room for the new – don’t cram in the old.

CLEANING YOUR CLOSET: I am starting a weekly focus the next four weeks: Messy Closet, Clean Closet that will help your give your closet a much needed makeover.  Before you can kick it into reorganization mode you have got to clean the clutter!  Trust me I’m there with you – my messy closet is going through this rehab therapy too!

How To Clean Out Your Closet The KonMari Way: What I Learned An Epic New Year's Purge : Lucky Magazine

You love these skinny jeans and this high-fashion tank top – you lived for it when you were in college and have carried them around for a decade – problem is you cannot fit into those jeans and tank – and if you could you would now look like a teenager instead of the fun thirty stylish fashionista you are – every year you hang onto that outfit – it is just taking up space – get rid of it.

WARNING: It will get messier before it gets cleaner – as you detox your clutter you are going to have to suffocate through some headbanging help me I’m drowning in a collapsing tower of stuff moments – Breathe in, Breathe out and stay focused -it will get messier as you pull everything apart – but remember you are organizing and with each baby step in cleaning – the clutter will look neater and you’ll have room to walk in your house.

KEY LESSON: Just because you have open space and available space doesn’t mean you should use it – we will look at tips and tricks in future posts to know when and how to utilize space

Trash and Treasure Wardrobe Quick Tips

– Ask yourself: How often do I wear this?  If it is a seasonal piece like a bathing suit – and you wear it annually and it is in good shape – fine…if it is an everyday piece like a polo or dress top and you have not worn it in a year – dump it – it might be a nice outfit, but if you aren’t wearing it – the clothes are wasted space in your closet give them to someone who needs the clothing and will wear it often.  Trash can become another person’s treasure.

– Ask yourself: Why do I like this item?  Why do you keep this particular piece – do you like the way it feels, the way it looks, the versatility of the piece?  Use this as a gauge when thinking about trashing or treasuring – How much do you treasure this piece – do the cons outweigh the pluses?  We often might like an item and buy it hoping it will fit us – we will squeeze into it even if it is two sizes too small – while you make like the item if it doesn’t look good on you and doesn’t really fit – then give it away.  I’m a plus size athletic girl who used to buy jeans super small just to motivate myself to lose weight – my thyroid hasn’t cooperated – so for years I just had clothes taking up space reminding me of my failure to slim down into a size I’m not built for.  While I believe in healthy motivation – your closet isn’t it – take a picture and put it on your refrigerator with your meal plan, don’t leaving clothes that don’t fit you lurking in the closet.

*Are the tags still on the piece and you’ve had it over a year – it is going to be another person’s treasure – you need to ditch it.

– Keep Classic Clothing, but keep it light and simple: It always makes sense to keep a nice blazer, suit, pair of slacks and quality shoes – unless you haven’t worn them in a year.  If it has been more than a year – inventory your wardrobe and figure out what other pieces you have in classic fashion for work and everyday wear and decide which pieces are a constant in your lifestyle.  If you are not sure – put them in a ‘maybe pile’ sleep on it and get another opinion if necessary.

*Classic pieces outlast fashion trends and flash ‘it’ items – they are the sort of pieces you keep for a life time (at least a decade).  In my line of work i adhere to classic fashion – with modern twists.  My closet consists of three pair of black pants, a pair of navy trouser slacks, two pair of jeans and some yoga dress slacks.  I can alternate these pants with an assortment of shirts, sweaters, pullovers and jackets to dress up or down my wardrobe.

– Ditch fast fashion: I like quirky shirts and think it is important to invest in some cheap fun filler pieces to pair with more quality core items.  I like H&M, but I recommend donating any fast fashion piece you haven’t worn regularly.  Also styles shift rapidly with some designers – and you might be left wearing a bad trend – don’t fall into the trap of buying something you don’t like just because it is in style – make your style part of you and make it TIMELESS


Be ruthless in trashing the sentimental pieces that don’t function in your life – they are bogging you down.  Once you’ve decided what to dump – it is time to sort.

I know the sorting is the hardest part – because lingering doubts about the ugly shirt you bought on clearance for .99 – so ugly but so cheap – you keep wanting to keep it…When you sort – you must KILL YOUR DARLINGS.  Let it GO!!! It took screwing that part up on a cross country move where I shipped $300 in tee-shirts 2300 miles.  I ended up giving them away and it was just a waste of money and time.

If the item is in excellent condition you can recycle it through a YARD SALE, consignment shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Online (Amazon, E-Bay, Craigslist are just a few website suggestions) or just giving it to a friend who really will use the item (and benefit from it – don’t give your friend that ugly sweater); If you have children’s clothes – go to the Salvation Army they will find children in need of those clothes and your used clothing will help them dress in a great outfit.

*Great items to get sell or donate: Toys, Clothing, Board Games, Furniture, Lamps, Books, DVDS

If it is in AVERAGE condition you can probably still recycle it – either at Salvation Army or Goodwill – and of course YARD SALE and consignment.

If the item is just like rat’s tale HORRIBLE then dump it (if it can be physically recycled you can take it to a recycling center, but some items just need to be trashed – obliterated – Final WORD.  IMHO this is a horrible shirt.

Lanvin Multicolored Bug Print T-shirt in Green

I have a bunch more tips coming your way in our series on Spring Cleaning and Closet organization.

Check out this link from Good Housekeeping for Keep it, Leave it and other ideas for getting rid of stuff.

Music to PUMP you UP while cleaning your CLOSET: You’ve Got the Power…Start a CLEANING Dance Party

Stayed tuned to Adele Belle for more organizing/spring cleaning madness, plus some fashion looks coming your way.

Please share this blog and feel free to give me your tips and suggestions

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