Let’s Get Ready for Fall

October 14, 2008

Photo by light&shade2

It’s Monday morning and you’re already running late for work when you realize you forgot to pull out your Fall/Winter clothes.The weather is definitely cooler now (see my previous post, “Global Warming and the Transitional Wardrobe”). Panic starts to set in because you don’t know what to wear and you need to figure it out fast to get out the door! A skirt catches your eye that may work but you remember that it only really looks good with your boots and you forgot to clean them after last winter. Plus you have a meeting today and those boots don’t give the exact impression you wanted to set and you have a dinner scheduled afterwards with no time to change. Ugh, what to do? You end up throwing on…whatever, which leaves you feeling disheveled and, consequently, just a little less confident all day long. Does this scenario sound familiar? Sometimes this state of affairs goes on a lot longer at the beginning of each season than planned. Why don’t you give yourself a break and set aside a time to finally pull out those Fall/Winter clothes and organize your closet to make this season – and your mornings – go more smoothly? You owe it to yourself.

Organizing your wardrobe closet doesn’t have to feel like you’re going to get lost in a black hole especially if you break it down into achievable, success producing steps. Here are some suggestions:


Determine a Timeline

Decide how long it should realistically take you to complete your goal. Of course this depends on how long it’s been since you’ve cleaned out your closet(s) and drawers, how much stuff you have and how determined you are to stay focused. For instance, assuming it’s been a while let’s say you decide that eight hours is the absolute most time that you are willing to dedicate to this project. The eight hours can be divided up into a multitude of ways such as two weekend days, two hours each work night for one week, one hour each work night for two weeks or 15 minutes per night and one weekend. Customize a timeline that works best for you and your schedule.

Set a Date

After you decide on a timeline then set a firm date. Make an appointment with yourself and, if necessary, bring onboard a helpful friend, family member or skilled professional to help you meet your goal.

Gather Supplies

It may be wise to hold off on purchasing more hangers or storage containers. At this stage you really don’t know what you realistically need and what will work best unless you want to purchase items and return the surplus. Do have on hand large trash bags and a notepad and pen. Plus, decide where you specifically want to donate excess clothes.


Store Previous Seasonal Clothes

Collect all Spring/Summer clothes that you do no plan to utilize during the winter months. Check the closet(s), drawers, dry cleaner’s and laundry basket. Before storing items make sure that they are worthy to store. Items that are worn out or permanently damaged throw away. Any items/outfits that you are tired of, did not wear, or that still have tags on them, this is an opportune time to decide whether it may be best to donate, sell or return them. This will not only dramatically ease this process next Spring, it will also increase storage space. Once this task is complete, store clean warm weather clothes in ideally breathable cotton canvas storage bags like here, here and here; hang them in another closet or hang them in the back of your active wardrobe closet. The idea is to keep your garments easily accessible and in the best possible condition, but to get them out of your line of sight. This will allow for less overwhelm and more interest when you revisit them the following season.

Address Current Season Clothes

Determine Strategy: 3out/3in Method

A common strategy is to pull everything out of your closet and place it all on top of your bed. However, this method may be a visual overload for some and can create unnecessary anxiety. Plus, depending upon which customized timeline you chose, you may not be able to tackle the whole closet/wardrobe all at once. Better yet, start with keeping everything in the closet and drawers as is and start by pulling out three pieces that you really don’t like. Place them in a donation or sell pile. Remember to keep the items on hangers. Many donation stations find it easier to stock new donations when items are still on hangers or, if you are going to sell an item, it’s easier to take a photograph or bring them to a consignment store while they are still on hangers as well. And, of course, damaged goods can go in the trash. Next, choose three pieces you really love and place them at the very front of the closet to begin creating a ‘try-on’ section. Ideally, this new section should be organized by coats, blazers, dresses, tops, skirts, slacks, jeans, etc. as you place them there. Repeat these steps: Three out; three ‘try-on’. Sort accordingly. You can continue with the 3out/3in method or choose now to go full force and tackle the rest of your wardrobe. Start at one end of the closet, go through each piece and make your way to the other end. Adding to the trash, donate, sell, or ‘try-on’ sections. It’s helpful at this stage to give yourself another customized timeline. For example, allow yourself half an hour to do the initial sorting. Or you may need longer, but the idea here is to create a sense of urgency to encourage yourself not to over-think your decisions. Trust yourself more to make the right choices. Your instincts will appropriately guide you to look your best.

Follow-Through: Trash, Sell, Donate, Try-on

Once you’ve completed going through every piece of clothing in your closet(s) and drawers now it’s time to follow-through with each section: trash, sell, donate and ‘try-on’. You can do these in any order but you may want to get as many sections out of your line of sight (with the idea that you may be adding to them) because too much stuff around you can feel visually overwhelming and possibly stir up unnecessary stress.

Let’s start with the trash section. That’s easy. Throw it out!

Next, you may want to look at the sell section and see if it’s worth the time and effort. It may be worth taking only a few designer brand pieces that are in excellent condition to a local consignment store or sell them on eBay. Then add the rest to the donate pile. Make sure to give yourself a due date.

The donation pile should be plentiful. Right now more than ever there are a number of people in great need. Help them out. You won’t miss it and if you do, you’ll get over it. Now, place the items to be donated immediately in the trunk of your car and out of your sight. Set a date and location within the week to drop them off or have them picked up. Don’t backtrack; stay on course and follow-through with this commitment to yourself.

This might be a really good time to take a substantial break so as to start with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective before you tackle the ‘try-on’ section. Again there are different tactics to approach this ‘try-on’ section as well. Many people skip this step but don’t skip it! When you don’t follow through, what ends up happening is that numerous pieces of unworn or ill-fitting clothing get left in your active wardrobe limiting your personal style. To get started, pull your three favorite pieces and then pull the items you like to wear with it to create an outfit. Next, try the outfit on and look at yourself in a full-length mirror or ideally a 3-way mirror. Look at the outfit from every angle and sense whether you feel fabulous in this outfit. You really need to be rational here and not emotional. Make sure every piece in the outfit answer positive for the following 5 questions:

  • Do you love it?
  • Is it flattering?
  • Do you have something to wear with it?
  • Does it support your lifestyle?
  • Would you buy it now?

If yes! Then each piece is a keeper and if no, then donate or sell the item. Also, if a particular piece of the outfit works and another doesn’t then write down what you need to search for at a store to make it fabulous. Repeat this process with the other two favorite items. Have a discerning eye, be focused, be confident and take breaks!!! It can be extremely difficult to objectively look at ourselves and, consequently, it can be exhausting. If it’s helpful, don’t hesitate to get some aid from a family member, a friend or a professional. Your hard work will pay off. After you are done with these three items and their corresponding outfit match-ups, select another three favorites and so on. Then see what’s left and make sure it meets the above criteria as well.

Finishing Up

After you’ve taken out the trash, gathered a few items to sell, filled your trunk with items to be donated and tried on and categorized the rest of your winter wardrobe, you will be left with an active wardrobe that encompasses successful outfits that you can put together with ease and confidence!


  • Get rid of guilt quickly and move forward (ie. but…I paid so much money for this!, It was a gift!, I never even wore it!).
  • Store only two outfits per size for periods of weight fluctuation. Keep out of line of sight for one year and then eliminate.
  • Dry cleaner’s plastic bags will distort color of clothes. Remove immediately.
  • Mend/clean/fix clothes, shoes, etc. prior to placing in active closet.
  • Eliminate all non-wardrobe items in active closet (if possible, unless for decorative purposes).
  • Rejuvenating your closet can include cleaning, painting or installing a new organization and storage device so as to be a better support system for you.
  • Matching hangers that are appropriate for each type of garment are ideal.
  • Have a full-length mirror nearby.
  • Hang sweaters only if absolutely necessary. Make sure hangers don’t go past shoulder seams. Otherwise fold on shelves, in drawers or over hangers. This is more ideal to protect shape.
  • Reduce multiples (otherwise you start looking the same all of the time plus waste of money, closet space and energy).
  • Hold on to a maximum of three ‘undecided’ pieces and eliminate after one year if they haven’t been worn.
  • Be a ruthless editor!!!

Congrats! And you’re ahead of the game this year. Sometimes taking the time to take care of ourselves can be challenging. This process can be really taxing for some, but not only will you experience immediate benefits but long term ones as well. It is better to have an effective relevant wardrobe with fewer clothes that you feel more confident wearing rather than a closet full of “shoulda woulda couldas”. There are a variety of ways to help get you and your wardrobe ready for Fall but hopefully the above suggestions can help get you get moving. The goal should be to have a wardrobe storage system the really works for YOU!

Share some of your best tips for keeping your wardrobe closet organized.

I encourage all of my readers to feel free to post replies and/or helpful suggestions to this article and/or any other previous posts.

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  • Hi!
    Thank you for this wonderfully valuable post on getting the wardrobe ready for fall/winter. Personally, I love organizing and although hard work and sometimes exhausting, the end result is a streamlined space that makes getting dressed easier but also eases anxiety! I like the idea of working in threes, I am going to try that as a new strategy for myself.
    I have also incorporated a rule for my wardrobe …when I buy something new, I make myself sell or donate a similar item in my closet. Another point you made and that I think is really important is to regularly take clothing that is damaged, doesn’t fit right or needs hemming etc. to a good tailor or seamstress and fix it! If you don’t want to spend the time or money doing this, donate! Thanks again for a great post! Cathy