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Friday, January 25, 2013

Back to the Closet

'I like my money where I can see it... hanging in my closet." ~ Sarah Jessica Parker

In a perfect world we would all have the perfect closet. Maybe like Lawrence Harvey and wife in Butterfield 8.  It's a walk in, larger than my bedroom, is painted robins' egg blue, and has built-in, robins' egg blue shelves and drawers. It looks so orderly and neat that it gives the impression that they don't have a whole lot of clothes. But that's an illusion- in order to fill a closet that size, they'd both have to have substantial wardrobes. 

This was the only photo I could find of said closet...
I've never had a closet like this, and have no reason to think I ever will. Oh, well.

The closet in my last apartment was truly horrifying- it was not very big, and the shape was just all wrong.  It had a low ceiling, was several feet deep, and I had to go up a step to get into it. Oh- and it had no lighting. At all. And the doors…little, and completely in the way. I think I lived there a year and a half yet never figured out how to deal with it. I just wore the 10% of my clothes that I could see and get to. 

So maybe you live in a crappy little apartment or house built before clothes were mass produced and people only had 7 days worth of clothing. Or maybe the builder was psychotic and felt clothing was somehow evil and shouldn't be encouraged. Who knows- but the end result is you've got a nightmare for a closet.  Perhaps you rent and can't make any real changes; maybe you own but remodeling isn't in the budget for a few years. Either way you need to make peace with your less-than-ideal closet and find ways to make it work for you like it should.

There are some closet/wardrobe situations so bad, so unworkable, that in order to make full use of your clothing I think the only way to go is cataloging your wardrobe. Even if you have a decent closet, but just too much to fit in it, this is a good option; in that case, hang what you can, and neatly fold away the overflow in containers. In many situations you don't have room to organize things so they can all be seen. If you can't see what you've got you can't plan your clothing for the next day let alone the next week without missing lots of opportunities. So, have a system for storing everything neatly out of sight- and a way to see all of what you've got- such as a cataloging system. I know it's a lot of work to create this system, but if your options are to have everything all over the place in a chaotic mess or stored away neatly then which is the better choice? Which will take more time and cost more for upkeep in the end?

One option is to have everything listed individually on file cards in a box, or maybe a photo album, subcategorized by type of garment. You'll want each card to have a photo of the item, and where it's stored. Include sections for scarves, shoes, jewelry- anything that you have to store neatly out of sight. Obviously you don't have to catalogue what's in sight, but if you do, you can quickly assemble an outfit for the next day, or even the entire week without ever reaching into a closet or dresser; just pull out your file box or photo album and pull out the appropriate cards. 

Another easier option is to just photograph the individual items, and attach the photo to the front of the container it's stored in. This works if you have easy access to the storage containers, and you don't mind having the pictures on the front. 

You get the idea. There are probably limitless ways to go about organizing your closet. Of course the  best way is to be honest with yourself about your organizational skills and what your specific needs are, and create a customized system that will make your life easier. And guarantee that you'll make the most of what you've got. Be willing to change your methods if they're not working, too- the whole point of getting organized is to make things easier for yourself.

Happy Dressing!