If there’s one thing to dread about spring (besides maybe allergies), it’s cleaning out your closet.
“The closet is the most daunting space to organize,” says Mary Astadourian, founder of Details Organizing, a celebrity-favorite service service for getting your space in shape. “It holds your most personal possessions and items you have invested a lot of money in.”
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. Mary and Jennifer Dynof, a partner in the business and her best friend of over 20 years, are not only professional organizers, but they are self-proclaimed owners of “very small” closets. We caught up with them to find out how to transform an overflowing, unruly closet into tidy, impeccable space.
1. Go slowly
Resist the urge to tear apart your closet from the outset–it will only make things worse. “The best thing is to take baby steps,” Mary says. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so you have to take the smallest of challenges and tackle it. You need a success to keep you going.”
2. Remove everything
If you think that your closet would be organized if only it was bigger, you’re wrong. “It’s a universal problem,” Jennifer says. “No matter how big your closet is, there’s never enough room. So when you’re tackling your closet, take everything out of your closet and do a proper purge.”
3. Use the buddy system
In certain situations, working as a team is safer. Cleaning out your closet is one such example. “Never purge alone,” Mary says. “Invite a friend over to serve as the voice of reason.” Your friend can benefit from this arrangement, too. “You can also give them items that they love but that no longer work for you.”
4. Think about timing
You might think that you should do an edit of your spring and summer clothes at the end of winter, before the season begins, but that’s actually the worst time. “Purge after the season,” Jennifer says. By then, you’ll know what you did and did not wear, and you won’t be left with nothing to wear as a result of some overzealous pre-season purging.
5. Keep what you love
An oft-cited rule of thumb is that you should get rid of items that you haven’t worn in a year, but that seems a little harsh. After all, you might not have a reason to wear certain items, like an evening gown, every year, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still love it and plan to wear it in the future. You don’t have to toss an item you still love, but if you don’t plan on wearing it soon, “get it out of the prime real estate” in your closet, Jennifer says. “Make three piles: keep, donate, and save (elsewhere),” Mary says. “What goes back in your closet is what you plan to wear.”
6. Maximize space and utility
Once you’ve figured out which items have made the cut, rethink the structure of your space. “Use all the vertical space in a closet,” Jennifer says, which could mean adding extra shelves or hanging bars. “Set yourself up for success. Color coordinate from light to dark, and when you take something off a hanger, put the empty hanger back in the same space.” And to keep things looking as neat as possible, Mary recommends avoiding glass-front drawers or stacking folded clothes over five items high.