Hot pink French doors opening up to a dressing room of limitless space for clothing, shoes and accessories on racks movable by the simple touch of a button – sounds like a dream, right?
This is the expectation of what some of us had about what our “grown-up” wardrobes would be – like the Barbie Dreamhouse closet we lusted after – yet, as we grew up, our dreams were crushed by a lack of time, space, organization and imagination.
The daydream of a clothing sanctuary morphed into a nightmare of a dark, dingy place worthy of cowering beneath the covers from.
Well, no need to fear. As a result of the hard work of a handful of experts – professional organizers, closet designers and personal stylists – your lackluster, jam-packed disaster area can be remodeled into the boudoir you have only dreamt of.
“It’s how you start and how you end your day,” Polly Lestikow, president of the Colorado branch of Closet Factory, said. “We try to encourage people to think of their closet not just as a place for hanging clothes, but as a dressing room.”
While a closet is the one place that fuses together interiors with fashion, it is one of the most neglected spaces.
“It’s an investment though,” said Sheryl Hadley, owner of local professional organizing firm Organization & Relocation and President of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “It’s not necessarily an expense. It’s an investment in your future, your happiness, your productivity. It adds value to your home.”
With the New Year underway, there is no better time than the present to confront the “monsters” in your closet.
STEP ONE – PURGE
Before you hyperventilate due to separation anxiety, realize purging your closet does not mean bidding goodbye; the answer could be as painless as relocating items, so breathe and carry on!
The first line of business, Hadley said, is sorting: by season, color and/or formality of attire. Next, group like items with like. Then, mentally tick off the following checklist:
- Does it look good on me?
- Does it fit?
- Do I love it?
- Will I wear it?
There are many reasons we hoard garments we never subconsciously intend to wear: sentimental value, a weight loss goal, and believing past trends will regain popularity.
There is a cure for each of these fashion ailments.
THE ‘GRANDMOTHER’ CLAUSE
We attach sentimental value to garments just like anything else. It could be a passé sweater our grandmother knitted us years ago, a gift given to us by a significant other we do not want to disappoint, or that yearly present from the in-laws that we hide and bring out once a year.
To wear and treasure the piece is one thing, Hadley said, but, if it collects dust, store it anywhere but the closet.
THE ‘SKINNY JEANS’ CLAUSE
For some, the downfall is the question of what could be.
“Having to stare at jeans you fit into five years ago kills the inspiration,” Liz Finkelstein, owner of boutique consulting business Mile High Style, said.
By holding onto multiple sizes, you set yourself up for discontentment – with your wardrobe and yourself.
THE ‘RETURN OF THE TREND’ CLAUSE
‘What goes around comes around,’ but no trend returns as a carbon copy.
“I don’t make any hard and fast rules about anything because style is all about flexibility and creativity and thinking outside of the box, but it’s probably safe to assume the square-toed shoes of the 90s won’t be making a comeback,” Finkelstein said.
Trends evolve. This means it is high time to let go of outmoded fashions, unless of course it is “vintage,” which is considered the eras before the 80s (sorry, stirrup pants).
As far as the Golden Rule – discarding a garment after six months of no wear – make it a personal preference.
As Finkelstein said, do not allow making over your closet, “a very vulnerable thing,” to be painful: “The point of organizing and editing your closet is to make the process of deciding ‘what to wear’ as easy, inspirational and creatively free-flowing as possible.”
STEP TWO – DONATE
Before you pitch the cast-offs, think again. If not for sustainablility, think of the personal benefit of consignment.
According to Finkelstein, if the garments are name-brand and in mint condition, consign to make a return on investment (or pay for a new closet!).
Otherwise, donate unwanted items to a cause. Instead of dumping them in one spot, do the legwork and find specific non-profits that will benefit the most, like Dress for Success, a not-for-profit that provides professional attire for disadvantaged women.
For those hard-to-sell pieces, like furs, Finkelstein recommended contacting a stylist to act as a liaison to find garments a new home.
Think about nontraditional ways to grant your old wares a second life. Throw a clothing swap, return your items via designer take-back programs, hold a rummage sale, or make use of Pinterest and begin a repurposing project.
STEP THREE – BEAUTIFY
“The closet needs to be a beautiful room just like any other – some place you feel positively about and want to spend time in.” – Liz Finkelstein, Mile High Style
For homeowners, the local branch of Closet Factory provides beautiful, custom closets with a touch of panache to overcome closet impediments like closet shape, closet size or sharing with a significant other.
Serving Colorado since 1991, Closet Factory creates one-of-a-kind spaces, including modular, adjustable closets to fit your budget and style. They even count shoes!
Closet Factory constructs for a range of budgets: anywhere from $300 to $30,000.
For renters, all is not lost. Although you may not be able to paint without enraging your landlord, the space can still be beautified.
Onward to the Container Store! This is where renters can discover elfa, a temporary modular closet system.
To further glamorize a closet add softer lighting (like a pendant with crystals), invest in quality matching hangers, add a candle, and paint walls.
Inspire the space by hanging a real life Pinterest inspiration board of street fashion. The closet can also be a storehouse for sentimental items; craft a closet that makes you smile!
STEP FOUR – ORGANIZE
If you are cringing about organization, you may want to hire a professional organizer like Hadley and her crew to do the nitty gritty work.
But, to DIY it, here are the professionals’ tips to organizational bliss:
1. FASHION ONLY
Archival T-shirts, workout gear, bumming around clothes, according to Finkelstein, have no place in the closet.
“Especially in Colorado people wear their workout gear; they wear their Lululemon, and that’s fine, but do not put it next to a $300 cashmere sweater,” she said. “Only fashion hangs in the closet.”
2. LABEL EVERYTHING
A label maker is your new best friend. If you do not want to invest, use sticky notes instead to label categories.
For shoes, use your Smartphone or Polaroid to snap shots of each pair to tape outside shoeboxes.
“Those little small details go such a long way … those are the little things that enhance your flow and remind you that you love your clothes,” Hadley said.
3. DIVIDE & CONQUER
Even if there is enough room for off-season clothing in a closet, find a separate space to store it.
4. BE RESOURCEFUL
Repurpose odds and ends around the house as something useful in the closet. Use a glass for pens, a decorative bowl for change or antique doorknobs to hang necklaces.
5. BE CONSISTENT
While the first closet overhaul might feel like a long-distance race, if you are consistent with how often you go through your wardrobe, the upkeep will be more akin to a sprint.
Whether revamping a closet once a year or, for the organizationally challenged among us, once a week, set a schedule.
For more information on fashioning a dream closet call in the professionals:
Sheryl Hadley, Organization & Relocation, 303.448.9966
CUSTOM CLOSET DESIGN
Polly Lestikow, Closet Factory, 303.690.6901
BOUTIQUE CONSULTING BUSINESS
Liz Finkelstein, Mile High Style, 303.919.1671