Overstuffed ClosetDo you have an overstuffed closet?  I have seen every type of closet you can possibly imagine, from the neat as a pin organized to the chaotic disaster zone and everything in-between.  Each client’s closet has its own share of challenges and positive aspects.  Believe it or not, one of the more challenging closets to clean out is the closet that has an overstuffed closet, all of which is pretty good. This may seem surprising that a closet overloaded with decent things is a challenge but too much of a good thing can be just as detrimental as a closet that doesn’t have enough.   So, how do you clean out an overstuffed closet?

I often use the analogy of a menu.  Imagine going to a restaurant where a menu is placed in front of you containing a few appetizers, a few entrees and a few desserts to choose from.  It’s easy to narrow down the selection and make a decision.  Now imagine a menu that is similar to a diner menu that is filled with pages and pages of choices.  With all the choices, it can get overwhelming to make a decision.  The same is true in an overloaded closet full of choices and why sometimes too many options can be a challenge. If you aren’t sure if your closet has gotten out of control with an overwhelming I’m going to offer you some suggestions to consider:

  • If you have pulled out things from your closet and said, “Wow, I forgot I had this piece” too often, you have gone overboard
  • If you have a ton of the same thing (like ten white T-shirts or five pairs of black pants) you have gone overboard
  • If you have a decent sized closet space but have found that you have started storing your in-season clothes in other spaces of your home like the kitchen pantry, your children’s closet, under the bed and in any other available space in your home, you have gone overboard.  Note that this means current season clothing that you are wearing.  Storing off season clothing in other areas of your home is fine but if you if you are running around your home searching all over the place just to put one outfit together, then yes, you have gone overboard.
  • If you open your closet and find yourself seriously digging and rummaging to find something then you have gone overboard.  Nobody should feel like they have to dig for a shirt like they are searching for buried treasure.
  • If you can estimate that you wear 20% of what you currently own then you have gone overboard.
  • If opening your closet overwhelms you, then you have gone overboard.

Solutions For Paring Down an Overstuffed Closet 

overstuffed closet of decent things that you love but the shear amount is clearly overwhelming you how do you edit?  After all it is much easier to part with things when you know that something doesn’t work.  If it is all good then how can you decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t? The first thing that you have to do is get honest with yourself.  Is it all really working?  When was the last time you even checked?  No matter how nice a client’s wardrobe is, there are always pieces that are so old or dated that even if they were decent at one time they have been in the closet way past their expiration date.  In addition, some of the pieces in there a client may love to look at because the fabric is nice, the print is pretty or it has a nice detail that they like, but what is most important is that the clothing that they own isn’t just pretty to look at, it is more important that it fits you well and is a viable piece that fits your lifestyle.

If you have your “go to” pieces then move on

overstuffed closet

Pare down your wardrobe by avoiding duplication

The next thing that I suggest for an overstuffed closet with great things is looking for is duplication.  If you have several pieces in your closet that fits the same category then try editing down.  For example, if you own one or two pairs of shoes in your closet that you always find yourself slipping on to run quick errands or wear to run around town, you don’t really need anymore?  If you have more than what you need and your “go to” pieces are covered in a category then you are done.  Don’t continue to load up in areas that you already consider yourself covered.  Be honest with yourself, a lot of times we continue to add because we find something in the store that we think we must have because we like it.  If you find a piece like this and you can identify that you are already covered in this area, but you simply must buy it, then promise yourself that you will get rid of one of the “go to” pieces that currently exist in your wardrobe.


Realistically look at your life

Take some time to really look at your life and figure out the percentage that you spend living each part.  I recently met up with a new client who laid out her life for me clearly and succinctly.  She separated her life into categories: the mom part of her life, the social part that included kids or going out with girlfriends or her husband, her part time job and the more social side of her life which included dressing up.  She figured the percentage that she spent doing each.  It was wonderful to work with her because zeroing in on the areas of your life along with the percentage that you spend doing each part can really help you create a balanced wardrobe. If you are someone who spends most of your week in a work environment that doesn’t allow jeans to be worn and you only find that you wear jeans on the weekend, do you really need five pairs?  It would be my guess that no more than three would be sufficient, each pair filling a specific and different need.  Perhaps one pair for ultra casual that you don’t mind getting soiled, a nicer casual pair and maybe a dressier, going out pair that isn’t as worn. If you are someone with an overstuffed closet, before you edit it down, take some time to really look at the areas of your life and the percentage that you spend doing each.  Now look at your wardrobe and honestly ask yourself if the percentage of clothing that you have for each category is equal to your actual life.

I don’t even know where to begin with my overstuffed closet

Overstuffed closet

Working with clients whose closets are completely overloaded can be a long, tiring and overwhelming experience.  The longest closet edit I ever did was eight hours and that was only one closet.  She still had another one which we did at a later date and the second closet took just as much time.  Sixteen hours to clean two closets of clothing. After these types of sessions, I am tired, my client is tired however we are both equally satisfied with the end result.  Finally my client has space between the pieces on the hangers, she feels lighter and more in control when she opens the space.  Clearly the positives out weigh the negatives of the task itself but getting up the energy and finding the time to actually do it can be tough.  If every time you open your closet and you are overwhelmed the last thing you want to do is actually go in there and really clear it out. Many of the clients who have an overstuffed closet space hire me is to simply stay on task and also ensure them that if they are going to rid themselves of something, they are making the right decision.

The advice I give to most of my clients before a major closet overhaul is that the time we spend in the closet is time that they can devote to the project, that they keep the plans for the evening on the lighter side and also be prepared to not only be physically drained but possibly emotionally drained as well. If utilizing my services for your closet edit isn’t a possibility, here are some questions you can ask yourself during your next big closet purge. Grab each piece and ask yourself the following:

  • Why do I keep this piece in my wardrobe?
  • Do I wear it or do I keep it simply because I think it looks pretty and/or because it has sentimental value?
  • When was the last time I wore it?

If you haven’t worn it ask yourself if you already have a “go to” piece in your closet that does the job that this seldom-worn item does. Try the piece on and really look at yourself in it.  Many women with overloaded closets haven’t cleaned their closets in years, which is how they got into this predicament in the first place.  Because it has been a while many of the pieces are dated.  You have enough stuff in your wardrobe, if you really don’t like the way you look, let it go.

How to stop an overstuffed closet from happening again

So you have cleaned out the closet and you feel great, but how do you stop this from happening in the future?  Cleaning out is one thing, but changing your ways is another.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Implement the input output rule which means that for every item you do buy in one category (like sneakers, jeans, shoes, t-shirts) you must get rid of an item in your wardrobe that you already own in that same category.
  • Avoid duplication.  When contemplating the purchase of something new ask yourself, seriously, if you are covered in this area.  Start by asking yourself where you see yourself wearing the piece you are considering buying and then ask yourself if you already own enough to cover this area of your life
  • Avoid buying things just because they are pretty.  You must be able to come up with places you will wear the piece you want to buy, what you will wear this new piece with and if it really, really fits your lifestyle.  If you life revolves around being on your feet all day then how many pairs of heels do you really need?  Sure every woman is a sucker for a sexy heel but if heels don’t work in your life you don’t need a ton of pairs.