Organizing Your Wardrobe at Home

By Jill Bremer, AICI, CIP

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of your closet just staring at your clothes? You see hanging before you a few items you love next to many that-

  • Look out-of-date?
  • Need mending?
  • Don’t coordinate with anything?
  • Don’t fit your lifestyle?
  • Make you look fat?

If you feel like you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, you’re not alone. The garments hanging in your closet represent an investment of several thousand dollars. But studies have shown that only twenty-percent of an individual’s wardrobe is purchased wisely; eighty- to ninety-percent of a closet represents a waste of money.

Pulling together a wardrobe that works can be daunting. And that is precisely one of the reasons Image Consultants were created – to help men and women build wardrobes that are flattering, affordable and effective. One of my favorite services as an image consultant is in-home wardrobe planning. I travel to clients’ homes, review and analyze the clothes they currently own and make recommendations for future purchases.

A closet audit is only one piece of the wardrobe puzzle, though. Coloring, body type, personal style and lifestyle must also be taken into consideration. But certainly the chore people dislike most is cleaning out their clothes. Wardrobes should be assessed, thinned out and reorganized twice a year. Here are the steps to accomplish this dreaded task.


Set aside several hours for your wardrobe assessment. Send your spouse to a movie and banish all pets. Make sure you have adequate lighting in the room; bring in additional lamps, if needed. You will also need a full-length mirror. You’ll be trying on all of your clothes, so wear suitable undergarments.


Empty everything out of your closet and drawers. Stack all of your clothing and accessories around the room in piles according to the type of garment: jackets, skirts, pants, ties, sweaters, scarves, etc.


Move from pile to pile and try everything on, even the items you love and wear regularly. Take a long look in a full-length mirror at each item on your body. Honestly assess:

  • Color – does it flatter your coloring?
  • Style – does it enhance your assets and camouflage your challenges?
  • Lifestyle – is it appropriate for some aspect of your life?
  • Style Expression – does the design, silhouette, fabric and pattern appeal to you?

As you try on the clothes you wear regularly, determine what it is you love about them. Is it the color? The style? Make a note of what makes this garment work so well for you. Your goal is to duplicate those features in all of your clothes. You should feel attractive and comfortable in everything you put on your body. Don’t settle for anything less than feeling terrific! If the item doesn’t work for you anymore, get rid of it!

TIP: If you have an emotional or sentimental attachment to garments you should get rid of, box them up but don’t give them away just yet. Store the box under a bed or in the attic for a while. In six months, you won’t be able to recall what’s inside the box. You’ll then be psychologically ready to part with the items.


After trying on each item, place it in one of four new piles. Things you love, wear regularly, feel comfortable in. Older clothing that just needs a little “pizzazz.” Items to be given or thrown away. Mending (and get it done!).


As you try on your clothes, start a shopping list of what you need to purchase. And take a good look at the items you’re getting rid of. Does this collection shed any light on your shopping patterns? Does it contain too many impulse items or similar types of garments? For instance, do you buy more white blouses than you need? Do you have a stack of ties that don’t coordinate with any of your suits?


Try new combinations of clothing pieces: tops with skirts, jackets with pants, etc. Don’t rule anything out until you try it. You may discover many new ensembles you never knew you had. Be sure to include accessories as you experiment.


Put everything back into your closet and drawers. Hang similar items together – blouses together, pants together, jackets together, etc. Unlike men, women have the luxury of breaking their suits up and wearing each piece as a separate. So I suggest they hang suit skirts with their other skirts and suit jackets with other jackets and blazers. By hanging them up as separates, they will start to see them as independent pieces and new clothing combinations will be easier to spot.

TIP: Use quality hangers in your closet. Hang jackets on shaped wooden hangers. Use clip hangers to hang pants straight, don’t fold pants in half over a hanger.

TIP: When you take off your wool suits at the end of the day, let them hang out overnight before placing back in your closet. This step will help them shed wrinkles, moisture, and odors and regain their shape.


The last step is to prioritize your shopping list into your “List of Five”. Choose the top five items you need most, write them down and keep the “List” with you at all times. When you shop, look only for those five items. If you see something else you like, don’t buy it; just add it to the main list. The “List of Five” will keep you focused when shopping and away from impulse purchases. As you buy something on the “List of Five”, move an item up from the main list to take its place. The impulse item you fell in love with at the store may eventually make it to your “List of Five”. If it doesn’t, you didn’t need it in the first place!

Following these simple steps will help you pare down your wardrobe to the pieces that really work for you. Don’t fret if your closet suddenly looks a bit empty. Think quality, not quantity. Use your prioritized “List of Five” to gradually add more pieces. It took me two years of pruning to do it, but I now have a closet full of clothes I love. The colors and styles are flattering, each piece coordinates with two or three others and I can get dressed in five minutes for any occasion. Conduct your wardrobe audits twice a year and, before you know it, your closet will be your favorite room in the house!

© 2004 Jill Bremer All Rights Reserved