The Closet Makeover - 5 Steps to Make It Fresh, Attractive, and Useful

There are a few sure signs that you need to declutter your closet:

  • You can't find what you need.
  • It's full of clothes you no longer wear.
  • Your clothes are so packed together they wrinkle.

Even if you're not quite to this point, there are other times when anyone's closet can benefit from pruning and updating:

  • The seasons are changing.
  • You're getting ready to move.
  • Your lifestyle is changing – you're going back to work or starting a new career, retiring, having a baby, etc.

favorite jeans

5 steps to a curated closet

1.  Gather your tools.

Start with a donation box, a garbage bag, and a box for items that need to be cleaned or repaired.  A full-length mirror will let you assess items as you decide what to keep and what to toss.  You'll also need a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner, a rag or two, a broom, and the vacuum cleaner or mop.

2.  Empty and clean your closet.

This will be eye-opening, because you're going to discover exactly how many clothes you own.  You may discover things you forgot you had!  Remove everything, including hangers, baskets, bins, and anything else on the floor or shelves.

You need a clean, clear space, so first use a broom to brush off the walls and knock down any cobwebs.  Spray on cleaner and wipe down shelves, hanging rods, and baseboards.  Don't forget to clean storage containers you removed.  Finally, run the vacuum or sweep and mop the floor.

3.  Declutter your clothes, shoes, and accessories.

This is the step that you have either been looking forward to or dreading.  Don't be afraid!  Focus on choosing what to keep, rather than on the things you discard.

Your closet is a finite space, so you want to choose wisely and fill it with items that will serve you well.  Ask the following questions about each item:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it fit?
  • Does it project the image I want to portray?

These four questions are equally important.  You may love a piece of clothing that you don't want to wear in front of other people.  Maybe it doesn't fit well anymore, or it doesn't suit your current age and lifestyle.  It's time to be completely honest.  If necessary, ask a friend to tell you when something is wrong for you.

If you answer yes to all four questions, the item is almost certainly one you want to keep.  Ask three more questions as appropriate:

  • Does it itch, scratch, give me a rash, or otherwise make me uncomfortable?
  • Is it stained, smelly, or otherwise damaged?  Can it be restored with cleaning or repair?
  • Does it pinch my toes or give me blisters?  Are the heels too high to walk in?

Your answers should weed out any questionable items.  And never fear – there are many ways to responsibly get rid of clothes you don't want to keep.

4.  Organize your clothes, shoes, and accessories.

As you prepare to return your keepers to the closet, remember that your goal isn't just a temporary fix.  You want your closet to remain organized and 100% useful.  Imagine being able to open the door and select an outfit with pleasure and confidence.

  • Separate items by season so that you can hang pieces you might wear today toward the front of the closet, putting out of season clothing toward the back or at the far end.
  • Reserve the front and center of your closet for clothes you wear most often.  If you get dressed for work at 6:00 every morning, keep those clothes easily accessible.  Lesser-worn items like formal wear should be stored further out of reach.
  • Group like with like to simplify the search for what you want.  Keep trousers, skirts, dresses, button-down shirts, etc. together, perhaps organized by color as well as item type.
  • Organize shoes and accessories using the same guidelines.  Separate by season, type, and color, and give prime real estate to current and most-used items.  Don't stick your favorite shoes on a high shelf or in a dark corner.
  • Get creative with storage instead of running out to purchase an entire closet "system."  A small bookcase is great for storing shoes and handbags, a chest of drawers can hold folded jeans, tee shirts, and sweaters, a row of hooks can accommodate belts or necklaces, and a clear over-the-door shoe bag could store rolled tights, socks, or ties.

5.  Make your closet appealing.

At attractive closet will inspire you to keep it that way.  In fact, the more often you neaten your closet, the sooner it will become a habit and the more you'll enjoy the space.  Here are some other ways to increase the charm:

  • Invest in quality matching hangers if yours are a cheap hodgepodge of wire and plastic.  Wooden suit hangers look classy and will last for years.
  • Keep storage solutions neutral.  A closet can appear jumbled simply because it holds so many different items, so do what you can to increase the sense of order.  If you add a bookcase or small chest of drawers, consider painting it to match the walls.  If you use bins to store gym clothes or off-season items, choose matching opaque units with labels.
  • Think of your closet as a boutique where you can "shop" for outfits.  If you have room, hang a pin board to display flat lay photos of your favorite outfits for work or special occasions.  As you rotate your clothing with the seasons or acquire new pieces, change what's on the board.  Continue to inspire yourself.
  • Make getting dressed and putting away clothes a more pleasant experience.  Add lavender sachets or cedar blocks to scent your clothes and repel moths.  Upgrade the light fixture; hang a new mirror or a favorite piece of art.  Make your closet look like a dressing room.
  • Make it a habit to rehang clothes or put them in the hamper as soon as you remove them.  This will keep re-wearable clothing fresher and wrinkle-free, and your bedroom tidier and more peaceful.

If you clean, declutter, and organize your closet as you rotate your clothing for the new season, each iteration will become quicker and easier.  Your closet will never again be a breeding ground for clutter.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Updated June 2023


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