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Organised By Mel: How To Purge And Organise Your Closet More Effectively

Organised Closet of shirts
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A simple plan to take back the closet.

If I gave you 20 seconds to find a specific item in your closet, could you find it? Whether you answered yes or no doesn’t matter to me, and I will never judge you. I’m here to help. An organised closet looks great.  Plus, you can enjoy your clothes again. And because we in HK have such tight spaces to deal with, here are a few methods I use as a professional organiser to help my clients get the most out of their small closets.

Editor’s note: if you have a problem that needs some organisational help, email [email protected] and we’ll try and have Melinda solve it!

Step One – The Sort

Sort all of your hanging clothes by kind and colour.  Put like things together. Put all your T-shirts together by colour. Move on to pants by colour, then dresses, jackets, skirts, etc.  By doing this, you’re actually organising your closet as you prepare to purge.  Sorting like this shows you exactly what you have.

While you’re sorting, don’t get stuck on items you think you may or may not want to donate.  Remove those items from the hangers, and if there is any hesitation, keep moving.

Organised by Mel - before

Step Two – The Purge

It’s decision time but don’t fret – we have a plan. Purging your closet makes you feel like you are releasing things that are holding you back or at least making your closet overcrowded and messy. To start, get three large trash bags (or, if you can be eco-friendly, cardboard boxes).  Use a marker on masking tape and mark each as follows:

Trash: Items that are so worn out they would be embarrassing to donate. (Tip: use old T-shirts for cleaning rags so less goes in the landfill!)
Donate: Items that someone else could use.  Donate to a charity that helps abused women or women re-entering the workplace. (Find a list of donation organisations in HK here)
Other: High value items to sell online or on consignment.  Items to give to your family and friends. Give yourself a short window. If no one buys within in a few weeks, time to donate. See Purging Tips and Clothing Swap Party below.

Time to choose.  Here are some easy ways to make decisions one item at a time:

Good Black vs. Bad Black
When good black turns bad. Bad black is the results of hundreds of washes and wears (or, more accurately in HK, just a few washes and wears!). Bad black doesn’t match good black anymore. Bad black goes in the donate or trash pile. No bad black.

Holes and Stains
Be honest. Are you are going to be self-conscious that people are seeing the little hole in your sweater?  If it can’t be repaired, pick a pile. Stains are annoying.  If you’ve done everything you can do to get a stain out and it’s still there, pick a pile.

Seeing double? That’s because you keep buying the same thing over and over again. Choose your favourites and pitch the others.

Too Small, Too Big, Just Not Right
Is it too tight or too big or doesn’t fit you well? Even if you love it, take a picture and pick a pile. If it hasn’t been worn in a year, there is a reason.  (See the tips at the end of this article to keep track of which clothes you are or are not wearing)

Alterations and Dry Cleaning
Get a hamper or special bag to collect dry cleaning and alterations.  Make sure you take these in once the bag is full.

Read more: Style Edit: Wardrobe Editing and Fashion Consultancy With Make My Wardrobe Work

Step Three – Remove

Once you are done filling each bag, take action within a week of organising your closet  so these clothes don’t become clutter or find their way back into your closet.

Organised by Mel after two

Step Four – Finishing Touches and Maintenance

This is the last step – and it’s exciting! Replace all of your hangers with slim line velvet hangers. I prefer black, but whatever you do, only choose one colour. I promise, your closet will look like a boutique. You can decide where to put each section depending on the layout if your closet, but remember, we don’t want items dragging on the floor, so choose to put pants and short skirts on the lower rods, dresses on higher ones.  Unobscured room under your clothes is a great place for low shoe racks.

Now that you’ve worked so hard to make it perfect, you need to maintain it.  Keep my voice in your head: “Like things go together.” After doing the laundry or bringing home dry cleaning, switch out the hangers and neatly hang items in their new section in your closet.

Your closet should look amazing!  Now that you know what to do, this process can be used on the clothes in your drawers, your shoes and with all your accessories.  Remember, the more you purge, the better a small closet is going to function and look.

Invite a friend you trust over to help you.  Afterwards, you can do her closet!

Organised by Mel after one

Purging tip: Try this. Hang all your clothes with the hangers backwards.  As the year goes on, as you wear items, rehang them facing forward.  At the end of the year, you will see all the items you haven’t touched in 365 days.  You know what to do – pick a pile.

Clothes swap: Have a clothes swap party with your friends. Invite six to 10 friends over and have them bring clothes they have purged from their closets using our technique. Pile everything in the centre of the room.  Select an MC who will display each item.  If one person is interested, they get the item. If two are interested, it goes to the one it looks best on. If more than two want it, place it aside and wait until the end and see what everyone one ends up with, and then decide fairly.

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