My New Favorite Outfit: Utilizing Your Closet: Use It or Lose It

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Utilizing Your Closet: Use It or Lose It

Finishing my Wardrobe Essentials series made me think utilizing what I have, as well as about doing a little bit of closet cleaning. This can be a daunting, but necessary task.  Once you begin to add some essential pieces to your wardrobe, it probably means you'll need to eliminate some other pieces. Today I thought I'd share some tips on for how to best utilize your closest, as well as how to determine if it's time to let a piece of clothing go.

Rotate Your Clothes- I have my closet divided into types: tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, cardigans, sweaters, and blazers are on the top bar, then, I have skirts, jeans, and dress pants down below.  I also have a separate bar for dresses.

I organize my sweaters, cardigans, and blazers by color, and pull out these layering pieces as needed. I also pull out jeans and dress pants as needed too. I know a lot of people like organize their whole closet by color, but I organize everything else in my closet differently.  Once I have washed and ironed a piece, I put it in the back of that type of shirt/skirt/dress, and don't let myself wear it again until it rotates toward the front.  This forces me to think about wearing different pieces, and if I really don't want to wear what's in front of that section, I probably need to donate it. *If there's an outfit I really want to wear, I break this rule, but in generally I try to follow it. It keeps me from wanting to wear the same five pieces all the time.

Make Everything Easily Accessible- if I can't see it, I won't wear it. For that reason I went to Target and found a inexpensive tie hanger which I use to display my belts and scarves. Here's the hanger I got, and it makes displaying them easy.

The same thing goes for jewelry, I have a tray for my bracelets and  a rack I'm able to hang my necklaces from too. I have a traditional jewelry box for my diamond pendents, etc, but find if I can't see my jewelry easily, I'll forget I have it and won't wear it.

Have A Space For Planned Outfits- If I don't think about outfits ahead of time I end up wearing my "teacher uniform," i.e. dress pants, a blouse, and a cardigan.  Now, there's nothing wrong with it, but it gets boring fast!  Take some time on the weekends to think about what you'd like to wear ahead of time and try the outfits on.  I option see things on Pinterest I want to wear too, I set those pieces aside right away, so I remember it's an outfit I want to try. Planning ahead is essential to feeling great in your clothes each day.

Separate Clothes By Season- When we built our house we added a third bar above in our closet.  I move everything that is out of season up to the third bar (using a ladder, it's pretty high up), so that it doesn't take up unnecessary space when I won't wear it.  The second it starts to warm up my sweaters and dress pants make the move up and it just makes seeing what I have so much easier. The same thing goes for shorts and summery tanks, they go up once fall hits, as I won't wear them all winter.  I know this isn't an option for everyone, but maybe you have a hall closet or kid's room with some extra space, think about storing out of season pieces there.

Flip Your Hangers Around- The idea is that at the start of the season you start your hangers with the hook facing out, instead of in. Then, as you wear something you put it back with the hanger facing the correct way.  At the end of the season the pieces that still have the hangers facing the wrong way are the pieces that need to be donated. I love this idea, and also think it makes you think about wearing more pieces in your closet too.

Try Everything On- This summer as I was getting ready for school to start I got my dress pants out, as they were put away for the summer. I took one afternoon and tried them all on again.....then looked at them from all angles. Yikes. What I found was, most were too big through the thighs or a style I no longer liked. I think I had about 15 pair of capris and cropped pants, all of which hit in the worst place (mid calf). These were definitely a popular trend for nearly a decade, but that decade is over. They needed to go.  What I didn't realize before blogging was how I looked in clothes, I know, that sounds so silly, right? I'm pretty averaged sized, but if I'm wearing a piece that's unstructured or too big it just makes me look bigger. I believe this is true for all of us. Not sure about a piece, take a quick selfie in the mirror and that will give you a better idea if the piece is flattering on you or not.

If It Doesn't Fit, It Needs To Go- Seriously. I think we've determined that if it's too big, it just makes you look bigger, the same things goes if the piece is too small. The piece of clothing might be great, but if doesn't fit, it's taking up valuable room in your closet and distracting you from other good pieces you have to wear.  Let someone else enjoy it!

If You're Not Sure If It's In Style, It's Probably Not- Think about the people you consider fashionable, have you seen them wear a similar piece? This advise is from my blogging friend Lauren.  I think it's such a great way to think about it. Also, do you see similar pieces pinned on Pinterest? If the answer is no to either of these questions it's probably time to let the piece go. It's true that pieces will eventually come back into style, but their is usually something that will be different from the first time around. Don't hold onto a piece hoping it will be cool again. Trust me, I held onto a pair of capri overalls for nearly a decade. Even if they did come back into style I am not the same size as I was at 20, therefore they needed to go.

Stains, Tears, and Pilling...Just Let These Pieces Go- I've been there, it's your favorite shirt/sweater/dress but the quickest way to look classless is so wear worn out clothes. I like to wash pieces inside out to try to increase their longevity, but once they quit looking nice, into the garbage they one at Goodwill will want them either.

End of Season=Time to Sell or Donate- if you've gone through a season without wearing something, it's probably realistic that you won't wear it next season either. It's a good idea to sell pieces in like-new condition on outlets like eBay to get the most bang for your buck, but places like Plato's Closet are a great options too. I take my pieces there, then whatever they don't buy gets donated on the way home.

Host A Clothing Swap- Get together a group of girlfriends or coworkers and set up your living room like a clothing store. Give friend an opportunity to drop pieces off, get it organized, then have a Friday night open house to shop and have girl time. I've participated in this and it's a blast. My church hosts an annual clothing swap too, if you attend church talk to your pastor to women's pastor about getting this organized too. Here are some great tips for a successful clothing swap.

Getting dressed each day should be fun, if you know how to utilize your closet, it can help to make you look your best each day!


  1. I like the idea of rotating your clothes to force you to go through them all. I need to make a space for planned outfits, too. Great ideas Ginny!

  2. These are really great suggestions and overall a well thought-out, well-organized post. I like the point about considering whether your fashion icon would wear a piece or not. Sometimes I even ask myself whether *I* would like it and buy it if I saw in store today and that can be enough to help me decide if I love it enough to keep it.

    On the Daily Express

  3. I feel like I just cleaned my closet and I think I need to clean it again, haha! I love the idea to flip the hangers so you tell what you wore/didn't wear over the season.

    The Tiny Heart

  4. These are another set of great tips! The rotate idea is genius! That's one thing I do find myself doing, grabbing for a lot of the same key pieces and other items get neglected. Since I am doing No Shop November it has forced me wear some things that haven't been out in awhile. Also, clothing swaps are so fun! We did one last October and it was a huge success!

  5. I have got to get strict about myself with flipping the hangers around. I tried it and it does work. It's disciplining myself to stick with it!

  6. I totally agree about planning your outfits ahead of time. I started doing that after I had my son and it has helped me so much. Now i don't throw everything out of my closet and say i have nothing to wear. It makes getting ready faster, simpler and more peaceful. I love how you organized your jewelry. I need to organize mine better. I keep them in their boxes.


  7. These are some great tips! I'm just finishing up purging my closet of things I don't wear and it feels so good!

  8. Great tips! I clean out my closet regularly and have created a list so I can "shop with purpose". However I still find myself holding on to a lot of things that I haven't worn yet after buying them six months, a year or even three years ago because they are great (classic) pieces that I will get wear out of when I start working. I'll have to be tough on myself after this season to make sure they either stay and are worn or go!

  9. Such amazing tips! I'm about halfway through my closet re-org, and these will help me keep on chugging!

  10. Great ideas! I actually do most of these things, but I like the idea of rotating through each type of clothing so nothing gets neglected or forgotten.

  11. I finally oranized my scarves and jewelry last year and am so glad i did! problem is now I have too many scarves and they don't fit!!

  12. What I do once in a while is empty my closet and move all of my clothes to another room.
    Then i put back in the closet only those clothes that i have worn and washed....
    Whenever i need to create an outfit I find pieces in the "other room". After a while, the clothes i did not use I'll try on and make a decision wether to keep or not.

  13. wow great Post. i seriously need a closet make over to lol would you like to follow each other? just let me know. =) I also have a Dress sale giveaway on my blog. Join now! =)

  14. I LOVE this post! Great advice-- will definitely pin this for future reference. I will have to try the plan where I put new clothes on the right (by type) then wear them from the left. That, combined with turning hangers backwards, will give me a good idea of what I am wearing in my closet! I think having similar hangers really helps to keep everything uniform and saves space in the closet too!

    For Christmas this year, my husband and I are gifting each other a new closet with shelving, etc- the works! I am SO excited and will definitely keep these tips in mind-- adding jewelry racks so I can easily see everything and hanging all pants/skirts, etc. on one row and all tops on another row. I don't know if I'll have room for a staging area for the week's outfits (which I am a huge fan of doing), but I am going to try to make room for that! (Right now, I use a collapsable hanging dryer rack. Fancy, I know lol.)


  15. What a great great great article! I love how you rotate through your clothes, that's amazing! Right now I have my clothes organized by color, but it really isn't the best way for me. I just don't know what would help. Maybe I should try this!

  16. You've shared some great tips, Ginny! I'm pretty good about selling or donating clothes that don't suit me anymore, but I should be better about rotating my closet so different pieces get a fair chance of being worn. I think I'll try the backwards hanger idea too!

  17. What great tips! Love all of these :)
    xo TJ

  18. I very much enjoyed your last series over the last couple of weeks, but I think I enjoyed this post even more. So thoughtful, creative, informative, full of great tips. I especially loved the one about rotating your clothes and with the hangers facing in opposite ways.

    I hope you still stop by and enjoy my blog. I miss you in there.

    Best wishes to you & Grant.

  19. Great tips! I need to organize my jewelry and accessories sooo much better!

  20. these are such great rules... of which i need to follow! i always have such a hard time giving pieces away, i always get scared i'll want to wear them again!

    lindsey louise

  21. I love that you rotate your clothing to the front. I do the same thing and it really helps to see what I'm actually wearing and/or need to donate!

  22. I REALLY like your tip about how to organize the items in your closet - by putting things that you recently wore on the right and wearing what's coming up on the left first. Seriously, that is SO smart!! Perhaps I will try this strategy out...I currently keep track of my clothes in an Excel document and color code them in the spreadsheet according to how many times I've worn the item. Usually, when I'm outfit planning, I look at my spreadsheet and go to pieces that I haven't worn as much and plan the outfit around those pieces. Physically organizing my closet accordingly will help in that too!