There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must attempt the impossible. While staring at what used to be the temple that contains her clothes, but now more closely resembles the aftermath of a violent hurricane, it is inevitable that she will finally concede to making like Eminem, and cleaning her closet out.
For me, this happened last Saturday. While looking for a pair of white sneakers, I happened upon a green toothbrush. This would have been fine and well if the circumstances of my closet allowed for the co-mingling of shoes and dental accoutrements but such is not the case and you know what that tells me?
I should probably see a dentist.
Illustration by Elizabeth Tafaro
Staring at the pile of clothes accumulating under bigger piles of clothes and my unintentional beginning to discern the pants from the shirts from the dresses from the belts, (useless fact: I counted three butterflies on three separate garments in one such pile,) I was almost sure that the task of cleaning this particular closet on this particular day was an insurmountable one. I am historically pretty good at keeping shit clean–if not for the sake of my own sanity than because I respect my belongings. I’m not exactly sure what drove me to begin subsisting among such an utter mess but with summer about to usurp spring’s marginal throne, it was clearly high time I get my shit together–literally.
And so, I began blasting Drake’s Started from The Bottom (I couldn’t wait to be capital-H-Here,) and started from the bottom. Here are five tips I gathered in my quest to clean my closet.
1. Tackle what is directly in front you. Now, I can’t speak for you, but I know that when I see a big ass mess, I often have a hard time determining where to start the clean up process. I also know it’s fairly futile to put effort into stressing myself out. Just start with what’s in front of you–begin folding or laundering, or creating a new throwaway pile and watch the mess begin working itself out.
2. Yes, color coding is fun but it’s also a little aggressive. I can’t speak for you on this front either but I tend to do this really ambitious thing when while folding my shirts and replacing them on their shelves or in their cabinets, I color code them. In my head, I think I believe that if they’re separated by color, I’ll have an easier time finding them but maintaining a rainbow closet is not easy. Creating cleaning algorithms that you can’t follow through with is silly. Ultimately, we really shouldn’t be having a hard time finding our shirts to begin with. If this is the case, creating larger throwaway piles is likely in order.
3. Of course, when I say throwaway, I don’t actually mean throwaway (unless the garments in question are stained, wildly old or perpetually smelly). Clothing donation funds that I am particularly keen on include The Salvation Army, Housing Works, and Yeshiva University’s ongoing drive. When considering precisely what to throw away, ask yourself this question: if I haven’t worn it in at least two seasons, will I ever wear it again? For the often hyper trendy, fleeting items, chances are you’re thinking: what if it comes back. Am I right? But even if it does come back, it won’t be for a long while and by then Zara will be creating a far superior iteration of the precise garment and you won’t even deign to reflect on what’s lost.
To resell your clothing, I suggest visiting Copious, where I’m reselling mine.
4. When considering what to keep, implement this rule of thumb: There are obviously garments that remain in our closets until death do us part and the previous tip does not suggest those tangible memories take a backseat. If we’re speaking in terms of, say, the formal dress or jacket your grandmother gave you, or that old blouse from when your dad was 30 pounds lighter, you’re far more likely to harbor the memory and subsequent item. If you’re having a hard time letting go of something, ask yourself how many ways you can wear it incorporating additional clothes still alive and kicking in your closet. If the answer is upward of three ways, keep it.
5. Maintain your new closet. Cleaning your closet is a lot like getting a bikini wax. If you neglect the targeted region for too long, the next time you commit to, you know, cleaning it up, it’s painful, frustrating and time consuming. If, however, you vow to maintain its cleanliness (so to speak), it almost feels effortless when you confront the hardship which, at this point, isn’t even really all that hard. (Give or take a wax strip or two).