Think of Your Closet as The Most Valuable Real Estate in Your Home

As the seasons change, so should your closet. Do you change over your closets each season? Well, may I suggest doing an assessment of your wardrobe and/or closet purge while you’re at it? I can almost promise it’ll make getting dressed every day that much easier. 

Think of your closet as the most valuable real estate in your home – the Boardwalk and Park Place on the Monopoly board. So any items that are allowed to live there need to provide great returns. They should ideally be items that will enable you to feel good, look good, and that you reach for regularly. That means the old bridesmaid’s dress that’s hanging in the way back of your closet does not deserve to live in the high rent district.

When’s The Right Time for a Closet Changeover And Closet Purge?

I use the 50/50 rule to know when it’s time for my closet changeover. When the weather changes to temps that are without a doubt fall/winter (below 50 degrees) or spring/summer (above 50 degrees) for more than 50% of the week, that’s my cue. It’s time to either store the sweaters away or take them out of storage, depending on the season. The joke about knowing you’re from Ohio if you’ve ever worn snow boots and flip flops in the same week pretty much sum our weather up!

The exercise of the closet change /closet purge, while bothersome, can be incredibly liberating. It’s a time to take stock of what’s in your wardrobe. Assess if the items are serving you, bringing you joy (thank you, Marie Kondo, for coining that phrase), and helping you project the most authentic version of yourself to the world.

Chasing trends or logos is never the goal. Dressing in a modern way, interpreted for one’s own body and lifestyle, makes fashion fun and getting dressed fulfilling. It doesn’t need to feel scary or painful. I hope that by sharing insights, rules, and clarification regarding styles, getting dressed each day can be exciting instead of stressful.

The Closet Purge Questions – What Should Stay and What Should Go

When culling your closet, items will fall into four categories – Fix, Keep, Consign, and Donate. If you’re properly doing a closet purge, every single item, not just the clothes, but shoes, jewelry, handbags, scarves, hats, should all be assessed. Are they Boardwalk and Park Place worthy, or not?

Start with the fit.

Now in a typical year, I’d be relentless about this. The closet purge is the time to say goodbye to the pants that will fit if you lose those pesky 10 lbs. Because it doesn’t pay to have clothes that don’t fit you hanging in your closet. That being said, the Covid, 19(lbs) is real, and we need to give ourselves grace during this unprecedented (aka, entirely off the rails) time. 

I’ve seen folks fall into two camps these past eight months. They’re either pandemic chunks or pandemic hunks. The chunks are eating as a way to deal with pandemic anxiety (full disclosure, I’m in that camp). And the hunks are exercising their stress away. If you’re in the former category, please be kind to yourself. When life normalizes, so will your weight. Because of this, I recommend storing the clothes that don’t currently fit. That way, they’ll be out of your closet, freeing up real estate for items that are functional for you at this moment. And, the bonus is, your skinny jeans won’t torment you every time you go to get dressed. 

Have you worn it?

We’ve all heard the advice if you haven’t worn it in the last 12 months, part ways. That’s part of the closet purge process. However, this year, I disagree with said advice. No one is wearing any of their “normal” clothes, so how is this a fair litmus test? Instead, I’d suggest thinking about if you’ve worn it in the past 24 months. If it’s been sitting around, collecting dust for two years, you have my permission to kiss it goodbye.

Does it have sentimental value?

Very often, pieces with sentimental value are not providing enough ROI to justify closet real estate rights. Items like the shirt you were wearing when you met your significant other or the dress you wore to your child’s bar/bat mitzvah. Even though the article of clothing doesn’t fit and hasn’t been worn in ages, parting with it is out of the question. 

Trust me when I say you’re not alone. In the last 15 years, only a handful of clients didn’t fall prey to sentimentality clogging up the potential zen their closet could be providing. Most people hold onto things. Not everything in a hoarder way, but something with meaning has a way of stunting even the most purge happy people.  When garments have emotion attached, they are much harder to give the deep-six. 

I suggest storing sentimental items in a place other than your closet. A basement or attic, under the bed, or in an off-site unit. But not, never, no way ever in your main closet. That’s a shanda, as well as a recipe for disaster.

Is it damaged or stained?

If your clothing is not in optimal condition, meaning it’s stained or has holes, you can’t wear it with confidence. And it’s just taking up space. If it still fits and you’d like to wear it, into the FIX pile it goes. Once it’s taken to the cleaner or tailor, you can enjoy wearing it again. 

Is it valuable?

Generally, people hold on to items that they’ve spent a lot on, even if they’re not wearing them. Consider this a colossal wardrobe no-no!  Consign them. You’ll free up space and make some money at the same time.

Does it make you feel confident?

This question is the most critical because that is THE goal! Clothes that make you feel confident are the best investment. It’s like owning hotels on both Boardwalk and Park Place!

Click HERE for a free, handy-dandy flowchart that can help you assess what should stay and what should go in your closet.

Once you’ve decided what’s staying and going, make sure it’s organized a la The Home Edit – but with a pared-down, well-edited wardrobe. This post shares all of the TWC helpful hints on closet organization.

There are some tools that while not required for your closet purge, I personally find are very helpful.

Helpful Tools for Your Closet Purge

A Rolling Rack 

Consider this the best $50 investment you’ll make. I use a rolling rack with all of my one on one styling clients – it makes sorting thru their closets much more efficient.

And I use it at home all the time. When I’m packing for a trip all of the clothes I’m taking hang on the rack and then they’re ready to go. And when doing a seasonal closet change and/or a closet purge, it’s much easier to take all of the clothes that need to be assessed and hang them on the rack, then to throw it all on the bed or floor. And bonus, when you have company, it’s handy for extra coats too.

Full-Length Mirror

Bottom line, it’s impossible to know how things look if you don’t have a full-length mirror. Yes, it’s happened multiple times before where I’ve gone to a client’s home and they stand on the toilet seat to get a look at their outfit head to toe. The one pictured below can stand on its own, lean against the wall, or get hung. And if you want a really simple one, I like this over the door version.  And, this one is a jewelry organizer/mirror in one.  I have it mounted to my closet wall instead of over the door and it’s great.

Closet Lights 

Are you seeing a theme here? If you can’t see it you can’t assess if it should stay or go. Very often, closets don’t have natural light, So make sure you can see what is in there. If it’s black or blue. And if there are any stains or holes. If your closet is not well lit on its own consider adding some additional lighting. These are great because they just stick on (no tools required) and are battery operated. They add a clean bright light to dark spaces.3 LED Anywhere Lights

Stock Up and SAVE On Closet Essentials

Right Now The Container Store is having a 25% off sale on Closet Essentials – so It’s a great time to stock up on the items that will make your closet purge feel super successful. These are some of my tried and true favorites.

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Photo: Becky Cormell


Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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