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Well today sees the conclusion of this week’s series, Organize My Wardrobe. My hope is that you have learned several new ideas you can take to your homes and apply to your clothes collection. Here’s a quick review of the topics we covered this week:

  • Clothes Clutter Control Part 1: Sorting through your clothes to discover what you should get rid of in order to cut clutter and only keep what you really need.
  • Clothes Clutter Control Part 2: Creatively selling or donating the clothes you decided to get rid of in order to make a little money or help someone in need.
  • Clothes Arranging 101: Logical organization of your wardrobe storage areas to allow easier access and more efficient use of space.
  • Savvy Shopping: Money-saving shopping tips when it comes time to have to buy new clothes.

Long-term strategies

If you’ve taken steps to get your wardrobe organized, then good for you! But keep in mind that these first steps are only part of the overall process—you have to figure out a way to keep your wardrobe organized in the long term. Below I want to outline some simple steps you can take to maintain your new lifestyle and continue to enjoy its benefits.

  • Schedule regular clothes sorting days throughout the year. Or better yet, just always have the habit of monitoring your closets and dressers and keeping an eye out for clothes you no longer wear for whatever reason. Staying on top of this will prevent clutter from building back up again.
  • When you remove something, put it back exactly where you found it. If you are trying to arrange your closet by type and color, your system will quickly break down if you start putting clothes back in places where they don’t belong. Consciously make an effort to stick to your system.
  • Whenever you shop, try to save. Don’t only plan to find deals every once and a while. Strive to get deals every time you shop. It will take a little more effort, but your bank account will appreciate it and you’ll quickly develop an attitude where you won’t settle for anything less than an amazing price.
  • Develop an outlook that less is more. Do you really need that extra pair of jeans? Does your wife have to buy a brand new dress for the upcoming charity event? Maintaining an attitude of buying and owning less will help you control clutter, save money, and reduce stress. It’s okay to treat yourself every once and a while (I know I do!), but be reasonable and always be thinking about the impact your purchase will have.

Wisdom from the web

I follow other great blogs on the internet and recently I’ve come across some useful tips relating to my wardrobe series that I thought I could share with you all!

The first tip comes from Kelly at Almost Frugal in a recent post, ‘How to Look Fabulous, Frugally.’ She outlines five categories of clothes that she needs to have around: grungy, lounge around, nice casual, business clothes, and fancy dress clothes. Then she asks herself the following questions to decide which clothes she should actually keep: “Do I love this? Does this look good on me? Do I wear it? Is it in good condition? Does it fit into one of the categories of clothes I need?”

The second tip I’d like to share comes from Amy at My Daily Dollars in a recent post, ‘One Weekend to Shop.’ She discusses fall shopping tips and one of the best pieces of advice she gives is to shop for one color family. She offers that “if you buy several pieces that work together, you’ll get more mileage. Odds are that they will also fit in with what you have at home.” She also reminds us that spending a little more money to get longer-lasting high quality clothes could pay off in the end because “as we all know, frugal does not equal cheap!”

Reader Reflection

After a week of wardrobe organizing tips, do you have any further ideas to share?

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We’re now on the fourth day of the Organize My Wardrobe series and hopefully you’ve got some useful clothes organizing tips under your belt so far (pun intended). Today I want to switch gears slightly and offer you a few money-saving ideas when it comes time for you to buy new clothes. Maybe you need to buy new clothes, or maybe you just want to buy new clothes. No matter your reason, you shouldn’t burn a hole in your wallet doing it! While there are many creative ways to save money shopping, I’m going to focus on three practices in particular that I use regularly:

Find clearance racks

It goes without saying that you should always try to buy clothes on sale. However, to be a truly savvy shopper means you should be wary of the store that claims something is on sale, when in fact it really isn’t—technically speaking. Let me explain. I’ve been to stores where the same clothes are ALWAYS listed as being on sale. So are they truly ever on sale, then? Perhaps not.

Stores can inflate ‘list’ prices, offer you a reduced ‘sale’ price, and all of a sudden you feel like you are getting a deal. Wow that $350 jacket is 50% off! What a deal! Um, ya, since when is $175 a deal? Now, I’m not trying to be cynical, because sales most certainly can be legitimate (and maybe that jacket was imported leather or something). Just be careful not to be fooled by carefully crafted language like ‘now on sale’ or ‘50% off’ and then automatically assume you are getting a good price.

One of the better ways to ensure that you are getting a good price is to shop clearance racks. Unfortunately clearance racks can often be heavily picked over, disorganized, and full of all the wrong sizes. But they can also be gold mines. Usually in some far back corner of the store, these racks are full of clothes marked down from not only their regular price, but also their supposed ‘sale’ price. Be patient, take time to look through the mess, and you just might find a super deal.

Buy shorts in winter

Winter is cold where you live, you say? I’m not suggesting you wear shorts in winter, just that you buy them in winter. Why? Because stores need to push their inventory out season to season. At the end of each season (and often well before), stores are hurrying to move on to the next season. So when fall starts, summer clothes get pushed to clearance racks and eventually disappear. When spring arrives, winter clothes are packed away until next year.

A savvy shopper would plan ahead and try to buy winter clothes at the beginning of summer and summer clothes at the beginning of winter. It sounds backwards, but it can be a real money saver. For example, this past spring, my husband and I discovered a rack of $150 heavy-duty winter jackets marked down to $15 (that’s 90% off!). We each bought one, but had to be patient and store them for the summer. We finally pulled them out last week and recalled our amazing deal.

Stores know that most customers usually don’t buy clothes in the off-season, but they still want to clean out their inventory. Hence, they offer super clearance deals. To take advantage of this phenomenon, you just have to plan ahead and have patience—but it’s worth it!

Shop thrift stores

Leave behind those major retail chain stores or boutiques for a moment and consider a second-hand store, often lovingly called a thrift store. Now not all thrift stores are created equal…some are just plain awesome, but others can be over-priced, or worse, downright junky. If you discover a great thrift store, you’ll know it, and you’ll want to keep going back over and over. Why? Because of the prices!

If you have an issue with wearing other people’s clothes, then it’s time to get over it. When you buy clothes at a thrift store, you take them home and run them through the laundry. Now they belong to you. It’s not weird! Furthermore, I’ve often found clothes in thrift stores that still have the tags on them…that means they are brand new. Finally, we as a society need to lose this mentality that shopping at a thrift store is somehow ‘below’ us or something. There’s a Goodwill commercial on TV now where two women are ashamed to admit they shop there, but when no one is looking, they buy all sorts of things! The point is, thrift stores save you money, recycle clothing, and are good for the community as a whole.

Now I mentioned great prices. Yes, you can find some GREAT prices at thrift stores. I have another fun story to share. There’s a really nice second-hand store in my husband’s home town that I always hit up whenever we visit. A few months ago I discovered they were holding a bag sale. Never having encountered such an event, I excitedly asked the cashier how it worked. She told me to take a paper grocery bag and fill it with as many clothes items I could fit…all for just $10. Now I’ve heard of bag sales being even cheaper, but come on, $10! I victoriously rounded up 6 skirts, 6 blouses, 2 dresses, and a pair of capris, all in like-new condition (and one brand new!). If that’s not a deal, I don’t know what is.

Reader Reflection

These are just three money-saving shopping tips from among many more. Where do you find your best clothes deals?

What’s next?

Tomorrow is the last day of this special series! I’ll wrap up what we’ve learned, offer some long-term wardrobe management tips, and provide some useful links to further resources.

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It’s now day three of this week’s wardrobe series and we’re to the point where we can start organizing our clothes storage spaces. This is my favorite kind of organization, so pardon me for being a little excited this morning! Since you’ve done a little clothes decluttering by choosing what to get rid of and either selling or donating it, your storage spaces are now ripe for some creative arranging.

Let’s face it. Not all closets are created equal. Not all dressers are created equal. And those of you with neither closets nor dressers have had to find unique storage solutions for your clothes that perhaps no one else uses. My point is, I can’t really tell you exactly how to organize your specific wardrobe storage spaces, but I can give you some handy guidelines to go by.

Why organize your clothes? You know what you own (hopefully) and if you have a smallish wardrobe, you probably know just about where everything is. But what about using that space more efficiently? We could all use a little more room here and there. Furthermore, have you considered the benefits of logical arrangements of clothes? There are a lot of creative ways to arrange your bins, dresser drawers, or close racks, and by doing so, you will find your clothes more easily and keep track of what you wear (and don’t wear). And if your wardrobe is the opposite of smallish, then organized arranging is a must!

I dream of a walk-in closet

Honey, are you reading this? I’d like a large walk-in closet with shelves, numerous racks, and creative storage spaces. Are you writing this down? How does this weekend work for you? Um, ya, does this sound familiar? Do you dream of a large closet that will pretty much organize your clothes for you? Well, maybe someday I’ll get my wish (hint hint), but for now my basic single rack closet will have to do. And don’t get me wrong—it’s totally functional and it does its job (it’s better than no closet, right?). No matter what sort of closet you have, below I’ve outlined some simple guidelines to help you get it organized through a little creative arranging.

  • Arrange clothes by seasonMonday’s post generated some good discussion about in-season versus off-season clothing. Some people store their off-season clothes in another location (e.g. the basement) and then make the switch when the weather starts changing. I am able to keep my clothes in the closet all at once, so seasonal organizing isn’t a necessary solution for me. But consider the possibilities of removing half of your clothes (or your kid’s clothes) from your closet and storing them in bins in the basement for a season? Would this free up some much-needed space for other things?
  • Arrange clothes by type.  If seasonal arranging isn’t your cup of tea or you don’t really need to go this route, then the next logical level of arranging is by type. What I mean by this is pants, t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, skirts, dresses, etc. Keeping similar clothes together is a sure way to be able to find what you want and keep a good inventory of what you own. When you arrange your clothes in this manner, you’ll not only be able to just go easily grab a sweater from your sweater section, you’ll also be able to get an idea of just how many sweaters you actually have. You might just discover that a little decluttering is in order.
  • Arrange clothes by color.  Now don’t go rolling your eyes and think, “she’s one of those organizing nuts.” I admit that organizing something like your DVD collection by color might look pretty in passing, but it is not at all functional. However, arranging your clothes by color is a whole different story. When you choose a skirt to wear to a play, you probably have a particular color of blouse you’d like to wear with it, right? Let’s say you want to wear a pink blouse. If you have your clothes arranged by type and color, you’d first head over to your blouse section. Then you’d find your pink blouses and easily choose the one you’d like to wear. All the pink options are right there in front of you and you aren’t left digging around your entire closet to see you if have a better pink alternative. Plus, the beauty of the color system is that when you go to put your blouse back after you’ve worn it, you know exactly where to put it. Systems stay in place. Your clothes begin organizing themselves…well, you know what I mean.

The old faithful dresser

Perhaps you don’t have a closet. Or maybe you have a closet but you need a little extra space for certain clothes. Next I’d like to share a few tips about how your can arrange your dresser drawers. It’s one thing to let your eyes wander around your closet to find what you are looking for, but if you have to search through all your drawers to find that one pair of pants you need, then you are wasting precious time. If organized appropriately, your dressers can be as easy to navigate as your closet.

  • Assign dressers to basic categories of clothes.  My husband and I both have two dressers for our non-closet clothes. We each have a small night-stand dresser that contains our undergarments, socks, and other similar items. We also each have a regular-sized dresser where we keep the clothes that we prefer not (or don’t need) to hang up (like shorts, t-shirts, jeans, etc.). Therefore each dresser contains a particular group of clothes and makes for a logical division. If you only have one dresser per person in your household, then that’s fine—you’ll be more interested in the next tip.
  • Each drawer should contain only certain types of clothes.  It’s not really very effective to just throw clothes in whichever drawer currently has a wedge of room. How will you ever find anything? It’s best to assign each drawer to a particular clothes type (or a few clothes types). For example, one drawer can be socks and undergarments, one drawer can be all your pants, one drawer can be all your t-shirts. That way when you wear something, you not only know exactly which drawer to find it in, but you also know exactly which drawer to return it to. You’ll never be looking for spots to squeeze that clean laundry into ever again.
  • Maximize space usage in each drawer.  No matter if you are dealing with a sock drawer or a t-shirt drawer, it’s important to spend some time maximizing the space usage within the drawer. Is there a better way you can arrange the socks to fit more pairs? Is there a particular style of shirt-folding you can learn to be sure you are not wasting any space? Be creative!

Additional clothes storage options

If I wanted to bore you, I could outline and review a practically endless list of alternative clothes storage solutions. But I most certainly do not want to bore you! Instead, I’ll just suggest a few popular options if you are looking for additional space beyond your traditional closet or dresser.

  • Storage bins.  Clear plastic storage bins are the best kind because you can see what’s inside and they are usually stackable. Put them in your closet or under your bed, the locations are limitless! And if you want to be even more organized, you can label each bin so you can keep track of what’s inside. This type of storage solution would work particularly well if you wanted to arrange your clothes seasonally.
  • Collapsible clothes racks.  Perhaps your closet is full and you need more room. Or maybe one bedroom in your house has no closet, but you still want to hang certain clothes. Clothes racks are nice because they are usually cheap, quite adjustable, and can be collapsed and stored if you aren’t using them. Plus, you can pretty much put them anywhere!
  • Wardrobe armoires.  A level up from the adjustable clothes racks perhaps, these fancy pieces of furniture often offer a closet and dresser in one. They look nice and they are mobile, but you must be willing to spend a little more money.
  • Closet organizers.  This last option isn’t really an alternative clothes storage option per se—it’s really more of an improvement or addition you can make to your existing set-up. Google ‘closet organizers’ and you will find an overwhelming list of choices. These popular space-savers can be purchased at a number of stores, but you can also build one yourself!

Reader Reflection

I’ve offered some general clothes organization guidelines above that hopefully you will be able to apply to your wardrobe no matter your situation. However we all have unique lifestyles and homes, so would anyone like to share some creative clothes storage solutions you’ve come up with?

What’s next?

Continuing the wardrobe series, tomorrow we’ll investigate some shopping tips when it comes time for us to have to buy new clothes.

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Yesterday I outlined some steps you could take to do a lot of sorting and decision-making regarding controlling clutter in your clothes collection (now that’s some alliteration!). Hopefully you were able to be honest with yourself and let go of a few garments while also freeing up some closet space! Today I’m going to suggest some creative ways you can part with the clothes you decided to get rid of. No, they aren’t destined for the trash! On the other hand, they aren’t destined to get stored indefinitely in your garage or basement, either. But what can you do with them? Below is a list of creative options that range from various money-making solutions to interesting ways you can give your clothes away.

Make money selling your clothes

Why not try to make a few bucks so you can use that money to buy new clothes? Um, ya, I’m joking. But seriously though, you spent hard-earned money on the clothes that you’ve decided to part ways with, so it’s not such a bad idea to try to sell them to someone else if they are still in good condition. Here are four possible money-making solutions:

  • Sell your clothes at a rummage sale. Hold your own rummage sale or ask a friend if you can join their sale. Rummage sales are not only good outlets for selling your clothing, they are also great ways to meet new people in your neighborhood. But be sure to recognize that rummage sales, while fun, can also be a lot of work.
  • Sell your clothes on eBay. Do you have an expensive winter jacket you don’t wear anymore because you moved to a warmer climate? Do you have a bridesmaid dress that no longer fits you? Consider trying to sell it on eBay. While eBay might not immediately jump out at you as the ideal place to sell clothes, it definitely has potential. Selling on eBay comes with its downsides, like having to create auctions, paying small fees, and dealing with shipping. However, it also has its benefits. You will probably be able to get more money than you would at a rummage sale (where people expect real bargains) and you will have a much wider audience (the whole world!).
  • Sell your clothes on Craigslist. With Craigslist you’ll reach a wider audience than your rummage sale, but perhaps not quite as wide as on eBay. However, Craigslist is quite popular, very easy to use, and totally free! People in your area who might not have come by your house to your rummage sale perhaps would find you instead on the internet.
  • Sell your clothes at a consignment store. Consignment stores are second-hand stores that give you a cut of the money for the items you donate. Clothing consignment stores, as differentiated from basic thrift stores, usually only accept higher quality clothing (like new) and sometimes they might require that the clothes be modern (i.e. made within the last few years). But the beauty of this method is that you simply bring in your clothes and they do the rest of the work! You get paid when they sell your stuff.

Donate your clothes for a good cause

In addition to trying to find ways to make money getting rid of your clothes, you should also consider donation. Giving your clothes away to someone else who needs them will not only benefit the recipient, it will also benefit you! It feels good to do good, doesn’t it?! Here are five ways you can donate your clothing:

  • Consider the hand-me-down potential of your clothes. Before you even get your clothes out the door, you should consider whether what you are getting rid of might be able to be worn by someone else in your household. This method works best for kids clothes. There’s no need to keep buying your children all new clothes over and over. Kids go through clothes so quickly that doing the hand-me-down thing is really the best solution. As far as adults go, I for one will be the first to say that when I was a teenager it was a fun day when my mom would clean out her closets: new clothes for me!
  • Give your clothes away to extended family or friends. Does your brother have younger children that could wear your children’s old clothes? Do you have a best friend who would just love your jacket? Ask around. You never know who might be interested.
  • Look for a freecycle program in your community. Freecycle is an internet organization fairly similar to Craigslist where people can list items online that they want to give away for free. Go to freecycle’s homepage to see if you have a program in your local community. If you have a bin full of winter garments or a box of baby clothes you are trying to get rid of for example, freecycle may be a great option.
  • Donate your clothes to a thrift store. Different from a consignment store, plain thrift stores accept donated clothes but do not give you a cut of the sale. But in turn they are able to offer clothes at a very low price to people in the community who are looking for deals or who may not be able to afford new clothes at full retail price. Additionally, any clothes you donate can be written off your taxes!
  • Donate your clothes to a charitable organization. Does your church accept clothes donations? How about local shelters? Also, certain charity organizations love to get donated clothes that they can then send on to disaster-stricken areas or poor third-world countries. Investigate local organizations or contact missionaries to find out how you can help.

Reader Reflection

These are only some of the ways you can creatively get rid of your clothes clutter. Have you found any interesting options you’d like to share here?

What’s next?

So far you’ve made decisions about clothes you don’t need anymore and now you are equipped with several ideas regarding how to get rid of them. Tomorrow we’ll return to your closet, see what’s left, and get it organized!

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I’m pretty excited about this week’s series, Organize My Wardrobe. One of the reasons I’m excited is because I plan to play along with the rest of you and do a little work with my own wardrobe. If there’s one thing we need to always stay on top of in our lives, it’s our clothes collection. As clothes constantly come and go in our lives, we need to be sure we have a system in place to organize our wardrobe every step of the way. Each day this week I will explore a different topic:

  • Monday: Clothes Clutter Control Part 1 [Reducing clothes clutter]

What is clothes clutter?

So today I’d like to start off the series by tackling clothes clutter. Just what do I mean by clothes clutter, you ask? In general I mean clothes that you don’t need or don’t wear that are just taking up your precious space and causing stressful clutter. I’m not going to get on a pedestal and tell you all to be minimalists and have one pair of clothing. I happen to love clothes myself! What I would like to do is take you through a step-by-step process of fine-tuning your clothes collection to get it down to a manageable and appropriate size. It’s time to take a deep breath. You can do it! And remember I’ll be doing it too.

Step 1: Sort your clothes

The first thing you need to do is go through your clothes and begin sorting. This first step is fairly easy actually, so enjoy it! Simply go through all your clothes items, one by one, and start sorting them into the following categories:

A. I wear this regularly.
B. Hmm, I haven’t worn this in a while…
C. Uh, I’ve actually never worn this.
D. Wow, I had no idea I owned this!
E. Gosh, I wonder if this still fits me?
F. Ugh, did I actually go out in public wearing this?

Step 2: Make piles, lots of piles

Make piles, rearrange sections in your closet, whatever works. Just get everything sorted and BE HONEST. Also while sorting, be sure to keep in mind things like seasonality (i.e. you don’t wear winter clothes in summer and vice versa) and other conditions like pregnancies (i.e. certain clothes don’t fit when you are pregnant, but you will resume wearing them again afterwards). Now let’s tackle the individual piles:

  • PILE A [I wear this regularly.]: Yay! Put these clothes right back into your closet. You love them. You wear them all the time. These clothes have the qualities you should be looking for when you more closely examine the rest of your clothes in piles B through F.
  • PILE B [Hmm, I haven’t worn this in a while…]: A good rule to go by is to ask yourself this question: Have I worn this in the last year? (again, consider seasons). If you haven’t worn it in ONE year, then you will likely never wear it again. Find a box. Use this box for all the clothes you decide to get rid of. We’ll call it the CCC box (for clothes clutter control).
  • PILE C [Uh, I’ve actually never worn this.]: This is a phenomenon I’ve encountered with my husband before. Now I don’t want to pick on him here, I just want to illustrate a point. When we were packing up his apartment to move into our new house, I discovered clothes in his drawers I had never seen him wear before. He told me they were clothes he had purchased for amazing prices at thrift stores with his brothers years ago. Buying clothes at thrift stores is a wonderful practice, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a problem with the system if you never actually end up wearing them! Put them in the CCC box.
  • PILE D [Wow, I had no idea I owned this!]: This pile could be a fun one, but it could also be a sign that you have too many clothes. On one hand, you might discover a clothes item you didn’t remember you had because somehow it had gotten shoved way back into the bottom drawer of your dresser. That’s fine. Resurrect it and wear it. Put it in PILE A. On the other hand, you might discover a clothes item you didn’t remember because you have several closets full of clothes and couldn’t possibly keep track of them all. This is an indication that you might have too many clothes.
  • PILE E [Gosh, I wonder if this still fits me?]: This pile gives us a chance to play dress-up! But be warned, you might be disappointed. A few days ago I tried on a dress I wore on the first date I had with my husband. Guess what? It didn’t fit. In fact I could barely get it on. Oops! I’d better cut back on the ice cream a little. In any case, clothes that don’t fit really should just go into the CCC box. I know I’ve said it before and you might be thinking it now, “but what if I lose weight and it fits me again someday?” Great! Lose weight (I hope to do this!). But be honest with yourself–by the time that happens, will you still want to wear that dress? See PILE F.
  • PILE F [Ugh, did I actually go out in public wearing this?]. This is the pile of clothes that cause you to scratch your head and ask yourself how in the world you ever went out in public wearing something so wacky! Fitting with the pile letter, these are perhaps the clothes you’d give an ‘F’ grade to. Let’s face it, clothes go in and out of style so quickly it’s ridiculous. But again, you need to be honest with yourself. Will you ever wear those parachute pants again? What about that sweater that looks like something straight out of the Cosby Show? If a shirt just makes you shudder looking at it, put in the CCC box.

Wait a minute, you didn’t mention shoes!

Nope I didn’t mention shoes. In fact I didn’t really get much into specifics at all. The above list of ‘piles’ is meant to be a general guide. You can use the guide for shoes, as well as jackets, undergarments, hats, and anything else you can wear. As far as specifically managing individual clothes items goes (like your prized shoe collection, for example), I’ll reserve those topics for another day.

What about kid’s clothes?

Excellent question. While today’s guide won’t work exactly with kid’s clothes as well as with our clothes, it still fits in most areas. What you need to consider is the further element of clothes-sharing and hand-me-downs, something we’ll actually discuss in more detail tomorrow.

What’s next?

Speaking of tomorrow, here’s what’s coming up in the Organize My Wardrobe series: I’ll outline some creative ways you can get rid of the clothes you put in your CCC box, from making a little money, to helping someone in need.

Reader Reflection

How does clothes clutter control work out for you and your lifestyle? Do you have any stories to share?

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