How to Audit Your Own Closet / by Savannah Boyd

Susan Stanley Closet 1.jpg

The “after” picture of a closet audit we did for a client in her gorgeous, recently-redesigned space.

To Purge, or Not To Purge?… That is the Question…

Do you ever stand in your closet feeling paralyzed by the prospect of cleaning out and organizing the cluttered mess?! If so, you are not alone, and this post is for you!

We will share some “tips and tricks” and walk you through the steps we take when we approach a Closet Audit for a client.

There are, of course, numerous advantages to hiring someone to do this task for you… One perk is that we are very practiced at this and can generally accomplish in 2-3 hours what will often take a client several days (or even weeks!) to manage on his or her own. Also, we don't have a sentimental attachment to your items, which means that we can be decisive about what should stay and what should go. Clients often endure an internal struggle and begin to rationalize letting pieces stay in their closet or work their way back in; they think, “I might wear it again if I just lose 10 pounds,” or “It might come back in style.” These ways of thinking prevent you from purging properly! The end goal is to have a wardrobe that is full enough to make getting dressed easy but that is not overflowing (and thus, overwhelming). We can also identify the areas of need in your closet (i.e. gaps in your wardrobe like a lack of white button-ups for layering or the need for a versatile neutral handbag) and shop for you to fill those items in. One great rule of thumb is: for every three items that come in to your closet, three items should go out!

If you are up for the challenge of cleaning your closet out on your own, we welcome you to follow these general guidelines.


“Before” pictures

If the scenes above look familiar, use the below guidelines to whip your closet into shape!

  • Before you remove items from your closet, designate space for several piles in a separate (but adjoining) room:

    • Consignment (items in good shape to sell)

    • Donation (items that cannot be sold due to stains, holes, etc.)

    • Repair (items to keep but that need mending)

    • Tailoring/Alterations (items to keep but that need to be adjusted for fit)

    • Dry Cleaning (items to keep but that need cleaning)

  • Begin by pulling items out of your closet that are damaged (stains or holes), haven’t been worn recently, no longer fit, or are no longer fashionable/flattering. This part of the process requires you to be honest with yourself about what you do not use/wear and what you are willing to part with. You have to be ready to get rid of stuff for this to be effective!!!

  • Sort the items you pull out into their designated piles: Consignment, Donation, Repair, Tailoring/Alterations, and Dry Cleaning.

  • Repeat the same process with shoes, being mindful not only of any that are worn out or haven’t been worn recently, but also of those that are redundant (for example, you don’t need three pair of nude booties or five pair of black pumps).

  • Repeat the same process with jackets, jewelry, handbags, belts, headbands, sunglasses, etc. Here are a few great items to help you organize your headbands and sunglasses!

  • Once your closet contains only “keepers,” change all hangers to the flat velvet kind. This will buy you a lot of space and will also give your closet an organized, cohesive look! Below we have linked some of our favorite hangers for you to shop. Black vs. white/ivory is totally personal preference. We usually use black!

  • Next group items according to type and/or season. For example, place all spring/summer clothes together and all fall/winter clothes together. Some people may also choose to differentiate between work wear and day-to-day wear. Then arrange clothes according to category; we generally bundle together button-up blouses, casual tops, jeans, sweaters, outerwear (vests, jackets), pants, skirts, dresses, and shorts.

  • Now color-coordinate your items within each category in rainbow order from left to right.

  • Get rid of all shoe boxes! (see before and after photos below). Organize shoes by type (booties, flats, sandals, boots, heels, etc.) and then by rainbow order. To save space, turn each pair so that one mate is facing toe out on the shelf and one mate is facing toe in (unless you have a lot of space, and then you can leave them all facing forward). See images below for examples. We love Shoe Slotz; they are amazing space-savers, and we have them in our own closets! You can also use pretty baskets (like the ones featured below) to contain flip flops, flat sandals, or even sneakers (see picture below of a basket full of sneakers!).

  • Jewelry can be organized into acrylic trays or bins. Bracelets can be hung on on bar jewelry display stands (or thicker, sturdier bangles can be lined up in bins). Here are some examples of how we have organized clients’ jewelry, as well as links to some of our favorite jewelry-organizing products.

  • You can contain clutches and small handbags in acrylic bins or acrylic dividers. One great tip is that if you are short on space, you can store smaller handbags inside of larger ones! Handbags can also be hung on organizers like the ones shown below.

  • Lastly, hang hats on free wall space using 3M hooks or place them on empty shelves for flat storage to retain their shape (see picture below).


“After” Pictures

You can do it! Just take it one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to part with items to make space for new ones. Good luck, and please share your before/after pictures with us!