While we prepare for snow, we dream of spring!  And what better way to spend a snow day than to attack your closet (which, admit it, is probably a mess of salt covered boots and sloppily piled sweaters)?  Fashionista and stylist Heidi Slacum, owner of the recently relocated Fresh! Boutique (it’s now in the Festival at Woodholme) gives us all a lesson in closet organization — and gets us pondering our spring purchases — and keeps it fun.  Spring’s right around the corner (promise!). Take a few pointers from a pro.

While going through my closet to pack for an upcoming trip, I realized my personal fashion portfolio needs some “refreshing.”  Working in the fashion industry, you can imagine the accumulation of clothing that I end up with: never worn or worn once clothes, all stuffed to the back of the closet for another day.  I decided to take my own organizational advice and take a “spring fling” with my closet!

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your array of apparel and in need of 1) space 2) organization and 3) new looks for the upcoming season, take these steps to free you from clutter and renew your faith in fashion!

Step 1: Edit
  • Store – Slip fall and winter (past season) clothing in acid-free boxes or airtight bins. Before storing make sure each piece is clean, repaired, if necessary, and folded. Use small bins for gloves, hats and scarves. Use larger bins for coats. If you’re storing a fur coat, check with a reputable furrier such as Mano Swartz for complete storing and care. For boots, store a few pair in long bins that will fit under the bed and put the rest in larger bins in a storage unit or hallway closet.
  • Sort – Pull everything out of the closet entirely and organize into groups: trousers, skirts, tops/blouses, blazers/jackets, short day dresses, short evening dresses, long formal dresses, hats & scarves; divide purses into two groups – handbags and clutches.
  • Stash/Trash – Stash items you either wear regularly or those worn for a very special occasion like that long sequined ball gown. Trash all items that have stains, pilling, or have stretched or torn beyond repair. (Consignment stores won’t take these worn items either.) You can donate what you don’t want to keep for a write-off to the Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Remaining items you haven’t worn in the last six months — or same season last year — should be tried on. Afterward, edit!! Decide if you still “love” it, if it’s flattering to your current shape, if you have other clothes to go with it, and, if necessary, if you have the time or energy to “fix” it to make it wearable again. If you have gently worn clothes that you are merely “over” consider donating them to non-profits that supply at-risk or under-served job seekers with interview outfits and work attire such as or Dressed for Success or House of Ruth.  You also may consider donating items such as designer gowns or cocktail dresses you’ve worn a few times to luxury consignment stores such as Love Me Two Times or taking them to a specialty store like Octavia II where you will receive a credit toward a new purchase. For all of you fashionistas who dream of your own boutique and want to have control over your recyclables and make some money from your “trash,” create your own site on Poshmark.com!!
Step 2: Organize & Archive
  • Prep space – Make sure everything is out of your closet. Remove luggage, stored gift wrap, etc.
  • Arrange clothing – Make two piles of clothes: one for hanging, one for or folding. Hanging items should consist of dresses, silk blouses, blazers, leather items, skirts, button-downs, trousers and dress jeans. Fold tee shirts, knits, sequined items – layer with tissue, casual jeans and leggings.
  • Organize extras – Line-up shoes to see every pair…stash those you wear often and specialty styles, store those that are out of season in a large plastic container layered with tissue in between each pair. Trash those too small, uncomfortable or out of style — by this I mean put them into a box marked “donate.”
  • Arrange – Hang items from dark and bright to light, and then long to short. For example, one section may be all black but start with long gowns and progress to short dresses, blazers/jackets, blouses, tops, trousers and, finally, skirts and shorts. Do this for every color category. Store all everyday shoes on shoe racks underneath by type: flats, pumps, open toe. Specialty shoes can be stored in a clear hanging shoe bag on the back of the closet door or in clear individual boxes on shelves.
  • Take inventory – Once you’ve whipped your closet into shape, stand back and take notice. Are there trends you’re lacking? Too much of one color, not enough of another?  Are you working with only one or two blazers or jackets for the season? Too many dresses and not enough tops to pair with jeans or trousers? Base your shopping list for the coming season on your needs.
Step 3: Get Inspired
  • Categorize your list – Divide into two categories: things you want and things you need. The wants can be trendy, seasonal finds. The needs more like undergarments, shapers, tee shirts, tights, jeans, new weekend flats.
  • Get on the web – Use online magazine like InStylemagazine.com, Instagram and Pinterest to get ideas of looks and trends that you would like to add in your wardrobe.
  • Fresh Boutique

Step 4: Shop!!!!

  • Make-up please -When shopping for certain items or outfits put yourself together as if you are going out for the day. Wear makeup and do your hair. Bring the appropriate undergarments and shoes in a bag with you. This will give you the best opportunity for success in finding the right pieces and looks.
  • Trend or classic? If trendy items are what you seek, try Marshall’s or the Nordstrom Rack. If you’re looking for classic and timeless, choose a more upscale boutique that specializes in personal attention, undersaturated labels and that has on-staff stylists who can help you with the look you’re opting for. If designer lines are your thing, shop luxury consignment stores for the best bargains.
  • Try it on – in the store. More often than not, returns are due to not trying on the item in the store. “I know it will fit, it’s my size,” goes the excuse. All designers and lines cut and size differently! Don’t be too sure you are a certain size. The best thing to do is to try it on!!
  • No Regrets – Ask yourself a few questions when making a purchase: 1) Will I get more than two wears out of it?  2) Does it pair with more than three other items in my closet? 3) Is it different enough from a similar piece I already own? 4) Will it still fit if I gain two or three pounds? If all those questions are answered yes, then it’s a buy!
  • Be Aware – Return policies often vary. Check policies before you purchase. Don’t wait until you get home and try something on for your daughter or husband, only to find out a few days later you only get store credit or it was a sale item and not returnable at all. It will only drain your energy…and your shopping funds!
Re-freshing your closet can give you a sense of freedom as well as accomplishment. Make it as painless and fun as you can. Invite a friend over, preferably of the same size, and have a glass of wine while tackling the task. She will help with the labor, share some laughs during the process and may also end up with some new items for her own closet! As always, whether you’re more of a conservative dresser or an all out fashionista, cultivating your own “style” is a personal thing. Don’t get hung up on what “everyone” is wearing at the moment… fashion is cyclical and as it evolves, so does your style. Own it and wear it with confidence!!
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