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Paying Tribute to Organizing Guru Peter Walsh With This Closet Makeover

A Closet Full of Clothes but Still Nothing to Wear? Reinvent Your Wardrobe with this 2-hour Closet Makeover.

The trick about closet makeovers is that the high gloss magazines make them look so attainable. Look closer. All of the clothes in the photograph are monochromatic in a neutral shade of ivory, or beige, paired with six white collared blouses that hang sparsely next to one another with at least two inches between them, lest they be touching, giving the unforgiving impression that they have no room to breathe.

I remember being a teenager, sharing an overstuffed closet with a messy sister, who intentionally pushed my buttons by strangling my clothes as she smashed them up against the left side so she could fit another new stash of tops she would only wear once before going shopping again. I felt bad for my clothes that were made to suffocate in order to support her weekly habit, so I understand what the magazine editors and the photographers are looking for in a photogenic closet, but realistically, what woman can subsist on six interchangeable outfits made of khaki, white, and black?

When I came home to care for my elderly mother, I found several bedroom and hall closets being used for her seasonal wardrobes. The problem was she had no place to wear these dresses, or outfits bought decades earlier that no longer fit. She was agreeable to a slow purge, focusing on the one Master closet today, so I began huffing out clothes by the armful.

In order to do an effective clear out of any room, professional organizers will tell you that at least three staging areas are mandatory: Keep, Toss, Donate. Organizing guru Peter Walsh, who has gone from TLC’s Clean Sweep to acclaimed fame, earning a rightful place in O, The Oprah Magazine with quarterly features, is the king of closet makeovers. His ten-minute brass tacks sit downs to help hoarders figure out what the stuff symbolized and took place of emotionally was my favorite part of his show. There is my shout out to Peter Walsh. Read him in Oprah, and check out his site.

My approach is no different. The best way to sort a closet is to pull out everything at once. Set a timer, giving yourself a two-hour window and have your sorting crates in order. An old piece of luggage you want to donate, or a sizable box, or a Hefty sack can be used to stuff inside the clothes you no longer wish to keep.

In determining what to keep, ask yourself if you feel amazing in it, and if you happen to get compliments from others, that’s a bonus.

My favorite supplies needed for setting up a good closet space are always the same:

1)Beige suede hangers, the thin kind. This will help to create a uniform look, and maximize the hanging space you have; bulky wooden coat hangers that curve have no place in a lady’s closet.

2)A good shoe organizer is key and the benefit of trial and error keeps me coming back to the same one: a vertical hanging style with twelve shoe-boxed sized compartments. Metal shoe racks on the floor, or hanging pockets over the door all end up hogging precious real estate or become buried beneath a sea of clothes, thus making your shoes inaccessible.

3)Storage boxes with lids. I always pick a couple of oversized hat boxes to contain clutter, or keepsake cards. Lids are key, you don’t want to see the mess. It disturbs the zen of your new closet.

4)A double hang rod is essential for keeping shirts and blazers above skirts and folded trousers below. If you are really Type A, you will correlate your wardrobe so like colors hang above like colors.

Finish your wardrobe by re-inserting dresses together according to color, style, sleeve length; special occasion dresses come next; then swing coats; then winter coats, if you don’t have a hall closet.

With all of your clothes hung according to style, and color, you have a better idea of what to shop for next, and what to avoid doubling up on.

Your dinger should be ringing just about now.

Blog question: Which item was the most difficult one to say goodbye to in your closet purge?

4 thoughts on "Paying Tribute to Organizing Guru Peter Walsh With This Closet Makeover"

Kathy says:

Love your suggestions. Also, I’ve gotten into the habit of only buying felt lined hangers so straps stay firmly on the hanger and don’t fall onto the floor. My most difficult item to purge: ahhh, there are many. First being my “going away” dress after my wedding. (I’ve been married 31 years). Yup, still have that. Also, the box (one for each of my two sons) of precious clothing treasures that remind me of their younger days. I don’t think there’s anything you could say to get me to part with those. Love the article.

Hi Kathy,
Oh I am already smiling widely. Your “going away” dress, that is funny. I wonder what that dress would have looked like 31 years ago, the 80’s right? I can only imagine there was some soft floral pattern of dusty rose, or mint green…am I close? The hardest purge from my closet was the evening gown I got rid of years ago because I hadn’t worn it since a formal New Year’s Eve occasion in the mid-90’s. Imagine Dorothy’s ruby red shoes….in a dress. The whole thing, sequins with shoulder pads, floor length and fitted. Gorgeous, and somehow I managed to pull it off without looking like I belonged in a different part of town. In my wildest dreams, there would never be an occasion to wear that into the 21st century, so out it went. Sad, sad, sad. Thanks for sharing. You made my morning!

Tracy says:

I took your advice and removed everything out of my closet, but I could not achieve my goal in the 2 hour window. But I must say I am very happy with the end result. Thank you for the inspiration to get organized!

I am so excited to hear you gave it a good go! I only wish I could see before and after photos because it sounds like you made a real investment of time to get magnificent results. I bet the next closet you tackle will take less time. Congratulations! You can cross this off your to-do list!

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