The Year of the Fabulous Closet : It's So You!

The Year of the Fabulous Closet

by Mary Sheehan Warren on 01/04/13

I just now met a magazine deadline for an article on closet cleaning and the rather cathartic process of writing it has allowed me to ponder several of those big, human questions perhaps only the wisest have ever considered:

1. How much space do we truly require to properly stow the tools we use for personal communication?

2. How many clothes does the modern American woman need?

3. And how the Sam Hill do those repulsive little dust ball things populate the closet floor so quickly?

Yes. These are deep, rich, and lovely questions, and I have some answers.

Now that it’s a new year, I’m ready to share those answers and the secret to a fabulous closet.

So, change into your work clothes, fully caffeinate yourself, and blow open that closet door. We’re in for some serious cleaning with my proven 12 Step Program for Life Change (or, at least a change in the closet):

1.     Pull everything out of your closet (and drawers, and under-bed storage, and laundry). This would include tops, bottoms, dresses, jammies, shoes, underwear, jewelry, scarves – everything.

2.    Place everything for this winter on the bed in their respective groups (tops, bottoms, etc.) Don’t worry about spring summer clothing until you are right up against that season.

3.      Wow. That’s a lot of stuff. Probably too much stuff. Now, go punish yourself by scrubbing out the empty closet with a soapy sponge.

4.      While you wait for the closet to air out and while you are feeling sorry for yourself because you have such a big cleanup on your hands, go into the kitchen and fix yourself a refreshing drink. No, not wine. Try ice water and a cookie. (Remember, you’ve already had coffee and you’ve burned calories scrubbing the walls of your closet.)

5.      Break’s over. Go face those stacks. Walk into that room with confidence so that you show those little sartorial critters that you mean business.

6.      Maintaining that confident bearing, bring into the room two large empty bags. Place them on the floor with a dash of drama and say, “Ha!” Designate one bag for donations and the other for trash.

7.      Starting with the trousers and skirts, ask yourself the questions below for each item. Then repeat the process with tops, dresses, underwear, shoes, bags, coats – in exactly that order. (Try on an item when necessary and check to see how things go together.)

a.      Does this item flatter my figure? (Did it ever? Well, then why did I ever get it? Silly me.)

b.      Does this item give me confidence because it works with my fashion personality? (News flash! Try the new fashion personality quiz right here at

c.       Does the coloring of this item flatter my complexion? (Obviously a question for tops and scarves)

d.      Is the item in good shape, free from stains, rips, pilling, or anything my grandmother would admonish me for. (She was right, you know.)

e.       Does the item say what I want it to say about me? (Or does it send the message that I am not competent or capable in my chosen profession OR that I am indeed competent or capable in another profession- not a profession I’d ever choose.)

8.      If you’ve done this correctly, the bags (or boxes) weigh more than the stacks on the bed. (Unless, of course, you are a loyal follower of ISYFashion.) Go back to the closet and consider the space. Is it well lit? Do the walls need a touch of white paint? Can you hang something inspirational? Where will you place your shoes? How will you store your scarves? Dream up a wonderful place for making your first decision of the day. Then, go for it.

Yeah, right. And anyway, you don't need all this. Really, you don't.)

9.      Two must-haves: Felt hangers (like the kind you see in packs at T.J. Maxx or Marshalls) and something for shoes and boots.
(Why not pink?)

10.  Study your leftovers as you place them back in your closet. What goes with what? And what might you need to tie everything together? Group items according the wardrobe system you are using. (Mix and Match, whole outfits together, etc.)

11.  Did I say “what might you need?” Why, yes I did! Seems obscene, but it’s okay. You can budget for a few items which will turn your wardrobe into the winner it deserves to be. If you can’t imagine what could help your wardrobe, check out Lucky or InStyle Magazines, some on-line retailers (especially their Look Books), or even some boards at Pinterest for ideas.

Consider these strategies: "Shop in Your Closet" and "Mix and Match What You Own." Write your list of ideas.

Finally, view your wardrobe as a process. Check in with it occasionally. Snoop around, rearrange, clean out, even talk to your clothes. (No, just kidding.) One nice rule of thumb I learned from a client is the “Hanger Rule.” For every new thing that comes in, use a hanger already occupied by ridding yourself of something old and tired.

 I told you this would be life changing. Happy Hunting!


Comments (1)

1. Fiorella said on 1/8/13 - 07:35PM
Fabulous article. Just what I was looking for...Now, "dear closet" watch out, zealous purger is on her way.

Leave a comment

ISYFashion no longer accepts clients for personal wardrobe design services. For information on what Mary's been up to, visit