Dear Done and Done,
I love your Instagram account so much and I really want my apartment to look like the photos on your feed. But I can barely make ends meet as it is, and I could never afford to hire a professional organizer. Do you have any tips for me?
My closet especially is a wreck and I even bought some bins and baskets but it’s totally not working. I put stuff in them but then before I know it, they’re overflowing and clothes are all over the place again! HELP!
Closeted In Cleveland
What great timing you have! Here at Done & Done we’re constantly thinking of ways to help people, even if it’s from afar. This summer it occurred to us that we were the ones who needed help. We needed a new system, or at the very least, tweak the one we already had for our closets. Sometimes even the cobbler needs new shoes!
The Great Throw
Every Spring all of us at Done & Done compete in The Great Throw. We challenge ourselves and the team to get rid anything we don’t want, need or use. We’re a group of women who are not only naturally organized, but we’re constantly learning on the job and seeing how easily things can go wrong. No one intends to live in a home that’s overwhelming and difficult to manage. It just happens. And while we’re experts at preventing and fixing these sorts of problems, it still happens. Even to us.
After a very effective Great Throw 2019, I got rid of 142 items. My home was ship shape. As summer began, I started choosing my clothes from a closet that was completely pared down – or so I thought.
Multiple times I tried on something and thought “not today” and put it back in the closet. Occasionally, I had a legitimate reason for not choosing something, such as the weather, but mostly I was putting things back because I didn’t like the look, feel or fit. And yet, there I was returning them to the closet. Hmmmm. What did that mean?
Wear It All Day or Give It Away Game
I explained the situation to Kate and she came up with a great game. We would wear something different every day, no relying on old faithfuls, all summer. We had to actually wear the items outside and to work or wherever we were going. I can’t tell you how easy it is to put a shirt in the donate bag that’s been cutting into your armpit all day or to toss in jeans that gave you a stomach ache because they were too small.
So far this summer I’ve gotten rid of twelve shirts, a few dresses, lots of underwear, bras and even bathing suits. We’ve all spent a day at the beach in an ill-fitting suit…no need to say more. It doesn’t matter what any of it cost – the money is gone and holding on to the item won’t make it fit any better.
The Cliff Notes
This is a very long answer to how you can handle your closet without professional organizers. Empty out your entire closet and then “shop” the mountain of items on your bed and floor. Only put back what you think you’ll wear. Donate anything that didn’t make the cut. Now you’re ready to shop your closet. Every day going forward, wear something different for the entire day. You can’t just put it on and then put it back! You know that insanely expensive bra you bought but never wear because it cuts into you? Wear it to work tomorrow and I promise, tomorrow night you’ll happily put it straight into the donate bag.
Once you’ve done this system for a month, empty your closet again. Take every single thing out and go through the keep/donate process again. To quote Derek Sivers from our last newsletter’s book recommendation, “If it’s not a Hell Yes, it’s a No.”
When you have not only the right clothes, but the right amount for the way you actually live, keeping your closet organized will be a breeze. And now that you’ve learned how to shop your own closet, you’ll be more intentional and knowledgeable about what to purchase (in actual stores!) in the future.
Good luck and send us some before and after photos!
All the best,