Some call it spring cleaning; we call it our favorite time of year. Now that warm weather is upon us, New Yorkers finally have the energy to take a critical look at their closets. In a recent interview with Domaine Home, our very own Kate Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot broke down the tried-and-true Done and Done “Method of Staging an Intervention on your Clothes Because Your Closet is a Hot Mess and It’s Just Not Cute Anymore” – or The D&D Closet Method for short.
As a relative Done and Done newbie, I’ve heard a lot about these Genius Tips but not tried them myself. Kate and Ann have this theory that people only use about 20% of the clothes in their closet, and the rest lie forgotten or in the way. They perform this kind of organizing magic on a regular basis in order to avoid having to pull through seven sweaters that they never wear in order to get to their faithful faves. So, we decided that I would put the tips to the test, and see what it felt like to send my closet to rehab.
STEP ONE: Clear a workspace
Kate suggests covering your bed with a sheet and setting up a hanging rod so you can lay out your clothes and really assess if they are working for you. Kate and Ann both keep these under their bed because you will want to use it every six months to keep your closet up-to-date. The sheet is important because it will protect your bed from the dust clinging to unused clothes and hangers. Finally, keep a stack of garbage shopping bags handy so you can sort your toss and donate piles efficiently.
STEP TWO: Pull Everything Out and Sort
Kate and Ann then take out EVERYTHING in one category and put it on the bed: sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, tank tops, etc. This way you can see how many of each category you have and if there are any duplicates.
This was so helpful with my 8 black undershirts – I found tanks that were in perfect condition because they had been stuffed in the back of my drawers for months, and saw that my regulars were fraying at the straps, so I immediately knew I could throw those away and replace them with the fresher ones.
Done & Done is strict about the fact that every item in your closet should be tried on when being evaluated. If you don’t pull on those old, too-tight jeans, you won’t be honest about the fact that they don’t work for you. I tried on EVERYTHING, and the pain and pity of still not fitting into my favorite jeans when I was 20-years old cemented my conviction to get real about what I will wear.
STEP THREE: Be Ruthless
Each person may have their own sorting categories, but I found it helpful to use these ones: “Damaged,” “Enough Already,” “Uncomfortable,” and “Keep.” As Kate encourages, I was ruthless. I didn’t put anything in the “Keep” pile unless I could honestly say that it didn’t qualify for the other three. I was astonished at how few of my clothes I wear on a regular basis. As the reject pile grew, I realized that I pass on anything that doesn’t feel perfect.
The “Damaged” pile included everything from a ripped hem to fraying stitches. “Enough Already” spans everything from “schlubby” t-shirts that aren’t my style anymore, to expensive gifts that I’m sick of feeling guilty over not wearing. “Uncomfortable” was every item I consistently passed over because it didn’t feel right on by body, for any reason. My go-to favorites and some dresses stayed, and everything—I mean everything!—else was sorted out according to why they didn’t work for me.
….Interlude: Shop in Your Own Closet….
This isn’t part of the official D&D method, but Kate and Ann fully endorse this moment of ad-libbing. After I sorted every single item of clothing I owned, I restocked my closet with the “keep” items and returned to the sad mountain of Damaged/Enough Already/Uncomfortable clothes. Here, I focused a ruthless eye on every single item and asked myself, “Could the damage be fixed? Can I tailor these pair of pants to make them more comfortable? Will giving this tunic a waist make feel better while wearing it?” Again, all of these items had been tried on so I could assess if fixing them would be realistic. Anything that could be adjusted for a reasonable price at my tailor, I folded into a shopping bag and set by the door to bring to him. The tailoring, after all, is cheaper than buying a new pair entirely, and now I have a whole rack of new/old clothes that fit me perfectly!
THEN, Keep Being Ruthless, It’s almost Over:
Anything that couldn’t be salvaged and was in good condition went into a bag to be donated to Housing Works. Every single item in the damaged pile that I couldn’t salvage for myself went into the trash. As much as we would like to donate everything, clothing with rips, heavy wear, or stains is of no help to anyone.
STEP FOUR: Maintain The Game
Ann suggests donating or selling one item for every piece of clothing you bring into your closet. She also emphasizes that being able to see everything in your closet means you will actually wear what you have, so install adequate lighting and make sure there’s enough room to slide things around.
As for folded items in your closet, go for clear boxes and labels so you know what’s in there before you dig around. I did this with my bathing suits, which had previously been swimming around willy-nilly in my underwear drawer. Now packing for the beach is not a mad dash to locate a missing bikini top, and I don’t have to wade through my swimsuits to every morning to find what I need!
Feel the Results!
For so many months, my closet was a dark, scary alleyway I never wanted to walk down. It has been two weeks since I whittled it down, and I haven’t looked back. I can easily scan my whole closet now, which makes getting dressed in the morning and packing for trips infinitely more efficient. Never again will I destroy my neatly folded piles trying to find the perfect outfit on a Wednesday morning! I am free!
But how long is it going to stay this way? Dr. Kate, D&D Medicine Woman prescribes performing closet rehab every season as you shift your clothes based on the weather. The consistent effort will prevent Spring Cleaning from becoming that dreaded annual task.
Be brave in your quest, young D&D’ites! Make a strong cup of coffee, spread out your sheet, and get to shaping your wardrobe to an expertly curated, well-maintained collection.