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Chaos in Your Closet

If you’re feeling the weight of the clutter in your closet, lighten the load by giving it a good audit

Whether it’s a walk-in the size of a New York City studio or comparable to a kitchen pantry, the closet serves as both the bliss and bane of our daily routines. It holds so much of what makes us happy and feel good: that red wrap dress that looks fabulous against your skin tone and the silky sleeveless shell that easily goes day-to-night. But there’s also the skin-tight mini you haven't worn since 2013, and those space-hogging sweater dresses that hope to make another appearance.

If you’re feeling encumbered by your closet, an audit is in order. Katrina Fox, stylist at TFK Styling and blogger at The Foxy Kat (TheFoxyKat.com) lends her expertise on decluttering your closet—and what do to with clothing that doesn’t make the cut—with three simple questions.

1. Is this something I wear often?

Realistically, you can’t accurately determine this off the top of your head. Fox suggests using her own personal process: Flip all of your hangers backward so the hook that hangs on the closet bar faces you, making it a little more difficult to pull out. After you wear each item, hang it back correctly. After three to six months, clothes that are hanging the right way are the workhorses of your wardrobe. The items facing the wrong way? Not so much.

After that you’ll say, ‘Wow, I haven’t worn that skirt in three months and I thought it was my favorite skirt,’” Fox says.

If yes, keep it.

2. Is this currently in style and/or does it still accurately represent my style?

After getting dressed in the morning, Fox recommends taking a selfie in the mirror. After a week or two you’ll have several honest recollections of your style preferences. Do jeans make a lot of appearances? If so, comfortable and fashionable could best describe your look. If you’re wearing a lot of pencil skirts, button-downs, sleek khakis and casual sweaters, your style could be professional and simplistic. In that case, the girly off-the-shoulder ruffled dress—the one you had to have because it looked so cute in the store—may not be you. It may also explain why you’ve only worn it once or twice.

To get a handle on what’s in style, Fox advises taking cues from wherever you get your media. If you watch broadcast news, notice what anchors or field reporters are wearing. If you celeb-watch, hit up your favorite celeb’s Instagram feed or follow fashion bloggers. “Save posts and create a ‘clothing inspiration’ collection. Cross-reference those with your selfies and decide whether you look like them or whether those (pieces) would look good on you,” Fox says.

If no, sell/swap it.

Consignment shops: My Sister’s Closet, Uptown Cheapskate, Buffalo Exchange, Plato’s Closet, Poor Little Rich Girl

Selling apps: Poshmark, Tradesy, eBay

3. Have I worn it in the last 12 months?

Remember Fox’s hanger exercise? Of those that are hanging backwards after a year, determine which ones you truly cannot live without (think cocktail dresses, wedding attire or that sweater your grandmother gave you 10 years ago that holds a special place in your heart). “I remember the event I was at and the feeling I had or the people I was with, and it’s challenging for me to separate myself from those memories when it’s just an article of clothing. There’s an emotional aspect,” Fox says. The ones that don’t fit this category can go.

If no, donate it.

Places that accept donations: The Clothes Cabin (ClothesCabin.org), Hidden Treasures Thrift Store (TreasuresThrift.com), Assistance League East Valley (AssistanceLeague.org)

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